A whole lot of folks at some point today are going to be compelled to loosen their belts. You know the feeling.
You just might get that same feeling, metaphorically speaking, after consuming the next helping of “Orioles Classics.” You’ll positively stuff yourself with memorable moments in O’s history. Among other treats, you’ll savor the record-breaking run of the Iron Man, the maiden voyage of the prototype for every ballpark built since 1992, and replays of each game of the 1970 World Series, arguably the pinnacle of the Orioles’ years as a baseball dynasty.
But as sublime as most of these events were for O’s fans, we lead off this lineup of “Orioles Classics” with a moment from team history that, while a genuine accomplishment - artifacts from it now reside in the Hall of Fame - nonetheless leans toward the ridiculous.
Enjoy the feast. Just make sure you leave room for pie.
Thursday, Nov. 28 - 9 a.m. - The whole thing started out ordinarily enough, a Thursday night in Anaheim with the homestanding Angels facing the O’s. But July 25, 2019 turned out to produce both a major league first and one of the goofiest nicknames in baseball. After a long, back-and-forth struggle, the Orioles took a one-run lead into the bottom of the 16th inning. But with his bullpen in tatters, skipper Brandon Hyde was forced to ask center fielder Stevie Wilkerson to take the mound. His offerings registered speeds on the radar gun that would not have caused a state trooper to stir, but Wilkerson (dubbed Dr. Poo Poo by Hyde postgame) set the Angels down in order, becoming the first position player ever to earn a big league save as he brought a merciful end to the game just shy of 5:30 a.m. EDT.
Thursday, Nov. 28 - 5:30 p.m. - Perhaps the most memorable victory lap in sports history took place at Camden Yards on Sept. 6, 1995. When the game against the Angels became official at the conclusion of the fifth inning, Cal Ripken Jr. held the new record for consecutive games played (2,131). Ripken waved to the crowd of 46,000, but they wanted more. So did teammates Bobby Bonilla and Rafael Palmeiro, who shoved the soft-spoken Iron Man out of the dugout. Ripken stumbled onto the field and that transitioned into a jog that eventually took him around the entire warning track, high-fiving fans as he went. The game itself resumed after a 22-minute delay, and ended in a 4-2 Orioles win.
Thursday, Nov. 28 - 11:59 p.m. - The Indians had the singular honor of helping the Orioles break in the yardstick by which all other baseball venues are measured. Oriole Park at Camden Yards saw its first official action on opening day, April 6, 1992. Orioles starter Rick Sutcliffe and the Indians’ Charles Nagy each went the distance for his respective team in a pitchers’ duel that ended in a 2-0 O’s victory. Both runs scored in the fifth, on Chris Hoiles’ double and Bill Ripken’s squeeze bunt.
Saturday, Nov. 30 - 2 p.m. - Moms of Orioles players must have asked for home runs for Mothers Day in 2016. On May 8, O’s batters delivered six of them in an 11-3 shellacking of the Athletics. Manny Machado went deep twice. Chris Tillman went 6 1/3 innings in his win.
Sunday, Dec. 1 - 1 p.m. - Matt Wieters pulled victory from the jaws of defeat on Sept. 7, 2013. The White Sox got a homer from Conor Gillaspie to take a one-run lead in the top of the 10th inning. But with two out, Wieters singled to drive in Henry Urrutia and Nick Markakis for an walk-off win.
Monday, Dec. 2 - 9 a.m. - The Reds had perhaps the most imposing offense in the majors in 1970. All-time hits leader Pete Rose and Hall of Famers Johnny Bench and Tony Pérez anchored a lineup that led the National League in both batting average and home runs. But the Reds would prove to be no match for the Orioles, who won the 1970 World Series four games to one. In Game 1 at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium, the Reds got to O’s starter Jim Palmer for a run in the first inning, and two more in the third on Lee May’s homer. But a two-run shot from Boog Powell and solos from Elrod Hendricks and Brooks Robinson put the O’s on top to stay. Palmer walked Rose with two out in the home ninth, then gave way to Pete Richert, who got a liner to short from Bobby Tolan to end the game.
Tuesday, Dec. 3 - 9 a.m. - On Oct. 11, 1970, the Birds got another one-run victory in Game 2 at Cincinnati to take a 2-0 World Series lead. Again the visitors came from behind, this time exploding for five runs in the fifth. Powell homered for the second game in a row, and he, Paul Blair and Don Buford each had two hits on the day. Hendricks drove in three runs in the 6-5 O’s victory. Tom Phoebus got the win in relief of Mike Cuellar.
Wednesday, Dec. 4 - 9 a.m. - More than 51,000 packed Memorial Stadium for Game 3 of the 1970 World Series. Already up two games to none, the Orioles kept the pedal to the metal, dispatching the Reds 9-3. Frank Robinson, who went 0-for-9 in the first two games in Cincinnati, homered and went 3-for-4. Dave McNally gave up nine hits but just three runs in his complete-game victory. However, his most impactful contribution came at the plate, as the right-handed-batting southpaw hit a grand slam off Wayne Granger. Watch for the next installment of “#TBT to ‘Orioles Classics’” for the synopses and broadcast times for the fourth and fifth games of the 1970 World Series.