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BaltimoreBaseball: To Be Frank

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Jack Gibbons


It was a sunny afternoon in early October, the kind that connects the fading of summer with the emergence of fall and its bold colors. I was about to make a bold prediction, with my dad as a witness. We had stopped at a diner after going to the grocery store, and I was seated on a stool next to a man who loved to talk baseball. The year was 1966, and the Orioles were about to play the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series — the Dodgers of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, the Dodgers no one thought could lose.

No one except, perhaps, those blinded by the light of their loyalty. Baseball was an equalizer for me when it came to talking with adults. I studied it more closely than I did my subjects in school. And that year I bonded with the Orioles because of the trade that changed the perception and direction of the team — Milt Pappas for Frank Robinson. Until then, I loved the game more than the Orioles. I appreciated the power and athleticism of Mickey Mantle; the grace and dominance of Bob Gibson; the elegance and brilliance of Koufax. I was drawn more to the stars, and one was coming to Baltimore.


The celebration at grandmom’s house was more subdued, but I was bursting with joy, and a little pride. The Sun headline on Monday said, “Would You Believe It? Four Straight!”

It was a turning point for the Orioles and Dodgers. Baltimore was baseball’s best team in 1969, ’70 and ’71, winning more than 100 games and reaching the World Series all three seasons. It won in 1970 and again in 1983, its last title. Etchebarren became a footnote in history. He was the last player Koufax faced before retiring after the 1966 season because of an arthritic elbow. It took years for the Dodgers to recover.

It took me until the following Friday to collect on my bet. The hot chocolate tasted sweet. It was a lucky bet on my part, one made with my heart instead of my head. But that childlike belief led to a joy that has never been recaptured by another team. I have Frank Robinson to thank for that, and the 1966 Baltimore Orioles.


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25 minutes ago, Tx Oriole said:

That was good.  I remember that World Series. Four straight for the O's. I'm afraid it's going to be awhile before they get back to the WS. 

This series was what prompted me to become an Orioles fan. It was awesome to even see on tv.

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Five years later is when I started rooting for the Orioles, in October of 1971. I was a six year-old boy, in 1st grade. My whole family was rooting for the Pirates in the World Series because they liked Roberto Clemente ......... so naturally, I rooted for the Orioles)¬¬  )I remember that we won Game 6 when an Orioles runner slid home underneath the Pirates' catcher who had leaped in the air for the throw (I later learned that it was Frank Robinson sliding underneath Manny Sanguillen.) I remember all of the Orioles hugging each other at home plate. The next day was a different story. It was a close game. My family was really excited with the Pirates having a 2-1 lead with only one out to go. I still remember the final out of the ninth inning. It was a groundout. My family whooped it up in the living room, while I went outside and pouted on the swing-set in our back yard in Brewster Heights. I've been bleeding orange and back ever since, and I haven't regretted my decision for one minute of my life. ) :cool:



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I was 9 and had been to my first games at Memorial Stadium with my Dad in 1965, but I remember the 1966 season and World Series as if  it were yesterday.  My best friend and I were at his house for the afternoon start of Game 1 in Los Angeles and were dancing around his living room when the Robinsons hit back to back homers in the first inning. 

I was lucky enough to go with my Dad to game 3..we sat in the left field upper section...I remember Oriole catcher Dick Brown threw out the first pitch and my Dad telling me he had a brain cancer earlier that spring and couldn’t play anymore. I remember Claude Osteen was really smooth.  Wally Bunker had a great pitching day with a complete game shutout...Curt Blefary made a great running catch in the first inning right below where we were in left field. and Luis Aparicio threw the last guy out on a grounder...my Dad and I were hugging and jumping up and down.

I have since been fortunate enough  to go to one game of every World Series we have been in, but that first one was just amazing! 

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