I fear that we may never see a team like this one again. To put it another way, those of us born in the 1970s and later just plain may not see it. Not to belabor the point, but at the 72-game mark the 1970 O’s were 46-26. The current team has twice as many losses and would be trailing them by a full 26 games. From 1969 through 1971, the Birds put together the most dominant three-year regular season run by any baseball team, winning 318 games and losing only 164 (a winning percentage of 67%). They never trailed in the standings after June 4 in any of those three seasons, and finished each year with at least a 12-game cushion on the runner-up. They swept all three American League Championship Series. Of course, the black mark on their record is the fact that they won “only” one World Series in that stretch, getting shocked by the Mets in 1969 and being outlasted by Roberto Clemente, Steve Blass, and the Pirates in 1971.
But that makes the 1970 club all the more memorable. There were seven All-Stars (Frank, Brooks, Palmer, Boog, Cuellar, Davey Johnson, and McNally). Boog Powell (.297/.412/.549, 35 HR, 114 RBI) was the AL MVP, finally nabbing the award after two previous top-three finishes in balloting. In a sign of things to come, Jim Palmer, Dave McNally, and Mike Cuellar were all 20-game winners, with the latter pair tying Minnesota’s Jim Perry with a league-leading 24. Brooks, Paul Blair, and Davey were Gold Glove winners. And of course the World Series became the Brooks Robinson Show, as #5 robbed the Cincinnati Reds time and time again with jaw-dropping plays at third base and hit .429 (9-for-21) with two doubles, two homers, and six RBI in the five-game set.
So if you’re in the neighborhood this weekend, drop on in at Eutaw Street and toast one of the greatest teams in the history of our fine city.