He wears No. 4. His name is Orr. He has great defensive ability.
One might think you were talking about the legendary Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman Robert Gordon Orr.
Instead, the player being described is Peterson Thomas Gordon Orr, better known as Pete Orr. This Orr is an infielder for the Atlanta Braves. Playing in his third season in the Major Leagues, all with the Braves, and his eighth in professional baseball, Orr admits that it isn’t a coincidence that he wears the No. 4.
The fact that he is a Canadian begs the question; “Are you related to the more famous, hockey-playing Orr?”
“I get that question all the time,” says the 28-year-old Orr, a native of Richmond Hill, Ontario. “No, I’m not related to Bobby at all. He was born in Parry Sound, which is about an hour and a half away from where I was born. I’ve checked with members of my family and they’ve checked. But as far as we know, I’m not related to Bobby.”
Yet the young Atlanta infielder has chosen to wear the same number on his jersey as the Hockey Hall of Famer made famous with the Boston Bruins.
“I’ve tried wearing the number as I worked my way up the Braves’ minor league system,” said Orr, who resides with his wife, Jodi, in Newmarket, Ontario during the off-season. “There were a couple of times that I wasn’t able to get it. But when I made it with Atlanta (2005 season) it was available and I took it.”
Baseball wasn’t the only sport that Orr played as a kid growing up in Southern Ontario. He also played his fair share of hockey. He even had the courage to wear the No. 4 with his last name on his jersey.
“Sure, it was the natural thing for me to do,” Orr said. “If it was available I would wear it. And, yes, I played defense. I really didn’t have any other choice with the name. It really didn’t bother me.”
Did he take any ribbing about the name and playing defense?
“Yeah, sure I did, being from Canada and all,” he said. “But people really don’t have too many bad things to say about Bobby Orr. So it really wasn’t a bad thing for me.”
But Pete Orr knew that he wasn’t destined for a career in the NHL.
“I played competitively until I was about 16,” he said. “But I knew early on that I wasn’t going to be heading towards a career in the National Hockey League.”
Instead, he became a fan, but not of the Bruins.
“The Toronto Maple Leafs,” said Orr, who has played second, third, shortstop and even the outfield for Atlanta. “Unfortunately, the Leafs weren’t really that good when I first started growing up with them. Later, as they became more successful, I liked guys like Wendel Clark and Doug Gilmore. But my favorite player all the way through was Wayne Gretzky. I think he was every Canadian kid’s favorite player who was growing up in the 1980s and 1990s. He’s the best I’ve ever seen play the game.”
Orr will be the first person to tell you that there is a huge difference between baseball and hockey.
“Hockey is a game where things seem to be intense all the time,” said Orr, who was signed by the Braves as a non-drafted free agent on July 3, 1999. “You seem to work harder throughout the entire game. The action goes back and forth all the time and change all the time. In baseball, it is a lot slower-paced game. Baseball can be more of a mental game than hockey. Baseball can be exciting as well. It can have it’s dramatic moments as well. But both sports have their strong points.”
Orr still follows the NHL as much as he can.
“In my heart I’m still rooting for the Leafs,” said Orr, who played for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic in 2006. “But since I’ve been living in Atlanta for the past three years, I’ve become a Thrashers fan as much as possible. It was exciting to see the Thrashers in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time this year. And the city will be hosting the NHL All-Star game, which will be a huge plus for Atlanta when that happens.
“Kids seem to be playing hockey more in and around the Atlanta area. That seems to be growing.”
Like many hockey fans, Orr is pleased with the new NHL.
“I think the changes the NHL has made over the past couple of years with rules has been great for the game. They had to make some decisions that weren’t easy, but they made them. As long as the League doesn’t make the nets any bigger than they are right now, I’ll be happy. If they did do that, that would really turn me off.”
Has Pete Orr ever had the chance to meet Bobby Orr?
“No, I haven’t,” Orr said. “Maybe someday I’ll be fortunate enough to. It would be a great thrill to meet a player as great as Bobby Orr was.”