Happy 4th of July!
Let’s talk about Oriole baseball. Baseball is as American as Jazz and eating competitions. This year is the anniversary of the Baltimore Orioles first World Series. This title was earned fifty years ago, so I don’t remember it. Actually, I’ve never been alive for any of the Orioles World series titles. Get on that guys!
Despite my late arrival on the scene, I love the story of the 1966 World Series. The Orioles were not supposed to win. The Dodgers were the reigning world champions. They had the legendary Sandy Koufax (and the only name on the roster that I recognized) on their team! The Orioles, by contrast, had finished 1965 in third place and had just traded away their best pitcher, Mitt Pappas, for a guy from Cincinnati. The guy’s name was Frank Robinson, and would go on to win the Triple crown, the AL MVP award, and the World Series MVP award. Nobody knew this at the beginning of the season, but it was the beginning of Orioles Magic.
Mitt Pappas did not have a good time in Cincinnati, but Frank Robinson may have had a worse introduction to Baltimore. At the time, segregation still had a strangle hold on the city, and housing was still restricted. While Frank headed down to Florida for spring training with his new team, his wife, Barbara, went to Baltimore to find a place for them to live. The first agent she talked to though she was the wife of the Orioles renown third basemen, Brooks Robinson, who is white, and enthusiastically listed all of the places they could look. When Barbara Robinson showed up, and was not white, the agent said they couldn’t work with her. The second agent showed her a place that, to put it mildly, was uninhabitable. Eventually, she found an apartment in the same building as Paul Blair lived, but still not the best impression.
By the time the season ended, the Orioles were nine games ahead of the Twins, who finished second, while the Dodgers held on to their first place spot with both hands, clinching the pennant in the second game of a double header on the last day of the season. This was before playoffs, so the Orioles and Dodgers headed straight to the World Series.
The Dodgers had been to the World Series four times in the last eight years. This would be their last trip until 1974. Which doesn’t exactly put them in the league with the Red Sox or the Cubs, but it’s still something. They scored once in the second inning and once in the third inning of the first game, and then never again, getting swept by the Orioles and their dominant pitching. In fact, the pitcher up against Dodger Ace Sandy Koufax in game 2 was 20 year old Jim Palmer, in the first of 3 world series he would win with the Orioles, making him a member of EVERY Orioles world series winning team.
A great place to learn more about this World Series, this season, and both teams is Tom Edelman’s Black and Blue. It’s a great book, and gave me the story about Frank Robimson’s wife.
One last reason that this was one of my favorite series, it gave the world my all time favorite baseball photo. It’s hard to beat Brooks Robinson jumping four feet off the ground in joy.