On October 6, 1966, Jim Palmer served notice that he had truly arrived. The 20-year-old hurler was a 15-game winner in just his second season. Manager Hank Bauer handed him the ball for Game Two of the World Series against the defending champion Dodgers, winners of 95 regular season games. Though the young O's had won the first game, Palmer had to have felt the pressure: 55, 947 fans packed Dodger Stadium. Moreover, his opponent was Sandy Koufax, who had just had a ridiculously great season (27-9, 1.73 ERA, 317 K, 27 CG).
Then again, maybe the pressure didn't much matter to the blue-eyed kid from New York. "Cakes" allowed only four L.A. hits and three walks, and permitted multiple base runners in the second inning only. In that instance, he wriggled out of trouble by inducing Koufax to pop up. Jim struck out six batters and earned the first shutout of his career. Meanwhile, his much-revered counterpart seemed up to the challenge, taking his own whitewash into the fifth inning before being undone by back-to-back errors by center fielder Willie Davis that led to three Baltimore runs. Koufax allowed his only earned run in the sixth before walking off of the mound for what would be the final time in his Hall of Fame career. The Birds tacked on two more insurance runs in the eighth to arrive at the final tally of 6-0.
As stunning as it may have seemed for a 20-year-old to outduel Sandy Koufax in a World Series game, the headlines would get even bigger. After picking up two runs in the first three innings of the Fall Classic, Los Angeles would not score again that October. The Oriole arms blanked the Dodger bats for the final 33 and 1/3 innings of the Series, with Moe Drabowsky, Palmer, Wally Bunker, and Dave McNally doing the honors.
Sure, tonight's 12-inning Twins vs. Tigers 163rd game tiebreaker was exciting, but I can think of a few games I'd rather watch.