Former Orioles J.J. Hardy and Mike Devereaux both cherished their time in Baltimore, with varying career paths that brought them there.
Now, both men will forever be connected to the organization as the newest members of the team’s 2021 Hall of Fame class. They will be enshrined during a pregame ceremony at Camden Yards Aug. 7.
Hardy spent seven seasons with the team and was an All Star in 2013 and a three-time Gold Glove winner. Devereaux played in Baltimore for six seasons, highlighted by an outstanding season in 1992 when he finished seventh in MVP voting.
Before arriving in Baltimore, Hardy spent his first five seasons with the Milwaukee Brewers and a one-year stint with the Minnesota Twins. Hardy was acquired from the Twins ahead of the 2011 season.
“I am super thankful for everyone that voted,” Hardy said on Glenn Clark Radio March 30. “I just felt fortunate enough that I was able to spend seven fun, great years in Baltimore and now this is just adding to it.”
Devereaux’s path to Baltimore was different. He totaled 103 plate appearances in his first two seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers before being dealt to the Orioles ahead of the 1989 season. Growing up in Wyoming, Devereaux knew very little about the Orioles. He never watched them play and saw mostly playoff and World Series games as a child.
“It’s very special to me, Baltimore was right in my 20s,” Devereaux said on GCR March 29. “I was young, I really didn’t know what I was getting into in the big leagues because I grew up in Wyoming.”
Both Devereaux and Hardy will be inducted into the Hall of Fame along with longtime Orioles play-by-play man Joe Angel and Mo Gaba, a young Ravens and Orioles superfan who died one day after the announcement of his election to the club’s Hall of Fame last summer.
“Just talking about him right there gives you goose bumps, the fan that he was,” Hardy said. “He meant the world to everybody who had the pleasure of meeting him. I wish he was around to see it.”
When Hardy arrived in Baltimore in 2011, he immediately forged a relationship with the players and realized the long-term potential of the organization. The following year, labeled as underdogs in the AL East, the Orioles made the playoffs after winning a remarkable 16 of 18 extra-inning games.
The team’s most memorable run with Hardy came in 2014 when the team reached the ALCS with an electrifying ALDS sweep of the Detroit Tigers, highlighted by Delmon Young’s bases-clearing, three-run double in Game 2 (Hardy scored the go-ahead run).
“That 2014 postseason, I’ve never heard a louder stadium than that,” Hardy said. “It was a great seven years there in Baltimore. We had a lot of fun.”
Devereaux said he had a special connection with the fan base in Baltimore and that the fans’ enthusiasm for the Orioles provided a spark like no other. Night after night, Devereaux and the Orioles would play in front of a sold-out ballpark after Camden Yards opened in 1992.
That unique passion from the fans only intensified when Devereaux made sensational catches in the outfield.
“When I’d make a great catch, all the fans would go ‘Devo, Devo’ and that hyped me also,” Devereaux said. “It kept my adrenaline flowing to a point where I just wanted to take runs away and was ready for anything.”
One of Devereaux’s most special moments came just before the season started in 1992. He and fellow outfielder Brady Anderson had left for spring training while Camden Yards was still under construction.
Six weeks later, both players returned to Baltimore, surprised that the stadium was completely finished and ready for Opening Day.
“Brady and I walked down through the hallway, walked through the dugout and looked at this stadium and a tear came to my eye,” Devereaux said. “It was the most gorgeous thing I’d ever seen in my life and I was like, ‘This is where we’re going to be playing? You’ve got to be kidding me.'”
After all of the memories both men created in Baltimore, they’ll return to the Charm City and Camden Yards to once again be honored by the team that brought them so many positive memories throughout their careers.
“Just seeing Camden Yards again, that’s my favorite ballpark to play in and just being back there is going to be pretty special for me,” Hardy said.
Hardy and Devereaux chimed in on some other topics …
Hardy on public address announcer Ryan Wagner doing the J.J Hardy bit and how much he misses it:
“I’ll tell you what when that started in 2014 in the postseason when it really got loud. It was every at-bat in Camden Yards after that for the next three years. I’ll tell you, every single time it meant the world to me, I mean, I’m walking up to the plate and it just like gave me the chills going, ‘This is just crazy.’ I appreciated every minute of it and loved it. I mean, that 2014 postseason I’ve never heard a louder stadium than that and it was pretty fun to play in front of all those fans.”
Hardy on if coaching is potentially something he’s interested in (he was a guest instructor at Orioles spring training in 2020):
“It could be in the future. I had a blast when I was down there last year for a week. It was right before COVID hit. I think there was a couple cases in Sarasota when we were down there, but I had a blast doing that. I don’t know how soon it would be that I would get into it full time. I’m really enjoying being a dad with my two boys right now. It’s hard to travel as much as those guys do. It’d be really hard to do what I’m enjoying right now. There will be a time for it, I’m sure. It’s just I don’t know when.”
Devereaux on if it troubles him that baseball has become more a game of strikeouts and home runs recently:
“It troubles me to the worst degree, as much as I love this. It has trickled down through the minor leagues and a lot of the younger leagues. A lot of people who teach these kids how to hit are just telling them home runs, home runs, home runs. It’s a very, very mental game to understand how to hit and how to play the game and the excitement of the game, so if I’m only thinking about home runs, I’m not thinking about defense. As a pitcher, if this kid’s only thinking about home runs, I’m going to have more strikeouts. The game has changed, there’s nobody that cares much about stealing bases anymore.”
A little more from Devereaux on that front:
“It’s not about the great plays, it’s just about who can hit the ball the furthest and that trickle-down effect where an out is an out regardless of whether you strike out or ground out. [That’s] the thought process we’re putting in the minds of these young players. It’s such a mental aspect of the game where the more hits you try to get as far as line drives, the more hits you’ll get and the home runs come with that. The people that are trying to teach these guys how to hit nowadays are just saying, ‘Go deep, go deep, we don’t care if anything else happens,’ and it changed the entire aspect of the game — defense, base stealing all of it.”
For more from Devereaux, listen to the full interview here:
For more from Hardy, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credits: Kenya Allen/PressBox and Courtesy of the Baltimore Orioles