It happened 55 years ago today at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium. The Orioles beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 1-0 to complete a four-game World Series sweep built on stunning pitching. The Orioles used just three starters and four pitchers total in the entire series to vanquish the National League champions, who were led by ace pitchers Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale.
But it was the Baltimore quartet of Dave McNally, Moe Drabowsky, Wally Bunker and Jim Palmer that pitched the Orioles to the first of their three World Series titles. The 1966 champs were later joined by the World Series-winning Orioles of 1970 and 1983.
The 1965 Orioles had finished in third place. But after that season, on Dec. 9, they acquired outfielder Frank Robinson from the Cincinnati Reds. The deal worked out in sensational fashion for the Orioles, who would go to the World Series four times in the next six seasons between 1966 and 1971 after acquiring No. 20.
And remember, there were no preliminary playoffs then leading up to the World Series. No Division Series, wild card game or Championship Series. Heck, no divisions. Just two leagues of 10 teams and one winner that advanced straight to the World Series. Thus the 1966 World Series ending on this date, while the playoffs are just now getting underway as of this date.
The ‘66 Orioles won 97 games and coasted to the pennant, winning the American League by nine games over Minnesota. By the way, at 70-89, the New York Yankees finished in last place. Robinson was later named AL MVP and won the Triple Crown, leading the league in batting (.316), homers (49) and RBIs (122). The Dodgers won the pennant in a close race in the National League. They won 95 games and finished 1 1/2 games ahead of San Francisco.
The O’s then stunned much of the baseball world as they won the four World Series games by scores of 5-2, 6-0, 1-0 and 1-0.
Yep, three straight shutouts to win in a sweep. Stunning pitching. The Orioles blanked the Dodgers over the last three games and over the last 33 innings. The O’s scored three runs in the first inning of Game 1 - one more than the Dodgers put up all series.
In Game 2, a 20-year-old year Palmer squared off against Koufax, who, as it turned out, was pitching the last game of his career. That year, Koufax won 27 games, fanned 317, pitched five shutouts and posted a 1.73 ERA. But the O’s won 6-0.
Drabowsky was a hero in the opener in relief of McNally, who would later pitch a shutout in Game 4. Drabowsky fanned 11 over 6 2/3 innings out of the ‘pen.
The O’s team ERA was 0.50 and they allowed just 17 hits in the four games while making no errors. Robinson was the World Series MVP. He homered twice in that series - both off Don Drysdale.
In Game 3, the O’s win came via Bunker’s six-hitter and Paul Blair’s solo shot off Claude Osteen in the fifth inning in front of 54,445 on 33rd Street. The time of game was 1 hour, 55 minutes.
In Game 4, Robinson homered off Drysdale in the fourth and McNally pitched a four-hitter. It was Baltimore’s third complete game of the World Series. Game four attendance at Memorial Stadium was 54,458 and the time of game was 1 hour, 45 minutes.
The Orioles became the first AL team other than the Yankees to win the World Series since the 1948 Cleveland Indians.
The Orioles became the second team in World Series history to that point (the 1937 Yankees were the first), not to commit an error in a series of any length, handling 141 total chances.
The O’s set a record for fewest runs allowed in a series with two and the 33 straight shutout innings remain a World Series record. The two teams set a record that still holds for fewest combined runs (15) in a World Series.
The Dodgers went 17-for-120, with a final batting line over four games of .142/.226/.192/.417 with four extra-base hits, three doubles and one homer.
Four 1966 Orioles would later become Hall of Famers in Luis Aparicio, Brooks and Frank Robinson, and Palmer. Three Dodgers went on to the Hall in Drysdale, Koufax and manager Walt Alston.
Click here for boxscores and stats from the 1966 World Series.
Click here for YouTube video of the Orioles’ 50th anniversary ceremony for the ‘66 champs at Camden Yards in July 2016.