Bill Pemstein was a Washington Senators fan growing up in Falls Church, VA. And then his older brother told him about an improving club in Baltimore. December 9 is almost a religious day in his life. It's the day in 1965 that Frank Robinson was traded to Baltimore. The next year was a World Series championship and the rest is history. Pemstein worked in the Washington office of the Orioles from 1983-1987. That was before a 22-year career in sportswriting in Midwest. He is the author of "A Stone's Throw" that details the 1980 season of Cy Young Award winner Steve Stone.
My friend Marty brought it up again a few weeks back. He watched it on MLB Network. And he was clear that in every single position, the Orioles had a better player.
That was another good Orioles trade. It came on Dec. 4, 1973. Again with those Cincinnati Reds who we stole Frank Robinson from seven years before.
It’s scary all right. It’s coming up on 46 years ago. And as the story goes outgoing O’s general manager Lee MacPhail had engineered a trade with Cincinnati and he was handing it off to the new general manager, Harry Dalton.
You should have seen the look on the face of the community relations manager. She was staring at me and giving me a hard look. That stare said don’t talk with him.
Those words about his fastball were uttered by former Cleveland Indians manager Al Dark. And Mike Cuellar’s response to that taunt about the left-hander’s speed ball? “Get his a** up there.”
I always tell folks out here in Chicago that there is nothing that matches the arrogance that comes from Washington D.C. In all my years sportswriting in the Midwest, I never found the egos that grew in DC. Of course some of the most exciting people in the world come from the Nation’s Capitol as well.
By the early 70s, I was back in Maryland listening to my favorite Orioles on the radio. There was the late Chuck Thompson and Bill O’Donnell doing play by play. I knew their voices and and based on their tone of voice whether we were doing well or not.
Mike Young drove a fancy car. Don’t ask me as cars aren’t my thing. But the former Orioles outfielder came down to our DC store and looked cool. He might have been a movie star.
In Don Buford’s four good years in Baltimore, he hit 52 homers out of the top spot in the lineup. That included a career-high 19 homers in the 1971 season.