Today marks the 30th anniversary of Game 5 of the 1983 World Series, when the Orioles beat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-0 to win the franchise’s third championship.
On that day, left-hander Scott McGregor pitched a complete-game shutout at Veterans Stadium to help send his club into history. In two World Series starts that year, McGregor pitched to a 1.06 ERA.
Last month, about 20 members of the 1983 team attended memorabilia show in Timonium to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Orioles' last World Series title.
McGregor, a member of the Orioles Hall of Fame, was a career Oriole and has spent his post-playing days in the organization. He served as interim bullpen coach for the Orioles over the final six weeks of the regular season this year.
This week, I was able to catch up with McGregor and ask him about being a big part of that championship team and the Orioles’ Game 5 win:
Scott, when you think back to Game 5 and even the ending, when Garry Maddox lines out to Cal Ripken Jr. with you on the mound, that’s such a memorable, iconic image still 30 years later. For you, does that whole experience seem like 30 years ago?
It’s definitely long ago, but when you talk to the people around, it’s like it happened yesterday. That’s the thing about history, it never goes away. We had the card show we just did in September and we were signing autographs for people and it was like it happened yesterday. I’m like, ‘Look at me. I’m gray and fat. It was 30 years ago.’ But it’s something that never goes away, which is cool. It was something we worked hard at. That’s why I still live in the area and wanted to still be around and be a part of that history and hopefully now watch our own guys build their own history.
Thinking back to that day before Game 5, what was the build up to that game like? You had a 3-games-to-1 lead over the Phillies and a lot of guys on the team went through 1979, when the Orioles had that same lead to the Pirates in the World Series.
That was everything. In ’79, we were up three games to one and we were young guys and we were counting on the ring already on our fingers. So in ’83 when we went up three games to one, the whole thing was ‘Hey, not this time.’ You could have heard a pin drop after we won [Game 4]. Everyone was excited to win, but we told ourselves, ‘If we win tomorrow, we can celebrate.’ So it definitely has an impact. The odds of getting to a World Series in the first place are incredible and then chance to do it again a second time, there was a whole different atmosphere. That’s for sure.
The card show last month in Timonium, where 20 players from the 1983 team attended to mark the 30th anniversary. What was that like?
For me, I was with the Orioles [as interim bullpen coach] at that time. So by the time Chris Davis and I got over there after the Saturday day game most of the guys were gone. They did the card show on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. I think I saw Benny Ayala and that was it. I wanted to see John Lowenstein because he hasn’t been back for ages. But last year at the fantasy camp down in Florida before spring training, it was an ’83 thing and there were about 15 to 20 guys there then so that was fun. So yeah, when we get together, we have a lot of fun. It’s a blast. We tell stories. It was just very special. Just to get to the big leagues and then to play in a couple of World Series and then win one, obviously those memories will never go away.
How special was that team?
It was very special. We were really the second generation. The first generation was the ‘60s with Boog and Brooks and Frank and Palmer and Cuellar, McNally. They were like a Hall of Fame team. They were unbelievable. Of course, we had Eddie and Cal and Palmer and Earl Weaver as manager. Even though he wasn’t there in ’83, he groomed the team. It was just one just one of those teams. The funny thing was that ’84 in spring training my locker at Bobby Maduro [Stadium in Miami], Johnny Lowenstein’s locker was straight across from me, and I looked over at him and said, ‘Hey, can you believe this group of guys I World Champions?’ It was just the perfect match of people who played together and jelled together. We had good pitching, good defense and timely hitting. It was a real special close group.
I’m sure you still get asked about that team a lot. When fans approach you nowadays, how much of the conversation goes back to the ’83 team?
When I was up there [with the Orioles] in September, walking out for the games or walking out for batting practice, sometimes fans would be like, ‘Hey let’s activate you. We need you to pitch.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah right.’ But they say, ‘Hey, teach them what you guys did.’ So there’s always references and thank yous. And there are a lot of people still to this day who will come up to you and say, ‘I just want to thank you for the memories.’ And then they walk away. You’re just like, ‘Wow.’ … A lot of people live and die with the Orioles. Last year, being around all the fans in Baltimore, the fans were going bonkers. And now the older generation, people would say, ‘Thank God, my kids now have something to root for. They’ve heard the stories. But now they get to see something.’ So that’s really neat.