Jim Palmer began his major league career in 1965, when the Braves played their last season in Milwaukee, the Astros unveiled the Astrodome, and Bert Campaneris became the first player to play all nine positions in a major league game.
Throughout his 19 seasons—all in a Baltimore Orioles uniform—Palmer racked up pitching achievements like a Marylander devours crabs. Often.
- World Series championships (1966, 1970, 1983)
- American League Cy Young Awards (1973, 1975, 1976)
- 20-win seasons in all but one year between 1970 and 1978
- Led the American League in innings pitched (1970, 1976, 1977, 1978)
- Led the major leagues in shutouts (1975)
- Led the American League in earned run average (1973, 1975)
- Led the major leagues in earned run average (1975)
- Led the American League in victories (1975, 1976, 1977)
- Led the major leagues in victories (1975, 1976)
- Led the American League in complete games (1977)
- Led the major leagues in complete games (1977)
On August 13, 1969, the future Hall of Famer added a rare jewel to his crown—a no-hitter. In an 8-0 shutout of the Oakland A’s, Palmer contributed with his bat as well as his right arm—a single, a double, a run scored, one RBI, and a walk that started a five-run tally in the seventh inning. Associated Press began its account by emphasizing the 23-year-old right-hander “continuing his amazing comeback” after being on the disabled list; the no-hitter brought Palmer’s 1969 record to 11-2.
It was a glorious day for Baltimore. Boog Powell rapped two hits and scored a run. Brooks Robinson knocked a three-run home run—it was his only hit of the day. Don Buford went three-for-four with two RBI. Paul Blair and Frank Robinson had one RBI apiece.
After two years of limited work because of “assorted back and shoulder miseries,” described by AP, Palmer had an impressive 9-2 record in 1969 before tearing a muscle in his back, which prompted a stay on the disabled list beginning on June 29th. When Palmer returned to pitch against the Minnesota Twins on August 9th, spirits lifted from Mount Washington to Fells Point. It looked like the physical challenges were in the rear view mirror as Palmer notched a 5-1 victory over the fellas from the Twin Cities; he threw for six innings.
Palmer’s no-hitter occurred while the world experienced terrific events, with the adjective being used for both its original meaning as a derivation of the word “terror” and its adjusted meaning to describe something extraordinarily good. In the four weeks prior to Palmer’s feat, Charles Manson masterminded a mass slaughter of Sharon Tate and six others, Apollo 11 made the first successful manned moon landing, and upstate New York prepared for a festival described as “3 Days of Peace and Music” at Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel—the Woodstock Music and Art Fair.
With a 109-53 record in 1969, the O’s had a 19-game differential from their closest competitor—the Detroit Tigers had 90 wins and 72 losses, respectable but not enough to eclipse the marshals of Memorial Stadium. The New York Mets defied expectations by defeating the Orioles in the 1969 World Series, taking five games to accomplish the task.
A version of this article appeared on www.thesportspost.com on April 14, 2016.