After the conclusion of the 1965 season, the Baltimore Orioles acquired outfielder Frank Robinson from the Cincinnati Reds for pitcher Milt Pappas and two other players. The deal turned out to be the best one the Baltimore franchise ever made and, quite possibly, the worst one in the long history of the Cincinnati Reds. Angered by Cincinnati management, which attempted to justify the trade by describing him as “an old 30,” Robinson entered the 1966 campaign with a huge chip on his shoulder. Bringing with him to the American League the same aggressive style of play he became noted for in the senior circuit, Robinson showed the baseball world he still had several good years left in him. In his first year in Baltimore, the right-fielder won the A.L. Triple Crown by topping the circuit with 49 home runs, 122 runs batted in, and a .316 batting average. Robinson also led the league with 122 runs scored, 367 total bases, a .415 on-base percentage, and a .637 slugging percentage, en route to capturing A.L. MVP honors. Robinson’s extraordinary performance enabled the Orioles to run away with the American League pennant. They finished the regular season with a record of 97-63, nine games ahead of the second-place Minnesota Twins, and 10 games in front of the third-place Detroit Tigers.
Although Robinson clearly served as the driving force behind Baltimore’s successful run to the pennant, he received a considerable amount of help from his Oriole teammates. First baseman Boog Powell batted .287 and placed third in the league with 34 home runs and 109 runs batted in. Gold Glove third baseman Brooks Robinson earned a second-place finish in the league MVP balloting by hitting 23 homers, driving in 100 runs, and scoring 91 others. In addition to playing stellar defense at shortstop, Luis Aparicio batted .276, scored 97 runs, and stole 25 bases.
Jim Palmer and Dave McNally headed Baltimore’s deep starting rotation. Palmer finished first on the team with 15 victories, while McNally posted 13 wins and led the starters with a 3.17 ERA. Stu Miller anchored the Oriole bullpen, saving 18 games and winning nine others.
Entering the World Series as underdogs against the defending world-champion Los Angeles Dodgers, the Orioles surprised virtually everyone by sweeping the Dodgers in four straight games. After Los Angeles knocked out an uncharacteristically wild Dave McNally in the third inning of Game One, Baltimore reliever Moe Drabowsky shut out the Dodgers the rest of the way, compiling 11 strikeouts, en route to preserving a 5-2 Oriole win. The Dodgers didn't score again in the Series, as Jim Palmer, Wally Bunker, and McNally tossed consecutive shutouts in leading the Orioles to 6-0, 1-0, and 1-0 victories. Frank Robinson punctuated his great season by hitting two home runs and earning Series MVP honors.
Although the Orioles clearly established themselves as the class of the American League over the course of the regular season, the Twins and Tigers gave every indication that they were capable of posing threats to Baltimore for championship honors in the near future. The runner-up Twins finished third in the league in runs scored, and they also placed second in the circuit in team ERA. Jim Kaat had a fabulous year on the mound for Minnesota, compiling a 2.75 ERA and leading all A.L. hurlers with 25 wins, 304 innings pitched, and 19 complete games. Meanwhile, Harmon Killebrew and Tony Oliva paced the Twins on offense. Killebrew batted .281, finished second in the league with 39 home runs and 110 runs batted in, and topped the circuit with 103 bases on balls. Oliva hit 25 homers, knocked in 87 runs, placed second in the A.L. with a .307 batting average and 99 runs scored, and led the league with 191 hits.
The third-place Tigers, who finished second in the league to Baltimore with 719 runs scored, were led on offense by Willie Horton, Al Kaline, and Norm Cash. Horton hit 27 homers and drove in 100 runs. Kaline hit 29 home runs, knocked in 88 runs, and finished third in the league with a .288 batting average. Cash went deep 32 times, drove in 93 runs, scored 98 others, and batted .279.
Other notable events from around the league and players who distinguished themselves over the course of the season included:
• Baltimore pitching blanked the Dodgers for a Series record 33 consecutive innings after surrendering two runs to Los Angeles early in Game One.
• Paul Blair and Frank Robinson won back-to-back 1-0 games for the Orioles in the Fall Classic with home runs.
• Jim Palmer’s 6-0 victory in Game Two of the Fall Classic made him the youngest pitcher (20) in history to hurl a World Series shutout
• The Yankees’ last-place finish marked the first time since 1912 that they finished at the bottom of the A.L. standings.
• Marvin Miller was elected president of the Major League Players Association.
• The Yankees fired broadcaster Red Barber after he called attention on television to a sparse crowd in Yankee Stadium.
• Sonny Siebert of Cleveland threw a no-hitter against Washington on June 10.
• The White Sox and Angels played the first game at Anaheim Stadium on April 19.
• Kansas City’s Jack Aker established a new major league record by saving 32 games.
• The Hall of Fame inducted Ted Williams and Casey Stengel.
• Chicago's Tommie Agee (22 home runs, 86 RBIs, .273 batting average) earned A.L. Rookie of the Year honors.
• Luis Aparicio led American League shortstops in fielding average for a record eighth straight year.
• The Yankees fired manager Johnny Keane after a 4-16 start, replacing him at the helm with general manager Ralph Houk.
• Bert Campaneris led the American League with 52 stolen bases.
• Cleveland’s Sam McDowell led all A.L. hurlers with 225 strikeouts.
• Chicago's Gary Peters led the American League with a 1.98 ERA.
• Chicago’s league-leading pitching staff also included Joe Horlen, who placed second in the league with a 2.43 ERA, and Tommy John, who finished fifth with a mark of 2.62.
• Detroit's Denny McLain finished second in the American League with 20 wins and 14 complete games.
- 1966 World Series, Al Kaline, American League, Baltimore Orioles, Bert Campaneris, Boog Powell, Brooks Robinson, Casey Stengel, Dave McNally, Denny McLain, Frank Robinson, Gary Peters, Harmon Killebrew, Jack Aker, Jim Kaat, Jim Palmer, Joe Horlen, Johnny Keane, Luis Aparicio, Marvin Miller, Milt Pappas, Moe Drabowsky, Norm Cash, Paul Blair, Ralph Houk, Red Barber, Rocky Colavito, Sam McDowell, Sonny Siebert, Stu Miller, Ted Williams, Tommie Agee, Tommy John, Tony Conigliaro, Tony Oliva, Wally Bunker, Willie Horton