Most of you on here are probably too young to remember the 1982 stretch drive, but for those of us who do, it remains a special part of our Orioles history.
Roch put together a great article on the play known simply as "The Throw" by those of us who remember it. Like Roch, I can remember the play vividly as John Shelby made the catch and then fired a perfect strike to Rick Dempsey to nail the runner at the plate to preserve an Orioles one run lead. The Orioles would go on and add two runs in the top of the ninth to win the game 5-2, but that doesn't diminish the importance of the throw.
The O's actually went to Detroit and lost 2 of 3 to fall three games back of the Brewers and would have been swept by the Tigers if not for some Orioles magic in the last game of the series when they scored four runs in the top of the ninth to beat the Tigers 6-5.
I was actually lucky enough to be one of the 51883 that attended the Double header on Friday night when Milwaukee came to town three games up with four to go. I remember plays of that game like it was yesterday like when John Lowenstein misplayed a line drive by Charlie Moore in the second inning of game one that scored Ben Oglivie that gave Milwaukee an early lead. I remember getting upset at Lowenstein and my Dad basically telling me to chill out, there was a lot of game left. He was right of course, and the Orioles scored three runs in the bottom of the second inning against Milwaukee’s ace Pete Vuckovich before going on to a 8-3 win in that opening game.
In game two, Eddie Murray homered in the first inning and Lenn Sakata homered in the second to give the Orioles an early 4-1 lead and they went on to finish off the sweep by winning 7-1 behind a Storm Davis complete game performance. At the end of the game two, with the crowd standing and cheering, I can still remember hearing a ruckus behind us as we were getting ready to leave and then two guys came rolling down the bleachers in a knock'em down bruhaha. That's when my Dad grabbed my hand and was like, "Let's go!" As we rushed away, I remember watching the cops running up towards the brawl and thought, "It doesn't get any better than this!!"
Eventually the Brewers would beat up on Jim Palmer on that Sunday to win the AL East and ruin Earl Weaver's last game. But what happened next remains my single best moment of Orioles history. The crowd wouldn't leave as they cheered Earl and the O's. Howard Cosell was talking about how Baltimore had become a great city and how the inner harbor had rejuvenated the city. He talked glowingly of Earl and what the Orioles had done, and I was proud to be an Orioles fan.
Earl cried, players cried, and I cried as it probably was the most emotional moment I had experienced throughout my 12 years on earth. Reading through Roch's piece reminded me of how special that moment was and reminded me what the Orioles have actually meant to me throughout my life.
Whether good or bad, I'll always be an Orioles fan at heart.
John Shelby's throw may be a footnote in Orioles lore, but it will be remembered as one of the truly defining moments in an amazing season that remains my favorite season of all time despite the fact it came up a game short.
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Tony has owned and operated Orioles Hangout since 1996 and is well known for his knowledge of the Baltimore Orioles organization from top to bottom. He's a frequent guest on Baltimore-area sports radio stations and can be heard regularly on the 105.7 FM The Fan. His knowledge and contacts within the Orioles minor league system and the major league baseball scouting industry is unparalleled in the Baltimore media and is known as an expert on the Orioles prospects.