Following a major league career that spanned nearly 20 years with three clubs, former Baltimore Orioles catcher Andy Etchebarren spent the next 40 seasons as a coach and manager in the minor leagues, including one season with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs. On Oct. 5, Etchebarren passed away at the age of 76 after a brief bout with bone marrow cancer.
Current Blue Crabs manager Stan Cliburn and general manager Courtney Knichel offered their insight into the passing of the longtime player and skipper, who played an integral part of the Baltimore Orioles’ first two World Series titles in 1966 and 1970. He was also an MLB All-Star selection in 1966 and 1967 with the Orioles.
“He was a great coach and one of my really close friends,” Cliburn said on Tuesday. “He had a long career as a catcher in the major leagues and he spent more time later as a manager and a coach. I never coached with him, but I really got to know him during my years with the Minnesota Twins. He spent a lot of time behind the plate and that can really take a toll on your body.”
“He was a part of the original coaching staff during the inaugural season with the Blue Crabs,” Knichel said. “Etchebarren, along with Butch Hobson, helped shape the culture of Blue Crabs baseball inside the clubhouse and in the community which still remains one of the best cultures in the Atlantic League today. He was a one of a kind baseball mind and an overall true gentleman. He is truly missed throughout the industry.”
Etcherbarren, who concluded his career with a .235 batting average, 49 home runs and 365 runs batted in during his career with the Orioles’, California Angels and Milwaukee Brewers, spent one season as the manager of the Bowie Baysox in 2000, then shortly after leaving the Blue Crabs became the skipper for the York Revolution in the Atlantic League, leading that squad to consecutive ALPB titles in 2010 and 2011.
“The entire York Revolution family is feeling this one,” York Revolution president Eric Menzer said in a team news release. “Etch was York Revolution baseball for many years. He poured his love of the game into each season with us, gave us our first championships, and really paved the way for our success since. We join Orioles fans and fans of baseball in general in sending our deepest sympathies to his family and in thanking Etch for all he gave to the game. I feel lucky to have known him, a tough guy with a heart of gold.”
During his days as a skipper throughout the Atlantic League with opposing clubs, Cliburn had numerous fond memories of sitting in the dugout facing off with Etchebarren’s teams.
“He spent so many years as a catcher in the major leagues, he knew so much about every aspect of the game,” Cliburn said. “Anytime you faced one of his teams you had to play smart, because his teams were not going to beat themselves. He understood what it took to put a quality team on the field. He loved the game and he passed his knowledge and passing onto everyone that ever played for him.”