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On This Date in Sports: October 15, 1970: Brooks Robinson Does it All

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

The Baltimore Orioles win a second World Championship beating the Cincinnati Reds in five games. In the finale, the Orioles beat the Reds 9-3 at Memorial Stadium. The series is best remembered for the outstanding defensive play of Brooks Robinson, who acts like a human vacuum at third base. Brooks Robinson also bats .444 with two home runs and six RBI to win the World Series MVP. 

After their stunning loss to the New York Mets in the 1969 World Series, the Baltimore Orioles bounced back and cruised to second straight American League Eastern Division Championship. After winning 109 games in 1969, the Orioles posted a record of 108-54 in 1970 for manager Earl Weaver, becoming the first team to win 108 games in two consecutive seasons. Once again, the Orioles swept the Minnesota Twins in the ALCS to reach the World Series as Boog Powell won the American League MVP. 

The Cincinnati Reds were a team on the rise in the National League. With a loaded lineup, the Reds won the Western Division with a record of 102-60 for first-year manager Sparky Anderson. Johnny Bench hit 45 home runs in 1970 and won the National League MVP. In the NLCS, the Reds swept the Pittsburgh Pirates to reach the Fall Classic for the first time since 1961.

It was a historic World Series that began at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati. It was the last time a World Series was played entirely in the day time. Game 1 in Cincinnati was the first World Series game played on AstroTurf, while Emmett Ashford became the first African American umpire in the Fall Classic. Gary Nolan started for Reds in Game 1 while the Orioles had Jim Palmer take the mound. The Reds took the early lead as Johnny Bench drove in a run in the first inning. The Reds added a pair of runs to make it 3-0 on a third-inning home run by Lee May. In the fourth, Baltimore began their comeback with a two-run homer by Boog Powell. In the fifth inning, the Orioles tied the game on a home run by Elrod Hendricks. The game remained tied until the seventh inning when Brooks Robinson gave the Orioles a 4-3 lead with a home run. Robinson had several runs with his glove at third base, and he played the hot corner like a wizard in his first game on an artificial surface. 

Mike Cuellar made the start for the Orioles in Game 2 as Jim McGlothin started for Cincinnati.  Again the Reds jumped out to an early lead as Lee May had a two-run double and scored on RBI by Hal McRae. Bobby Tolan homered in the third to stretch the Reds’ lead out to 4-0, chasing Cuellar to the showers. Boog Powell homered I the fourth to get the Orioles on the board. Things unraveled for the Reds in the fifth inning, as the Orioles scored five runs, with 20-year-old reliever Milt Wilcox getting hit hard after relieving McGlothin. Paul Blair, Boog Powell, and Brooks Robinson each drove in a run, as Elrod Hendricks had a two-run double. Johnny Bench homered in the sixth, but the Reds would not get closer, as the Orioles won 6-5 with Tom Phoebus earning the win and Dick Hall recording the save. 

As the series shifted to Memorial Stadium, Brooks Robinson continued making big plays at third as Dave McNally started for the Orioles, while Tony Cloninger stared for the Reds. Brooks Robinson gave Baltimore an early lead with a two-run double in the fist. Dave Concepcion drove in a run in the third to give the reeling Reds a sign of life. Frank Robinson homered in the third, and Don Buford homered in the fifth to give the Orioles a 5-1 lead. The Orioles broke the game open with a grand slam by McNally in the sixth to date. He is the only pitcher to hit a grand slam in the World Series. The Reds scored a pair of runs in the seventh, Blair had a double that made it 9-3 in the bottom of the inning, as Baltimore took a 3-0 series lead.

The Orioles went into Game 4 look for a sweep with Jim Palmer opposing Gary Nolan for a second time. Dave Concepcion drove in a run with a triple in the second, as Brooks Robinson answered with a home run. After Lee May gave the Reds a 2-1 lead in the third, Baltimore answered with three runs on hits by Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, and Elrod Hendricks. Pete Rose hit a home run in the fifth, while Hendricks singled in the sixth to give the Orioles a 5-3 lead. Eddie Watt relieved Jim Palmer in the eighth and gave up a three-run home run to May that put Cincinnati up 6-5, helping them avoid the Baltimore brooms. 

In Game 5, it was Mike Cuellar for Baltimore opposing Jim Merritt. The Reds took an early 3-0 lead as Hal McRae drove in a pair with a double, following up an RBI single by Johnny Bench. The Orioles got two runs back on a home run by Frank Robinson in the bottom of the first. Mark Belanger and Paul Blair each had RBI singles in the second to give the Orioles a 4-3 lead. The Orioles got two more runs in the third on RBIs by Merv Rettenmund and Davey Johnson. Rettenmund added a home run in the fifth to make it 7-3 as Cuellar shutdown Cincinnati the rest of the way. Baltimore added two more runs in the eighth and won the game 9-3 to win the World Series as Pat Corrales ended the series with a grounder to Brooks Robinson at third.