The Ma & Pa Trail: The 1983 Orioles & 76ers
This is part of a series of sports history articles celebrating the best in 1983 sports. This piece asks the question of which geographic fan base had the best year in ’83.
A conventional choice for the top sports market of 1983 would be the great sports city of Philadelphia. The Philadelphia 76ers won the NBA championship thanks to Moses Malone and Julius Erving and the Phillies weren’t bad either, re-uniting three veterans of the old Big Red Machine (Joe Morgan, Tony Perez and Pete Rose) and won the National League pennant.
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But let’s tweak that a little bit. The area where I used to live is a little bit north of Baltimore and an easy one-hour drive into Philadelphia. There’s a nearby hiking trail called Ma & Pa, for Maryland and Pennsylvania. You could reasonably pull a favorite team from both cities and do so without violating any key rules of being a sports fan.
In the year of 1983, the Ma & Pa Trail was a dream spot to be for a sports fan. Your year saw an NBA title happen with the 76ers early on and close out with a World Series title from the Baltimore Orioles, with Eddie Murray and a young Cal Ripken leading the way.
Furthermore, both championship runs had redemptive qualities to them. The Sixers reached the NBA Finals in 1977, 1980 and 1982 and lost all three teams, to say nothing of a crushing loss to the Boston Celtics in the 1981 Eastern Conference Finals. The Orioles lost a heartbreaking World Series in 1979, saw a 100-win campaign come up short in 1980 and were eliminated on the final day of the 1982 regular season. 1983 saw both franchises finally get what they were looking for.
Neither the 76ers nor the Orioles have won it all since. But both franchises gave their fans a title run to remember in 1983 and there was no better place to be to enjoy it than the spot just off I-95 where I used to live, maybe a half-hour from Baltimore and an hour from Philly.
Read more about the 1983 Philadelphia 76ers
Read more about the 1983 Baltimore Orioles
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