Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Vintage Fridays: Tom Phoebus, 1969 Topps #185

On April 27, 1968 - exactly 44 years ago today - Baltimore native Tom Phoebus tossed the third no-hitter in team history, cruising to a 6-0 win over the Boston Red Sox in front of a paltry Saturday afternoon crowd of 3,147 at Memorial Stadium. There was an 83-minute rain delay, which might help explain the low turnout. The 26 year-old righty walked a pair of BoSox batters and threw a wild pitch in a shaky first inning, but catcher Curt Blefary (making only his fourth start behind the plate after beginning his career as a first baseman/outfielder) gunned down Joe Foy on an attempted steal of third base to wipe out Boston's first and last runner in scoring position. Starting with an inning-ending groundout by Reggie Smith, Phoebus put down 13 Boston hitters in a row before a sixth-inning walk by Gene Oliver gave the visitors their only other baserunner on the day.

The O's gave Tom a little wiggle room with a four-run third inning. The pitcher actually sparked the rally himself with a one-out single off of his opposite, Boston starter Gary Waslewski. Paul Blair also singled, and a two-out grounder by Blefary was booted by Sox first baseman George Scott, loading the bases and keeping the inning alive for Brooks Robinson, who cleared the sacks with a double to right field. A wild pitch moved Brooks over to third, at which point Boog Powell was intentionally walked to bring up Davey Johnson. Davey singled to knock in Robinson and make it 4-0.

The Orioles added single runs in the fifth on another Johnson hit and the eighth on Phoebus' second single. Davey scored on the latter after doubling for his team-high third hit of the game, as he and his pitcher were the only Birds with multi-hit games that day. Tom picked up momentum as he got deeper into the game, shrugging off the leadoff walk of Oliver in the sixth inning to mow down the final 12 Red Sox to come to bat. The biggest threat to the feat was a one-out sinking line drive hit by Rico Petrocelli in the eighth inning. Naturally, Brooks Robinson lunged to his right and plucked it off of his shoetops. Phoebus sealed his no-hit gem by striking out Foy for the final out, giving him his ninth whiff against three walks. The pitcher's final Game Score was 93, matching Hoyt Wilhelm's 1958 blanking of the Yankees (8 K/2 BB) for the highest mark by an Oriole in a no-hitter.

Tom, who grew up playing stickball in the Hampden neighborhood, now lives in Palm City, FL. He is a retired physical education teacher who enjoys golfing.


Jim from Downingtown said...

Phoebus held the 1967 staff together after all the 1966 heroes went down with arm troubles.

Someone (maybe you on your '65 blog?) mentioned recently that Blefary was named "Clank" by Frank Robinson, due to his fielding "prowess".

Seems like catcher is not where you would choose to hide someone with defensive deficiencies.

Kevin said...

Jim - I think the catcher experiment started because Etchebarren was injured. Desperate times...