Orioles' last World Series win was 30 years ago

Orioles' last World Series win was 30 years ago
October 16, 2013, 8:45 am
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Maybe you’re old enough to remember Cal Ripken catching Garry Maddox’s soft liner and the young, soon to be Iron Man jumping up and down.

It was late on a Sunday afternoon, and the Baltimore Orioles were the World Series champions for the third time in their history.

The Orioles beat the Philadelphia Phillies in five games, and Scott McGregor pitched a five-hit shutout.

Thirty years ago today. October 16, 1983.

Does it seem like it’s been that long?

“I look in the mirror, it sure does,” McGregor said on Tuesday night.

“Not really, 30 years, it has been a while. It’s still vivid to me.”

It’s vivid to lots of Orioles fans because there hasn’t been a World Series since. It was Jim Palmer’s sixth and final World Series, but the only one for Ripken.

Time has been a friend to most of the 1983 Orioles. Rick Dempsey, the Most Valuable Player of that series is still around as a broadcaster on pre and post-game shows and as an owner of a restaurant in the Warehouse that bears his name.

The hale and hearty Palmer celebrated his 68th birthday on Tuesday, and Ken Singleton at 66, still lives in the Baltimore area and broadcasts Yankees games. Tippy Martinez, who picked off three runners in one inning in an August game also lives here, too. So does Al Bumbry.

Eddie Murray, who would play in the 1995 World Series for Cleveland, won his only Series and hit two home runs in the clinching game, is back in Los Angeles.

Rich Dauer, named to the Orioles Hall of Fame in 2012, is a manager in the San Diego farm system.

There’s been sadness, too. Todd Cruz, the starting third baseman died in 2008. Of course Mike Flanagan is gone, his 2011 suicide still an unspeakable shock to his friends.

Sammy Stewart, the useful long reliever who allowed just two hits in five scoreless innings that Series, has been in and out of jail with substance abuse problems.

Then there are the other names, the ones that bring a smile to fan’s faces. The ones they perhaps haven’t thought of in years: backup catcher Joe Nolan, Lenn Sakata, the infielder who was Martinez’s catcher the inning he picked off three, Benny Ayala, Gary Roenicke and Dan Ford.

How about Tito Landrum, who hit a key home run to help the Orioles beat the White Sox in the ALCS, but was returned to St. Louis after the Series?

Or John Lowenstein, the free spirited outfielder who became a free associating broadcaster? Lowenstein left town in the mid-1990s and has hardly been heard from since.

Dennis Martinez was on that team, too, but he didn’t appear in the World Series. He ended up winning 245 games and is the now Houston’s bullpen coach.

For McGregor, who spent the last six weeks of the season as the Orioles bullpen coach, winning that game was so important.

He remembered a similar commanding lead in the 1979 World Series with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“A couple of years before we were up 3-1, and that didn’t work out so well. Last time, we took it for granted,” McGregor remembered. “We prepared well. That was a fun team.”

Many forget that Joe Altobelli was in his first season managing the club. Earl Weaver had retired the season before, and Altobelli was chosen over Cal Ripken, Sr. By June 1985, Altobelli was gone and Weaver was back, but not for long.

Some of Altobelli’s coaches have left us. Ripken, hitting coach Ralph Rowe and popular bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks are dead. Pitching coach Ray Miller is retired and living in Ohio. First base coach Jimmy Williams is 87 and living in Harford County.

McGregor remembers that team fondly.

Brooks and Frank Robinson had retired. So had Dave McNally and Mike Cuellar. Mark Belanger was gone. It was a newer guard.

“We were developing our own thing,” McGregor said.

After the win over the Phillies at Veterans Stadium, the Orioles set out to defend their title.

“We were assuming in 1984, we’d do it again, and then the Tigers started off 45-0,” McGregor jokes.

Detroit actually started the next season 35-5, and the Orioles were never in the race.

“Free agency came and guys started leaving for bigger money,” McGregor said.

Six months later, the Colts stole away to Indianapolis and the Orioles were the undisputed kings of the town.

McGregor had five more seasons with the Orioles, and in recent years has been pitching coach for some of their minor league affiliates as well as working in Sarasota, Fla. on rehab assignments. Time has flown.

“You don’t realize how special it is until 30 years are past,” McGregor says.