DL: Was on-base percentage underrated in your era?
KS: Most definitely. I think that nowadays — with the attention paid to OBP and OPS — people would have seen me in a different light. That said, I was fortunate enough to play for Earl Weaver, who, maybe before his time, knew what on-base percentage meant.
My first year in Baltimore, there really weren’t a lot of guys stealing bases. He called me into his office in spring training. I thought that maybe I was in trouble, but what he wanted to tell me was that I was going to lead off. I told him that I wasn’t capable of stealing many bases, and he said, “That’s not the idea. The whole idea is that you walk a lot, and Bobby Grich walks a lot, so you’ll bat first and he’ll bat second.” I set the Orioles record for walks that season  and it still stands. Bobby Grich walked 107 times that season.
My first at bat in the American League came in Tiger Stadium on a cold day. I drew a walk. I went to third on a base hit and scored on a three-run home run [by Lee May]. I scored our first run of the season. When I got back to the dugout, Earl Weaver looked at me and said, “That’s what I was talking about. Get on base.”
[Featured image via Corbis]