|The 2013 major league season marks the 43rd anniversary of one of the finest teams in baseball history, the 1970 Baltimore Orioles. The Birds defeated the Cincinnati Reds, led by MVP Johnny Bench, Pete Rose and Tony Perez, 4 games to 1 to win the ’70 World Series championship. Managed by Earl Weaver, Baltimore rebounded from their upset loss to the New York Mets in 1969 with 108 wins.|
Brooks Robinson, who hit .429 in the Series with two homers and two doubles and made several spectacular fielding plays like this one, was named Most Valuable Player (Illus. 1). The Hall of Fame third baseman won his 11th straight Gold Glove Award. During the Series, Robinson’s glove was always at its magical best. In Game 3, Bench drove a hard liner into the hole. Diving headlong, Brooks caught the ball, skidded to a halt, and raise his glove to let the umpire know that “seeing was believing.” In the following game, Robinson dove and wound up in foul territory, the ball nestling in his glove.
Contributing to Baltimore’s offensive production were Boog Powell, the power hitting first baseman (Illus. 2), outfielders Frank Robinson and Paul Blair, and catcher Elrod Hendricks. Robinson hit 25 home runs while hitting .306. Blair, despite missing three weeks with an injury, batted a blistering .474 in the five games. Hendricks batted .364, and Frank Robinson and Parker hit two home runs each. Following the Series, Parker was voted the AL MVP. Brooks Robinson, however, did it all. He used his glove to repeatedly rob the opposition of base hits, and he used his bat to collect nine hits and drive in six runs.
Weaver was among the most successful skippers of his era. In 17 seasons with Baltimore, the Hall of Fame manager won the American League East title six times, the AL pennant four times, and the World Series once. Weaver, pictured here just prior to a game in Oakland (Illus. 3), assembled a team that had outstanding pitching, sharp fielding, and good hitting. Weaver didn’t like the sacrifice bunt. “If you play for one run, that’s all you’ll get,” he said. “Don’t play for one run unless you know that run will win a ballgame.” On January 19 of this year, Weaver, 82, died of an apparent heart attack.
The Orioles started the ’70 Series with an opening game victory, 4-3, behind right-hander Jim Palmer’s five hitter and home runs by Hendricks, Powell and Brooks Robinson. Baltimore won the second game, 6-5, with a five-run fifth inning and the relief work of Tom Phoebus and Moe Drabowsky. The Oriole’s awesome fielding display continued in Game 3. Following a two-bagger by Brooks, Cincinnati’s Wayne Granger loaded the bases, and Oriole’s pitcher Steve McNally hit Granger’s pitch into the left-field bleachers giving Baltimore a commanding lead.
Baltimore took the edge in Game 4 on Brooks Robinson’s two RBIs and 4 for 4 day. However, Cincinnati came back on a three-run homer by Lee May in the eighth to stay alive for another day. In Game 5, southpaw Mike Cuellar pitched the Orioles to a 9-3 win. After allowing three runs on four hits in the first, Cuellar shut the Reds out the rest of the way, clinching the World Series Championship for Baltimore. Pictured here during an Orioles’ pre-game infield practice, Robinson prepares to throw to first base (Illus. 4).
The 1970 pennant race was never close in the American League East. Baltimore was in first place when May began, and on July 19, the Yankees closed to within three games. From then on, however, the Orioles were 52-18 and finished with a 108-54 record, 15 games in front.
Batting The Baltimore Orioles were led offensively by Boog Powell, the powerful hitting first baseman. During the 1970 World Series, Brooks Robinson showed he could be just as dangerous at the plate as on the field. (Illus. 5) Both he and outfielder Frank Robinson, shown here, were later inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame (Illus. 6).
Powell followed up on an outstanding year in 1969 with another standout season in ’70, winning the AL MVP. The 28-year old slugger hit 35 home runs and had 114 RBIs, while hitting .297 and drawing 104 walks. Both he and Frank Robinson hit two home runs each in the Series. Boog was voted the American League MVP.
Fundamentally perfect, Powell’s batting swing is a picture of great power as he gets around on an inside pitch (Series A). Everything – shoulders and arms, hips, wrists and hands – are put together in perfect unison to send the ball soaring for the fences. Popping his wrists with explosive quickness, Boog whips the big end of the bat with maximum drive.
Bunting The bunting technique used by many major league players today involves pivoting on the balls of their feet and remaining in their tracks. They merely square their hips without lifting their feet off the ground. In the series below, however, Orioles shortstop Mark Belanger squares around with the feet, rather than just squaring the hips and shoulders. Mark felt he had better coverage of the entire part of the plate (Series B).
Catching Before a game, the catcher should get together with the starting pitcher to determine how he will pitch to opposing hitters. They should study the hitter’s stance and remember what pitch he went for and where he hit the ball in previous appearances. Batting practice is a good time to watch the opposing hitters. It does not take long to find out who the pull hitters are, those who hit straightaway, and the opposite field swingers.
Pictured here is Andy Etchebarren going over game signals with Orioles pitcher Wally Bunker (Illus. 9). During the ’70 World Series, Andy shared the catching duties with Ellie Hendricks, working two games.
First Baseman When taking throws from other infielders, the first baseman should face his teammate making the throw. Pictured on the left, Boog Powell places his left foot against the second base side of first base and reaches for the ball (Illus. 10).
|When reaching high for a throw, Powell often uses the bag to get the greatest possible height. He doesn’t jump for the ball if he doesn’t have to, but rises up on his toes to make the catch. (Illus. 11).|
Second Baseman Davey Johnson fields the ball with two hands out in front of him (Illus. 12). With a continuous motion, he “gives” with the ball and brings both hands back into a throwing position.
Johnson, pictured here, has his legs apart, his knees are bent, and he steps toward the base. Fielding a ball with two hands allows infielders and outfielders alike to get rid of the ball faster. It is easier to come up on the ball than to go down.
|Shortstop Both the Orioles and the Dodgers have found pick-off plays to be very helpful. The number of runners picked off is not the prime objective of this play. Rather, it is trying to keep runners close, so if there is a base hit, the outfielders have time to throw them out. |
The shortstop and second baseman play a very important role in setting up a pick-off play and giving signs to the pitcher. The pick-off with the pitcher is usually a signal play, worked in either of two ways: on a “count,” or by the “daylight” method.
The pitcher gives a signal to the shortstop, such as rubbing his shirt with his pitching hand. The shortstop answers with a similar signal, like the one Mark Belanger demonstrated in this picture (Illus. 13). Although a light hitter, Belanger fielded brilliantly during the ’70 Series as he did throughout his 18 major league season career.
|Third Baseman Brooks Robinson is widely accepted by baseball authorities as the greatest third baseman in the history of the game. Robinson thrilled millions with his spectacular glove. As I wrote in my cover article for Athletic Journal, “Third Base and Brooks Robinson”, he was a master craftsman, soft-handed, and an accurate armed fielder.
Slow Roller: One Hand Pickup Robinson races in with his eyes on the ball. As his left foot comes down, his bare hand comes in contact with the ball. His left leg bends in order to get his body lower to the ground. Moving his right foot forward, Robinson goes into throwing position by pushing off his right leg. Although he comes over the top with an overhand flip on the run, he often whips the ball side arm across his body (Series C).
Exceptional running speed is the key to greatness in a center fielder, which Blair had. He must cover the maximum ground to his right and left. In order to do this successfully, he must be a quick starter in any direction.
The center fielder must have a strong throwing arm. He should be a roamer, always alert and ready to race back for the long drives and to dash in for the short ones.
In this picture, Blair used a comfortable, semi-crouch stance, with his hands on or in front of the knees (Illus. 14). Paul is set but not tense and always alert.
As the pitch is made, the fielder moves forward on his toes and is ready to cross over in either direction with the quickest possible speed. Through confidence, Blair will relax, which is so necessary in obtaining quick starts (Illus. 15).
Two years after the Baltimore Orioles won the World Series title in 1970, I co-authored a text book, The Complete Baseball Handbook, with Hall of Fame manager Walter Alston who managed the Los Angeles Dodgers for 23 seasons. In the 567 page book were numerous sequence-series photographs of many players on the ’70 World Champions Baltimore Orioles, highlighted by those of Brooks Robinson in chapter 9 – The Third Baseman.
Photographs by Don Weiskopf and Associated Press
|Contact us||About us|
|Major League||Minor League||Skills/Strategies||HS/College/Seniors|
|Feature Stories||World Baseball||News Release||Performance Enhancers|
|Newsletter||Coaching Clinic||Youth Baseball|