Saturday, January 14, 2012

The 1967 Orioles

Here are the 1967 Baltimore Orioles. The team swept the Dodgers in the 1966 World Series, but would have two off-years before returning to form and winning their division 5 times between 1969 and 1974, including 3 consecutive trips to the World Series (1969-71).

Here is the starting rotation (in order of innings pitched). Why did the Orioles falter in 1967? Instead of the 1966 rotation of Jim Palmer (15-10), Dave McNally (13-6), Steve Barber (10-5), and Wally Bunker (10-6), they had Tom Phoebus (14-9), Pete Richert (7-10), a 7-7 version of McNally, and rookie Jim Hardin (8-3). (Oh, Frank Robinson also missed 6 weeks with injuries and double vision.)

Other starting pitchers included Steve Barber, Gene Brabender, rookie Bill Dillman, and Wally Bunker. Barber was in the rotation for the first half of the season, until his July 4th trade to the Yankees. Bunker also began the season in the rotation, but by May 1st was relegated to the bullpen, with only occasional starts for the rest of the season. The others did their best to fill in.

The O's bullpen was headed up by World Series hero Moe Drabowsky, young Eddie Watt, 40-year-old Stu Miller, and knuckleballer Eddie Fisher.

Other pitchers spending some time with Baltimore in 1967 (in playing-time order): Jim Palmer came down with a sore arm, and would spend much of '67 and '68 in the minors. Frank Bertaina was sent to the Senators in the Mike Epstein trade in late May. Marcelino Lopez was acquired from the Angels in mid-June for infielder Woody Held, but pitched only 4 times the rest of the way. Dave Leonhard made his major-league debut in late September.

John Buzhardt had a 1-month stay with the Orioles on his way from the White Sox to the Astros. Mike Adamson and John Miller played briefly in 1967, Roger Freed did not. Hank Bauer was the Orioles' manager since 1964. He piloted the team to a championship in '66, but the Orioles' sudden fall would cost him his job by mid-1968. He would be replaced by Earl Weaver.

The same 8 regulars returned from the '66 championship team. Andy Etchebarren returns behind the plate, while Boog Powell was their #2 power source behind Frank Robinson. Dave Johnson was the top rookie 2nd baseman in '66. Why does perennial all-star shortstop Luis Aparicio have "INFIELD" listed on his card? Only Topps knows.

Here we see Brooks Robinson in his trademark sawed-off batting helmet. Curt Blefary played his last season as the Orioles' left fielder in 1967. Paul Blair was a defensive wizard, and Frank Robinson garnered the AL Triple Crown and MVP awards in 1966. Not a bad group!

Here are the subs, in playing-time order. Russ Snyder had been an Oriole since 1961, and was the 4th outfielder in 1967, backing up all 3 spots. Mark Belanger started 33 games at shortstop and 10 at 2nd base, and would take over the shortstop job in 1968. Rookie Larry Haney started 45 games behind the plate as the #2 catcher. Sam Bowens was a pinch-hitter and corner outfield reserve.

Third-string catcher Vic Roznovsky started 22 games, rarely on consecutive days. Dave May and Curt Motton were corner outfield reserves, both spending most of the season in triple-A. Veteran utilityman Woody Held was traded to the Angels in June for pitcher Marcelino Lopez.

These guys also made token appearances for the Birds. Rookie Mike Epstein held out, demanded a trade, and was accommodated at the end of May - going to the Senators for pitcher Pete Richert. Charlie Lau was only used as a pinch-hitter in his final 2 seasons (1966-67). Utilityman Bob Johnson was sold to the Mets in early May.

Hmmm... I would have picked Powell and Frank Robinson as "Bird Bombers", but Robinson was already on "The Champs" card, so ok.

Topps did a good job with their rookie selections. Epstein and Phoebus made major contributions in 1967 (although Epstein's was with the Nats). Ed Barnowski did not play for the Orioles in 1967, but the others contributed in backup roles.

To the victors go the spoils (of additional cards in the next year's set)!

Transactions from the end of the 1966 season to the end of 1967:

12/15/66 - Traded pitcher Dick Hall to the Phillies for pitcher John Morris.

05/10/67 - Sold Bob Johnson and John Miller to the Mets.

05/29/67 - Traded Frank Bertaina and Mike Epstein to the Senators for Pete Richert.

05/31/67 - Sold Charlie Lau to the Braves.

06/15/67 - Traded Woodie Held to the Angels for Marcelino Lopez.

07/04/67 - Traded Steve Barber to the Yankees for 1st baseman Ray Barker.

08/21/67 - Purchased John Buzhardt from the White Sox.

09/25/67 - Sold John Buzhardt to the Astros.

11/28/67 - Sold Sam Bowens to the Senators.

11/28/67 - Traded Eddie Fisher to the Indians for pitcher John O'Donoghue.

11/29/67 - Traded Luis Aparicio and Russ Snyder to the White Sox for 3B-OF Don Buford and pitchers Bruce Howard and Roger Nelson.

Next team review: San Francisco Giants


Fleerfan said...

Great recap of the 1967 season! I enjoyed the look at the many pitchers who the Birds used that year, as well as your review of all the trades that year.

Jim from Downingtown said...

19 pitchers for a team just coming off a World Series championship might be a record. Still, Palmer, Bunker, and McNally all had arm trouble to various degrees that season.

I'm going to review the Giants next, then I'm open to suggestions.