The 2014 Baltimore Orioles had a bit of a different look to the diehard O’s fan as the longest tenured Oriole, Brian Roberts departed via free agency and joined the hated New York Yankees. With Roberts’s departure, Nick Markakis became the Orioles senior citizen in terms of Orioles years and he is our subject in the Orioles player profile.
Let’s start from the beginning shall we? Nicholas William Markakis was born on November 17, 1983 in Glen Cove, New York to his mother Mary Lou and father Dennis. Markakis and his family moved to Woodstock, Georgia when he was young and he attended Young Harris College, a junior college in the state of Georgia.
Markakis had quite the college career for the Young Harris Mountain Lions as he belted 38 career home runs and posted a .439 average with 21 home runs and 92 RBI in 2003. Nick was twice named the Georgia Junior College Player of the Year and also garnered Baseball America’s 2002 National JUCO Player of the Year Award. What made Markakis such a great JUCO player was the fact that he was also a premier pitching prospect as he went 12-0 with one save and a 1.68 ERA in 15 games in 2003 and also led all junior college pitchers with 160 strikeouts. Nick also played for Greece in the 2004 Olympic Games.
What many people do not know is that Markakis has two opportunities to begin his professional baseball career with the Cincinnati Reds, but the team preferred him as a pitcher and Markakis wanted to hit. He twice refused to sign with the Reds who drafted him in 2001 and 2002, and luckily for the Orioles, who preferred him as a hitter, they snagged him in the first round of the 2003 draft with the seventh overall pick. Want more proof Nick wanted to hit? He signed with Baltimore just a week after being drafted.
Markakis played just three seasons in the Minor Leagues with the Orioles and was named the 2005 Brooks Robinson Award winner as the Orioles Minor League Player of the Year in what would be his final Minor League season. Nick burst onto the big league scene in 2006 as he set an Orioles rookie franchise record with a .291 average in 502 plate appearances, and finished sixth in American League Rookie of the Year voting. Markakis led all Major League players with a .366 combined batting average over the months of June, July and August in 2006.
Sophomore slump? Not Markakis, as he garnered the Most Valuable Oriole Award after hitting .300 with 23 home runs and 112 RBI. Markakis joined Jim Gentile and Cal Ripken Jr as the only Orioles to drive in 100 or more runs in their second full season.
Markakis has been as consistent a hitter as there has been in an Orioles uniform in quite some time as he has hit .280 or higher in all but one of his big league seasons (2013) and through the 2013 season he owns a .292 career average with 127 home runs, 606 RBI, and 289 doubles as well as a .993 career fielding percentage.
Nick won a Gold Glove award in 2011 and is likely to push into the top ten in three categories in Orioles franchise history as he needs 269 at bats, 24 home runs and 16 runs scored to move into the top ten in those categories. Also, in 2013, Markakis moved into the top ten in walks, RBI, hits, total bases and extra base hits in franchise history.
Markakis and his wife Christina, have three sons, Taylor, Tucker and Toby, and launched the Right Side Foundation in 2009. The foundation’s mission is the help improve the lives of distressed children throughout the state of Maryland.
He may be the longest tenured Oriole, but Markakis is pure and simple an Oriole through and through. He plays the game the Oriole way and conducts himself off the field as respectable as any professional baseball player can do so. His contributions to the community are so vast that they cannot be put into words, and although he had a down season in 2013, most, if not all of Orioles fans believe he is set to have a big, bounce back season in 2014, which he has done thus far.
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