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Doing the Best They Can : The World Series.

A true baseball fan is a person of two minds. One appreciates the various aspects of a game: a no-hitter being carried into the seventh inning; a batter with a homer, single, and double, only needing a triple (the hardest hit to get) to complete the cycle. The other is focused on his home team. Can the Red Sox win it all this year? Are the Angels more than one-year wonders?

The same can be said for the World Series. This year we celebrate the one- hundredth anniversary of what is called the Fall Classic. The Hall of Fame in Cooperstown will have exhibits commemorating that first meeting between the Pittsburgh Pirates of the established National League and the Boston Pilgrims (later to become the Red Sox) of the upstart American League.

The analytical mind of the fan can appreciate the game's most memorable moments, irrespective of team allegiance. Among them are the called shot of Babe Ruth in the 1932 series (his Yanks went on to beat the Cubs); the Say- Hey Kid, Willy Mays, making an unbelievable over-the-shoulder catch in the '54 series against Cleveland; Bill Mazeroski hitting the winning home run in game 7 in 1960 as the Pirates beat the Yanks; and the Amazin' Mets, who won improbable series in 1969 and 1986. The 2001 series was particularly memorable: held less than two months after September 11, a pitching-rich team from the deserts of Arizona pulled out a seventh-game, ninth-inning win against the threepeat Yankees.

The emotional mind of the fan roots, roots, roots for the home team. For me, it has always been the Baltimore Orioles. They were part of the National League from 1892 until 1899, and the new American League, from 1901 until they were switched to New York at the end of 1902 to become the Highlanders, which later became the Yankees.

Baseball returned to Baltimore when the St. Louis Browns moved to the city in 1954, and were renamed the Orioles. The Browns did not bring much of a pedigree. In over fifty years of existence, the franchise had won the AL Crown only once (in 1944, when they lost the World Series to their crosstown rivals, the Cardinals).

Baltimore's big break came in December 1965, when the team was able to get an "old" Frank Robinson (he was thirty at that time) in a trade from the Cincinnati Reds. Exactly seventy years after their last championship season, the modern Orioles won their first American League pennant on September 22, 1966. Very few experts gave the Birds a chance in the series. They were going to face the LA Dodgers, with domineering pitchers Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. In the first game, Os reliever Moe Drabowsky struck out eleven Dodgers as the Orioles won 5 to 2. The Birds then made history as they swept the Dodgers, pitching three straight complete-game shutouts. Future Hall of Famer Jim Palmer beat Koufax 6 to 0, in what proved to be the latter's final game. At 20 Palmer was the youngest player to pitch a shutout in a World Series game. The next two games were 1 to 0 shutouts by the upstarts from Maryland. It was a fine time to be a teenager in Baltimore.

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Author:Connelly, Jack
Publication:World and I
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2003
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