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The Baltimore Orioles were a minor league baseball team that was part of the International league between 1903 and 1953. The team was broken up for a short period between 1914 and 1916 and it is debatable in many quarters whether it is one continuous franchise or it was a totally different franchise after 1916. Beginning in the 19th century there have been at least five franchises that have used the name Baltimore Orioles. The word refers to the famous bird species of the same name.
How did the Baltimore Orioles Start up?
The Orioles were formed in 1903 as an expansion team for the Eastern League (later renamed the International League). The team played their home games at the old American League Park which was also known as the Oriole Park. The ballpark was located at the corner of 29th Street and Greenmount Avenue in northeast Baltimore’s Waverly Neighborhood. Following the 1914 season, the team disbanded. In 1916, owner and manager Jack Dunn revived the Orioles team.
The Baltimore Orioles in Competition
The Orioles were mediocre in competition during their first few years and they had to wait until 1908 to win their first Eastern league Pennant. The team won the 1919 International League pennant in spectacular fashion after finishing the season with 100 victories, the first team ever to do so. They were not done as they bettered that record by winning 110 games in 1920 including 25 straight matches to end the season. In 1921 they were at it again, retaining the Pennant for a third season in a row. Along the way, they put together 27 straight victories, a record that stood in the minor leagues until 1987 when it was broken by Salt Lake City in the Pioneer League.
In the Junior World Series, they were beaten four games to one by the champions of the American Association, the Louisville Colonels. The team continued to dominate the International League until 1925 when they won the last of seven pennants n a row. Following that season, Dunn, who had jealously guarded his best players, started selling to major league clubs and the team’s standards dropped. Dunn died of heart attack in 1928. The Orioles would have to wait until 1944 to win their next pennant though they did feature in the Governor’s Cup playoffs in 1936, 1937 and 1940. They also won the 1944 Junior World Series by beating Louisville by four games to two. In 1950, under manager Nick Cullop, they won yet another pennant but lost the Junior World Series by four games to one to the Columbus Red Birds.
The Baltimore Orioles most Notable Moments
The Orioles’ 1944 pennant win was particularly memorable because it was won against some very huge odds. On the night of July 3, 1944, a fire gutted the team’s ballpark, then known as the Terrapin Park. The fire, which completely destroyed the wooden structure and all of the team’s gear, is believed to have been caused by a discarded cigarette. The Orioles were left homeless and were forced to move into the Municipal Stadium, which had been built as a football bowl. Before the fire, the team was leading the I.L standings but struggled down the stretch eventually losing their last game to place the championship in the hands of the Newark Bears. However their bad luck seemed to abate as the Bears also lost their last game and the Pennant fell back into the Orioles’ hands.
The signing of Babe Ruth in 1914 is credited as the first step in assembling the unbeatable Orioles that won seven straight pennants in the 1920s. Although he stayed for only part of the season-having to be traded alongside eleven other players by the financially strapped club- the team came back stronger as Dunn resuscitated the team with numerous quality players.
The Orioles most Notable Players
Pitcher Lefty Grove was one of the players Dunn signed in 1916 as the team came back from its temporary shutdown. Between 1920 and 1924 he went 102-36, the best strikeout figure in the International League over that period. In 1925 he was sold to Philadelphia Athletics for $100,600 which was the highest amount paid for a player at the time.
Other notable Orioles players include Tommy Thomas, George Earnshaw, Jack Bentley, Ernie Shore and Dick Porter.
What Happened to the Baltimore Orioles?
In 1953, the major leagues outfit St Louis Browns moved to Baltimore and took over the name Baltimore Orioles. The minor leagues Orioles relocated to Richmond where they were renamed the Richmond Virginians. As from 1965, the team is now known as the Toledo Mud Hens as a result of another relocation to northwest Ohio. The franchise that moved into Baltimore is still in existence today and is one of the most successful MLB franchises.