They were known simply as the “best damn team in baseball.”
No team was as dominant as the Baltimore Orioles then, who won 109, 108 and 101 games from 1969 to 1971.
There was Brooks and Boog and Frank. You could not hit the ball up the middle past Belanger or Johnson or over the head of Blair in center. They had speed and power and great pitching.
They had a young Earl in the dugout.
They had it all.
And in the 1970 World Series, they kept seeing the Big Red Machine get early leads, but they kept beating them to win the Series in five games.
Brooks Robinson has remarked many times about how it was amazing that he got the chance to make so many great plays over a five-game run.
He also points out what happened on his first chance in the second inning of game one - he made an error.
He would make up for it. You could start a great debate in trying to decide which great play he made versus the Reds was his best. I say it was the backhand stop on Lee May’s grounder in game one that took him into foul territory. Somehow he made that throw to first on one hop to Boog for the out.
Lee May and Johnny Bench are still probably hitting line drives in their sleep and Brooks is still catching them with a dive to his left and right.
There were four Hall of Famers in that Baltimore dugout. Earl, Brooks, Frank and Jim. There was Sparky Anderson and Earl Weaver exchanging lineup cards.
There was the Jackson Five singing the national anthem. Okay, I don’t remember that though.
It was also the last World Series with every game played during the afternoon.
For years, O’s fans seemed mad at Eddie Watt. He was the relief pitcher who served up a three-run homer to May in the eighth inning of game four. The O’s were leading 5-3 and a few outs from an amazing four-game sweep when May gave Cincy a 6-5 lead and a win with one swing.
One fact from that game I didn’t remember. That loss in game four ended the Orioles 17-game winning streak. They won the last 11 of the regular season, went 3-0 in the ALCS and added three more in the Series.
Members of the 1970 team will be at Camden Yards tomorrow to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Baltimore’s second World Championship.
They were great players. They were and still are great guys. It’s forty years later, but if you were a kid growing up back at that time on Third Street in Overlea, they were your heroes then.
They still are now.
(For more details on Saturday’s celebration check out this article in the Orioles Buzz.)