At the risk of becoming the Willard Scott of the Orioles blog community, I have to wish a happy 74th birthday to Frank Robinson, who made such a profound impact on the O's and the city of Baltimore that it's hard to believe that he played here for only six years. When Robby arrived in Charm City in the winter of 1966, the O's were a team loaded with talent that had not been able to get over the top. In the previous six years, they had posted five winning seasons (including four years with at least 89 wins) but had yet to bring home a pennant. In Number 20's very first year in orange and black, he:
-Hit home runs in his first three games of the season.
-Hit the only home run to ever leave Memorial Stadium on the fly, and did it against Luis Tiant, who had strung together three straight shutouts to start the season.
-Strengthened team chemistry by presiding over a kangaroo court.
-Became the Orioles' first black superstar.
-Saved the day in Yankee Stadium, robbing Roy White of a game-winning three-run homer by leaping and falling into the bleachers for the final out. According to Frank, the always-classy fans in New York made at least four death threats on him in between games of that day's doubleheader.
-Won the American League Triple Crown, leading the loop in average (.316), home runs (49), and RBI (122), as well as runs (122), on-base percentage (.410), and slugging (.637).
-Became the first player to win the Most Valuable Player award in both leagues.
-Won the World Series MVP, hitting two home runs in the O's four-game sweep over the favored Dodgers. His solo shot off of Don Drysdale accounted for the only run in the Series-clinching fourth game.
So Happy Birthday, Frank, and thanks for 1966 and everything since.