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John Lowenstein went from Orioles role player to postseason folk hero in just three plays

Think for a moment about the most popular Orioles players of all time. Names like Cal Ripken and Manny Machado should quickly spring to mind. If you recall the team's earlier days, Brooks Robinson and Frank Robinson might pop up, too.

It would probably take awhile before you came up with John Lowenstein, if he even entered your mind at all. But the man was responsible for some big moments in Orioles postseason history, so let's remember them on his 71st birthday.

A longtime utilityman, Lowenstein didn't actually come to Baltimore until 1979, his 10th year in the Majors. He arrived at the right time, though, as he formed a fine left-field platoon with Gary Roenicke while the Orioles won 102 games and captured the AL East. They faced the Angels in the ALCS, and in the opener at Memorial Stadium, future Hall of Famers Jim Palmer and Nolan Ryan dueled to a 3-3 standstill entering the bottom of the 10th.

That's when O's skipper Earl Weaver called on Lowenstein to pinch-hit for shortstop Mark Belanger against John Montague with two on, two outs and the game on the line. Lowenstein delivered and then some:

It was just his first postseason at-bat.

Lowenstein was far from a home run threat, having averaged just six long balls a year over the first decade of his career. Nonetheless, his blast gave the Orioles the 6-3 victory in Game 1, and they went on to take down the Angels in four games to win the pennant. 

The Orioles lost to the Pirates in seven in that year's Fall Classic, but four years later, they dispatched the White Sox in the ALCS to earn a World Series date with the Phillies. They were back.

So was Lowenstein:

Yes, that's the very same John Lowenstein from 1979, this time robbing a homer from catcher Bo Diaz in Game 1 -- before sending a game-tying blast of his own out in Game 2 off Charles Hudson.

Lowenstein ended up with a 1.077 OPS in 13 at-bats in the 1983 World Series as the Orioles beat the Phillies to win their third championship. He was named to the Orioles Hall of Fame in 2015, but they have yet to win another title without him.