The Orioles have been creating postseason memories for more than half a century. With the team poised to make more in 2023, here’s a look back at the most magical moments in franchise history.
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1966: Moe Drabowsky fans 11 in Dodgers relief
Summoned in the third inning, with the bases loaded and one out, Orioles reliever Moe Drabowsky does the improbable: He holds the Los Angeles Dodgers to one hit for the last 6 2/3 innings in a 5-2 victory in the 1966 World Series opener. En route, the journeyman right-hander, whom the Orioles drafted on the cheap in the offseason, strikes out 11 Dodgers, including six in a row, retiring all six of them swinging.
Drabowsky’s effort sets the tempo for the Orioles’ four-game sweep: Los Angeles does not score again in the Series.
1966: Jim Palmer comes of age against Sandy Koufax
Jim Palmer is 20 years old when he bests Dodgers ace and Cy Young Award winner Sandy Koufax, 6-0, in Game 2 of the 1966 World Series. Koufax had won 27 games that season; Palmer, 15. But the latter’s high fastball holds Los Angeles, the defending world champion, to four hits in the first of three straight shutouts by Orioles pitchers.
Koufax retires thereafter and enters the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972. Palmer pitches an additional 17 years and is enshrined in 1990.
1966: Brooks Robinson elevates as O’s reach rare air
Dave McNally’s four-hitter and Frank Robinson’s home run give the Orioles a 1-0 victory as they sweep the Dodgers, four straight, in the 1966 World Series. When center fielder Paul Blair curls his glove around a fly ball for the final out, third baseman Brooks Robinson leaps toward heaven. His look in that iconic photo is euphoric; his jump, Jordanesque.
“My kids still think it was trick photography,” Robinson said later. “They tell me, ‘Dad, you never jumped that high in your life.’“
It’s the first championship for Baltimore, which plays errorless ball and holds Los Angeles scoreless for the last 33 innings, a World Series record.
1969: Paul Blair’s walk-off bunt wins first-ever ALCS game
After Boog Powell ties the first-ever American League Championship Series game with a ninth-inning home run, Paul Blair lays down a two-out squeeze bunt to score a charging Mark Belanger from third base in the 12th as the Orioles defeat the Minnesota Twins, 4-3, at Memorial Stadium. Baltimore sweeps the best-of-five series in 1969 before losing to the New York Mets in the World Series, 4 games to 1.
1970: Pitcher Mike Cuellar muscles up at the plate
Pitcher Mike Cuellar, an .089 hitter during the regular season, lofts a wind-aided grand slam in Minnesota off Twins ace Jim Perry to lead the Orioles to a 10-6 victory in Game 1 of the 1970 ALCS. Baltimore sweeps the series, then defeats Cincinnati, 4 games to 1, in the World Series.
1970: Brooks Robinson puts on a clinic at third base
Moments after the Orioles defeat the Cincinnati Reds, 9-3, in Game 5 to win the 1970 World Series, the Baseball Hall of Fame asks for third baseman Brooks Robinson’s glove. Small wonder. His backhand stabs, diving catches and off-balance pegs foil the Reds and earn Robinson MVP honors. Fittingly, in the final game, he throws out the last batter.
“I never saw a man dominate a single event like Robinson in [that Series],” baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn says later.
1971: Orioles hit four homers in Game 2 vs. A’s
Though held to seven hits by Oakland’s Catfish Hunter, the Orioles slug four home runs in a 5-1 win over the A’s in Game 2 of the 1971 ALCS. Boog Powell homers twice while Brooks Robinson and Elrod Hendricks also connect. The Orioles sweep the best-of-five series.
1971: Frank Robinson’s mad dash forces Game 7
Daring base running by Frank Robinson keys a 3-2 walk-off victory over Pittsburgh in Game 6 of the 1971 World Series. In the 10th inning, Robinson draws a walk and, on a single by Merv Rettenmund, races to third, barely beating the throw. When Brooks Robinson hits a short fly to center field, Frank Robinson tags up after the catch and sprints home, just under the tag of the Pirates’ catcher. Pittsburgh captures the Series the next day.
1973: Andy Etchebarren’s homer keys comeback vs. A’s
Blanked for six innings by Vida Blue, Oakland’s 20-game winner, the Orioles rally from a 4-0 deficit in the seventh inning in Game 4 of the 1973 ALCS. Light-hitting Andy Etchebarren’s three-run home run ties the game and, an inning later, Bobby Grich homers for a 5-4 win. The A’s go on to win the series in five games and the world championship.
1979: John Lowenstein’s pinch homer beats Angels
John Lowenstein’s pinch-hit, three-run home run in the 10th inning gives the Orioles a 6-3 walk-off victory over the California Angels in Game 1 of the 1979 ALCS. With two outs, Lowenstein hits an 0-2 pitch into the left field stands. Overjoyed, manager Earl Weaver races onto the field, meets Lowenstein between second and third base and hugs the game’s hero. The Orioles go on to win the series, 3 games to 1.
1979: Six-run eighth inning rallies Orioles vs. Pirates
Trailing 6-3 in the eighth inning, the Orioles explode for six runs to beat Pittsburgh, 9-6, in Game 4 of the 1979 World Series. In the comeback, two pinch hitters, John Lowenstein and Terry Crowley, deliver two-run doubles and pitcher Tim Stoddard knocks in a run with a single, his first base hit as a pro. The Pirates win the next three games to take the Series.
1983: Mike Boddicker strikes out 14 White Sox
Rookie right-hander Mike Boddicker stymies Chicago with his off-speed pitches, striking out a playoff-record-tying 14 batters as the Orioles even the 1983 ALCS with the White Sox at one game apiece. Boddicker’s five-hit masterpiece earns him the series’ MVP award.
1983: Tito Landrum’s homer breaks scoreless tie in 10th
Tito Landrum slams a 10th-inning home run into the upper deck at Chicago’s Comiskey Park to break a scoreless game as the Orioles defeat the White Sox, 3-0, in the clinching Game 4 of the 1983 ALCS.
“Pinch me before I get out of here and make me believe it really happened,” said Landrum, a longtime minor league outfielder whom the soon-to-be world champs acquired Aug. 31.
1983: Scott McGregor closes out the Phillies in Series finale
The Orioles get two prodigious Eddie Murray home runs — one of which caroms off the Phillies’ scoreboard — and one by Series MVP Rick Dempsey. Shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. catches the final out. With that, McGregor pumps his fist and is buried in orange.
1996: Embattled Roberto Alomar ties, wins game
Roberto Alomar turns from spitter to hitter, drilling a fastball over the right field wall in Cleveland in the 12th inning to give the Orioles a 4-3 win over the Indians in the clinching Game 4 of the 1996 ALDS. Alomar, who — eight days earlier — had drawn public ire when he spat in the face of umpire John Hirschbeck, also hit a two-out, two-strike, game-tying RBI single in the ninth inning. The Orioles drop the ALCS to the New York Yankees, 4 games to 1.
1997: Mike Mussina and Jeff Reboulet best Randy Johnson
In a duel between two future Hall of Famers, the Orioles’ Mike Mussina beats Seattle’s Randy Johnson for the second time in four days as Baltimore defeats the Mariners, 3-1, in Game 4 of the best-of-five series to win the 1997 AL Division Series. All told, Mussina allows three runs and strikes out 16 batters in 14 innings against Seattle, the highest-scoring team in baseball. The Orioles’ first run comes on a home run from light-hitting utility player Jeff Reboulet off Johnson, who went 20-4 in the regular season.
1997: Brady Anderson shines with glove, bat
Brady Anderson sparkles in Game 1 of the 1997 ALCS. In the first inning, he scales the center field wall at Oriole Park to rob Cleveland’s Manny Ramirez of a home run. Then, on the next pitch, Anderson — the Orioles’ leadoff hitter — slams a home run as Baltimore defeats the Indians, 3-0. But Cleveland takes the series, 4 games to 2.
2012: Joe Saunders shuts down Rangers in wild-card win
Unheralded pitcher Joe Saunders, signed to a minor league deal in August, holds high-scoring Texas to one run in 5 2/3 innings in a 5-1 wild-card win over the Rangers in 2012. It’s the first playoff game in 15 years for the Orioles and the first victory for Saunders in seven career decisions in Texas, the two-time defending AL champion. But the Orioles lose in the ALDS to the New York Yankees, 3 games to 2.
2014: Delmon Young’s three-run double rallies Orioles
Delmon Young hits a pinch-hit, three-run double in the eighth inning to give the Orioles a 7-6 comeback win over the Detroit Tigers in Game 2 of the 2014 ALDS. The sellout crowd at Camden Yards gives a standing ovation to Young, a clutch pinch hitter all year whom Baltimore signed as a free agent in January.
2014: Nelson Cruz keeps it fair, helps put away Tigers
Orioles fans erupt in the sixth inning as a fly ball by Nelson Cruz hugs the right field foul pole and lands in the first row of the stands in Detroit for a two-run home run. That’s all Baltimore needs to defeat the Tigers, 2-1, in Game 3 of the 2014 ALDS for its first postseason sweep since 1971. The Orioles are swept in four games by the Kansas City Royals in the ALCS.