“Orioles Classics” #TBT: Fifty years on, it still feels good

Feeling super? Meh. The Ravens’ playoff run stalled as soon as it started, and neither the Steelers nor the Patriots are playing in Sunday’s big game either. There’s nobody in this thing to root for or against.

MASN has much more exciting television lined up in the next seven days, especially after Sunday. Each weekday morning next week, starting Monday, you can catch a rebroadcast of each game of the 1970 World Series, which happened (gulp) 50 years ago this October.

Today and tomorrow we’ll serve up a couple of appetizers. First, a 2015 game in which a short-term big leaguer wrote his own page in Orioles history. Next comes the maiden voyage of the ship of dreams called Camden Yards. In between Games 2 and 3 of the 1970 Fall Classic, enjoy a nightcap in which a beloved O’s figure now residing in Japan took center stage.

So dig up your 45 of Neil Diamond’s “Cracklin’ Rosie” or the Jackson Five’s “I’ll Be There,” warm up a TV dinner, and remember the days before cell phones, social media and websites (such as this one) as you relive the time the orange and black took on the Big Red Machine.

Thursday, Jan. 30 - 9 a.m. - The Orioles got a walk-off win on Aug. 19, 2015 off the bat of an unlikely hero. Henry Urrutia played just 10 big league games that season. His career total was 34, all with the Orioles. Coming to the plate 0-for-3 in the eight-hole that day, Urrutia led off the home ninth. Mets reliever Carlos Torres was ahead in the count 1-2, but the 28-year-old rookie hit an opposite-field homer that broke a 4-4 tie and ended the game.

Friday, Jan. 31 - 6 p.m. - Rick Sutcliffe’s career was in its waning years by the time he signed a one-year deal with the Orioles prior to the 1992 season. But despite the presence on the pitching staff of top draft pick Ben McDonald and future Hall of Famer Mike Mussina, O’s skipper Johnny Oates tapped the 36-year-old Sutcliffe to throw the first game pitch ever in the dazzling new Oriole Park at Camden Yards. It turned out to be the right move. Sutcliffe and Indians starter Charles Nagy each pitched a complete game, but Sutcliffe threw a shutout as the Birds opened their new nest with a 2-0 opening day victory.

Monday, Feb. 3 - 9 a.m. - The 1970 World Series matched two power-packed teams that each exceeded 100 wins and ran away with their respective divisions. All but one of the runs scored in Game 1 at Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium came via the home run. The Reds took a 3-0 lead to the fourth, but Boog Powell’s two-run homer in the top of the inning got the Orioles back into the ballgame. Elrod Hendricks tied the score with a solo in the fifth. The Reds threatened in the sixth, but when Ty Cline’s tapper lingered in front of the plate, Hendricks made a lunging tag on Bernie Carbo breaking from third. Brooks Robinson’s solo homer broke the 3-3 tie in the seventh. Starter Jim Palmer allowed no further damage and lefty reliever Pete Richert got Bobby Tolan for the final out as the O’s grabbed the early series lead.

Tuesday, Feb. 4 - 9 a.m. - Leading off the bottom of the first in Game 2 of the 1970 World Series, Pete Rose reached on an error charged to shortstop Mark Belanger, of all people. That led to three unearned runs off Mike Cuellar. Tolan’s leadoff homer gave the Reds a four-run lead in the third. Powell hit his own leadoff dinger in the fourth, but the O’s did real damage in the fifth as Paul Blair, Powell and Robinson each recorded RBI singles and Hendricks doubled to bring in two. Johnny Bench’s sixth-inning blast got the Reds within a run, but the Orioles bullpen held after that to secure a 6-5 win. O’s pitchers who worked in relief that day included southpaw Marcelino L√≥pez, who came into the game to get just one lefty batter - Tolan - and then departed. Managers have routinely employed that strategy in the current era - a rule change to be implemented this season will put a stop to it - but it was a rarity in an era when complete games were still the default option.

Tuesday, Feb. 4 - 7 p.m. - On opening day 2018, Adam Jones probably wasn’t thinking he was entering his last season in an Orioles uniform. It’s much more likely he was trying to figure out Twins pitching. The Orioles’ de facto team captain went 0-for-4 in regulation, but when the visitors scored two runs in the ninth it meant another at-bat for the veteran center fielder. He tagged Fernando Rodney’s first pitch in the 11th inning for a home run and the instant win.

Wednesday, Feb. 5 - 9 a.m. - The Orioles came home for Game 3 of the 1970 World Series with a two-games-to-none lead. Before 51,000 at Memorial Stadium, The Birds pounded Reds pitching, scoring six runs off starter Tony Cloninger and two each off Wayne Granger and Don Gullett. Frank Robinson, who’d been pretty quiet to that point in the series, went 3-for-4 with a homer. But the RBI leader in the O’s 9-3 win was none other than starting pitcher Dave McNally, who hit a grand slam in the sixth. With breathing room, McNally pitched a complete game despite giving up nine hits and a couple of homers.

blog comments powered by Disqus