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Long-Forgotten or Never-Remembered Moments in Washington Baseball History, Vol. III (9/10/71)

He strode to the plate in the bottom of the third, and a moment later he trotted around the bases. Frank Robinson had launched a two-out, third inning blast off of Dick Bosman. What might have escaped the forethought of the 13,443 fans in attendance at Memorial Stadium---not a huge crowd, but certainly respectable for its day---was that Robinson's home run would be the last in a game pitting Baltimore and Washington in a long, long time.

In fact, it still stands as the last, officially, clubbed in the last official game between the two cities' squads.

On September 10, 1971, the Baltimore Orioles defeated the Washington Senators, 7-1, sweeping a short two-game series and marking a thirteenth win in sixteen tries against their woeful opponent. The Senators never had the opportunity to extract revenge; within three weeks, they were no more.

The Orioles wasted no time imposing their will. Starter Mike Cuellar disposed of the Senators without incident, and then the Orioles jumped on Bosman in the bottom half. Paul Blair reached first on a leadoff bunt single. Blair promptly scored when Mark Belanger---enjoying a rare competent season at the plate---tripled to right field. Boog Powell struck out, and Frank Robinson was intentionally walked (perhaps the genesis of his love for the maneuver). Merv Rettemund reached on an infield single, right back-to-the-box, scoring Belanger and advancing Robinson to second. Brooks Robinson bounced into a fielder's choice, shortstop-to-second, but Washington second baseman Tim Cullen committed an error; the Californian Robinson scored, and the Arkansan Robinson advanced to second.

In all, the Orioles hit one ball out of the infield during the first inning, but they scored three runs.

While the Senators bounced back for a run in the second on a Toby Harrah triple, they would provide no serious threat to Baltimore's lead. The Orioles added single runs in the third (on the aforementioned Frank Robinson homer) and the fifth (on a sacrifice fly by Powell that scored Belanger, who was three-for-four in the game), extending margin to a comfortable 5-1.

Cuellar, on this way to a third consecutive twenty-win season, was masterful, allowing an unearned run on three hits and a walk. He struck out seven. The performance was not the least bit out of character for the '71 Orioles, who won 101 games, captured an American League pennant, and featured a four-man starting rotation composed entirely of twenty-game winners.

Cuellar's opposing number, Bosman, settled in enough after the rocky first inning to provide Washington with seven innings. However, his effort was not nearly sufficient, and he dropped to 11-14 on the campaign (on his way to 12-16, the mirror image of his 16-12 record the previous season).

A two-run eighth inning off of Washington reliever Casey Cox capped the scoring for the day---and for the history of baseball between the two cities.

Until tomorrow night.

For the first time since that blowout in 1971, Washington and Baltimore will play a regular season game. Washington's team is called the Nationals now, and it leaps into a contrived interleague rivalry called the "Battle of the Beltways" armed with the most fitting pitcher imaginable: Mike O'Connor, who grew up in Ellicot City, Md., went to George Washington, and rooted for the Orioles during a time when baseball fans in the Washington/Baltimore region were given one choice.

And, as we well know, when this B-W hybrid takes the hill, he will be managed by none other than the owner of that last B-W home run, Frank Robinson.