He won’t be in the Hall of Fame anytime soon, but Robert Andino is still an important part of baseball history. The former Oriole is best known for his walk-off single on the final day of the 2011 regular season against the Boston Red Sox.
The win eliminated Boston from the playoffs and was part of one of the most memorable days in baseball history. The final day of the 2011 season was recently celebrated by MLB Network, which replayed the “MLB Tonight” episode that aired on Sept. 28, 2011.
Entering the day, the Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays were fighting for the final American League playoff spot. The Rays overcame a seven-run deficit against the New York Yankees and secured the wild-card berth with an 8-7 win and Boston’s 4-3 loss to the Orioles.
“That night for me was one of the most exciting in my whole career. I’ll never forget that night,” Andino said on Glenn Clark Radio June 24. “I still get text messages from it to this day. That’s something that will go down in baseball history. I’m part of baseball history, which a lot of people can’t say.”
Andino spent four seasons with Baltimore (2009-2012), playing mostly second base, and parts of 10 seasons in the majors. He also spent parts of five seasons with the Florida/Miami Marlins and one with the Seattle Mariners. In 2011 with Baltimore, he hit .263/.327/.344 with five home runs with 36 RBIs.
Though the Red Sox had struggled mightily in September 2011, the Orioles were considered underdogs heading into the final game of the season. Boston had won 90 games, while Baltimore had won 68 entering that last game. For Andino, that made the moment even more special.
“Beating one of the biggest names in baseball on a walk-off on the last game of the season, that’s something for me as a competitor I’m going to cherish forever,” Andino said. “Seeing the opposing fans in shock because nobody thought we were going to win that game … the look on their faces, I’ll take it to the grave.”
At the time of the game, the Orioles had not won the AL East or appeared in the playoffs since 1997. Meanwhile, Boston and New York had won the division 11 of the past 13 seasons. Former Orioles manager Buck Showalter, hired in 2010, brought in a new mindset that ended up changing the culture in Baltimore.
“You’ve got to have that killer mentality — that David and Goliath type thing,” Andino said. “Baseball’s a crazy game, anything can happen and he told us that all the time. If you believe, anything can happen. Our chemistry in that clubhouse was incredible, we trusted each other, we believed in each other and that’s what I think made it work.”
Andino believes the end of 2011 helped fuel the Orioles’ run of success from 2012-2016. In 2012, the Orioles reached the playoffs for the first time in 15 years. Baltimore defeated the Texas Rangers in the first-ever AL wild-card game, 5-1, and faced New York with a trip to the ALCS on the line. The Orioles lost to the Yankees in five games.
Andino was traded to Seattle after the 2012 season, and Baltimore continued to win. In 2014, the Orioles reached the ALCS but were swept by the Kansas City Royals, who lost in seven games to the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. The Orioles also reached the postseason in 2016.
“I do believe that momentum carried onto 2012. In 2012, to make the playoffs after a long time and then I got traded, but they kept going … that whole momentum, I believe it, absolutely,” Andino said.
Andino was never named an All-Star or won a Silver Slugger or Gold Glove, but he holds a special place in Orioles history and is grateful for the support that Baltimore showed him throughout the years.
“Being a fan favorite, I appreciate it. When I was out there I gave it my all and I went out there to win,” Andino said. “I wore that Baltimore jersey proudly. The Orioles will always be close to me.”
For more from Andino, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Mitch Stringer/PressBox