Throughout the 2016 season Roar from 34 will use Flashback Fridays to remember the 1966 Baltimore Orioles and to honor the 50th anniversary of the franchise’s first World Series title. See the previous installments here.
My Friday guest post at MASNSports this week discusses Jonathan Schoop’s standout power at the second base position. Schoop is likely to become the first Orioles second baseman with three 15-homer seasons and is currently on pace to eclipse Roberto Alomar’s single season team record for second basemen of 22 home runs. The MLB record for home runs by a second basemen belongs to Davey Johnson, who slugged 43 homers for the Atlanta Braves in 1973 after being traded away by the Orioles.
Johnson was a rookie during the Orioles’ first World Series season in 1966. His ascension to the role of full-time second baseman led to a key trade in June when the O’s granted slick-fielding Jerry Adair’s wishes to be sent elsewhere.
Adair, the team’s incumbent second basemen entering the season, headed to the Chicago White Sox along with minor leaguer John Riddle in exchange for reliever Eddie Fisher. Fisher would be a key part of the O’s dominant 1966 bullpen, which ironically saw almost no action in the World Series.
“Looking back on it, the starters got all the glory because of the World Series,” Wally Bunker said in an April 1, 2016, Baltimore Sun article. “But the bullpen should have gotten it. Christ, they were great. They carried us all year.”
Fisher was a knuckleballer who, after early struggles with the pitch, found his form under the tutelage of former O’s hurler Hoyt Wilhelm while the two played for the White Sox.
“Wilhelm and I throw knucklers every day,” Fisher said, as quoted in Knuckleball: The History of the Unhittable Pitch. “When nobody else is around, we throw it to each other. We’d be out there in the bullpen almost every day, and as a couple of guys who threw the knuckle, we’d talk shop.”
Wilhelm, who tossed the Orioles’ first no-hitter in 1958 and gave catcher Gus Triandos fits behind the plate, shared the same grip as Fisher but held the ball looser.
Fisher led the American League in appearances in 1966 with 67 and was second in games finished with 50. The 29-year-old had 14 saves for the Orioles, second only to Stu Miller with 18. He was among the Orioles’ most valuable pitchers in 1966.
Fisher will be on-hand at the Orioles’ 50th anniversary celebration of the 1966 team on July 8.