The Baltimore Orioles are a professional baseball team based in Baltimore, Maryland. The Orioles are a member of the Eastern Division of Major League Baseball's American League. From to the present, the Orioles have played in Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
The "Orioles" name refers to the bird of the same name. Nicknames for the team include the O's and the Birds.
One of the American League's eight charter franchises, the club was established as a major league club in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in . The Milwaukee Brewers (not to be confused with the current Milwaukee Brewers) moved to St. Louis in and became the St. Louis Browns. After more than five decades in St. Louis, in the Browns moved to Baltimore and assumed the nickname Orioles, the traditional nickname of various Baltimore baseball clubs.
The modern Orioles franchise can trace its roots back to the original Milwaukee Brewers
of the minor Western League
, beginning in 1894 when the league reorganized. The Brewers were there when the WL renamed itself the American League
At the end of the 1900 season, the American League removed itself from baseball's National Agreement (the formal understanding between the NL and the minor leagues). Two months later, the AL declared itself a competing major league. As a result of several franchise shifts, the Brewers were one of only two Western League teams that didn't either fold or move (the other being the Detroit Tigers). During the first American League season in 1901, they finished last (8th place) with a record of 48–89. During its lone Major League season, the team played at Lloyd Street Grounds, between 16th and 18th Streets in Milwaukee.
St. Louis Browns
In 1902, however, the team did move to St. Louis, where it became the "Browns", in reference to the original name of the legendary 1880s club that by 1900 was known as the Cardinals. They even built a new park on the site of the old Browns' former home, Sportsman's Park. In their first St. Louis season, the Browns finished second. Although the Browns usually fielded terrible or mediocre teams (they had only four winning seasons from 1902 to 1922), they were very popular at the gate during their first two decades in St. Louis, and trounced the Cardinals in attendance. In , the Browns rebuilt Sportsman's Park as the third concrete-and-steel park in the majors.
During this time, the Browns were best-known for their role in the race for the 1910 American League batting title. Ty Cobb took the last game of the season off, believing that his slight lead over Nap Lajoie would hold up unless Lajoie had a near-perfect day at the plate. However, Cobb was one of the most despised players in baseball, and Browns catcher-manager Jack O'Connor ordered third baseman Red Corriden to station himself in shallow left field. Lajoie bunted five straight times down the third base line and made it to first easily. On his last at-bat, Lajoie reached base on an error – officially giving him a hitless at-bat. O'Connor and coach Harry Howell tried to bribe the official scorer, a woman, to change the call to a hit – even offering to buy her a new wardrobe. Cobb won the batting title by just a few thousandths of a point over Lajoie (though it later emerged that one game may have been counted twice in the statistics). The resulting outcry triggered an investigation by American League president Ban Johnson. At his insistence, Browns owner Robert Lee Hedges fired O'Connor and Howell; both men were informally banned from baseball for life.
In 1916, Hedges sold the Browns to Philip DeCatesby Ball, who owned the St. Louis Terriers in the by-then-defunct Federal League. Four years later, Ball allowed the Cardinals to move out of dilapidated Robison Field and share Sportsman's Park with the Browns. This move was one of many that eventually doomed the Browns; Cardinals owner Sam Breadon and general manager Branch Rickey (a former Browns manager) used the proceeds from the Robison Field sale to build baseball's first modern farm system. This effort eventually produced several star players that brought the Cardinals more drawing power than the Browns.
The 1922 Browns excited their owner by almost beating the Yankees to a pennant. The club was boasting the best players in franchise history, including future Hall of Famer George Sisler and an outfield trio of Ken Williams, Baby Doll Jacobson, and Jack Tobin that batted .300 or better from 1919–23 and in 1925. In 1922, Williams became the first player in Major League history to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in a season, something that would not be done again in the Majors until 1956.
Ball confidently predicted that there would be a World Series in Sportsman's Park by 1926. In anticipation, he increased the capacity of his ballpark from 18,000 to 30,000. Ball was right, as there was a World Series in Sportsman's Park in 1926 – the Cardinals upset the Yankees. St. Louis had been considered a "Browns town" until then; after their 1926 series victory, however, the Cardinals dominated St. Louis baseball while still technically tenants of the Browns. Meanwhile, the Browns rapidly fell into the cellar.
During the war, the Browns won their only St. Louis-based American League pennant, in 1944. Some critics called it a fluke, as most major league stars voluntarily joined or were drafted into the military; however, many of the Browns' best players were classified 4-F: unfit for military service. They faced their local rivals, the incredibly successful Cardinals, in the 1944 World Series, the last World Series to date played entirely in one stadium. However, they lost the series in six games.
In 1945, the Browns posted an 81–75 record and fell to third place, 6 games out, again with less than top-ranked talent. The 1945 season may be best remembered for the Browns' signing of utility outfielder Pete Gray, the only one-armed major league position player in history. 1945 proved to be the Browns' last hurrah; they would never have another winning season in St. Louis. In fact, 1944 and 1945 were two of only eight winning seasons they enjoyed in the 31 years after nearly winning the pennant in 1922.
In 1951, Bill Veeck
, the colorful former owner of the Cleveland Indians
, purchased the Browns. In St. Louis, he extended the promotions and wild antics that had made him famous and loved by many and loathed by many others. His most notorious stunt in St. Louis came on August 19
, when he sent Eddie Gaedel
, a 3-foot 7-inch, 65-pound midget
, to bat as a pinch hitter
. When Gaedel stepped to the plate he was wearing a Browns uniform with the number 1/8, and little slippers turned up at the end like elf's shoes. With no strike zone
to speak of, Gaedel walked
on four straight pitches, as he was ordered to not swing at any pitch. The stunt infuriated American League President Will Harridge
, who voided Gaedel's contract the next day.
After the 1951 season, Veeck made Ned Garver the highest-paid member of the Browns. Garver remains the last pitcher to win 20 games for a team that lost 100 games in a season. He was the second pitcher in history to accomplish the feat.
Veeck also brought the legendary, and seemingly ageless, Satchel Paige back to major league baseball to pitch for the Browns. Veeck had previously signed the former Negro League great to a contract in Cleveland in 1948 at age 42, amid much criticism. At 45, Paige's re-appearance in a Browns uniform did nothing to win Veeck friends among baseball's owners. Nonetheless, Paige ended the season with a respectable 3–4 record and a 4.79 ERA.
Veeck believed that St. Louis was too small for two franchises and planned to drive the Cardinals out of town. He signed many of the Cardinals' most popular ex-players and, as a result, brought many of the Cards' fans in to see the Browns. Notably, Veeck inked former Cardinals great Dizzy Dean to a broadcasting contract and tapped Rogers Hornsby as manager. He also re-acquired former Browns fan favorite Vern Stephens and signed former Cardinals pitcher Harry Brecheen, both of whom had starred in the all-St. Louis World Series in 1944. Veeck also stripped Sportsman's Park of any Cardinals material and dressed it exclusively in Browns memorabilia, even moving his family to an apartment under the stands. Although the Browns fielded hideous teams during this time, Veeck's showmanship and colorful promotions made attendance at Browns games more fun and unpredictable than the conservative Cardinals were willing to offer.
Veeck's all-out assault on the Cardinals came during a downturn in the Cardinals' fortunes after Rickey left them for the Brooklyn Dodgers in . Indeed, when Cardinals' owner Fred Saigh was convicted of massive tax evasion late in 1952, it looked almost certain that the Cardinals were leaving town, as most of the top bids came from non-St. Louis interests. However, Saigh accepted a much lower bid from Anheuser-Busch, whose president August Busch, Jr. immediately announced that he had no intention of moving the Cardinals. Veeck quickly realized the Cardinals now had more resources than he could ever hope to match and decided to move the Browns.
Veeck attempted to move the Browns back to Milwaukee (where he had owned the Brewers of the American Association in the 1940s), but the move was blocked by the other American League owners, seemingly for reasons that were more personal than business-related. An undaunted Veeck then tried to move the Browns to Baltimore, but was again rebuffed by the owners, still seething at the publicity stunts he had pulled at Browns home games. Meanwhile, Sportsman's Park had slipped into disrepair, and Veeck was forced to sell it to the Cardinals since he could not afford to make the necessary improvements to bring it up to code. With his only leverage gone and facing threats of the liquidation of his franchise, Veeck was all but forced to sell the Browns to a Baltimore-based group led by attorney Clarence Miles and brewer Jerry Hoffberger. With Veeck "out of the way," the American League owners quickly approved the relocation of the team to Baltimore for the 1954 season.
Unlike other clubs that had relocated in the 1950s, retaining their nickname and a sense of continuity with their past (such as the Brooklyn-Los Angeles Dodgers
, New York-San Francisco Giants
, Boston-Milwaukee Braves
, and Philadelphia-Kansas City Athletics
), the St. Louis Browns were renamed the Baltimore Orioles
upon their transfer, implicitly distancing themselves at least somewhat from their history. In December 1954, the Orioles further distanced themselves from their Browns past by making a 17-player trade with the New York Yankees
that included most former Browns of note still on the Baltimore roster. Indeed, to this day, the Orioles make almost no mention of their past as the Browns. Though the deal did little to improve the short-term competitiveness of the club, it helped establish a fresh identity for the Orioles franchise.
The Browns, along with the Washington Senators, were mostly associated with losing, as both franchises seemed to be the American League's perennial doormats. The Senators became the butt of a well-known vaudeville joke, "First in war, first in peace, and last in the American League" (a twist on the famous "Light Horse Harry" Lee eulogy for George Washington: "First in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen"). A spin-off joke was coined for the Browns: "First in shoes, first in booze, and last in the American League."
Many older fans in St. Louis remember the Browns fondly, and some have formed societies to keep the memory of the team alive; also, it is not uncommon to see sporting goods stores in the St. Louis area stock Browns shirts and hats. The club was in St. Louis for 52 years. As of the 2006 season, the club had been in Baltimore longer than they were in St. Louis.
Believed to be the oldest former major leaguer, the Browns' Rollie Stiles, 100, died July 22, 2007 in St. Louis County.
As mentioned above, the Miles-Hofberger group renamed their new team the Baltimore Orioles soon after taking control of the franchise. The name has a rich history in Baltimore, having been used by Baltimore baseball teams since the late 19th century.
In the 1890s, a powerful and innovative National League Orioles squad included several future Hall of Famers, such as "Wee" Willie Keeler, Wilbert Robinson, Hughie Jennings, and John McGraw. They won three straight pennants, and participated in all four of the Temple Cup Championship Series, winning the last two of them. That team had started as a charter member of the American Association in 1882. Despite its on-field success, it was one of the four teams contracted out of existence by the National League after the 1899 season. Its best players (and its manager, Ned Hanlon) regrouped with the Brooklyn Dodgers, turning that team into a contender.
In 1901, Baltimore and McGraw were awarded an expansion franchise in the growing American League, but again the team was sacrificed in favor of a New York City franchise, as the team was transferred to the city in 1903. After some early struggles, that team eventually became baseball's most successful franchise - the New York Yankees.
As a member of the high-minor league level International League, the Orioles competed at what is now known as the AAA level from 1903–1953. Baltimore's own Babe Ruth pitched for the Orioles before being sold to the AL Boston Red Sox in 1914. The Orioles of the IL won nine league championships, first in 1908, followed by a lengthy run from 1919 to 1925, and then dramatically in 1944, after they had lost their home field Oriole Park in a disastrous mid-season fire. The huge post-season crowds at their temporary home, Municipal Stadium, caught the attention of the big league brass and helped open the door to the return of major league baseball to Baltimore. Thanks to the big stadium, that "Junior World Series" easily outdrew the major league World Series which, coincidentally, included the team that would move to Baltimore 10 years later and take up occupancy in the rebuilt version of that big stadium.
On April 15
, thousands of Baltimoreans jammed city streets as the new Orioles paraded from downtown to their new home at Memorial Stadium
. During the 90-minute parade, the new birds signed autographs, handed out pictures and threw styrofoam balls to crowd as the throng marched down East 33rd Street. Inside, more than 46,000 watched the Orioles beat the Chicago White Sox
, 3–1, to win their home opener and move into first place in the American League. Ironically, the Orioles lost their last home game of the season, 11–0, to the same White Sox, finishing with 100 losses and 57½ games out of first place.
The new AL Orioles took about six years to become competitive. By the early 1960s, stars such as Brooks Robinson, John "Boog" Powell, and Dave McNally were being developed by a strong farm system.
Milt Pappas for Frank Robinson
On December 9, 1965, the Orioles traded pitcher Milt Pappas
(and several others) to the Cincinnati Reds
in exchange for slugging outfielder Frank Robinson
. The following year, Robinson won the American League Most Valuable Player
award, thus becoming the first (and so far only) man to win the MVP in each league (Robinson won the NL MVP in 1961, leading the Reds to the pennant). In addition to winning the 1966 MVP, Robinson also won the Triple Crown
(leading the American League in batting average
, home runs
, and runs batted in
.) The Orioles won their first ever American League championship in 1966, and in a major upset, swept the World Series
by out-dueling the Los Angeles Dodgers aces Sandy Koufax
and Don Drysdale
Pappas went 30–29 in a little over two years with the Reds, before being traded. Although he would go on to have back-to-back 17-win seasons for the Chicago Cubs in 1971 and 1972, including a no-hitter in the latter season, this did not help the Reds, who ended up losing the 1970 World Series to Robinson and the Orioles. This trade has become renowned as one of the most lopsided in baseball history, including a mention by Susan Sarandon in her opening soliloquy in the 1988 film Bull Durham: "Bad trades are a part of baseball. I mean, who can forget Frank Robinson for Milt Pappas?"
Glory Years (1966–1983)
In the 1960s, the Orioles farm system produced a number of high quality players and coaches and laid the foundation for two decades of on-field success. This period included 18 consecutive winning seasons (1968–1985)-- an unprecedented run of success which saw the Orioles become the envy of the league, and the winningest team in baseball.
From 1966 to 1983, the Orioles won three World Series titles (1966, 1970, and 1983), six American League pennants (1966, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1979, 1983), and five of the first six American League Eastern Division titles. They played baseball the Oriole Way, an organizational ethic best described by longtime farm hand and coach Cal Ripken, Sr.'s phrase "perfect practice makes perfect!" The Oriole Way was a belief that hard work, professionalism, and a strong understanding of fundamentals were the keys to success at the major league level. It was based on the belief that if every coach, at every level, taught the game the same way, the organization could produce "replacement parts" that could be substituted seamlessly into the big league club with little or no adjustment.
During this stretch, three different Orioles were named Most Valuable Player (Frank Robinson in 1966; Boog Powell in 1970; and Cal Ripken, Jr. in 1983). The pitching staff was phenomenal, with four pitchers winning six Cy Young Awards (Mike Cuellar in 1969; Jim Palmer in 1973, 1975, and 1976; Mike Flanagan in 1979; and Steve Stone in 1980). In 1971, the team's four starting pitchers, McNally, Cuellar, Palmer, and Pat Dobson, all won 20 games, a feat that has not been replicated since. In that year, the Birds went on to post a 101–61 record for their third straight AL East title. Also during this stretch three players were named rookies of the year (Al Bumbry-1973, Eddie Murray-1977, Cal Ripken Jr.-1982).
During this rise to prominence, Weaver Ball
came into vogue. Named for fiery manager Earl Weaver
, Weaver Ball
is defined by the Oriole trifecta of "Pitching, Defense, and the Three-Run Home Run."
When an Oriole GM was told by a reporter that Earl Weaver, as the skipper of a very talented team, was a "push-button manager" he replied "Earl built the machine and installed all the buttons!"
As the Robinson boys grew older, newer stars emerged, including multiple Cy Young Award winner Jim Palmer and switch-hitting first baseman Eddie Murray. With the decline and eventual departure of two local teams, the NFL's Baltimore Colts and baseball's Washington Senators, the Orioles' excellence paid off at the gate, as the team cultivated a large and rabid fan base at old Memorial Stadium.
After winning the 1983 World Series, however, the Orioles suffered a gradual downturn in their on-field fortunes, culminating in the 1988 season, when the Orioles lost their first 21 games in a row to set a Major League record for most consecutive losses at the beginning of a season. The losing streak also cost then-manager Cal Ripken, Sr., his position, as he was fired after six games and replaced by former Oriole Frank Robinson. After a 54–107 season in 1988, the "Why Not?" Orioles then shocked the baseball world by finishing two games out of first place in 1989, a season in which they were not eliminated from the pennant race until the final weekend of the season. Frank Robinson was named the American League's Manager of the Year for guiding the Orioles to their remarkable turnaround.
Oriole Park at Camden Yards opens(1992–1999)
In 1992, with grand ceremony, the Orioles began their season in a brand new ballpark, Oriole Park at Camden Yards
, thus retiring Memorial Stadium
as a baseball venue. The ballpark was an instant success; however, the name of the new park had controversy. Many felt that since the Orioles' new home was so close to Babe Ruth
's birthplace that the new park should have been named after Ruth instead of being indirectly named after the Earl of Camden, Charles Pratt
, a Briton who never set foot on American soil. There was also the superficial connection to the fact that Ruth played for the Orioles early in his career, but the Orioles team that Ruth played for was in no way related to the Orioles team that moved to Baltimore from St. Louis. Camden Yards was built at the location of the old Camden Railway
In 1993, Peter Angelos bought the Baltimore Orioles, which returned the team to local ownership. The Orioles also hosted the All Star Game.
1995: Ripken Breaks the Record
The spring began with a continuation of the devastating players' strike that had begun in August 1994. Most of the major league clubs held a spring training session using replacement players, with the potential to begin the season with those replacements. The Orioles, whose owner was a labor union lawyer, were the one team that refused to create an ersatz team, and instead sat out spring training, and potentially the entire season. If they had fielded a substitute team, Cal Ripken, Jr.
's consecutive games streak would have ended. The replacements questions became moot when the strike was finally settled.
Once the season began, the Ripken countdown resumed, and in September he finally broke Lou Gehrig's consecutive games streak of 2,130 games, in a nationally televised game. This was later voted the all-time baseball moment of the 20th Century by fans from around the country in 1999. Ripken would finish with 2,632 straight games, finally sitting on September 20, 1998 against the New York Yankees at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Angelos hired Pat Gillick
as GM for the Orioles in 1996. Gillick went on to bring in several premium players like B.J. Surhoff
, Randy Myers
, and Roberto Alomar
. Under Gillick and manager Davey Johnson
, the Orioles finally returned to postseason play by winning the American League's wild card spot in the 1996 season. A critical moment of the season came at the end of the 1996 season, when Alomar spit in the face of umpire John Hirschbeck
. He was later suspended for the first 5 games of the 1997 season. The team set a major league record for home runs in a single season, with 257, and upset the Cleveland Indians
in the Division Series before falling to the New York Yankees
in a controversial American League Championship Series
(famous for the fan, Jeffrey Maier
, interfering with a ball and allowing the Yankees to win game 1). The Orioles followed up by winning the AL East Division
title in 1997, going "wire-to-wire" (being in first place from the first day of the season to the last). After eliminating the Mariners in four games in the opening round, the team lost again in the ALCS
, this time a heartbreaker to the underdog Indians, in which each Oriole loss was by 1 run. After the Orioles failed to advance to the World Series in either playoff, Johnson resigned as manager. This was largely due to a falling out between him and Angelos, after he wanted to donate Roberto Alomar
's fine from missing a team function to his wife's charity. Pitching coach Ray Miller
1998/1999: Beginning of a downturn
With Miller at the helm, the Orioles found themselves not only out of the playoffs, but also with a losing season. When Gillick's contract expired in 1998, it was not renewed. Angelos brought in Frank Wren
to take over as GM. The Orioles added volatile slugger Albert Belle
, but the team's woes continued in the 1999 season, with stars like Rafael Palmeiro
, Roberto Alomar
, and Eric Davis
leaving in free agency. After a second straight losing season, Angelos fired both Miller and Wren. He named Syd Thrift
the new GM and brought in former Cleveland manager Mike Hargrove
. In 1998, the Orioles updated the Bird in their logo, and then once again in 1999 to bring it to its present form.
Orioles Visit Cuba
In a rare event on March 28
, the Orioles staged an exhibition game against the Cuban national team
. The Orioles won the game 3–2 in 11 innings. They were the first Major League team to play in Cuba since 1959, when the Los Angeles Dodgers
faced the Orioles in an exhibition. The game was part of a two-game series, where the Cuban team visited Baltimore
in May 1999. Cuba won the second game 10–6.
2000–present: Downfall of the O's
Going into the 2009 season, the Orioles have had eleven consecutive sub–.500 seasons, due to the combination of lackluster play, constant turnover in the club's front office, and the ascent of the Yankees and Red Sox to the top of the game – each rival having a clear advantage in financial flexibility due to their larger media market size. Further complicating the situation for the Orioles was the relocation of the Montreal Expos franchise to nearby Washington, D.C.. The new Washington Nationals threatened to carve into the Orioles fan base and television dollars. Fortunately for the Orioles, Peter Angelos owns MASN, which hosts all of the Nationals television games, effectively combining two teams' television revenue to support the Orioles. There is some hope that having competition in the larger Baltimore–Washington metro market will spur the Orioles to field a better product to compete for fans with the Nationals. However, neither team has fielded a winner since the Nationals arrival in 2005.
In an effort to right the Orioles sinking ship, big changes began to sweep through the organization in 2003. General manager Syd Thrift was fired and to replace him, the Orioles hired Jim Beattie
as the Executive Vice President
and Mike Flanagan
as the Vice President of Baseball Operations
. After another losing season, manager Mike Hargrove
was not retained and Yankees coach Lee Mazzilli
was brought in as the new manager. The team signed powerful hitters in SS Miguel Tejada
, C Javy López
, and former Oriole 1B Rafael Palmeiro
. The following season, the Orioles traded for OF Sammy Sosa
The 2005 season may go down as one of the most controversial and strangest in the Orioles' history. The team got hot early and jumped out in front of the AL East division, holding onto first place for 62 straight days. However, turmoil on and off the field began to take its toll as the O's started struggling around the All-Star break, dropping them close to the surging Yankees and Red Sox. Injuries to Lopez, Sosa, Luis Matos
, Brian Roberts
, and Larry Bigbie
came within weeks of each other, and the team grew increasingly dissatisfied with the "band-aid" moves of the front office and manager Mazzilli to help them through this period of struggle. Various minor league players such as Single-A Frederick OF Jeff Fiorentino
were brought up in place of more experienced players such as OF David Newhan
(son of a hall-of-fame baseball writer), who batted .311 the previous season and who started playing for the New York Mets in 2007.
In March 2005, Rafael Palmeiro
testified in front of the United States Congress and clearly denied any allegations that he used steroids. On July 15 2005
, he collected his 3,000th hit in Seattle
and became only the 4th person in Major League Basebell to amass 500 HR's and 3,000 hits (the others being Hank Aaron
, Willie Mays
, and Eddie Murray
). But 15 days later (July 30
) he was suspended for a violation of MLB's drug policy
, after testing positive for the anabolic steroid stanozolol
. The Orioles continued tumbling, falling out of first place and further down the AL East standings. This downfall cost Mazzilli his managerial job in early August, allowing bench coach and 2003 managerial candidate Sam Perlozzo
to take over as interim manager and lead the team to a 23–32 finish. The Orioles called up Dave Cash
from the Ottawa Lynx
to serve as the team's first base coach.
The Orioles almost had a winning season in 2005.
Collapse of the season
After starting the season 42–28 (.600), the Orioles finished just 32–60 (.348). Only the Kansas City Royals (.346) had a worse winning percentage for the season than did the once first place Orioles for those final 92 games. The club's major offseason acquisition, Sammy Sosa, posted his worst performance in a decade, with 14 home runs and a paltry .221 batting average. The Orioles did not attempt to re-sign him, considering his exorbitant salary and his miserable performance. The Orioles also allowed Palmeiro to file for free agency and publicly stated they would not re-sign him. On August 25
, pitcher Sidney Ponson
was arrested for DUI
and on September 1
the Orioles moved to void his contract (on a morals clause) and released him. The Major League Baseball Players Association
filed a grievance on Ponson's behalf and the case was sent to arbitration and has yet to be resolved.
The Orioles finished the up and down 2006 season with a record of 70 wins and 92 losses, 27 games behind the AL East leading Yankees.
On June 18, the Orioles fired Sam Perlozzo
after losing 8 straight games. He was then replaced on interim basis by Dave Trembley
. On June 22, Miguel Tejada's consecutive-games streak came to an end due to an injury. This is the 5th longest such streak in major league history. A minor highlight came on June 29th against the Angels. Aubrey Huff recorded his 1000th hit, 200th double, and became the first Oriole to hit for the cycle at home. He joins Brooks Robinson (1960) and Cal Ripken (1984) as the third Oriole to hit for the cycle in team history. On July 7, Erik Bedard
struck out 15 batters in a game against the Texas Rangers
tying a franchise record held by Mike Mussina
. On July 31, 2007, Andy McPhail, President of Baseball Operations named Dave Trembley as the Orioles Manager through the remainder of the 2007 season, and advised him to "Keep up the good work. Facing the Texas Rangers
at Camden Yards on August 22, a team which had suffered 19 strikeouts at the hands of Minnesota Twins
pitching three days earlier, the Orioles surrendered 30 runs--a modern era record for a single game--in a 30–3 defeat. The Orioles led in that game 3–0 after three innings of play. Sixteen of Texas' 30 runs were scored in the final two innings.
The Orioles began the 2008 season in a rebuilding mode under GM Andy MacPhail
. The rebuilding phase began as the O's traded away star players Miguel Tejada
to the Astros
and ace Erik Bedard
to the Seattle Mariners
for prized prospect Adam Jones
, lefty reliever George Sherrill
, and minor league pitchers Kameron Mickolio
, Chris Tillman, and Tony Butler. Respectively, baseball analysts across the country wrote off the O's as a team likely to finish last in the A.L. East
. The Orioles started off the first couple weeks of the season very well near the top of their division as players such as Nick Markakis
and newcomer Luke Scott
led the team offensively. Although the Orioles were able to stay competitive for most of the season hovering around .500, they had fallen back by September and were over 20 games back from the first place Rays
. They would finish the season losing 11 of their final 12 games and 28 of their final 34. Their final record of 68–93 (.422) would mark the 2nd worst of their 11th consecutive losing season.
Since its introduction at games by the "Roar from 34," led by Wild Bill Hagy
and others, in the late 1970s, it has been a tradition at Orioles games for fans to yell out the "Oh" in the line "Oh, say does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave" in the "The Star-Spangled Banner
." "O" is not only short for "Oriole," but the vowel is also a stand-out aspect of the Baltimorean accent
. This tradition is also carried out during the Orioles' spring training home games in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
. The practice carries on to this day, although not with the zest of years gone by. Sentiment for the tradition has dwindled partly due to supposed patriotic concerns, and also because the Orioles' results are less a source of hometown pride than they were when the tradition was started in the 1970s.
The tradition is often carried out at other sporting events, both professional or amateur, and even sometimes at non-sporting events where the anthem is played, throughout the Baltimore/Washington area and beyond, notably at Baltimore Ravens, Aberdeen Ironbirds, and Maryland Terrapins games. "The Star-Spangled Banner" has special meaning to Baltimore historically, as it was written during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812. Fans in Norfolk, VA chanted "O!" even before the Tides became an Orioles affiliate. "O!" has also been shouted during the anthem at Washington Redskins and Washington Capitals home games. The practice caught some attention in the spring of 2005, when some fans performed the "O!" cry at Washington Nationals games at RFK Stadium (As they did again at the opening of Nationals Park at the beginning of the 2008 season. Many Washingtonians are Orioles fans, since the Orioles were the closest team to Washington between the Texas Rangers' departure and the Montreal Expos' relocation). At Cal Ripken, Jr.'s induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the crowd of over 70,000, most of them Orioles fans, carried out the "O!" tradition during Tony Gwynn's daughter's rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner.
"Thank God I'm a Country Boy"
It has been an Orioles tradition since 1975 to play John Denver
's "Thank God I'm a Country Boy
" during the seventh inning stretch
In the July 5, 2007 edition of Baltimore's weekly sports publication Press Box, an article by Mike Gibbons covered the details of how this tradition came to be.
Some songs from special events include "One Moment in Time
" for Cal Ripken's record-breaking game. For his last game, the theme from Pearl Harbor
, "There You'll Be" by Faith Hill
, was featured. The theme from Field of Dreams
was played at the Last Game at Memorial Stadium in 1991, and the song "Magic to Do" from the stage musical Pippin
was used that season to commemorate "Orioles Magic" on 33rd Street. During their heyday in the 1970s, a club song, appropriately titled "Orioles Magic", was composed, and played when the team ran out until Opening Day of 2008. Starting the following game, the song (a favorite among many fans, who appreciated its references to Wild Bill Hagy
and Earl Weaver
) was only played (along with a video featuring several Orioles stars performing the song) after wins.
World Baseball Classic
In the 2006 World Baseball Classic
, the Orioles contributed more players than any other major league team, with eleven players suiting up for their home nations. Erik Bedard
and Adam Loewen
pitched for Canada
; Rodrigo López
and Geronimo Gil
(released before the season began by the club) played for Mexico
; Daniel Cabrera
and Miguel Tejada
for the Dominican Republic
; Javy López
and Luis Matos
for Puerto Rico
; Bruce Chen
; Ramon Hernandez
- Founded: 1893, as the Milwaukee, Wisconsin franchise in the minor Western League. In 1900, that league became the American League, which achieved major league status in 1901. The original Baltimore Orioles of the American League moved to become the New York Yankees.
- Formerly known as: Milwaukee Brewers, 1894–1901. St. Louis Browns, 1902–1953.
- Home ballpark: Oriole Park at Camden Yards 1992–present
- Prior home parks: Memorial Stadium (Baltimore) 1954–1991, Sportsman's Park (St. Louis) 1902–1953, Lloyd Street Grounds (Milwaukee) 1901
- Team Colors: Orange, Black, White (1954 through present)
- Logo design: An oriole bird; the Baltimore Oriole is the official Maryland state bird
- Playoff appearances (11): 1944, 1966, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1979, 1983, 1996, 1997
- Spring Training Facility: Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Radio and television
Orioles games are broadcast on a 20-station radio network in Maryland and nearby states, anchored by flagship station WHFS-FM (105.7 MHz)
. Fred Manfra
, and Joe Angel alternate radio announcing duties.
As part of the settlement of a television broadcast rights dispute with Comcast SportsNet
over the Washington Nationals, the Orioles severed their Comcast ties at the end of the 2006 season. All Orioles' games are now televised on the Orioles-controlled Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN)
, with some games also airing locally on WJZ-TV (ch. 13)
. Longtime sportscaster Gary Thorne
, who is also recognized for his work as a hockey announcer, is the current television announcer for the Orioles, Hall of Fame
former Orioles pitcher Jim Palmer
, and former major leaguer Buck Martinez
. Some MASN telecasts in conflict with Washington Nationals' game telecasts air on an alternate MASN2 feed. All Oriole games are televised, as their non-MASN games are televised by ESPN
, or TBS
Three former Oriole radio announcers have received the Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick Award
for excellence in broadcasting: Chuck Thompson
(who was also the voice of the old NFL Baltimore Colts
), Ernie Harwell
, and Herb Carneal
. Other former announcers include ESPN
's Jon Miller
's Josh Lewin, the late Bill O'Donnell, and Baltimore radio veteran Tom Marr
, who called the games during the "Oriole Magic" years on the old WFBR-AM (now WJFK-AM
). In 1991, the Orioles experimented with longtime TV writer/producer Ken Levine as a play-by-play broadcaster. Levine was best noted for his work on TV shows such as Cheers
, but only lasted one season in the Orioles broadcast booth.
Other previous flagship radio stations include WBAL (1090 kHz AM) from 1987–2006, the now–defunct WFBR
(1300 kHz AM) from 1979 through 1986, and a brief period with WCBM (680 kHz AM) for the 1987 season. Previous to 1979, WBAL had been the flagship station.
Former Oriole television broadcasters include: Thompson, Miller, former Baltimore Ravens broadcaster Scott Garceau, longtime versatile sportscaster Mel Proctor, former Cleveland Cavaliers broadcaster Michael Reghi, as well as former Oriole players including Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson, former pitcher Mike Flanagan, and former outfielder John Lowenstein.
Previous Baltimore television flagship stations have included: WMAR-TV (Channel 2) and WNUV-TV (Channel 54), as well as regional cable network Home Team Sports (HTS) which eventually evolved into Comcast SportsNet.
For 23 years, Rex Barney
was the public-address announcer
for the Orioles. His voice became a fixture of both Memorial Stadium and Camden Yards, and his expression "Give that fan a contract," uttered whenever a fan caught a foul ball
, was one of his trademarks – the other being his distinct "Thank Yooooou..." following every announcement (He was also known on occasion to say "Give that fan an error" after a dropped foul ball). Rex Barney died on August 12
, 1997, and in his honor that night's game at Camden Yards was held without a public–address announcer.
Of the eight original American League teams, this franchise had once had the sparsest post-season record, and was the last of the eight to win the World Series
, doing so in 1966 with its four–game sweep of the heavily favored Los Angeles Dodgers
. When the Orioles were the St. Louis Browns, they played in only one World Series, the 1944 matchup against their Sportsman's Park tenants, the Cardinals. The 1966 season was the start of an era of some great Orioles teams, during which they were a frequent contender, including winning the 1966, 1970, and 1983 World Series.
Baseball Hall of Famers
Note: Cal Ripken Sr.'s number 7 and Elrod Hendricks' number 44 have not been retired, but a moratorium has been placed on them and they have not been issued by the team since their deaths.
†Jackie Robinson's number 42 is retired throughout Major League Baseball
Minor League Affiliates