S-O-M Game of the Day: 66 Orioles at 66 Reds

curt blefary 1966Strat-o-Matic is a baseball simulation that began as a cards and dice game in the early 1960s before entering the computer age.

These featured games on Shoestring Catches are part of season replays or tournaments played with cards and dice with a few exhibitions thrown in for fun.

Today’s game matches the Baltimore Orioles and the Cincinnati Reds from 1966. It took a long time but Frank Robinson and Milt Pappas, who were the primary components of a trade between the two clubs a year earlier actually met on the field.

In the fantasy world of Strat-o-Matic, it’s always fun to see what would have happened if the two teams had meet right after the deal.


CINCINNATI — Curt Blefary showed a lot of power as the second-year big leaguer hit a pair of homers to lead the Baltimore Orioles to an 8-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds at Crosley Field.

frank robinson 1972The Reds were welcoming back former teammate Frank Robinson, who was traded to the Orioles during the off-season. Former Orioles all-star Milt Pappas got the start for the Reds on the mound against his old club.

It didn’t take long to see how the trade worked out. After two were out in the top of the first, Robinson took Pappas deep to put the Orioles in front 1-0.

Pappas and Baltimore starter Jim Palmer keep the contest that way until the fifth inning.

Blefary hit his first long ball of the contest to give Baltimore a 2-0 advantage. Later in the frame, Luis Aparicio added a run-scoring single to put the Orioles up by three.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Reds got on the scoreboard after stranding four runners up top that point.

Pappas got the rally started with a single with one out. Pete Rose singled and sent Pappas to third. Vada Pinson knocked in Pappas with a single to make it 3-1.

An error in the sixth by Leo Cardenas spelled trouble for Pappas. With one out, Brooks Robinson hit a grounder to the Reds shortstop that was a sure double play that would have ended the inning.

Instead, the next batter was Blefary, who virtually ended the game with a three-run blast that gave the Orioles and 6-1 lead. Pappas worked a scoreless seventh, but he was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the inning.

Ted Davidson replaced Pappas and things didn’t get better for the Reds. After Frank Robinson singled for his game-high third hit of the day, Boog Powell hit a two-run homer giving the Orioles their decisive 8-1 margin.

Palmer went the distance for the Orioles giving up a run on nine hits with three strikeouts. Pappas gave up six runs on six hits with four strikeouts. Davidson gave up the two runs in the eighth on a pair of hits. Billy McCool worked a scoreless ninth for the Reds.

Pinson, Rose and Tommy Harper led the Reds with two hits each.

IN REAL LIFE: Curt Blefary was named the American League Rookie of the Year in 1965 after hitting 22 homers with 70 RBI and a career-high .260 batting average.

Blefary helped the Orioles to a world championship in 1966 with 23 homers and 64 RBI. A year later, he had 22 long balls with 81 RBI.

After his numbers began to decline, Blefary was traded to the Houston Astros in a five player deal that involved future Orioles star Mike Cuellar. Blefary finished his eight-year career with the New York Yankees (1970-1971), the Oakland A’s (1971-1972) and the San Diego Padres (1972).

In 1966, Frank Robinson was named the AL Most Valuable Player after winning the triple crown by hitting 49 home runs with 122 RBI and a .316 batting average. While with the Reds, Robinson was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1956 and MVP in 1961. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982.

milt pappas 1972Pappas, who was an AL all-star in 1962 and 1965 for the Orioles, went 12-11 with a 4.29 ERA during his first season with the Reds in 1966. In his 17-year career, Pappas was 209-164.

Robinson and Pappas faced each other in 1972. Robinson had been traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, while Pappas was with the Chicago Cubs.

Pappas was the better of the two by this time. Robinson was 1-for7 against Pappas with a single in two games to go with three strikeouts as the Cubs and the right-hander won both contests. For the season, Robinson had 19 homers with 59 RBI.

On June 17, Pappas went seven innings in a 7-2 victory at Wrigley Field. He gave up both runs on five hits with six strikeouts.

Pappas tossed a complete game in Chicago against the Dodgers on Aug. 29. After giving up a solo homer to Willie Davis in the third inning, Pappas blanked the Dodgers the rest of the way to earn a 2-1 win. Billy Williams helped Pappas with a two-run single in the sixth to put the Cubs in front.

The victory for Pappas was his fifth in a string of 12 starts in a row that he won in 1972 to finish the season at 17-7 with 2.77 ERA.

After beating the Dodgers for the second time, Pappas tossed his no-hitter against the Padres on Sept. 2.


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