Royle is still the man |

Royle is still the man

Mike Vidakovich
Staff Photo |

I wasn’t quite sure how to address him when we first talked. Should I call him Royle, or would Mr. Stillman be more fitting? I wanted to make sure that I showed the proper amount of respect to a man who had once played in baseball’s major league.

I put the formalities aside and decided to go with Royle. I was anxious to ask him the question that had been welling up inside of me like a big wave ready to splash onto the beach.

Did you really play for the Baltimore Orioles?

The answer came back affirmative and I felt giddy. Sure enough, I was talking to a man who had played for the team I adopted as my own since the days of boyhood.

Glenwood resident Royle Stillman got the call from manager Earl Weaver and the Orioles in September of 1975. Major league teams were allowed to expand their rosters for the stretch run of the season at this time, and Stillman was plucked from Baltimore’s AAA farm team, the Rochester Red Wings, where he had just completed an MVP season in the International League.

I had so many Orioles-related questions for Stillman that I didn’t know where to begin, but first, he said he had a question for me.

“When did you become such a big Orioles fan?”

I told him of my days as a pitcher in the Glenwood O.T.A. Little League, and how I idolized, and even copied the form of, Orioles pitcher Jim Palmer.

“Jim Palmer was one of my teammates in Baltimore, Mike,” replied Stillman.

I tried not to act as excited as I was, so at the risk of babbling, I just let Stillman tell me of his short time with the Baltimore franchise and about some of the players on the team who I knew of well.

“I was only with the Orioles for the end of the ’75 season and the ’76 season. I was a left-handed hitting outfielder and it was pretty hard to get much playing time since they had Don Baylor, Paul Blair, Ken Singleton as their starters, and Al Bumbry as the backup,” said Stillman.

Stillman may actually be remembered most for his involvement in two events that occurred off the baseball field rather than on it during his career. He was part of the first-ever baseball free agent draft in 1976 and was picked up by the Chicago White Sox, where he spent his last major league season in the outfield at Comiskey Park. Also, in his early baseball travels, Stillman was part of a trade that sent him and pitcher Doyle Alexander from the Los Angeles Dodgers to Baltimore in exchange for legendary Orioles outfielder Frank Robinson.

Growing up in Torrance, Calif., Stillman became a baseball journeyman at a young age when he was drafted by the Dodgers after an All-Star high school career.

“Just a couple of days after I graduated from high school, I had to pack my bags because the Dodgers sent me to the Pioneer League in Ogden, Utah,” recalled Stillman.

His career in baseball spanned eleven seasons, eight of which were spent in the minor leagues. Stillman also spent a brief period of time playing in Mexico following his release from the White Sox in 1977.

Things turned out well for Stillman when he decided baseball would no longer be the focal point of his life. He headed back to California where his met his future wife, Glenwood native Cindy Lange. He and Cindy now call Glenwood home.

Instead of pounding baseballs, Stillman now pounds nails as a carpenter and fix-it man in the area.

If I’m ever in need of household repairs, I’ll call Stillman. Any guy who played baseball with Jim Palmer is good with me.

— Mike Vidakovich is a freelance writer from Glenwood Springs. His column appears monthly in the Post Independent.

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