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Remembering the Orioles’ 1970 World Series title: O’s edge Detroit, 3-2, on Opening Day

Teammates and fans welcome hero Brooks Robinson (5) as he heads for the dugout after lining the game-winning hit to right center on April 11, 1970. (William Hotz/Baltimore Sun)
Teammates and fans welcome hero Brooks Robinson (5) as he heads for the dugout after lining the game-winning hit to right center on April 11, 1970. (William Hotz/Baltimore Sun) (Hotz/Check with Baltimore Sun Photo)

This season marks the 50th anniversary of the Orioles’ 1970 World Series championship, the franchise’s second title in five seasons and first under legendary manager Earl Weaver. To celebrate the occasion, The Baltimore Sun is sharing its most memorable stories from that campaign throughout the year.

April 11, 1970

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BIRDS EDGE DETROIT IN 10th, 3 TO 2

Brooks Robinson’s Hit Scores Frank As Hall Gets Win

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By Jim Elliot

Brooks Robinson yesterday showed how he drove in 84 runs on a .234 batting average last year when he crashed a two-out single in the 10th inning to give the Orioles a 3-to-2 home opener victory over the Detroit Tigers before 33,638 Memorial Stadium fans.

Perhaps the law of averages was against the Oriole third baseman who earlier had singled twice and walked in four appearances. At least, the Tigers must have thought so because they pitched to Brooks with first base open and seventh-place batter Dave Johnson on deck.

Frank Slowed

The results was a solid liner to right center off Mickey Lolich that scored Frank Robinson from second and sent the crowd, which had braved high winds and mid-60′s temperatures, home praising the unbeaten owners of four straight triumphs.

Frank Robinson, hardly able to swing the bat after being hit on the right hand by a Steve Hargan pitch Wednesday at Cleveland, walked the lead off the 10th against the ace Tiger south paw. It was the sixth walk of the game off Mickey, who blanked Washington in the Presidential opener last Monday.

Boog Powell topped a ball to the right side and was thrown out by Lolich as Frank advanced, and then Paul Blair popped to third baseman Don Wert.

Frank Robinson and Dave Johnson meet at home plate after Robinson scored a run on Opening Day in 1970.
Frank Robinson and Dave Johnson meet at home plate after Robinson scored a run on Opening Day in 1970. (HARRIS/Check with Baltimore Sun Photo)

Strategy Backfires

This brought Brooks to the plate, and Detroit manger Mayo Smith went to the mound for a conference with Lolich and catcher Bill Freehan.

The decision was made not to intentionally walk Brooks, Lolich’s first pitch was called a ball by umpire Emmett Ashford.

Then Brooks fired a Lolich pitch to right-center which would have been good for two bases if Brooks had chosen to run the number of bases traveled by Frank with the winning run. But Brooks cut across the diamond to be met by congratulating teammates after he safely crossed first.

Hall On Beam

While Lolich went the distance to suffer his initial 1970 defeat Jim Palmer was forced from the game in the sixth because of wildness, and manger Earl Weaver showed he still possesses that “genius” license.

Weaver replaced Palmer with Dave Leonard who got the last two outs of the sixth to escape Palmer’s hole, then brought on Dick Hall who yielded only two hits over four innings to make his first decision a winning one.

Hall fanned four while walking none.

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The Orioles outhit the Tigers 8-6, with Don Buford, Mark Belanger and Johnson getting doubles and Frank Robinson and Andy Etchebarren adding singles. Belanger’s double was good for the second Oriole run, scored in the fifth inning.

The first Oriole run was unearned in the third inning, or the Tigers might have taken the game 2 to 1, in regulation time.

A view of Memorial Stadium on Opening Day in 1970.
A view of Memorial Stadium on Opening Day in 1970. (LAFORCE/Check with Baltimore Sun Photo)

Pop Fly Falls

Bulford got his two-bagger opening the third when his wind-blown pop fell safely between left fielder Willie Horton and second baseman Dick McAuliffe in short left-center.

Buford moved to third on a wild pitch before Belanger drew a walk and Frank Robinson struck out.

It was here that Belanger made a move to steal a fraction of a second too soon, and Lolich tossed to first baseman Norm Cash to get Mark in an apparent rundown.

Play Goes Awry

Cash must have had more than one eye on Buford at third when he threw to shortstop Cesar Gutierrez in the rundown, the ball sailed into left field. Buford scored on Cash’s error and Belanger was safe at second. There was no further advance.

The Tigers went on top in their fifth, where they got three of their four-hit total off Palmer plus a walk, good for two runs.

McAuliffe singled opening the fifth, was sacrificed to second by Gutierrez, and took third after Paul Blair caught Al Kaline’s long fly to center.

Palmer Walks

Cash walked, Horton singled to center scoring McAuliffe, and Jim Northrup singled to left scoring Cash before Palmer retired the side.

Lolich erred in walking Palmer to lead off the Oriole fifth. Jim raced all the way home to tie it 2-2 on Belanger’s one-out doubled lined to left-center.

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