Cal Ripken, Jr. in 1983
Coming into the 1983 World Series, most experts pegged the Baltimore Orioles as slight favorites over the Philadelphia Phillies. The series matched two of the classic teams, each with long, storied histories. Their proximities to one another made the matchup even more appealing and led to somewhat of a rivalry that still exists in many ways twenty years later.
The 1983 Baltimore Orioles survived on pitching. Scott McGregor (18-7), Mike Flanagan (12-4) and Storm Davis (13-7) were joined by rookie right-hander Mike Boddicker (16-8) in the rotation. Tippy Martinez (21 saves) was the closer. Jim Palmer was also on the staff, but his role had been reduced by injuries throughout the season.
Offensively, it was veteran Eddie Murray and 23 year old Cal Ripken, Jr. who led the way for first year manager Joe Altobelli. It was an unenviable task that faced Altobelli, taking over for Earl Weaver, but marching his O’s into the World Series had helped Altobelli to begin his own Baltimore record.
For the Phillies, Steve Carlton (15-16) and NL Cy Young winner John Denny (19-6) led the starters, with trusty Al Holland (25 saves) in the bullpen. Mike Schmidt had let the National League in homeruns with 40 and veterans Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, Tony Perez and Garry Maddox chipped in where they could.
The two teams came out firing with their aces, as Scott McGregor pitched for the home team Orioles against the Phillies John Denny. The pitching didn’t disappoint. Joe Morgan led off the game by reaching on an error by Todd Cruz. Morgan was quickly thrown out trying to steal and McGregor would retire nine straight before allowing another base runner. Denny didn’t start as strong. Jim Dwyer, came up with one out and nobody on in the bottom of the first and drilled Denny’s 3-2 pitch out of the park to right-center to give the Orioles a 1-0 lead. Denny would also give up a two-out single to Eddie Murray but would then set down 17 of the next 18 hitters he would face.
As rain fell throughout the game McGregor looked unbeatable. Morgan would single off of him in the fourth and Gary Mathews would pick up a leadoff single in the fifth, with neither hit resulting in any further damage.
Sitting on the bench between innings, Morgan told Pete Rose that if McGregor threw him another curve ball, he would make him pay for it. When Morgan came to the plate in the top of the sixth, McGregor got ahead 1 and 2 on Morgan and tried to finish him off with a curve. Morgan was ready and blasted the pitch out to right field, tying the game at 1-1.
Garry Maddox, who was somewhat surprised to still be with the Phillies after persistent trade rumors throughout the season, led off the eighth inning and clubbed the first pitch from McGregor well out to left and the Phillies suddenly led 2-1. Bo Diaz followed by lifting a pitch deep to left, but John Lowenstein made the play of the game by leaping above the fence and robbing Diaz of a homerun.
The Orioles started a two-our eighth inning rally against Denny when Al Bumbry doubled. Denny was lifted in favor of Al Holland, who set down Dan Ford to end the inning. Holland retired Ripken, Murray and Gary Roenicke in the ninth to give the Phillies a 2-1 win and a 1-0 lead in the series.
Pundits who had favored the Orioles quickly started to rethink their position with the Phillies “stealing” the first game of the series in Baltimore.
Both teams went with young pitchers in Game Two. For Baltimore, it was young Mike Boddicker. The Orioles rookie wasn’t known for throwing hard, but he was known for location and control. The Phillies marched Charles Hudson to the mound. Hudson was also a rookie who had gone 8-8, 3.35 for the Phillies.
Both pitchers started strong. The Phillies got to Boddicker in the fourth when Morgan led off with an infield single and stole second. Morgan moved to third on an error by Murray and scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Joe Lefebvre. The Phillies led 1-0, but barely had any time to enjoy the lead.
John Lowenstein led off the bottom of the fifth with a homerun off of Hudson and the game was suddenly tied. The rookie Hudson was bothered by the blast and gave up a line drive single to Rich Dauer. Todd Cruz then dropped a bunt single and Hudson was completely unglued. Rick Dempsey doubled to plate one run and Boddicker lifted a sacrifice fly to give the Orioles a 3-1 lead. Baltimore scratched out another run off Larry Andersen in the seventh to take a 4-1 lead.
The Phillies meanwhile had trouble even getting men on base. Mathews and Diaz singled in back to back innings to give the Phillies their only baserunners over the final five innings of the game. Orioles pitchers put together an amazing streak of 18 innings without walking a batter.
With a 4-1 win in Game Two, the Orioles tied the series as the two teams made the short trip up I-95 to continue their battle in Veterans Stadium.