08/14/08 10:49 AM ET
DeCinces enjoying life as businessman
Former O's third baseman finding success off field as well
By Amanda Comak / MLB.com
In a season that saw manager Earl Weaver's Orioles come within one win of a World Series championship, it was DeCinces' at-bat in the ninth-inning, June 22, 1979, that helped coin the term "Orioles Magic."
Holding tight to a 5-4 lead over the Orioles in the ninth inning, Detroit Tigers pitcher Dave Tobik served up a pitch to DeCinces that would ignite an entire generation of devotion from Orioles fans. With two outs, Tobik was one batter away from ending the Orioles six-game winning streak. Unfortunately for Tobik, that batter was DeCinces, and the result was a two-run homer that sent the Orioles off as walk-off winners.
Twenty-nine years later, DeCinces has been retired from the Major Leagues for more than 20 years, but his tenure in Baltimore, replacing Orioles great Brooks Robinson at third base, has not been forgotten. DeCinces' 15-year career with Baltimore and Anaheim was marked by 237 career homers and a trip to the All-Star Game in 1983. His called it quits in 1987, when he retired after playing just four games for the Cardinals at the end of the '87 season.
And in retirement, DeCinces hasn't been any less successful.
DeCinces currently owns DeCinces Properties, a real estate development firm in Irvine, Calif., from which he operates several other business ventures. DeCinces, who recently sold but still manages Strawberry Farm's Golf Club, an upscale public golf course, also manages family-owned industrial parks, runs eight restaurants and still builds and develops homes, all in southern California.
"Baseball gave me a great opportunity to be able to walk through a lot of doors," DeCinces said of his success in the business world. "But it's what you do in your preparation, whether you'll be able to walk through that door a second time. People don't really understand what it takes to be a professional athlete. It takes a lot of dedication and preparation in order to be successful and I took those traits and went to the business world with that same preparation."
ARI: Travis Lee | ATL: Mark Lemke
BAL: Chris Hoiles | BOS: Bill Lee
CHC: Randy Hundley | CIN: Eric Davis
CWS: Dan Pasqua | CLE: Dave Burba
COL: Curtis Leskanic | DET: Steve Sparks
FLA: Charlie Hough | HOU: Doug Drabek
KC: Mike Macfarlane | LAA: Rick Reichardt
LAD: Jim Gott | MIL: Don Sutton
MIN: Kevin Tapani | NYM: Ed Kranepool
NYY: Jim Abbott | OAK: Ben Grieve
PHI: Tommy Greene | PIT: Barry Jones
STL: B. Tewksbury | SD: C. Hernandez
SF: Brian Johnson | SEA: Henry Cotto
TB: Doug Creek | TEX: Dave Hostetler
TOR: Alex Gonzalez | WAS: W. Fryman
DeCinces also hasn't forgotten his philanthropic side in retirement. Once his playing days were complete, DeCinces joined the board of the Orangewood Children's Foundation, a home for abused and neglected children in Orange County, Calif. It's now been 20 years since DeCinces joined the board and with his help -- and a yearly golf tournament hosted by him -- the foundation has raised more than three million dollars.
"It was a charity that, when I was playing, I quietly just supported," DeCinces said, crediting his wife Kristi for getting him involved with Orangewood. "It's a very successful charity that does great things for kids that wouldn't normally get the attention."
But wherever DeCinces' second career as a businessman takes him, the former third baseman said he will never forget his Orioles roots.
"Nobody will ever take away the fact that I was an Oriole," he said. "It was a sad day when I got traded, but that's just the way it was ... When I got traded out, it was really getting traded home, but that does not remove the fact that I'm an Oriole.
"When I come back ... it's a great, great feeling, because I love to see how things have changed. The city of Baltimore has just had a great turnaround. In 1973, I was at the groundbreaking for the Inner Harbor itself, and then when I keep coming back and I see what's happened in those years, it's great. And although it was stressful, nobody can ever take away that I replaced Brooks Robinson, and I did it and I did it as an Oriole."
Amanda Comak is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.