This game took place on August 15, 1966. It is being recapped today as part of Camden Chat’s retro recap series while MLB is on hold due to the lockout.
You know, one of the things that made the Orioles’ 1966 season great — as is true for most World Series champions — is that it was a complete team effort.
Oh sure, they had an undisputed leader in Frank Robinson, who won the Triple Crown and Most Valuable Player in his first season with the club. They couldn’t have done it without him. But he couldn’t have done it without them, either. And the full cast of ‘66 Orioles was sensational. As Mark Brown noted, the O’s boasted the best offense in the American League, getting on base and scoring more runs than any other team. They flashed excellent defense, committing the fewest errors in the league. And their pitching staff was buoyed by a fantastic bullpen that, at one point in June, retired 38 consecutive batters.
From top to bottom, everyone on the roster contributed. It was rare to find a 1966 Orioles game in which one individual single-handedly carried the team to victory.
This, though, was one of those games. The Orioles’ 77th victory of the season rested almost entirely on the broad shoulders of John Wesley “Boog” Powell.
As his teammates were held in check, the Orioles’ slugging first baseman was a one-man wrecking crew at Fenway Park this mid-August evening. Boog collected a team-record 13 total bases; the rest of the O’s lineup combined for five. The team scored four runs, and all came courtesy of a trio of homers by Powell — including a game-tying blast in the ninth and the game-winner in the 11th.
Boog’s first homer of the night, a fourth-inning solo shot off Red Sox starter Jim Lonborg, broke a scoreless tie. The 1-0 lead held up for a while in the capable hands of lefty Dave McNally, the Birds’ starter, who battled a bit of wildness to escape a few early jams. McNally issued a walk apiece in three of the first four innings, but stranded a pair of runners in the first and again in the third — each time on an infield popout — and then erased a leadoff free pass in the fourth on a double-play grounder.
His tendency to live dangerously burned McNally in the sixth, though. Joe Foy led off with a single but, fortunately for the Orioles, was thrown out by center fielder Russ Snyder trying to stretch it into a double. The hits continued, as Don Demeter followed with a two-bagger and Tony Conigliaro smacked a two-run homer to give the Red Sox their first lead.
It remained a 2-1 game all the way to the ninth, as Lonborg had little trouble breezing through the O’s lineup. Only once, in the sixth, did the Orioles put together anything resembling a rally, but Lonborg escaped that two-on, two-out threat on a Curt Blefary groundout. The 24-year-old righty was three outs away from his ninth career complete game, and he got the first of those outs on a Brooks Robinson grounder to third to start the ninth.
But then up stepped Boog, who’d already homered and singled. He knew exactly what the Orioles needed — and he delivered. A crushing swat to deep center field later, the O’s were all knotted up at 2-2.
Lonborg stayed in long enough to finish the ninth and then throw a scoreless 10th, but took a tough-luck no-decision. Meanwhile, the Orioles’ stellar bullpen did its thing after McNally departed in the seventh. Relief ace Stu Miller was outstanding as usual, mowing down the first seven batters he faced before allowing a ninth-inning baserunner that he left stranded. Right-hander Eddie Fisher handled the 10th, working past a leadoff single. You had a feeling the Orioles just needed to keep the game going long enough for Boog Powell to get another at-bat.
They did their part. And Boog did his. In the top of the 11th, the man of the hour came to the plate against reliever John Wyatt with a man aboard and one out. Powell took a mighty swing, and...did he do it? Again? Seriously?? YES!! He cranked his third home run of the game, an opposite-field blast that cleared the Green Monster in left, making the score Orioles 4, Red Sox 2. Or should I say: Boog Powell 4, Red Sox 2.
Oh, what a night for the Birds’ gregarious thumper, who was two days shy of his 25th birthday. The trio of dingers gave Powell 30 on the season; he would finish with 34. It was the third (and final) three-homer game of his career.
Even with a two-run lead, the O’s had to sweat things out a bit in the bottom of the 10th. Foy and Demeter began the inning with singles off Fisher, spurring O’s manager Hank Bauer to summon veteran righty Dick Hall from the bullpen. Hall allowed a single of his own to load the bases, but racked up huge strikeouts of both Conigliaro and Carl Yastrzemski, then ended the game on a Bob Tillman flare to shallow center that was snagged by Paul Blair’s “stellar full speed, knee-top catch,” according to the Baltimore Sun’s Lou Hatter. (Blair had just entered the game as a defensive replacement. It was a good idea.)
That sealed another memorable win for a team that was in full cruise control atop the American League standings. The Orioles improved to 77-41 on the season, remaining a comfortable 13.5 games in first place. Thanks, Boog!
Who was the Most Birdland Player for August 15, 1966?
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