- (For the 1901-02 American League team known as the Baltimore Orioles, see New York Yankees.) There were also a 19th-century National League team and a 20th-century minor league team named the Baltimore Orioles. For the bird the team is named for, see Baltimore Oriole.
The Baltimore Orioles are a Major League Baseball team based in Baltimore, Maryland. They are in the Eastern Division of the American League.
- 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.
- 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)
- Uniform colors: Black and Orange
- Logo design: An oriole
- World Series championships won (3): 1966, 1970, 1983
- American League pennants won (7): 1944, 1966, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1979, 1983
- Division titles won (8): 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1979, 1983, 1997
- Wild Card titles won (1): 1996
From the Browns to the Orioles
The modern Orioles can trace their franchise link back to the Milwaukee Brewers of the Western League, who in 1902 became the St. Louis Browns of the fledgling American League. Half a century of sub-par baseball and the existence of two major league teams in St. Louis - the AL Browns and the NL Cardinals eventually forced Browns majority owner Bill Veeck to consider moving his franchise. Just before World War II, the Browns nearly moved to Los Angeles, nearly two decades before big league baseball eventually arrived in California.
During the war, the Browns won their only St. Louis based American League pennant in 1944, but they faced their local rivals, the more successful Cardinals, and lost the 1944 World Series, 4-2.
Following the 1953 season, Veeck sold his controlling interest to Clarence Miles, and the American League owners approved the relocation of the team to Baltimore. The team immediately took on the nickname "Orioles" as that name had a long history:
The Oriole Way
The new AL Orioles took about six years to become competitive. By the early 1960's, stars such as Brooks Robinson, John "Boog" Powell , and Dave McNally were being developed by a strong farm system.
In 1966, the Orioles traded with the Cincinnati Reds and acquired slugging outfielder Frank Robinson. Robinson went on to become the first player to Most Valuable Player in each league while hitting for 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.
The Orioles farm system had begun to produce a number of high quality players and coaches who formed the core of winning teams; from 1966 to 1983, the Orioles won three World Series titles (1966, 1970, and 1983), six American League pennants, and five of the first six American League Eastern Division titles. They played baseball the "Oriole Way", an organizational ethic best described by acerbic manager Earl Weaver as "pitching, defense, and the three run home run."
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.
The Iron Man and Camden Yards
Following the 1983 season, the team entered a six season malaise where they struggled to be competitive - the low point of this era was a 21 game consecutive losing streak to start the 1988 season, still a Major League record. In 1989, a youthful Baltimore team (led by manager Frank Robinson) came within one game of the AL East title, which helped keep the fans passion alive in a difficult time.
Perhaps more of a draw than the team itself was its homegrown superstar, Cal Ripken, Jr. The son of long time Oriole farmhand/coach Cal Ripken, Sr. , Ripken won the American League Rookie of the Year in 1982 and AL Most Valuable Player in the world championship season of 1983. Ripken had both a powerful bat and an oustanding glove - at 6'4", he was much larger than the prototypical player at that position, and his play paved the way for a new generation of hitting SS like Alex Rodriguez. More importantly, his hallmark was his workmanlike demeanor and his ability to play an entire season without needing a day off. After several seasons, it was speculated that Ripken might have a shot at passing Lou Gehrig's famed "Iron Man" record of 2130 consecutive games in a row. Many pundits felt that record was unbreakable - but Ripken persevered, and on September 6, 1995, a national television audience and the home crowd lauded Ripken's achievement when he played in game #2131.
Two developments in the 1990s bode well for the team: leaving Memorial for Oriole Park at Camden Yards (the first of the new era of "baseball palaces" that would pop up across the nation over the next 15 years), and new local ownership (successful attorney Peter Angelos ). The farm system had dried up but Angelos authorized contracts to superstars such as Rafael Palmeiro and Roberto Alomar, and the Orioles won a wild card series in 1996 and the 1997 AL East pennant.
But as they failed to surpass teams like the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees, the Orioles seemed to internally combust; Angelos gained a reputation as a Steinbrenner-esque CEO who intimidated general managers, clashed with managers and players, and made bad player investment choices (i.e. Albert Belle)
The 21st Century & Beyond
Going into the 2005 season, the Orioles have had seven consecutive season without a post-season visit - the combination of lackluster play of the team’s part 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 media market size. Further complications have come in the form of the relocated Montreal Expos franchise to the Washington, D.C. market - a market that Angelos demands compensation from Major League Baseball for. The new Washington Nationals (who begin play in 2005) threaten to carve into the Orioles fan base and television dollars. Although, poor on field product has done a fine job of eroding a very loyal fan base all by itself. There is some hope that actual competition in the large metro market will spur the Orioles to field a better product to compete for Nationals fans.
The Orioles mismanagement have tarnished the reputation of a franchise that was once one of the most successful of the modern era - and potential free agents seem to be avoiding Baltimore nowadays - a notable exception is former AL MVP shortstop Miguel Tejada. In January, 2005, Baltimore made a blockbuster trade with the Chicago Cubs for prolific slugger Sammy Sosa - and while this move may not be enough to push the Orioles back into the playoff picture, it should very likely boost slumping ticket sales.
Players of note
Current 25-man roster (updated on April 10, 2005)
- 24 Rick Dempsey (first base)
- 55 Tom Trebelhorn (third base)
- 2 Sam Perlozzo (bench)
- 34 Ray Miller (pitching)
- 48 Terry Crowley (hitting)
- 44 Elrod Hendricks (bullpen)
- 54 Sammy Snider (bullpen catcher)
- 47 Steve McCatty (interim bullpen coach during Hendricks' recovery from a stroke)
Not to be forgotten
St. Louis Browns
* Player and manager
* * Manager
* * * Owner
Played in both teams
- Neil Berry
- Clint Courtney
- Jim Dyck
- Billy Hunter
- Dick Kokos
- Lou Kretlow
- Dick Kryhoshi
- Don Larsen
- Willy Miranda
- Les Moss