The Milwaukee Brewers were a part of the minor outfit the Western League which renamed itself the American League at the turn of the 20th Century. The team then relocated in 1902 to St. Louis, Missouri and changed their name back to the clubs original 1880’s name of the St. Louis Browns (or Brown Stockings). The Browns would win their only American League pennant in 1944 after the league was decimated with players joining the war effort. In the 1944 World Series both teams claimed home field as both used Sportsman’s Park as their home field which would be the last time that would happen.
By 1951, former owner of the Cleveland Indians, Bill Veeck, purchased the Browns and immediately began saying the St. Louis was too small for two major league teams and set out to drive the St. Louis Cardinals out of the city. The Cardinals were purchased by August Busch Jr. who emphatically stated that the Cardinals would not be moving out of St. Louis. Veeck then tried to move the team back to Milwaukee but were rebuffed by other AL team owners. Veeck was forced to sell the team to a group of investors led by Clarence Miles who wanted to relocate the team to Baltimore. The sale and move was quickly approved and the Browns would begin play in Baltimore beginning at the start of the 1954 season.
Upon changing cities, the franchise also renamed their team the Baltimore Orioles in an effort to distance the club from it’s past. This would continue as three months later, the team rid themselves of most of the players who once wore a Browns uniform and concluded a 17-player trade with the New York Yankees. The team cut their remaining ties to what was once the Browns organization when new owner Edward Bennett Williams bought back over 20,000 shares that were sold by the Browns in 1936.
After losing 100 games and after being annual cellar dwellers the team signed Paul Richards In September of 1954 as the team Manager and General Manager which began an upward swing for the franchise. By 1957, the team finished with a 76-76 record. The 1960 team finished with 85 wins and the ’61 team with an 89-65 record. By 1964, the team had secured a 97-65 record and found themselves in a tight pennant race with the New York Yankees. The Yankees would win 12 straight down the stretch and take the division by two games. By December of ’65, the franchise traded pitching great Milt Pappas to the Cincinnati Reds for slugger Frank Robinson. The following season, Robinson led the Orioles to their first ever AL Championship and World Series Appearance against the LA Dodgers. The Orioles would go on to sweep Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and the Dodgers to win their first World Series.
The team would again get into the World Series in 1969 winning 109 games in the season and won the very first AL East division title. They would take out the Minnesota Twins in the ALCS and met the New York Mets in the World Series. The Mets would take the championship in five games. But the Orioles picked up where they left off and won 108 games in the 1970 season and again met the Minnesota Twins for the ALCS which they again swept. In the World Series, the Orioles faced the New York Mets and were led both offensively and defensively by Brooks Robinson. Robinson would win the MVP and the Orioles took home their second World Series Title.
The team found themselves in their third straight World Series in 1971 after posting four 20-game winners by Pat Dobson, Dave McNally, Jim Palmer and Mike Cuellar. In the World Series, the Birds faced Roberto Clemente and the Pittsburgh Pirates who hit a scorching .414 throughout the seven game series. The Pirates would win the series 4 games to 3 and Clemente would pass away in a place crash as he was delivering supplies to his quake ravaged home country of Nicaragua. The Orioles would compete for the 1973 ALCS but would come up short against Oakland. In 1979, the Birds finished with a n impressive 102-57 record and again faced the Pittsburgh Pirates, winning the series on a Willie Stargell RBI in the eighth inning of game seven.
The Orioles would continue their dominance in the next decade beginning with a 100 win season in 1980 which was led by Scott McGregor and CY Young award winner Steve Stone. Despite this, the team finished a full 3 games behind the New York Yankees and failed to make the playoffs. The Birds continued their outstanding play throughout the ‘80’s but by the latter stages of the decade, time had worked its magic on the team and they would finish 54-107 in 1988. Obvious rebuilding was needed and the franchise delivered first by getting approval for a new stadium and then by a change of uniforms. The Birds improved by 32 games in 1989 but again failed to make the playoffs.
The ‘90’s opened with an All Star Game in 1993 and Cal Ripken Jr. breaking Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played streak in 1995. By 1996, the Orioles found themselves I the thick of the ALCS against a new and improved New York Yankees squad that would prove to be too much to handle as the Yankees would go on to win the World Series. The ’97 squad faced the Cleveland Indians in the ALDS. The Indians won the series and went on to face the Miami Marlins in the World Series. As the decade faded so did the Orioles as they would finish in 4th place by 1999.
The new millennium would bring the end of the illustrious career of Cal Ripken after the franchise traded much of the team’s veterans at the end of the 2000 season. Ripken, injured most of the season would spend 2001 on a farewell tour as his number was retired at the final home game of the season. Ripken would hit a homerun in the All Star game and went on to win the All Star MVP award to end his career. The remainder of the decade would prove hard for the team as they failed to play .500 ball since 1997 when they finished 98-64.
Oriole Park at Camden Yards is a new ball bark trapped in old ball park architecture. The architects drew much of their inspiration from older stadiums like Fenway Park and Ebbets field. Oriole Park was also ranked the number two stadium in all the major league by ESPN’s Page 2 “Ballpark Tour.”
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