Lights Out: Boog Powell’s 11-RBI Day
The 1965 season had been a disappointment for Powell. After hitting 39 home runs and driving in 99 runs at age 22 in 1964, Powell’s home run output slipped to 17 in 1965. His 72 RBIs were his lowest run production since his rookie season.
In 1965, Powel had been the lone power threat in the Orioles line-up that had ever produced as many as 30 home runs in a season. (Curt Blefary led the team in 1965 with 22 home runs.) But that would change in 1966. The presence of Robinson’s right-handed bat meant Powel was likely to get more respect and more fastballs. He did, and he delivered.
He started slowly in 1966. He batted .171 in April and had raised his average only to .232 by the end of May. But Powell caught fire in June, when he batted .384 with 8 home runs and 31 RBIs in 32 games. He was just getting started.
Coming into a double header with the Kansas City Athletics on July 6, 1966, Powell had raised his season’s batting average to .296 with 16 home runs and 55 RBIs. The Orioles took the first game of the twin-bill by a score of 11-0. Powell was one for four but had four runs batted in on a bases-loaded double in the third inning and a sacrifice fly in the fifth.
In the second game, Powell drove in the first run with a double in the third inning, and scored on Frank Robinson’s RBI single. That lead lasted only until the fourth inning, when Kansas City’s Larry Stahl tied the game with a two-run double.
When Powell came up to bat again in the fifth inning, he found the bases loaded … and cleared them with his seventeenth home run of the season. In the seventh inning, he lined out to right fielder Mike Hershberger.
The Athletics rallied for six runs in the eighth inning to take an 8-6 lead. The A’s bullpen ace, Jack Aker, pitched a scoreless eighth inning. Powell came to bat in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs and Luis Aparicio at first base. He launched his second home run of the game to tie the game at 8-8 and send it into extra innings.
Stahl’s second double of the game in the eleventh inning put the Athletics back on top 9-8. Aker came out to pitch the bottom of the eleventh, his fourth inning of work. (That’s what bullpen aces were expected to do in the 1960s.) Paul Blair and Vic Roznovsky grounded out, and Blefary came on to pinch hit for Orioles pitcher John Miller. Blefary singled to center field, bringing Aparicio to bat with Powell in the on-deck circle.
Powel never got his chance for more heroics, as Aparicio hit a grounder back to Aker to end the game. Powell finished with three hits in five at-bats, a double and two home runs, with three runs scored and seven runs batted in. For the double header, he was four for nine with 11 RBIs.
He was on his way to a season that would legitimize him as a premier power hitter, and put a World Series ring on his finger.