“Orioles Classics” #TBT: Dawn of the Golden Age of O’s

The hot stove season is in full swing, and the Orioles this week signed free agent shortstop José Iglesias to fill the hole left when the club traded Jonathan Villar. That and other offseason happenings certainly hold our interest as fans who are curious about who will be where on opening day 2020.

But to quote the Bard, the play’s the thing. There’s really no substitute for a game, but in the unfortunate absence of live baseball this time of year, MASN happily brings you the next best thing: Reprises of great Orioles games from the recent and distant past.

From the latter category we bring you the Cliff’s Notes version of the Birds’ World Series championship of 1966, with Brooks, Frank, Boog and the boys ushering in the Orioles dynasty of the ’60s and ’70s. We follow that up with the final game of the 1983 World Series in Philadelphia, after which the visitors partied on the Veterans Stadium infield.

O’s victories of more recent vintage are on tap too, including a couple of walk-offs guaranteed to give a fan some much-needed warmth.

Also in this batch of “Orioles Classics” is the exception that proves the rule. It was an inconsequential game in 1991 in which the play was actually not the thing.

Friday, Jan. 10 - 11:30 a.m. - Twelve years after the 100-loss St. Louis Browns limped into a new home in Baltimore and became the 100-loss Orioles, the franchise reached baseball’s summit. After the team finished the 1965 season in third place in the American League, the Orioles made a deal - one that many would later call the worst ever for the Cincinnati Reds - to acquire what turned out to be the missing piece: All-Star outfielder Frank Robinson. In his first season in the American League, Robinson led the Orioles in batting with a .316/.410/.637 line and 49 home runs and won the AL MVP Award by winning the Triple Crown. Robinson also took MVP honors in the 1966 World Series as the upstart O’s shockingly swept the defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers. In this 90-minute retrospective, you’ll see Brooks Robinson, Paul Blair, Boog Powell and company square off against a formidable Dodgers pitching staff headed by Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax. The O’s pitchers turned out to be even better, with starters Jim Palmer, Wally Bunker and Dave McNally each throwing a complete game as the National League champs managed just four runs over the four games of the series.

Friday, Jan. 10 - 7 p.m. - A generation after that first World Series championship, the Orioles would take their last Fall Classic to date. Game 5, on Oct. 16, 1983, was the only shutout of the series, as Scott McGregor, who had lost Game 1, scattered five hits and a pair of walks over nine innings. Eddie Murray hit a leadoff homer in the top of the second and World Series MVP Rick Dempsey followed suit the following inning. Murray followed Cal Ripken Jr.’s leadoff walk in the fourth with another longball and Dempsey scored in the fifth on an Al Bumbry sacrifice fly. The Phillies did not go down without a fight, but stranded six runners, including Joe Morgan, who had tripled with one out in the eighth. Garry Maddox likewise hit one hard in the home ninth, but the two-out liner went directly to the glove of shortstop Ripken, who ran toward the mound clutching his prize as the celebration began.

Sunday, Jan. 12 - 1 p.m. - What could be better on a January afternoon than curling up on the couch with a cup of hot cocoa? Throw in a rebroadcast of a marathon mid-May O’s win and you’ve got something. The lumber was in full flower on May 16, 2017 as the Orioles tangled with the Tigers at Comerica Park. A total of seven players had at least three hits each in the 13-inning match, including Mark Trumbo, who went 4-for-7 with a homer. Chris Davis doubled and scored in the O’s seven-run third inning, but it was in overtime that he really flexed his muscles. Davis broke an 8-8 tie with a homer to lead off the 12th, and the Orioles went on to score two more runs in that inning. But the Tigers answered with three of their own in the bottom half, and the contest went to a 13th inning. Davis then, with Trumbo on, went deep again, and the O’s held on for a 13-11 victory.

Monday, Jan. 13 - 9 a.m. - On Oct. 6, 1991, the Birds wrapped up a forgettable season with a loss against the Tigers that might have been equally forgettable except for one thing: It was the Orioles’ last game at the place the club had called home since its arrival in 1954. Memorial Stadium would host a couple of seasons’ worth of Canadian Football League contests in the mid-1990s and the Double-A Bowie Baysox for one season, but for all intents and purposes, the Orioles’ departure for a new ballpark downtown marked the end of the 33rd Street landmark’s time as a major sports venue. Mike Devereaux tripled and scored on Joe Orsulak’s grounder, but that would be the home team’s only run that Sunday as Frank Tanana pitched a complete-game win and O’s starter Bob Milacki took the loss. O’s greats of the past assembled on the field postgame as the club sent the grand old lady off in style.

Tuesday, Jan. 14 - 12:30 p.m. - When the Nationals set up shop in 2005, Major League Baseball seemed eager for them to establish a robust on-field rivalry with the nearby Orioles. So far it hasn’t really played out that way, in large part because the two clubs haven’t often fielded winning teams in the same season. Nevertheless, the Battle of the Beltways has yielded some exciting baseball. On July 10, 2015, the Nats took the bus north to visit Camden Yards for a three-game set. O’s starter Chris Tillman and Nats lefty Gio González each went six innings before passing their batons to their bullpens with the visitors up 2-1. O’s catcher Matt Wieters (later of the Nationals) tied the score with an RBI double in the eighth. Tanner Roark took the mound for the Nats in the bottom of the ninth and struck out the first two batters he faced. But Jonathan Schoop, hitting in the nine hole, collected a walk-off homer.

Wednesday, Jan. 15 - 9 a.m. - The Orioles took the traditionally tough American League East and made it to the League Championship Series in 2014. This June 23 win over the White Sox at Camden Yards shows the kind of strong pitching and timely hitting Buck Showalter’s team brought to the table that year. Lefties Wei-Yin Chen and Chris Sale started for the O’s and White Sox, respectively, and the Southsiders took a 3-2 lead into the seventh. José Abreu’s RBI double gave the visitors a bit of insurance, but Caleb Joseph’s solo homer brought the O’s back to within a run. Brad Brach pitched a second 1-2-3 inning in the ninth to keep it there. In the home half, Steve Pearce led off with a single. White Sox Right-hander Ronald Belisario then hit Adam Jones with a pitch to put him on and move Pearce to second. Nelson Cruz struck out, and Showalter brought Davis and his left-handed swing off the bench to pinch-hit for Delmon Young. With the count full, Davis went deep to give the Orioles a 6-4 win.

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