Watching the Baltimore Orioles clinch a playoff berth with their win over the New York Yankees last night was sweet enough. But watching the broadcast of the champagne celebration in the clubhouse was icing on the cake. Whether it was seeing the players react to the Toronto-Boston game on TV, watching Tommy Hunter hoard a half-dozen beers in his hand, seeing Hyun Soo Kim's translator Danny Lee get doused in beer, or finally watching the team just annihilate manager Buck Showalter with champagne, we felt like we were right there celebrating with them. (Though, of course, no poncho was required.)
As the Orioles return to the postseason for the third time in five years, we wanted to reflect on the past 60 years of celebrations. Of course, the champagne flowed more in certain decades than others, but one thing remains the same—the Baltimore baseball franchise certainly knows how to pop bottles in style.
September 22, 1966
The Orioles clinched the American League pennant against the Kansas City A's in Municipal Stadium in Missouri. The 6-1 victory gave the franchise its first AL pennant in 22 years (the last being in 1944 when they were the St. Louis Browns) and the team celebrated accordingly. The champagne and foam was particularly messy with players like Boog Powell and Jim Palmer getting drenched, as well as coach Gene Woodling receiving a healthy spray down. The showers were so frequent that the team ran out and had to resort to beer. Pitcher Gene Brabender was drinking—what else?—a bottle of National Premium. No safety goggles, plastic, or parkas to be found.
October 15, 1970
The Orioles beat the Cincinnati Reds in five games to win the 1970 World Series, where they celebrated in the locker room at Memorial Stadium. O's second baseman Dave Johnson climbed on top of the lockers to spray champagne on his team, while teammates Paul Blair, Frank Robinson, and Elrod Hendricks shared a special moment down below.
Baltimore Orioles Frank Robinson, Ellie Hendricks, and Paul Blair victorious, drinking champagne after winning the World Series in 1970. -Photo by Neil Leifer /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images
October 6, 1979
The Orioles took the American League Championship from the California Angels in four straight games in October of 1979. The final win, at Anaheim Stadium, was a doozy with the Orioles shutting out the Angels 8-0. The only home run of the entire game came from O's outfielder Pat Kelly, who got quite the champagne shower back in the locker room. But absolutely no one else was spared, as Frank Robinson famously drenched manager Earl Weaver in celebration, too.
Pat Kelly, left, and pitcher Dennis Martinez are happy winners in the Orioles dressing room after they beat the California Angels in the American League playoff, Oct. 6, 1979 in Anaheim. -AP Photo
October 16, 1983
After defeating the Philadelphia Phillies in the 1983 championship series, otherwise known as the I-95 Series, the Orioles celebrated at The Vet in Philly. Victims of the champagne deluge included owner Edward Bennett Williams, in his trench coat no less, who has famously said he had the wrong temperament for a sport where pennant winners still lost 60 times a year. Another memorable moment came when Rick Dempsey accepted congratulations over the phone with President Ronald Reagan. "You tell the Russians," Dempsey said to Reagan, "that we're having an awful good time over here playing baseball."
Particularly excited was first baseman and DH Eddie Murray, who had two home runs that game and enjoyed sipping champagne with his teammate Cal Ripken Jr. Ripken has continually said that catching the last out of that game was the "best baseball moment" of his life.
1983: the Orioles have always celebrated with champagne in the locker room. -Reprinted with Permission of The Baltimore Sun Media Group, All Rights Reserved
September 24, 1997
The Orioles clinched the AL East after the team rattled off a 9-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays. Stars of the game included outfielders B.J. Surhoff and Brady Anderson and second baseman Roberto Alomar. But the real hero was Rafael Palmeiro, who capped off the night with a seventh inning home run, led the team with 38 homers that season, and was accordingly bathed in bubbly in the clubhouse of Toronto's SkyDome.
October 5, 2012
In 2012, it looked like the Orioles might not get that celebratory moment they had been waiting 15 very dry seasons for. The team was on a plane from Baltimore to Tampa Bay when their playoff berth was clinched, however they really got to celebrate after their play-in game against the Rangers in Arlington, Texas. After the first inning, both starters pitched a shutout until the sixth when Adam Jones knocked in a run via a sac fly. And it surely, too, was Jones who led the celebrations following the 5-1 victory. This go-round, it was GM Dan Duquette who got the brunt of the champagne spray.
September 16, 2014
Otherwise known as Clichmas, the Orioles won their first AL East crown since 1997 against the Toronto Blue Jays before an ecstatic crowd of 35,297 fans at Camden Yards. After the game there were fireworks, selfies, streamers, and a Jones lap around the field. The party continued in the clubhouse with the requisite beer and champagne—and this epic picture of Showalter, who was celebrating his 1254th career victory, really says it all.