1983 World Series
The 1983 World Series matched the American League champion Baltimore Orioles against the National League champion Philadelphia Phillies, with the Orioles winning four games to one.
"The I-95 Series"—like the World Series two years later, also took its nickname from the Interstate that it took for the teams and fans to travel on—I-95 in this case.
This was the last World Series that Bowie Kuhn presided over as commissioner. It was also the last World Series aired on ABC before the network was taken over by Capital Cities Communications (coincidentally, that company's flagship station was Philadelphia's ABC affiliate, WPVI-TV—also the network's first affiliate)
The Philadelphia Phillies won the National League East division by six games over the Pittsburgh Pirates then defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers, three games to one, in the National League Championship Series. The Baltimore Orioles won the American League East division by six games over the Detroit Tigers then defeated the Chicago White Sox, three games to one, in the American League Championship Series.
The Orioles won the American League East rather comfortably while the Phillies needed a 22–7 record in September to break open a close eastern divisional race over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Powered by Eddie Murray’s two home runs, the Baltimore Orioles beat the Philadelphia Phillies in five games with manager Joe Altobelli winning the championship in his inaugural season with the Orioles, matching Earl Weaver, who had only one World Series win in his sixteen years piloting the team.
After opening the decade with their first World Championship, Philadelphia returned to the "Big Show" hoping to repeat their award-winning performance. With a roster full of thirty-five to forty-two year-old veterans, the '83 Phillies were among the oldest in the National League and were a stark contrast to their opponents, the American League's Baltimore Orioles.
John Denny was Philly manager Paul Owens' choice for Game 1 and the thirty year-old "youngster" went up against Series vet Scott McGregor. Joe Altobelli's Blackbirds took an early lead when their second batter, Jim Dwyer sent a Denny fastball deep into the stands, but Sparkplug Morgan tied it up with a two out home run in the Philadelphia sixth. Both teams remained locked in a 1-1 tie as McGregor returned to the mound in the top of the eighth. In a strange twist, an excruciating five minutes passed before the lefthander was allowed to deliver the first pitch to officially start the inning. In what had become a Classic tradition, President Ronald Reagan was in attendance and had given an impromptu, three minute interview that ran well into the scheduled commercial time. After the lengthy pause, a cold McGregor finally sent his first offering to Garry Maddox who promptly sent it back for the go ahead run. Despite the obvious argument that the delay had affected their pitcher, the Orioles were given no reprieve as reliever Al Holland and the Phillies moved on for the 2-1 win.
Still disturbed by the controversy over Game 1, Baltimore came back in the second outing with Mike Boddicker extracting revenge with a vicious, three hitter. Philadelphia's Charles Hudson had tossed shutout ball through the fourth inning, but surrendered three, fifth inning runs as John Lowenstein homered, Rick Dempsey added a run-scoring double and Boddicker aided his own cause with a sac-fly for the 4-1 triumph.
As the Series shifted to "The City of Brotherly Love", a crafty Owens startled the hometown crowd by replacing 3,900 hit man, Pete Rose with Tony Perez in an attempt to generate some fresh offense. With the home team leading 2-1 in the sixth, Steve Carlton was showing signs of fatigue in the on-deck circle. As the Philly manager debated pulling the 300 game winner for a pinch-hitter, Carlton convinced him not to. The decision not to force a call to the bullpen proved costly as Carlton fanned with two on and two out. He later went on to retire the first two Baltimore batters in the seventh, but gave up a critical double to Dempsey (who later advanced to third on a wild pitch). Benny Ayala took advantage of the weary pitcher and followed with a timely pinch-single to tie it up. Angry for not going with his first instincts, Owens summoned Al Holland for relief. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late and John Shelby took the left-hander for a clutch single that scored the 3-2 game winner.
Game 4 mostly belonged to the Orioles' Rich Dauer who had three hits and collected three runs. In an unprecedented move, Altobelli had sent up four consecutive pinch-hitters in the sixth. The daring strategy soon proved brilliant as Baltimore overcame a 3-2 deficit on the way to a 5-4 finale. Ken Singleton (the second substitute batter) drew a game-tying, bases-loaded walk and Shelby (pinch-hitter #3) sealed the deal with a go-ahead sacrifice fly. When it was over, Philadelphia slumped in disbelief after giving up another late-inning lead. The Blackbirds had beaten the odds for the third consecutive time and drew nine innings closer to their third World Series title. In the end, the dejected Philadelphia team was never able to recover from the successive comebacks as the Orioles promptly ended the contest with a 5-0 mercy killing in Game 5.
As a testament to the pitching staffs on both sides, the tournaments two biggest hitters, Baltimore's Cal Ripken, Jr. and Philly's Mike Schmidt went three-for-eighteen and one-for-twenty respectively. The Iron Man's teammate, Eddie Murray, had also struggled but managed two homers and three RBIs in the finale after going two-for-sixteen in the first four outings.