The 1979 Baltimore Orioles season was a season in American baseball. The Orioles finished first in the American League East division of Major League Baseball with a record of 102 wins and 57 losses. They went on to defeat the California Angels in the 1979 American League Championship Series, 3 games to 1, before losing in the 1979 World Series to the Pittsburgh Pirates, 4 games to 3.
The 1979 season represents a dividing line in Orioles history. Attendance was poor before it and terrific after it, steadily rising into the 1990s in a new ballpark at Camden Yards. Also, ownership changed hands in 1979, with a twelve-million-dollar sale marking the change from Jerry Hoffberger’s Baltimore Baseball Group—a local, family-oriented operation—to Edward Bennett Williams, a powerhouse attorney from Washington, D.C. with ideas about moving the club to the nation’s capital.
Against the backdrop of noise and tension, the club played well, winning 102 games and the American League East title for the first time since 1974. The season was a return to glory days of the late ’60s and early ’70s under manager Earl Weaver, but this club was different in nature and spirit. The talent was not as dominant, but a blend of heart, skills, and original personalities produced a team as compelling and effective as any in Orioles history.
Years later, it is still hard to say what happened in the summer of 1979, what caused Orioles games at Memorial Stadium to become more popular. It didn’t hurt that pro football’s Baltimore Colts, more popular for a long time, were coming apart under owner Robert Irsay; with the team losing and Irsay threatening to move, fans were abandoning the franchise and looking for an alternative. Another factor was a change in the Orioles’ flagship radio station: After 22 years on WBAL, the games were now on WFBR, a smaller, hipper station with a younger audience.
ps: This was the only ALCS between 1971 and 1981 that did not feature either the Oakland Athletics or the Kansas City Royals.