The 2023 MLB season is just days away from its culmination in the World Series. Unfortunately, the Baltimore Orioles fell short in this year's playoffs, but the young core provided a lot of things to look forward to. With four months until pitchers and catchers report to spring training, O's fans have plenty of time to talk about what we could be instore for in the near future, but I would like to take this time to look back at the past. 40 years in the past to be more accurate.
The 1983 Orioles season was a magical one that ended with their most recent World Series Championship. Going up against the Philadelphia Phillies in what was named "The I-95" series, in reference to interstate 95 that runs up and down the east coast, the Orioles and Phillies were two titans of baseball. The Orioles had won their second pennant in the last five years and the Phillies were trying to reclaim the title they had won just two years prior.
Reliving the Baltimore Orioles 1983 World Series title 40 years later
After winning the American League East and defeating the Chicago White Sox in the American League Championship Series, the O's were back in the World Series for the sixth time in franchise history. That Orioles team had a little bit of everything on that team.
They had the veteran leader in Jim Palmer, the established superstar Eddie Murray and the rising superstar and 1983 MVP Cal Ripken Jr. Add in some Rick Dempsey personality and you had a recipe for greatness that put on a tremendous show.
The Birds received home field advantage for the series and the first two games were played at Memorial Stadium. The Orioles get off to a fast start in game one when Jim Dwyer homered off Phillies starter John Denny in the bottom of the first. Denny then settled in and finished 7.2 innings allowing only the one run. The O's sent ace pitcher Scott McGregor, who won 18 games that season, to the mound for game one.
McGregor held a powerful Phillies lineup that included Joe Morgan, Pete Rose and Mike Schmidt to just four hits in eight innings. Unfortunately, two of those hits were solo home runs by Morgan (6th inning) and Garry Maddox (8th inning). Al Holland came in and recorded the last four outs for the Phillies as they won game one 2-1 and stole home field advantage.
Game two saw the Orioles come to life. Seven different Orioles recorded hits as the offense scored four runs on nine hits against Phillies pitchers. They scored three runs in the fifth inning, including a home run from John Lowenstein, who had a three hit day and was a triple away from the cycle. Dempsey added an RBI double, and Mike Boddicker helped his own cause with an RBI sacrifice fly.
Ripken added an RBI in the seventh to increase the lead to three. The player of the game was Boddicker. On top of his RBI sacrifice fly, Boddicker went the distance allowing one run on three hits with six strikeouts. The Orioles had evened the series at 1-1 and would take all of the momentum with them to Philadelphia.
Mike Flanagan was the Birds starter for game three of the series. Flanagan struggled a bit, allowing home runs to Gary Matthews and Joe Morgan in the second and third innings. He managed to complete four innings but with the Birds trailing by two runs, Manager Joe Altobelli chose to pinch hit for Flanagan in the fifth with Ken Singelton after Dempsey had doubled.
The Birds didn't score that inning and now needed a pitcher who could give them multiple innings without letting the Phillies extend their lead. Enter Jim Palmer. Palmer had now appeared in all six Orioles World Series in three different decades. The O's cut the lead to 2-1 in the sixth on a Dan Ford home run and Palmer worked his way out of trouble in the bottom of the inning to complete two scoreless innings out of the bullpen.
The O's tied the game in the top of the seventh when Dempsey hit yet another double and Benny Ayala singled him home knocking Phillies starter Steve Carlton from the game. Ayala scored the go ahead run on a Ford hit a ground ball that got past Phillies shortstop Ivan de Jesus. Sammy Stewart pitched two scoreless innings with three strikeouts and Tippy Martinez pitched a perfect ninth to secure the win and a 2-1 series lead.
Game four was more of an offensive battle with each team getting 10 hits. After being held scoreless through the first three innings, both offenses came to life in the fourth. After Dwyer, Ripken and Murray all singled to start the inning, Rich Dauer singled with one out to drive in Dwyer and Ripken giving the Birds a 2-0 lead.
Joe Lefebvre doubled off Storm Davis to drive in Rose and cut the lead in half in the bottom of the fourth. The Phillies scored two more runs in the bottom of the fifth to take a 3-2 lead, but the O's answered right back with two in the sixth on a Singleton bases loaded walk and John Shelby sacrifice fly.
The Orioles scored a much needed insurance run in the seventh when Dauer singled home Dwyer extending the O's lead to 5-3. Martinez, who entered the game in the eighth inning, gave up one run in the ninth but was able to get Morgan to line out to end the game. The Orioles now had a commanding 3-1 lead in the series with one game left in Philadelphia.
After the 1979 World Series that saw the Orioles blow a 3-1 lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates and lose the series in seven games, the Orioles knew the importance of buckling down to get that last win and that's exactly what they did. After back to back nail biters, the Birds came out and completely shut down the Phillies in game five of the series.
The Birds scored early and often as the put one run in the second and third innings, two runs in the fourth and one more in the fifth. Eddie Murray went 3-4 with two home runs and three RBI's, Rick Dempsey added a home run of his own and went 2-3 with two runs and an RBI. Ripken added a run scored and Bumbry had an RBI.
McGregor pitched brilliantly, striking out six batters while allowing five hits (never more than one in an inning) and completing all nine innings. The final out being a lineout to Cal Ripken Jr that we have all seen more times than we can count.
The Orioles were on top of the world as they won their third World Series in franchise history. Rick Dempsey was named the series MVP. He scored three runs, had one RBI, walked twice and batted 5-13 with all five of his hits going to extra bases (4 doubles, 1 home run). It's been 40 years since the Orioles and their fans got to experience that feeling, but as the Brooklyn Dodgers used to say "Wait 'til next year."