This game took place on May 6, 1966. It is being recapped today as part of Camden Chat’s retro recap series while MLB is on hold due to the lockout.
The Baltimore Orioles hosted Cleveland on a balmy spring evening on May 6, 1966. 82 degrees at game time, just about 30,000 fans settled in to watch the second-place Orioles take on the team ahead of them in the standings. Cleveland had started the season 10-0 and came into Baltimore with a sparkling 14-1 record.
If you were a Cleveland fan back then, you might have been hoping that the hot start for your team was at the start of a special season. You would have been wrong. The Orioles kicked off the series with this 15-inning win and went on to take three out of four. Cleveland would finish the 1966 season at 81-81 and the Orioles would, well, you know.
The starting pitchers for this game were Dave McNally for Baltimore and Sam McDowell for Cleveland. Do you like pitchers’ duels? If so, this game is for you, though it wasn’t evident at first. The Orioles got on the board in the bottom of the first thanks to the speedy Luis Aparicio. The future Hall of Famer tripled to the right field gap and then came in to score on a ground out by first baseman Bob Johnson.
Interestingly enough, those two at-bats, with an assist by the public address system, led to the game being played under protest by Cleveland’s manager. As Aparicio stepped to the plate, the PA played the familiar “Charge!” horn. Aparicio tripled, and so the PA did it again before Johnson’s AB, twice. Cleveland’s manager, Birdie Tebbetts, took offense to the excessive charging and informed the umpire as such.
The protest amounted to nothing, but gave this writer a laugh 55 years later.
Cleveland tied the game in the top of the third inning as McNally gave up a solo home run to Del Crandall. And then...things got quiet for the next 11 innings.
After the home run, McNally settled into a groove. He gave up just two singles and two walks over the next seven innings, none in the same inning. If you just did the math, yes, McNally pitched 10 innings in the game. His pitching line was 10 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 9 K. You don’t see that very often these days.
You know what you see even less often? A starting pitcher who pitches 12 innings. But that’s just what McDowell did.
After scoring their first run in the first inning and then wasting a Brooks Robinson triple, the Orioles had another scoring chance in the second. With one out, Paul Blair doubled. Unfortunately he TOOTBLAN’d (before TOOTBLAN was a term) and was thrown out at third on a ground ball to shortstop.
McDowell gave up just one hit over the next three innings, a third-inning single from Frank Robinson, before the Orioles tried to stage a two-out rally in the sixth inning. Brooks Robinson walked and Sam Bowens singled, then both moved up on a wild pitch. Unfortunately Davey Johnson couldn’t bring them in and the inning ended with his strikeout.
With the score still tied 1-1 in the tenth inning, the Orioles again tried to rally. Andy Etchebarren singled with one out, and pinch hitter Woodie Held replaced McNally. The inning ended abruptly with a strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out double play.
On to the 11th! There was just so much free baseball on this night. Pitcher Stu Miller replaced McNally and had a dicey first inning thanks to an error from the first baseman Johnson and a single, but Miller bailed himself out with a double play. Miller bounced back with 1-2-3 12th and 13th innings before turning things over to Dick Hall.
Hall had a 1-2-3 14th inning before we finally got some offensive action in the top of the 15th. Hall gave up three singles in the inning, the third of which knocked in a run to give Cleveland a 2-1. lead. It was the first run scored since the third inning and looked like it might be the run that gave the Orioles the loss.
But never fear! There was more action in the 15th inning than in the rest of the game combined, and the Orioles came back in a big way. It’s not like we’d choose a loss for one of these recaps!
After pitching a 1-2-3 14th inning, pitcher Bob Allen stayed on to try and get the win for Cleveland. He was greeted very rudely by Davey Johnson, who immediately hit a game-tying home run. Had I been a fan in the stands who had been watching for 15 innings, I would have cheered the home run but secretly be wondering how many more innings I was in for.
If any fans in the stands in 1966 were wondering the same, they got their answer quickly. Allen got the first out, but then got a bit wild. He walked Etchebarren and hit Curt Blefary.
With the winning run in scoring position, pinch hitter Boog Powell stepped to the plate. The 24-year-old slugger worked the count to 2-2, then singled to right field. Pinch runner Russ Snyder scored from second! Orioles win!
The walk-off win (another term that didn’t exist in 1966) brought the Orioles to within one game of first place. And no other team would win more games in the majors over the rest of the season.
Who was the Most Birdland Player for May 6, 1966?
This poll is closed
Dave McNally (10 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 9 K)
Davey Johnson (game-tying 15th inning HR)
Boog Powell (pinch-hit walk-off single)