As far as I can recall, my hardcore B.J. Surhoff fandom dates back to January 1997, at Orioles FanFest. A toothy, chubby-cheeked 11-year-old with pigtails and round blue Harry Potter glasses, I handed a baseball to one William James Surhoff, then quietly signing autographs in a loud patterned sweater. When you meet a ballplayer as a kid, they tend to tower in your mind forever.
But there’s still a decent chance that Surhoff would have become my favorite Oriole of those great teams of the late ‘90s anyway. For me, heroes on the diamond tend to be, if not underdogs, then the steady-as-they-come, day-in-day-out grinders who don’t usually make All-Star ballots, but do always seem to be delivering for their team. And who fits that description better than B.J. Surhoff?
A famously unselfish player, wrote the Sun in 2010, Surhoff “would plug any hole to get on the field.” Over his 19 professional seasons, he played every position except pitcher. He had a ton of what former Orioles manager Buck Showalter would call “want-to.” Ray Miller, whom Surhoff played for, recalled that he “could go 5-for-5 at the plate, then pop up a pitch and tear himself apart.”