It was 40 years ago today when Frank Robinson blasted two grand slam home runs to lead the Baltimore Orioles to a 12-2 victory over the Washington Senators. The 2010 representatives for both cities will be on the field today at Camden Yards wearing special throwback uniforms, but things have changed quite a bit for both teams over the last 40 years.
In 1970 the Baltimore Orioles were the best team in baseball and on their way to their second World Series title in five years. Combining a powerful offense, great defense and amazing pitching, the Orioles had the best record in the American League with a 46-25 record on June 26th and finished the season with an amazing 108-54 mark.
First baseman Boog Powell hit 35 home runs and was named the league MVP. Pitchers Dave McNally and Mike Cuellar each won 24 games while Jim Palmer posted 20 victories. During the season, the Orioles had eight winning streaks of at least five games including an 11-game winning streak to end the season.
Fast forward to 2010 and just about the only similarity between the 1970 Orioles and the 2010 version is the team name.
The Orioles enter June 26th with the worst record in baseball at 21-52. Their current two game winning streak marks the fifth time so far this season the Orioles have won two or more games in a row and their longest winning streak in 2010 is three straight games, something they have done twice.
So far in 2010, the Orioles have not had a single home run hit by a first baseman and it seems very unlikely that the O’s will have a single pitcher finish the year with double-digit victories as the team co-leaders in wins are Jeremy Guthrie and Brad Bergesen with three each.
For the team from Washington, the most obvious difference between the team of 1970 and 2010 is the name. Known in 1970 as the Senators, Washington lost their team following the 1971 campaign as the team moved to Texas to become the Rangers. They have been known as the Nationals since coming to Washington from Montreal in 2005.
Interestingly, the 1970 Senators were managed by Hall of Fame player Ted Williams. They had a 30-40 record on June 26th and after losing their final 14 games of the season finished with a 70-92 record.
The Senators were led by mammoth outfielder Frank Howard (6-foot-7, 255 pounds) with 44 home runs and 126 RBI. Their top pitcher was 26-year-old Dick Bosman, who enjoyed the best season of his career with a 16-12 mark.
If nothing else, fans of the Nationals in 2010 can take comfort in the fact they know that their team will not be packing up for another city anytime soon. Washington currently has a 33-41 record, but has shown some indication that better times may be ahead.
Rookie phenom Stephen Strasburg has breathed some energy into the franchise with a 2-1 record and 41 strikeouts in his first 25 innings in the majors. The Nationals are led offensively by their own mammoth player in 6-foot-6, 285 pound first baseman Adam Dunn. Dunn has 17 home runs and 45 RBI in 2010 after slugging 38 homers a year ago.
While fans of the Nationals can put their hope in Strasburg and recent top draft pick Bryce Harper, Orioles’ fans are hopeful that some of the magic from 1970 will eventually rub off as the team looks to return to respectability.