7 standout Yankees who also played for the Orioles

David Wells, Reggie Jackson, and Lou Piniella are among players who played for both the Yankees and the Orioles.
Matthew Maybloom
Monday July 3, 2023

Table of Contents

A total of 268 players have had the opportunity to play for both the New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles until 2023. While Aaron Hicks is the most recent addition to this list, it also included Babe Ruth though with a twist. Let’s find out seven of those who made it big in pinstripes.

Jimmy Key: Yankees 1996 World Series champ

  • New York Yankees (1993–1996)
  • Baltimore Orioles (1997–1998)

Jimmy Key had a notable stint with the Yankees from 1993 to 1996. Among his years with the team, his standout season occurred in 1994, where he achieved the highest number of wins in all of baseball with 17. Key’s outstanding performance led to him finishing as the runner-up in Cy Young voting and ranking sixth in MVP voting during that particular season.

During his tenure, the five-time All-Star served as the top pitcher for the team, and the Yankees boasted the best record in the American League at the time of the strike. Key’s exceptional performances earned him two All-Star selections while playing for the Yankees, and he garnered recognition in Cy Young and MVP voting during those seasons. Additionally, Key played a pivotal role as a member of the 1996 Yankees World Championship team.

Following his triumphant World Series victory with the Yankees in 1996, Key made a move to the Orioles in 1997. He earned an All-Star selection in that same year. Key played a significant role in the Orioles’ success, tying for the team lead with 16 wins and contributing to their achievement of winning the 1997 AL East division title from start to finish. However, injuries hindered Key’s performance in 1998, and he ultimately decided to retire from professional baseball at the conclusion of that season.

Reggie Jackson: Yankees Mr. October

  • Baltimore Orioles (1976)
  • New York Yankees (1977–1981)

Regarded as “Mr. October,” this iconic player is primarily recognized for his notable contributions to the Kansas City/Oakland Athletics, New York Yankees, and California Angels. However, it is worth noting that Reggie Jackson also had a significant season in Baltimore in 1976. After achieving three consecutive World Series victories with the A’s between 1972 and 1974, Jackson’s relationship with the team deteriorated, leading him to depart after the conclusion of the 1975 season.

Reggie Jackson is with Howard Stern on SiriusXM.

During his single season with the Orioles, Jackson made significant contributions to the team’s offensive production. He ranked third on the roster in hits (138) and triples (2) while securing the second spot in doubles (27), RBIs (91), and stolen bases (28). Furthermore, Jackson emerged as the team leader in home runs (27). His exceptional performance also extended to the league level, as he led the American League in slugging percentage (.502) and OPS+ (155), indicating his prowess as a power hitter.

In that particular season, Jackson led the league with an impressive tally of 41 home runs. His performance earned him the coveted silver slugger award. However, it was during the 1977 World Series that Jackson truly made a name for himself as “Mr. October.” In a historic game six, he astounded fans and opponents alike by hitting three home runs, an incredible feat achieved in just three pitches. It is also worth mentioning that Jackson concluded game five with a home run and commenced game six with a walk in his first plate appearance, resulting in a remarkable record of four consecutive home runs in four consecutive at-bats. He was an essential part of the 1978 World Series champion Yankees.

Throughout his illustrious career, the esteemed player achieved the remarkable feat of being selected to the All-Star team 14 times. Additionally, he emerged victorious in the prestigious World Series on five occasions, including two triumphs with the renowned Yankees franchise. Such was his impact and legacy that the Yankees chose to retire his iconic jersey number, 44, as a testament to his outstanding contributions to the team.

Mike Mussina: Yankee in Orioles HoF

  • Baltimore Orioles (1991–2000)
  • New York Yankees (2001–2008)

Mike Mussina was an extremely dependable pitcher. He performed consistently well throughout his career with the Baltimore Orioles. It’s difficult to single out one particular season as his best because he was consistently good every year. In fact, Moose received votes for the Cy Young Award (given to the best pitcher in the league) in seven out of his ten years with the Orioles. He finished in 6th place twice, 5th place twice, 4th place twice, and even came in second once. In addition to his impressive pitching skills, Mussina was selected as an All-Star five times while playing for the Orioles. He also received the Gold Glove award for his outstanding fielding abilities each year from 1996 to 1999 and then in 2001, 2003, 2008.

Mike Mussina performed incredibly well on May 30, 1997. He retired the first 25 Cleveland Guardians (formerly known as the Indians) hitters he faced. However, his bid for a perfect game ended when Sandy Alomar Jr. hit a single in the top of the ninth inning with one out remaining. Mussina’s outstanding performance made him a beloved figure in Baltimore, and he continued to receive ovations from fans even when he played for the Yankees and returned to Baltimore.

After his time with the Orioles, Mike Mussina went on to spend the last eight seasons of his career with the Yankees. Despite changing teams, he maintained his consistent performance. During his time with the Orioles, Mussina had an average record of 15 wins and 8 losses per season, along with 154 strikeouts. With the Yankees, he continued to excel, maintaining an average record of 15 wins and 9 losses per season, accompanied by 160 strikeouts.

In his last season, Mike Mussina had an exceptional performance, making it his swan song. He once again finished 6th in the Cy Young voting and earned his sixth Gold Glove award. Finally, after having two seasons with 19 wins each with the Orioles, Mussina achieved a remarkable milestone by becoming a 20-game winner. In recognition of his outstanding career, he was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2019. Interestingly, despite experiencing great success with both the Orioles and Yankees, Mussina chose to have only the MLB logo on his Hall of Fame bust in Canton, as he didn’t want to favor one team over the other.

David Wells: The Yankees’ perfect pitcher

  • Baltimore Orioles (1996)
  • New York Yankees (1997–1998)

Following the 1995 season, David Wells was traded from the Red team to the Baltimore Orioles. In 1997, Wells became a free agent and signed with the New York Yankees. The Yankees were Wells’ favorite team, largely due to his lifelong fascination with baseball legend Babe Ruth. Wells had a special request to wear uniform number 3, which was retired in honor of Babe Ruth, but his request was denied. As a result, Wells ended up choosing uniform number 33 for his time with the Yankees.

On May 17, 1998, David Wells achieved a remarkable feat in baseball history. He pitched the 15th perfect game ever recorded, completely shutting out the Minnesota Twins with a final score of 4-0. This meant that not a single player from the opposing team managed to reach base. 

David Wells got a hero's escort from his teammates after retiring all 27 Twins on May 17, 1998.
AP

Wells came close to repeating this incredible feat on September 1, 1998. During a game against the Oakland Athletics, he pitched exceptionally well, allowing no walks and only two hits throughout the game. It wasn’t until the seventh inning, with two outs, that Jason Giambi managed to fight off an 0-2 count and hit a single, breaking Wells’ bid for a second perfect game. Despite falling short of another perfect game, it was still an impressive performance by Wells on that day.

Don Larsen: Yankees WS perfect pitcher

  • Baltimore Orioles (1953–54; 1965)
  • New York Yankees (1955–1959)

Don Larsen began his professional career in Major League Baseball (MLB) with the Orioles, making his debut as a starting pitcher against the Detroit Tigers on April 17, 1953. However, he later became part of a significant trade between the Yankees and Baltimore during the 1954 offseason. This trade involved a total of 17 players.

During Game 5 of the 1956 World Series on October 8, pitcher Don Larsen of the New York Yankees achieved an extraordinary feat. He pitched a perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers at Yankee Stadium. This means that not a single player from the opposing team managed to get a hit or reach base throughout the entire game. Larsen remained the only no-hitter in World Series history until the 2022 World Series when the Houston Astros pitching staff, consisting of Cristian Javier, Bryan Abreu, Rafael Montero, and Ryan Pressly, threw a combined no-hitter against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Don Larsen’s perfect game during the 1956 World Series remains the only perfect game in the history of the World Series. It stands as a unique achievement, unmatched by any other pitcher in World Series history. Furthermore, Larsen’s perfect game also held the distinction of being the only no-hitter of any kind pitched in postseason play until October 6, 2010, when Roy Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies threw a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds.

Gene Woodling: Yankees 1950s dynasty member

  • New York Yankees (1949–1954)
  • Baltimore Orioles (1955, 1958–1960)

As an outfielder, he had a notable career in Major League Baseball. Gene Woodling is particularly remembered for his time as a key member of the New York Yankees dynasty, which achieved an impressive feat by winning five consecutive World Series championships from 1949 to 1953.

Woodling was a skilled left-handed batter known for his ability to hit line drives. Throughout his 17-year career, he achieved a batting average of over .300 on five different occasions. During his five appearances in the World Series, Woodling maintained an impressive batting average of .318. Defensively, he was exceptional, leading or tying for the lead among American League outfielders in fielding four times. Remarkably, Woodling never made more than three errors in a single season during his time with the Yankees.

In 1953, despite having only 395 at-bats, Woodling stood out by leading the American League with a remarkable .429 on-base percentage. His ability to get on base consistently contributed to his team’s success.

Lou Piniella: Yankees big man

  • Baltimore Orioles (1964)
  • New York Yankees (1974–1984), as manager (1986–1987, 1988)

In August 1964, Lou Piniella was traded by the Cleveland team to the Baltimore Orioles to complete a previous trade involving Buster Narum. At the young age of 21, Piniella made his debut in the major leagues with the Orioles in September of that year, marking the beginning of his professional baseball career.

Following the conclusion of the 1973 season, the Kansas City Royals made a trade, sending Piniella to the New York Yankees. Piniella would go on to have an impressive 11-season stint with the Yankees. During his time with the team, the Yankees achieved significant success, winning five AL East titles (1976-1978, 1980, and 1981), four AL pennants (1976-1978, and 1981), and two World Series championships (1977-1978).

In 1975, Piniella experienced a setback when he missed part of the year due to an inner ear infection. However, from the middle of 1977 through the end of 1980, he played a crucial role for the Yankees as their regular outfielder and designated hitter (DH).

From 1986 to 1987, he served as the manager of the New York Yankees. Following this, he was promoted to the position of general manager at the start of the 1988 season. However, after the firing of Billy Martin, he took over as the manager of the Yankees.

Babe Ruth too played for the Orioles

Babe Ruth is widely regarded as the greatest player of all time. In addition to his remarkable 714 home runs, Ruth maintained an impressive career batting average of .342, with an on-base percentage of .474 and a slugging percentage of .690. To this day, his career slugging percentage, OPS (1.164), and OPS+ (206) remain unmatched records.

During the initial years of his career, Ruth also excelled as a pitcher. In the five full seasons he spent on the mound, he achieved a career 2.16 ERA and averaged 17 wins per season. Extrapolating this average over his 22-year career, Ruth would have been on pace to accumulate 374 wins, an exceptional achievement.

However, it’s important to note that Ruth’s time with the Baltimore Orioles was in 1914 when they were a Double-A team, and they did not have any direct affiliation with the present-day Baltimore Orioles, as far as it is known.

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