Baltimore – The Orioles enter the 1966 World Series full of confidence. The only thing Manager Hank Bauer was willing to concede as the Orioles worked out at Dodger Stadium was that the World Series would go at least four games. “We were the best club in baseball in June and July,” the manager said, “and we are still a good club and we’ll win the Series.” The Orioles acted like a team that was up as they consorted around Dodger Stadium. “They may call us the Orioles,” Boog Powell said, “but we’re loose as a goose. This is a great club with great spirit.” Powell is still wearing a splint on his injured ring finger. “It only hurts when I miss hitting a ball. They would have to break my leg before they get me out of the lineup,” the big guy said.
One Oriole who will miss the Series is 27-year-old left handed pitcher Steve Barber who is the most experienced starter on the Oriole staff. Bauer paired Barber and Wally Bunker in the final double-header of the season to vie for the opportunity to start the third game of this series. Bunker emerged the winner of the sweepstakes with five plus scoreless innings in the nightcap. Barber toiled through four innings in the opener, and the next day, Barber’s elbow was swollen to almost twice its normal size. With Barber out, Bauer’s first three starters will be Dave McNally, 23, Jim Palmer, 20, and Bunker, 21. “They’re all young and I don’t know what to expect from them in World Series competition,” Bauer said. “But if they can give me five or six good innings, I won’t be afraid to go to my bullpen – which is one of the best in baseball.” The entire Baltimore pitching staff hurled 19 complete games during the season – five less than the total of Los Angeles ace Sandy Koufax.
The other storyline that is developing is the battle of Baltimore’s rookie catcher Andy Etchebarren and the Dodger running game. “I’m looking for Wills and (Willie) Davis to try and do a lot of running,” said Etchebarren. “But I think the Chicago White Sox are a better running team than they are – they have more guys who can steal – and I think I threw out 50 per cent of them.” Etchebarren ranked third in the league behind stalwarts Bill Freehan of Detroit and New York’s Elston Howard by throwing out nearly 39% of all base stealers. Minnesota’s Earl Battey was able to stifle the Dodger legs until Wills’ two thefts in Game 4, but by that time, the Series outcome was nearly determined. The Dodgers ability to put the squeeze on with speed is one of the reasons Bauer tapped the left handed McNally for the opening assignment.
Los Angeles – Odds makers have again tabbed the Dodgers as the favorites to win the World Series. Yet despite this wave of support, there is an unquestioned undercurrent of doubt running throughout the clubhouse. Despite a 101-win season, the Dodgers finished the season with a losing road trip. On the trip, the club failed to score for 21 consecutive innings which included no-hitter by the Cardinals’ Larry Jaster. The unsuccessful road trip was preceded by a five game home losing streak. But, it is Drysdale and Koufax who start the first two games, and it is the tried and true article of baseball that pitching is now, and forever will be, the name of the game. The Series figures to be the power of the Orioles against the Dodgers pitching – eerily similar to last Series pairing of the Twins and Dodgers in which the Twins power, along with their pitching, prevailed.
“It is generally agreed that Frank Robinson made the big difference in the Orioles and we’re familiar with him of course. Our fellows had lots of opportunities to pitch to him while he was in Cincinnati. He had some good days and some bad ones against us and we respect him highly. I’ve heard reports that he doesn’t crowd the plate quite as much as he used to, but I’ll have to see for myself,” said Dodger Manager Walter Alston. With Dick Schofield being ineligible for the Series, Alston said he will play his “rookie” Jim Gilliam at third base. Schofield finished the season at third, but is ineligible as he was acquired from the Yankees after the September 1 deadline.