this post covers the 1969 baltimore orioles and cards number 39 to 49 in the set. here are the fronts:
1966) are still with the team and included in the set.
what team is this: 1969 baltimore orioles
why this team?: the '69 orioles won 109 games in the first year of divisional play. they beat the minnesota twins in the american league championship series 3 games to none, but then ran into the amazing mets in the world series.
which players are featured?: boog powell, brooks robinson, davey johnson, merv rettenmund, eddie watt, frank robinson, jim palmer, mike cuellar, paul blair, pete richert, and ellie hendricks
why these players?: these guys were, for the most part, the core of the orioles' dynasty of the late 1960's.
boog powell was named to the all-star team for the second time, and finished 2nd in the league mvp voting (behind harmon killebrew) in 1969 thanks to his 37/121/.304 line. he hit .385 with a solo home run in the alcs and then had 5 hits (none for extra bases) in the world series, batting .263 against the mets.
brooks robinson hit only .234 in the regular season, but still won another gold glove. he hit 23 homers and drove in 84 runs along the way, and then hit .500 (7 for 14) in the alcs. in the world series, he was limited to a single in 19 at bats for a lowly .053 average.
davey johnson was the orioles' second baseman and hit .280 in the regular season. he was named to the all-star team for the second season in a row, and won his first gold glove. johnson actually had a better postseason in 1966 (his rookie year) than he did in 1969. maybe upper deck should have included him with that team instead of this one. in the alcs he hit only .231 and then managed just one hit in the world series for an average of .083.
merv rettenmund's inclusion in this set with this team is kind of a headscratcher. he wasn't a regular, appearing in 95 games and hitting .247 during the regular season. in the postseason, he made a single appearance in each the alcs and the world series, without an at bat in either.
eddie watt shared the 'closer' duties with pete richert. he saved 16 games and had a 1.65 era in 56 appearances. in the alcs, watt pitched 2 perfect innings. after a scoreless two-inning outing in game 4 of the world series, watt wound up taking the loss in game 5 despite giving up just a single unearned run.
frank robinson was right behind boog powell in the 1969 al mvp vote, hitting .308 while slugging 32 homers and driving in 100 runs for the final time in his career. he hit .333 with a home run in the alcs and added a solo shot in the world series, although his average over those 5 games against the mets was just .188.
jim palmer did not pitch in the majors in 1968 (he appeared in only 10 minor league games that year) but returned to the orioles' rotation for the 1969 season. he wound up with a record of 16-4 in 23 starts. he threw 11 complete games and 6 shutouts and also made 3 relief appearances. he was 1-0 against the twins in the alcs, throwing another complete game, and then lost game 3 of the world series by allowing 4 runs in 6 innings of work.
mike cuellar was the al cy young award winner in 1969, although he didn't lead the league in any major pitching category. he won 23 games (2nd in the league) and had a 2.38 era (third). cuellar had a no-decision in his lone alcs start, and then earned the win in game 1 of the world series. he returned to the mound a few days later to start game 4 which the orioles eventually lost in 10 innings.
paul blair won his second gold glove and made the all-star for the first time in 1969. the orioles' center fielder posted a solid line of 26/76/.285, with the home run and rbi totals proving to be career highs. he was the orioles' offensive star in the three game sweep of the twins, hitting a home run and driving in 6 runs while batting .400. he hit only .100 in the world series, however.
pete richert was the left-handed complement to eddie watt in the orioles' bullpen. he appeared in 44 games and saved 12 of them. he pitched a single scoreless inning in the alcs, and then failed to record an out in his only world series appearance. that appearance came in game 4, as richert was called upon in the 10th inning with runners on first and second and no outs. jc martin pinch-hit and sacrificed, but was hit by richert's throw to first and the winning run scored.
ellie hendricks hit 12 homers for the orioles in 1969. the catcher appeared in 105 games for the al champs and played in all three alcs games. he had 2 doubles and 3 rbi in that series, but just one hit in the three games of the world series in which he appeared.
the stadium on the back is...?: memorial stadium.
did upper deck get it right?: the team is a good one. the orioles' 109 wins were the most since the 1961 yankees won 109 and the most until the yankees won 114 in 1998. the players featured include pretty much all of the key players except for mark belanger (d. 1998), dave mcnally (d. 2002), and don buford who is still around and would have been a good choice to include in place of merv rettenmund.
the stadium on the back is appropriate, but the bird logo on the front is still wrong. as for the player photos, boog's photo is not from 1969, but from anywhere between 1971 through 1974 when the o's went with the three stripes on their sleeves. this is interesting because the photo they use for boog in the 1970 team grouping is more like what they used for the 1966 team. strange.
next, we have brooks robinson who is rocking the white panel helmet and the orange pullovers that the orioles wore in the mid-1970's. not 1969 for sure. davey johnson looks ok, but merv rettenmund has those tri-color stripes on his sleeve, so he's definitely not from 1969. eddie watt and frank robinson both look good (although they would likely be showing the '100th anniversary' patch on their sleeves if the photos were from 1969. jim palmer is rocking a post-1974 look and this may be a photo from the 1980s. finally, mike cuellar is spot on with the patch! the rest of the players are certainly shown circa 1969, but likely not from that specific year. it's nice that upper deck didn't use a photo of ellie hendricks from his third go-around with the orioles in 1978.
is this team timeless?: i suppose. this may have been the best orioles team of that era, despite losing four straight games to the mets in the world series. what do you think?