In all of the grind and tedium of the work week, I completely missed the importance of Thursday, October 16. Two days ago, most Oriole fans marked the 25th anniversary of Scott McGregor's five-hit shutout of the Phillies, which clinched Baltimore's third World Series Championship. I can't help but lament the fact that I was much too young to be aware of that great team's achievements, much less to appreciate them at the time. But that doesn't mean that I can't celebrate them now.
Latter-day O's fans might only know Rick Dempsey as the goofy, slightly muddled broadcaster who has a talent for putting his foot in his mouth. But two-and-a-half decades ago, he was the hardscrabble backstop for the Orioles, a talented defensive player whose offensive contributions weren't much to write home about. He played an important role on the team, but he certainly wouldn't be high on your list of potential World Series MVPs. On a team with Cal Ripken, Jr. and Eddie Murray, who finished 1-2 in regular-season MVP voting, who would pay much attention to a 34-year-old catcher with a .231 average and 22 extra-base hits?
No one could have predicted that Dempsey's pitchers would completely shut down the Phillies (1.60 ERA in five games), or that Rick himself would hit a powerful .385, with all five of his hits going for extra bases. His solo home run, double, and two runs scored in the deciding game gave McGregor plenty of breathing room. So it was that the Dipper got the Pontiac Trans Am, dinner at the White House, and a Sports Illustrated cover.
As a final note, the Angels batter pictured above is former O's second baseman Bobby Grich. He was one of the team's first losses in the free agent era, and he never made it to the World Series with the Halos. Do you think he ever had second thoughts about leaving Birdland?