Tuesday, August 29, 2017

PTWSW #80: The 1983 Baltimore Orioles

Manager: Joe Altobelli
Record: 98-64
Ballpark: Memorial Stadium
Owner: Edward Bennett Williams
GM: Hank Peters
Coaches: Elrod Hendricks, Ray Miller, Cal Ripken, Ralph Rowe, Jimmy Williams

Future Hall of Famers: Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, Cal Ripken Jr.

All-Stars: Tippy Martinez, Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken Jr.

Team Leaders, Batting

BA: Cal Ripken, .318
OBP: Eddie Murray, Ken Singleton, .393
SLG: Eddie Murray, .538
OPS: Eddie Murray, .930
2B: Cal Ripken, 47 (AL leader)
3B: Al Bumbry, Dan Ford, 4
HR: Eddie Murray, 33
RBI: Eddie Murray, 111
BB: Ken Singleton, 99
SB: John Shelby, 15

Team Leaders, Pitching

W: Scott McGregor, 18
SO: Storm Davis, 125
ERA: Mike Boddicker, 2.77
IP: Scott McGregor, 260.0
CG: Scott McGregor, 12
SHO: Mike Boddicker, 5 (AL leader)
K/BB: Mike Boddicker, 2.31
SV: Tippy Martinez, 21


Oldest Player: Jim Palmer (b. October 15, 1945)

Youngest Player: Storm Davis (b. December 26, 1961)

First to Leave Us: Aurelio Rodriguez (d. September 23, 2000). While a pedestrian walking the streets of Detroit, Rodriguez was struck by a vehicle that veered off the road.

Last Survivor: Most are still living as of the date of this post.

First in Majors: Jim Palmer (debut April 17, 1965)

Last in Majors: Cal Ripken (final game October 6, 2001)

First to Play For the Franchise: Jim Palmer (April 17, 1965)

Last to Play For the Franchise: Cal Ripken (October 6, 2001)

Pre-union Team: No team had more than two.

Reunion Team: The 1986 Yankees (Leo Hernandez, Gary Roenicke and Tim Stoddard) and 1989-90 Dodgers (Rick Dempsey, Eddie Murray and John Shelby) each had three.


Cal Ripken, AL MVP
Eddie Murray, AL First Base Gold Glove
Eddie Murray, AL First Base Silver Slugger
Cal Ripken, AL Shortstop Silver Slugger

Season Summary

The 1982 AL East division race was a classic. The Baltimore Orioles and Milwaukee Brewers were scheduled for a four-game set to close out the season, with Milwaukee needing only one win to clinch the title. The Orioles, however, weren't going to roll over, as longtime manager Earl Weaver was set to retire, and they won the first three games to force a winner-take-all showdown on the last day of the season. Unfortunatley for Baltimore, the magic ran out there, as the Brewers romped to their first-ever division title.

Despite coming up a game short in '82, the Orioles' late-season momentum gave them optimism heading into the next season. Their core of players remained intact, and the general consensus on the club was that 1983 was going to be their year. Taking Weaver's spot in the dugout was Yankee third base coach Joe Altobelli, who was familiar with several players on the roster due to having previously managed the Orioles' top farm club in Rochester. Altobelli lacked Weaver's large personality, but he was a good man to keep the ship on the course it had begun.

The Orioles were a typical team built in the mold of Earl Weaver: Baltimore led the league in home runs and on-base percentage, while stealing few bases, employing platoons, and playing solid defense behind a sturdy pitching staff. They had two big stars in Eddie Murray, a consistently productive slugger and steady presence at first base, and Cal Ripken Jr., the 1982 Rookie of the Year and son of third base coach Cal Ripken Sr. The young Ripken played every inning at shortstop for the '83 Birds, and was a powerful force on both offense and defense who would be named league MVP for his work that season. Beyond that, the Orioles' strength was their depth of talent.

After getting off to slow starts the previous few years, the Orioles finished April a half-game in first place and stayed above .500 for the rest of the season. The American League East was a strong division in 1983, with five of the seven teams finishing with winning records, and all but the last-place Indians coming within a game of first place at some point after May. The Orioles fell behind different rivals at various points of the season: The Red Sox in May, the Blue Jays in June and July, and the Brewers and Tigers in August. However, an eight-game winning streak at the end of August catapulted them into first place for good. They paid back the Brewers for clinching on their turf the previous season by going to Milwaukee and wrapping up the divison title in County Stadium behind young fireballer Storm Davis.

The Orioles didn't make any huge transactions that season, but there were two worth noting: The trade for reserve outfielder Tito Landrum from the Cardinals and the purchase of infielder Todd Cruz from the Mariners. The Orioles had been weak at third base all year, between young Leo Hernandez, a weak defender whose bat hadn't delivered on the promise of his minor league numbers, and veteran Aurelio Rodriguez, who could still play strong defense but couldn't hit a lick. Cruz plugged the hole at third, and while he wasn't the glove man Rodriguez was, or even the hitter Hernandez was, he proved to be a better all-around option. As for Landrum, he would provide a significant moment in October.

The ALCS pitted the Orioles against the Chicago White Sox, who'd had a strong second half to run away with a weak AL West division. The Sox won Game 1 when their ace, Cy Young winner LaMarr Hoyt, outdueled Baltimore ace Scott McGregor 2-1. Undeterred, the Orioles bounced back in Game 2 with a shutout from rookie Mike Boddicker. Boddicker had begun the season in the minors, but he joined the big club in May to give the rotation a boost, and he didn't disappoint. Shutouts were something of a specialty of his; he threw one in his first start of the season, and led the league with five scoreless outings. Now he'd thrown another to get his team back on track. When the series shifted to Chicago, the O's spoiled things for the hometown fans by drubbing the Sox 11-1 in Game 3.

With one win still needed for a pennant, the Orioles sent Storm Davis to the mound, while the Pale Hose sent lefty Britt Burns. It was a tight battle, with a scoreless game and both starters still duking it out in the seventh inning. When White Sox first baseman Greg Walker led off the bottom of the inning with a single, Altobelli pulled Davis in favor of relief ace Tippy Martinez. The Sox got runners on first and second with one out, and Julio Cruz singled to left. Sox runner Jerry Dybzinski, who didn't realize that lead runner Vance Law was being held at third, got caught between the bases, and when the Oriole defense threw to second, Law broke for home attempting to score on the play, where he was thrown out. The Orioles escaped the inning unscathed, and the game remained scoreless till the end of regulation.

In the tenth inning, with Burns still chugging along for the White Sox, Tito Landrum came up to bat with one out. Landrum, not known for his power, finally put a run on the board with a solo homer to left. The Orioles would score two more against the White Sox bullpen to take a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the tenth, where Martinez closed it out with little incident. For the first time in four years, the Orioles were American League champions. Baltimore's run prevention had carried them, as they allowed only three White Sox runs in the four games. For his masterful effort in Game 2, Mike Boddicker was named ALCS MVP.

The World Series with the veteran-laden Philadelphia Phillies bore some resemblance to the LCS; in Game 1 the Orioles faced a Cy Young winner at Memorial Stadium, this time John Denny, and lost 2-1. Game 2 was once again started by young Boddicker, and while he didn't throw a shutout, he allowed only one run in a complete game victory. Going on the road for Games 3 through 5, the Orioles were unfazed by the crowd in Philly; they won Games 3 and 4 by one run each, then handed the ball to McGregor for Game 5, where he pitched a shutout to clinch the title. It was Baltimore's first World Series championship since 1970. Catcher Rick Dempsey was named World Series MVP for his .385 batting average, two RBI, and five extra-base hits.


Baseball Reference
Baseball Almanac
Google News Archives
Cal Ripken Jr, The Only Way I Know