Baltimore broke a five-game losing streak on Russ Snyder’s two-run single and a two-run sacrifice fly by Brooks Robinson in the 11th inning. … An enthusiastic D.C. Stadium crowd of 26,012 went home disappointed as the Senators, winner of 12 of their last 14 games, collapsed defensively in the 11th inning. Among the onlookers was former President Eisenhower.
-The Free-Lance Star, July 24, 1967
Last weekend, the Paul Bunyan of the National League, Albert Pujols, accomplished a rare baseball feat when he hit a two-run sacrifice fly against the Rockies. Given Pujols’ unique accomplishment for St. Louis’ Birds, this week’s Flashback Friday considers two-run sacrifice flies for and against our Birds, including Brooks Robinson’s extra-innings effort in 1967.
You don’t have to go back very far to locate the most recent two-run sacrifice fly against the Orioles. Just last season Joe Mauer put two runs on the board in the bottom of the fifth inning on a long fly ball to left-center at the Metrodome that Adam Jones caught before falling down on the warning track. With Carlos Gomez providing the latter run, Mauer commented of his accomplishment, “It helps to have the fastest man in baseball on second base.” The Twins defeated the O’s 7-5.
Fifteen years earlier, on Aug. 8, 1993, the Orioles surrendered a first-inning, two-run sacrifice fly to the Indians’ Albert Belle in a game they eventually won 7-6. Belle’s towering drive to right field scored Kenny Lofton and Wayne Kirby.
But what about two-run sac flies by the good guys? The most recent such effort by an Oriole came on Aug. 26, 1983, against the Twins, when Al Bumbry plated Jim Dauer and Todd Cruz in the bottom of the second inning of a game the O’s won 9-0. (Newspaper clip.) However, a more memorable effort came 16 years earlier off the bat of Brooks Robinson.
Robinson’s 11th inning sac fly on July 23, 1967, helped halt a five-game losing streak for the Birds and disappointed the home fans at D.C. Stadium, including former President Eisenhower. Robinson’s effort followed a two-run, go-ahead single by Russ Snyder and an intentional walk to Paul Blair that loaded the bases.
Robinson drove a ball to left field that the Senators’ Hank Allen caught; however, Allen mistakenly thought it was the inning’s third out. Luis Aparicio and Snyder raced home as Allen, who replaced Frank Howard in left field to start the ninth inning, jogged toward the infield. (Newspaper clip.)
Allen’s Baseball Wiki entry notes (along with multiple other duplicate sources), “he was just fair defensively.” However, two years after his mistake in the outfield, Allen would become a part of Washington (er … Texas?) baseball history as he reeled off seven straight multi-hit games – including a series against the O’s – for manager Ted Williams. Cristian Guzman matched Allen’s effort for the Nationals in 2008.
Allen was one of Dick Allen’s two younger brothers to play big league ball. Chances are the mistake against the Orioles and his relative lack of success outside of the 1969 season didn’t phase him. As one fan recounted after meeting Allen at a Senators reunion, the former player made sure to note of baseball that it was “what I did … It is not who I am.”
After winning their first World Series the season prior, the Orioles finished the 1967 season with a 76-85 record, 15 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in sixth place out of the 10-team American League.
Sources: BaseballReference.com, Google News, Orioles Director of Communications Greg Bader, StephenJ.Walker.com, PressDemocrat.com, Washington-Nats.com, BaseballWiki.
Image source: BaseballReference.com Click photo for original.