They Never Saw the Baltimore Orioles Coming

Harold FriendChief Writer IMay 28, 2009

COOPERSTOWN, NY - JULY 27:  Hall of Famers Frank Robinson (L) and Sandy Koufax talk at Clark Sports Center prior to the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony on July 27, 2008 in Cooperstown, New York.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Everybody is a baseball expert. Has there ever been a fan that didn't think he could manage his team better than its manager?

Just listen to talk radio for a few minutes. The truth is that nobody is a baseball expert.

Arthur Daley Was a Great Baseball Writer

Arthur Daley joined the New York Times in 1926. He was a baseball columnist for 31 years, starting in 1942. In 1956, he became the first sportswriter to win a Pulitzer Prize.

Arthur Daley never claimed to be a baseball expert, but he certainly knew baseball, and a column he wrote before the 1966 World Series serves as a template for all who do consider them baseball prognosticators.

The Experienced, Favored Dodgers

The young Baltimore Orioles were facing an experienced Los Angeles Dodgers' team that had finished second in 1962, swept the Yankees in 1963, finished out of contention is 1964, but that bounced back to beat the Twins in the 1965 World Series.

The experts, including Arthur Daley, gave the Orioles little chance of winning more than a game or two.

Koufax and Drysdale vs. McNally and Palmer

The Series would open in Los Angeles with Don Drysdale facing young Dave McNally. Game 2 would pit Sandy Koufax against Jim Palmer, who was not yet 21 years old.

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Daley wrote "Good pitching, the experts insist, will invariably negate good hitting and the Dodgers have the arms to lend substance to that theory. It was pitching that got them where they are today and it could sweep them through the series so fast it would shrivel every crab cake in Baltimore."

Sandy Koufax was coming off a season which was one of the greatest any pitcher ever had. He was 27-9 with a 1.73 ERA, 27 complete games, 317 strikeouts, and a 190 ERA+.

Don Drysdale, however, had a poor season, losing more than he won (13-16). He had a high ERA of 3.42 for those days, and his ERA+ was 96.

Dave McNally won 13 games and Jim Palmer won 15. It seemed as if they were no match for Los Angeles.

The Orioles' Were Mediocre After July

Arthur Daley thought that the Orioles' timing was bad.

"If they had played it in July, they probably would have been favorites. At the halfway mark the Baltimores had torn their league apart. Steve Barber was heading for a 20 game year, and everything clicked handsomely for Hank Bauer, the manager with the Midas touch."

Steve Barber developed tendonitis and would not pitch against the Dodgers. The Orioles played .500 ball the remainder of the season.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles struggled most of the season, and only Koufax' dominance kept them in contention with the Giants and Pirates. The Dodgers finally took over first on Sept. 11.

The Orioles Superior Offense

The Orioles had the superior offense team, led by Triple Crown winner Frank Robinson, who hit 49 home runs. Boog Powell had 34 home runs with 109 RBIs, and Brooks Robinson had 23 home runs with 100 RBIs.

Many of the experts felt that since both Chavez Ravine and Memorial Stadium were large ballparks, the Orioles' edge in offense was less important than the Dodgers' pitching advantage.

Entering the Series, the Dodgers had played five World Series games in Chavez Ravine and won them all.

The Orioles' Weak Pitching

The experts, including Arthur Daley, considered pitching to be the Orioles' weakness. Their bullpen was solid, but it was predicted that the starting pitching was not strong enough to give the relief pitchers opportunities to win or save games.

The "Experts" Are Wrong Again

What occurred is history. Los Angeles scored one run the second inning and one run in the third inning of Game 1. They never scored again.

Orioles' pitching held the Dodgers to a total of two runs, 17 hits, a .142 batting average, and an incredible .192 slugging average as they swept the Dodgers.

Predicting outcomes of baseball games, division and pennant winners, and World Champions is what fans do, but one must always remember the 1966 World Series—or the 1969 World Series—or the 1914 World Series.


Arthur Daley at Baseball Library

1966 World Series

By ARTHUR DALEY. (1966, October 5). Sports of The Times :A Matter of Identification. New York Times (1857-Current file),p. 51. Retrieved May 28, 2009, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2005) database. (Document ID: 121731496).


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