Jim Palmer (born October 15, 1945 in New York, NY), best known as Jim Palmer and nicknamed "Cakes", is a former Major League Baseball right-handed starting pitcher who played his entire career for the Baltimore Orioles (1965-1984). He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1990.
Palmer has been considered one of the best pitchers in Orioles history. He was a mainstay in the rotation during Baltimore's six pennant winning teams between the 1960s and 1980s. Also, he is the only pitcher in major league history to win World Series games in three different decades (1966, 1970-71, 1983). During his career, he was sometimes sidelined by arm, shoulder, and back problems.
A high-kicking pitcher with a beautiful fluid motion never seen today, Palmer picked up his first major league win on May 16, 1965, beating the Yankees at home, and hitting the first of his three career major league home runs. He finished with a 5-4 record.
In 1966 Palmer joined the starting rotation. Baltimore rolled to the pennant, behind Frank Robinson's MVP season. Palmer won his final game against the Kansas City Athletics to clinch the American League pennant. That October 6, he became the youngest pitcher (20 years, 11 months) to win a complete-game, World Series shutout, defeating Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers in Game 2, and the Orioles went on to sweep the series.
The next two seasons were frustrating for Palmer, as arm troubles shelved him. He threw just 49 innings in 1967 and was sent to minor league rehabilitation. Finally, thanks to surgery, work in the 1968 Instructional League and in winter ball, he regained his form.
In 1969 Palmer returned healthy, rejoining an Orioles rotation that included 20-game winners Dave McNally and Mike Cuellar, combining one of the finest starting staffs ever. That August 13, Palmer threw a no-hitter against Oakland, just four days after coming off the disabled list. He finished the season with a mark of 16-4, 123 strikeouts, a 2.34 ERA, and .800 winning percentage.
The next two years saw two more championships as the Orioles took their place among the great teams of all-time. In 1970 Cuellar went 24-8, McNally 24-9, Palmer 20-10; in 1971 the trio had 20-9, 21-5, 20-9, respectively, with Pat Dobson adding 20-8. Only one other team in MLB history, the 1920 Chicago White Sox, have had four 20-game winners.
Palmer won 21 games in 1972, and went 22-9, 158, 2.40 in 1973, walking off with his first Cy Young Award. The next year Palmer went 22-9, 158, 3.40, but his eight 20-win seasons were interrupted in 1974 when he was downed for eight weeks with elbow problems. He finished 7-12.
Again, Palmer was at his peak in 1975, winning 23 games, throwing 10 shutouts (allowing just 44 hits in those games), and fashioning a 2.09 ERA --all tops in the American League. He completed 25 games, even saved one, and allowed the batters a .216 of batting average. He won his second Cy Young award, and repeated his feat in 1976 (22-13, 2.51).
In 1977-78 Palmer won 20 and 21. Over the next six seasons he was hampered by arm fatigue and a myriad of minor injuries. He retired after the 1984 season, during which he was released by Baltimore. Seven years later, Palmer attempted to rejoin the Orioles as a non-roster invitee to spring training. After a struggling performance against the Red Sox, he retired again citing a hamstring injury.
In a 19-year career, Palmer compiled a 268-152 record with 2212 strikeouts, a 2.86 ERA, 521 games started, 211 complete games, and 53 shutouts in 3948 innings, finishing his career without allowing a grand slam. In six ALCS and six World Series, he posted a combined record of 7-5, 90, 2.61, and two shutouts in 17 games. His final major league victory was noteworthy: Pitching in relief in the third game of the 1983 World Series, he worked methodically through the Phillies' celebrity-studded batting order, giving up no runs and contributing hugely to a close and crucial Oriole win.
Palmer is currently a broadcaster covering Orioles games, known for his incisive criticism and unwillingness to give steroid-era hitters the plaudits commensurate with their statistics. From 1985-1989, and again from 1994-1995, Palmer formed a popular announcing team with Al Michaels and Tim McCarver at ABC. Palmer like Al Michaels, Tim McCarver, and fellow 1990 Hall of Fame inductee, Joe Morgan, was present at San Francisco's Candlestick Park on October 17, 1989, when the infamous Loma Prieta earthquake hit prior to Game 3 of the World Series.
Late in his playing career, Palmer gained notoriety for being a spokesman and underwear model for Jockey brand men's briefs. He appeared in the company's national print and television advertisements as well as on billboards at Time Square in New York City and other major cities. He donated all proceeds from the sale of his underwear poster to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
From 1992 until 1999, he was frequently seen on television throughout the U.S. in commercials for The Money Store, a national home equity and mortgage lender. He has periodically appeared in ads and commercials for vitamins and other health-related products.
In 1999, he ranked Number 64 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was nominated as a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.
6-time All-Star (1970-72, 1975, 1977-78)
3-time Cy Young Award (1973, 1975-76)
5-time top 10 Cy Young Award (1970, 1972, 1977-78, 1982)
4-time Gold Glove Award winner (1976-79)
3-time top 10 MVP (1973, 1975-76)
8-time won 20-or-more games (1970-73, 1975-78)
3-time led league in wins (1975-77)
Led league in winning percentage (1982)
Twice league in ERA (1973, 1975)
Twice led league in GS (1976-77)
Led league in CG (1977)
Twice led league in SHO (1970, 1975)
4-time led league in IP (1970, 1976-78)
4-time pitched at least 305 innings (1970, 1975-77)
4-time pitched at least 275 innings (1971-73, 1978)