To a lot of fans who are new to baseball, the Baltimore Orioles are known as a team that plays in a pretty cool looking park, but always finishes in the second half the American League’s Eastern Division. It wasn’t always that way.
Back in the middle 1970’s when I first started getting into baseball, I mean really into baseball, recognizing that there were other teams than the Mets and Yankees, it seemed that the Orioles were always near the top of the American League East. It wasn’t until I did some research for this article that I realized just how good the Orioles were.
Everyone reading this blog knows that the Mets beat the Orioles in the 1969 World Series. Most people know that the Orioles second baseman, Davey Johnson made the last out in that World Series. But something we don’t realize is that the Orioles came back to win the World Series in both 1970 and 1971. In 1973 and 1974 the Orioles finished in first place in the A.L. East (losing the ALDS to the A’s both years). From 1975-1977 the Orioles finished in 2nd place (Red Sox won the east in 1975, Yankees 1976 & 1977). In 1979 the Orioles won the AL East again, and from 1980-1982 they finished in 2nd place. !983 the Orioles returned to first place, and 1997 was the last time the O’s won the East. From 1969-1983, the Orioles finished worse than 2nd place only twice, 1972 & 1978! Orioles baseball was a standard with which all other teams were measured by.
When you look at some of the great player who played for the Orioles, its like a who’s who of 1970’s baseball: Boog Powell, Elrod Hendricks, Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Paul Blair, Bobby Grich, Doug Decinces, Eddie Murray, Al Bumbry, Rick Dempsey, Mark Belanger. For pitchers how about Jim Palmer, Scott McGregor, Mike Flanagan, Dennis Martinez, Tippy Martinez, and Mike Cuellar.
I would be remiss to leave out the Orioles great manager, the one of a kind Earl Weaver.
One last incredible stat about the Orioles. The 1971 Orioles had four twenty game winners in their starting rotation: Palmer, Cuellar, Pat Dobson, and Dave McNally. The Orioles had 101 wins that year, and their starters accounted for 81 of them. Totally unimaginable in today’s game.
At one time, not that long ago the Orioles were a great franchise. True story.