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Joe Orsulak

Sport: Baseball

Born: May 31, 1962

Town: Parsippany

Joseph Michael Orsulak III was born May 31, 1962 in Glen Ridge and grew up in the Parsippany–Troy Hills area. Joe played a wide range of sports, using his speed and aggressiveness to succeed. He attended Parsippany Hills High School, which had produced major leaguers Richie Zisk and Paul Mirabella. He starred for the Vikings and attracted the attention of scouts with his quick bat and powerful arm.

Joe was selected in the 6th round of the 1980 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates. He signed late that summer and began his pro career the following spring with Class-A Greenwood. While playing winter ball in 1983 in Venezuela, Joe met his future wife, Adriana.

After two good years of A ball, Joe made the jump to AAA, where he hit for average and power and stole 38 bases. At the end of the 1983 season, the Pirates called him up for a handful of games. Joe made the Prates for good as a regular in 1985, manning center field and batting an even .300 with 24 stolen bases.

Joe’s power never really developed at the big-league level, but he was a .280 hitter with line drive power for most of his career. His best home run years were in Baltimore, where the Pirates traded Joe following an injury-plagued 1987 campaign. He slugged 35 in five years with the Orioles.

Joe kept his job on the strength of his defensive play. He could man all three outfield positions and his arm was powerful enough to gun down a league-high 22 runners in 1991. And his hustle was legendary.

In 1993, Joe signed a free agent deal with the Mets. The knee injury he suffered in 1987 sapped his speed, but he remained a reliable outfielder. Joe played three seasons in New York and then one with Florida and a final one in 1997 with Montreal. Joe finished his 14 major-league seasons with a .273 average in 1,494 games.

Joe made his home in Maryland after his playing days and became a popular media personality. He is the go-to guy for inside information on both the Orioles and Nationals. In 2004, Adriana passed away from inoperable brain cancer. She had first been diagnosed while Joe was with the Mets. One of their sons, Joe IV., inherited his father’s blazing speed and became one of the top sprinters and distance runners in the region. Another son, Michael, suffers from William’s Syndrome and is developmentally disabled.


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