Baltimore Orioles (minor league)
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (December 2009)|
|Minor league affiliations|
|League||International League (1903–1914), (old Eastern League), 1916–1953)|
|Major league affiliations|
|Minor league titles|
|League titles||1919-1925, 1944, 1950|
The city of Baltimore, Maryland has been home to two minor league baseball teams called the "Baltimore Orioles", besides the four major league baseball teams, (the American Association in 1882-1891, the National League in the 1890's and the so-called "up-start" American League charter franchise of two seasons 1901-1902, and the current American League's modern team of the Baltimore Orioles since April 1954.
"Orioles" is a traditional name for baseball clubs in Baltimore (after the state bird of Maryland, with the colors of black and orange/gold/yellow). It was used by major league teams representing the port city from 1882 through 1899 in the old American Association and the original National League two decades after its founding in 1876, and by a charter team franchise member of the new American League from 1901 through 1902. The American League franchise was later shifted against the city's will to New York City with former famous player and now owner/manager John McGraw in 1903 and renamed the New York Highlanders, which later became the modern New York Yankees, a decade later (in order to give the new A.L. "bragging rights" by also having a team in the "Big Apple" versus the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers). Their unprecedented string of championships and hall-of-fame roster of players began in the "Roaring Twenties", some baseballers say with the trading of the now famous "Babe Ruth", the "Bambino", and "Sultan of Swat", George Herman Ruth of southwest Baltimore, (formerly briefly with the old, now minor league Orioles of the International League with owner/manager Jack Dunn, (1878-1928) in 1914, then traded later in the season to the Boston Red Sox because of new Federal League competition from the neighboring Baltimore Terrapins) now from the also financially pressed Red Sox team in 1919 to the New York Yankees.
First minor league team, 1903–1914
In 1903, an Oriole minor league team joined the Eastern League (renamed the International League in 1911, and not to be confused with the present day 'Double AA' level, minor league Eastern League). This Orioles team stayed mediocre for the first few years of its existence, but after the arrival of Jack Dunn, (1872-1928), as manager, it won the Eastern League pennant in 1908. This E.L./I.L. Orioles team played at the old American League Park (aka as Oriole Park) at the southwest corner of Greenmount Avenue and 29th Street in the Waverly neighborhood of northeast Baltimore.
The 1914 season featured the professional debut of local son, George Herman Ruth ("Babe Ruth"), but competition from the Baltimore Terrapins of the new Federal League challenge for major league status, with their more modern steel-beamed ballpark across the street, forced Dunn to sell Ruth (to the Boston Red Sox later in the 1914 season and many of his other players, and eventually temporarily relocate the team to Richmond, Virginia (eventually becoming the present-day Syracuse Chiefs, still playing in the I.L.).
Second minor league team, 1916–1953
After the Federal League's demise, Dunn returned with an Orioles team in 1916. This team, later in the 1919 I.L. Baseball Season won the International League pennant with 100 victories, the first team to win that many games and went on a championship spree, seldom seen in major or minor league baseball ever since. Featuring another future Hall-of-Fame pitcher in Lefty Grove, the Orioles improved on that in 1920 by winning 110 games, including the last 25 of the season. In 1921, the Orioles won 27 straight games (a record for consecutive victories by a minor league team that would stand until the Salt Lake City team of the western Pioneer League won 29 in 1987). The Orioles won the League by 20 games over the second place team, and had a home record of 70 wins and 18 losses. Despite their impressive record, however, they lost the "Little World Series" to the American Association's champion Louisville Colonels, 4 games to 1. The Orioles actually led the fourth game, 12–4, but a riot broke out among the Baltimore home crowd in the top of the 9th inning, and the game was forfeited to Louisville, 9 runs to 0, reflecting Baltimore's alternate home-town controversial nickname of the 19th Century, "Mobtown". The I.L. Orioles continued to roll over International League opposition for several more seasons straight through to the 1925 Baseball Season.
The team entered the Governors' Cup playoffs in the International circuit in 1936, 1937, and 1940, but did not win another pennant until the "war year" of 1944. The team was leading the League on July 4 of that year, when their home wooden and steel beamed stadium, Oriole Park (formerly Terrapin Park of 1914), burned down. Even after relocating several blocks northwest to the old 1922 football bowl of Municipal Stadium on 33rd Street Boulevard (also known as "Baltimore Stadium"), the team seemed to have a hard time recovering from that loss, playing lackluster ball through the rest of the season and losing their last game, only to strangely "back into the championship" when the second place team, the Newark Bears, also lost their recent games. The Orioles, under manager Alphonse "Tommy" Thomas, went on to win the "Junior World Series" that year, four games to two, against Louisville. Six years later, with the shackles of war-time baseball cast off, in 1950, under manager Nick Cullop, Baltimore won the league championship again, only to lose the "Junior World Series" to the Columbus Red Birds of Ohio, four games to one.
Back to the majors
After the 1953 season, the St. Louis Browns moved to Baltimore and took the name of the Baltimore Orioles. The last minor league/International League Orioles team (of 1916-1953), re-located to Richmond (coincidentally just as had the earlier Orioles team in 1914), this time as the Richmond Virginians from 1954–64, later relocating as today's Toledo Mud Hens franchise in northwest Ohio since 1965.