1983 was Jim Palmer's ninth World Series.
As the 1983 World Series shifted to Veterans Stadium, the Phillies felt good about their chances. They had split in Baltimore and the series was tied 1-1, plus, they had Steve Carlton starting Game Three and John Denny going in Game Four. Things looked good for the Phillies faithful as they gathered at The Vet.
Perhaps, it was bad kharma. Maybe, it was just a cruel joke by the baseball gods. Whatever it was, Game Three did not go the way the Phillies had hoped. Maybe, Paul Owens’ decision to bench Pete Rose in favor of Tony Perez disrupted the Kharma that the Phillies had slowly developed. Owens wasn’t satisfied with his offense and although he knew it would anger Rose, he thought Perez gave the Phillies their best chance to win. He was right about Rose’s anger, but wrong about winning.
Steve Carlton squared off against Mike Flanagan. The Phillies found the long ball against Flanagan as NLCS MVP Gary Mathews launched a bomb into the left-center field seats in the second inning and Joe Morgan followed with one to right field an inning later giving Carlton and the Phillies a 2-0 lead. The Phillies were constantly threatening through the first six innings, but pushed across just the two runs. That seemed okay, with Carlton breezing through Oriole hitters. Carlton had no-hit Baltimore through three innings and gave up just two more hits until Danny Ford blasted a solo homerun in the sixth.
With the Phillies clinging to a one run lead, Carlton winced from a bad back that suddenly flared to cause him to weaken. The Orioles smelled blood and with two outs in the seventh, Rick Dempsey doubled. Carlton then threw a wild pitch that allowed Dempsey to advance to just 90 feet from tying the game. Owens left Carlton in to face pinch-hitter Benny Ayala, which proved to be a mistake. Ayala singled to left and the Phillies lead had evaporated. Still, with Al Holland coming on, the bleeding seemed due to stop, but John Shelby opened the wound with a single putting runners on first and third.
Ford stepped to the plate and bounced a ground ball at the normally steady Ivan DeJesus. The ball clanked off DeJesus’ glove and Ayala raced home to give Baltimore a 3-2 lead.
Jim Palmer, who threw two scoreless innings in relief recorded the win and Tippy Martinez picked up the save. Just as the Phillies stole Game One in Baltimore with rains falling, the Orioles stole Game Three on the wet turf of Veterans Stadium and led the series 2-1.
The Orioles may have gotten to Steve Carlton in Game Three, but there was no way they could get to John Denny in Game Four; Or so it seemed. With Denny going against Storm Davis, both teams decided to bring out their bats for Game Four. When all was said and done, both teams had picked up ten hits. With all of the offense though, the Orioles middle part of the lineup struggled, as did Phillies third baseman Mike Schmidt. For Schmidt, Game Four would see him record a broken bat single that broke an 0-13 World Series slump.
Davis was dominating. He struck out the side in the first inning and retired the first ten Phillies he faced. The Phillies seemed to have no answers against the Oriole right-hander who was wrapping up his rookie season. Fortunately, Denny was matching the rookie through the first three innings.
In the fourth, it started to unravel and what started as a pitching duel became a hitter’s paradise. Four consecutive singles scored two Baltimore runs and the Orioles jumped ahead 2-0. As if on cue, the Phillies responded in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Pete Rose, who had returned to the lineup, singled. Schmidt followed with his broken bat single and the Phillies were putting something together. Joe Lefebvre doubled to score Rose and Gary Mathews walked to load the bases with just one out. Greg Gross stepped to the plate and as the Phillies had done in Game Four, they squandered a scoring opportunity when Gross hit into an inning ending double play and the Phillies had to settle for making it a 2-1 game.
In the fifth, Bo Diaz doubled and went to third on a wild pitch. John Denny came up to bat with the fact that no pitcher had picked up a World Series hit since four years earlier in 1979. Denny broke the string with an RBI single and the game was tied. With two outs, Rose doubled and Denny scored the go ahead run.
Surely, with Denny getting the lead, the Orioles wouldn’t be able to come back. They may have done it against Carlton, but they wouldn’t do it against Denny. That theory didn’t stay true as the Orioles loaded the bases, partly because of an intentional walk to pinch-hitter Joe Nolan with runners on second and third. Just as he had trusted Carlton the night before, Paul Owens trusted Denny to work out of the jam. Instead, Denny walked Ken Singleton to force in the tying run. Willie Hernandez then relieved Denny and gave up a long fly ball to John Shelby. As fans held their breath, Gary Mathews made a spectacular catch leaping high against the Veterans Stadium fence. The Phillies recorded an out, but Rich Dauer scored on the play. An inning later, Dauer would add his third hit of the game, which would drive in Jim Dwyer and give Baltimore a 5-3 lead.
Reliever Sammy Stewart dominated the Phillies for 2 1/3 innings and handed it off to Tippy Martinez. The Phillies had a rally going in the eighth when Martinez entered, but the lefty got Mathews to hit into a double-play to end the threat. The Phillies tried again in the ninth. Bo Diaz picked up a single off of Martinez in the ninth and Bob Dernier came on to pinch-run. Ozzie Virgil would eventually deliver an RBI pinch-hit single to score Dernier and make it a 5-4 game. From there, Martinez cracked down on the Phillies and ended the threat, preserving the Orioles win.
Suddenly, the Phillies had lost three straight and were facing elimination. They now had to win Game Five in Philadelphia and then head back to Baltimore looking to sweep the two remaining games of the series.
With the Phillies facing desparate times, they relied on rookie Charles Hudson to change their ways. The Orioles sent Scott McGregor, who had thrown eight innings of two-hit ball in Game One to the mound.
Eddie Murray entered Game Five in a 2-16 slump. He and Mike Schmidt were looked at as the two most dangerous hitters in the series, but they entered the Sunday matchup hitting a combined .094 (3-32). The difference was that Murray ended his slump, while Schmidt’s continued.
Murray’s first blow came in the second inning with a solo homerun off of Hudson. Rick Dempsey delivered a solo homerun an inning later before Murray went back to work in the fourth. Cal Ripken walked and Murray strolled to the plate. With one mighty swing, he sent Hudson’s pitch off the right-center field scoreboard and the Orioles were up 4-0, while the Phillies took on the look of a defeated team. The Orioles put up another run in the fifth and the game was 5-0 through five innings.
Marty Bystrom and Willie Hernandez held the Orioles off base through the final four innings, giving the Phillies offense a chance to rally. Instead, McGregor was simply amazing. Pete Rose and Garry Maddox each collected two hits and Joe Morgan had one, but that was to be all of the Phillies offense. McGregor threw a complete game and the Orioles won the finale 5-0 and took the series four games to one.
Schmidt finished the series 1-20 and the Phillies as a team hit just .195. The O’s only managed a .213 average, but bunched their hits at crucial times to put the series away.
Phillies fans would wait another ten years for a return trip to the Fall Classic.