It was beautiful that autumn Sunday afternoon. It was October 16, 1983, the setting was Philadelphia’s old Veterans Stadium thirty years ago today. It was game five of the 1983 MLB World Series, 2 outs in the bottom of the ninth. The Orioles leading three games to one, had a 4-0 lead. Scotty McGregor was on the mound for the Orioles. Gary Maddox lines the ball to Cal Ripken at short and seals the game. The Baltimore Orioles are the 1983 World Champs.
The Baltimore Orioles came to Baltimore from St. Louis in 1954. At first they weren’t too good, but in 12 years they made the post season and went on to shock the baseball world by beating the LA Dodger four games to none. They won the American League East in 1969, 1970, and 1971. They lost to the Mets (4-1) in 1969, beat the Reds (4-1) in 1970 and lost to the Pirates in seven in 1971. The Orioles made the post season four times in their first 18 seasons, winning two world championships.
The Orioles went on to win the AL East in 1973 and 1974, only to lose to the Oakland A’s who went on to win three straight world titles. In 1979 Oriole Magic invaded Memorial Stadium as the Birds won the East, beat California in the ALCS only to blow a three games to one lead to Pittsburgh in the World Series. The Orioles once again made the post season in 1983 and went on to beat the Phillies 4-1 in the World Series. From 1954-1983, the Orioles made the post season eight times. In thirty seasons, the O’s made the post season on average once every 3.8 seasons or 27%.
From 1954 to 1983 the Orioles had only seven managers. Each manager lasted an average of 4.3 seasons. The Orioles were 2610-2456 (.560) from their inaugural season in 1954 to 1983 when they won the World Series. From their first post season appearance in 1966 to their 1983 triumph.
In contrast, the 1984 to 2013 seasons, saw fourteen managers guide the O’s to a 2330-2456 (.487) record. 14 managers in 30 years is an average of one manager every 2.1 years. From 1984 to 2013, the Orioles have only made the post season three times. That’s an average of once every ten years.
From 1954-1983, the Orioles played 70 post season games with a record of 43-27 (.614). From 1984-2013 the Orioles only made the playoffs three times. They only played 25 post season games with a 12-13 record (.480).
The Orioles won the American League regular season in 1966 to qualify for the series. In 1969, MLB went to two divisions in each league. The Orioles won the American League East in 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1979 and 1983. That was the only way to make the post season. The 1954-1983 Birds had only seven losing seasons, and 23 .500 or above seasons.
The post 1983 Orioles only won the AL East once (1997). Had MLB not dummied down the qualification to make the post season; they wouldn’t have qualified in 1996, and 2012. From 1984 to 2013, the Orioles only have had ten winning seasons and twenty losing seasons.
So what’s the point of all the stats and comparisons between the two eras? Well I think it’s obvious. From 1954-1983, the Orioles had good ownership, and a quality farm system. They were the model franchise. If the Orioles weren’t in the post season, they more than likely always competed for the AL East.
Things started to go down hill for the Birds post 1983. The organization went through some poor ownership under Eli Jacobs and Peter Angelos. The Orioles could pretty much do what they wanted after the 1983 season since the Colts left Baltimore. They got cocky because they were the only show in town. But in 1996 a new kid joined the Baltimore Sports family.
Since 1996 the Baltimore Ravens have made the playoffs nine times, appeared in four AFC Championship games and won two Superbowls. It’s no wonder why the Orioles are pretty much an after thought in Baltimore these day.