I need a reminder of the good times tonight, an era when October in Baltimore meant a trip down to 33rd Street to see the O's dominate the opposition. This card depicts a mob scene at home plate during the first-ever American League Championship Series, during which the 109-win Orioles squeaked out a couple of walk-off wins over the Western Division Champion Twins before cruising in the deciding Game Three.
The sharp-eyed Birdbrain could tell you that the players who are visible in the above photo are, from left to right, Frank Robinson, Paul Blair, Andy Etchebarren, and Davey Johnson. I'm not sure whether they're reveling in the glory of Game One or Game Two, but both were incredible. In the opener, the host Orioles trailed 3-2 before Boog Powell led off with a game-tying home run in the bottom of the ninth and Brooks Robinson singled, chasing Minnesota starter Jim Perry. A couple errors and a fielder's choice moved Brooks to third, but he was caught stealing home to end the inning! The game ground its way into the twelfth, where Baltimore's Dick Hall inherited a bases-loaded jam from Marcelino Lopez and retired the next two Twin batters to keep it knotted at 3-3. In the bottom of the inning, the Birds finally broke through against Ron Perranoski, who had been on the mound since the ninth. Mark Belanger singled, moved to third on two infield outs, and scored the winning run on a daring bunt single by Paul Blair. It was a rare example of small ball by the czar of the three-run homer, manager Earl Weaver.
Game Two was a breathtaking pitchers' duel. The Orioles' Dave McNally and the Twins' Dave Boswell, a pair of 20-game winners in the regular season, each allowed their share of baserunners: 3 hits and 5 walks for McNally, and 7 and 7 for Boswell. They both did their job in the runs column, however, trading zeroes into the eleventh inning. McNally, who had the stronger line of the two (particularly when you compare his 11 strikeouts to his opponent's 4 K's), stranded two Twinkie runners in the top of the frame. Boswell finally let up, walking Boog Powell and Davey Johnson (the latter intentionally) and turning things over to (who else?) Ron Perranoski. The reliever once again played the goat, yielding a two-out pinch single to Curt Motton to bring home Powell with the game's only run. Utterly demoralized, Minny would scratch across just 2 runs on 10 hits against Jim Palmer in the final game of the series. Baltimore had no such difficulty, with 11 runs to show for their 18 hits off of 7 Twin hurlers.
As you can see, the Orioles had a right to celebrate. I think things got a little gloomier in the World Series, but my computer seems to lock up when I try to research it, so we'll just stop here. ;)