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Relocated MLB Teams: The Baltimore Orioles

The name Baltimore Orioles is fairly common among sports teams in the Maryland city. At least five pro and semi-pro teams have used the name Orioles since the late 19th century. One of the most prominent of these teams is the minor league baseball team that played in the International League from 1903 to 1953. The team went into a short hiatus between 1914 and 1916 and there is debate as to whether the pre-1914 and post-1916 versions should be considered one and the same franchise. The team took its name from the oriole, the state bird of the state of Maryland. The Orioles started up in 1903 as an expansion team for the Eastern League which would later become the International League. The team’s home stadium was the American League Park, also known as the Oriole Park. This legendary ball park used to be located at the corner of Greenmount Avenue and 29th Street in the Waverly neighborhood of Baltimore.

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After beginning their competitive life in mediocre fashion, the Orioles transformed themselves into a juggernaut of a team during the late 1910s and early 1920s. They won their first pennant in 1908 and then had to wait till 1919 to replicate their success. They did that in stunning fashion as they became the first team ever to win 100 games in a season. As impossible as it seemed, they took that a notch higher, winning a total of 110 games in the 1920 season. This was helped by a run of 25 straight wins at the end of the season. They retained the pennant for the third season running in 1921. This time they put together a run of 27 straight wins, a minor league baseball record that stood for 66 years before being broken by Salt Lake City of the Pioneer League in 1987. The Orioles would win the pennant for seven straight years, the last of which came in 1925. Only a change of heart from owner and manager Jack Dunn that saw him start to sell players prevented the team from extending that run further. Their next pennant came in 1944, a year in which they also won the Junior World Series, beating the Louisville Colonels in four games to two. Their final pennant win came in 1950 but they allowed the Colonels to exact revenge for the 1944 Junior World Series beating, losing by four games to one.

Babe Ruth, one of the most iconic baseball players of all time started his career with the Orioles. He signed in 1914 but did not stay long with the Orioles as he transferred to the Boston Red Sox of the MLB the same year as soon as his supreme talents were exposed. On the night of July 3, 1944, the team’s ballpark, then known as the Terrapin Park was gutted by a fierce fire which was believed to have originated from a discarded cigarette. The inferno completely devoured the wooden stadium and all of the team’s training and playing equipment. The now homeless team was forced to shift to the Municipal Stadium which served as a football stadium. Despite these tough odds, the Orioles limped to their first pennant since 1925 as the Newark Bears were unable to capitalize on a slip up by the Orioles in the final game of the season.

Why were the Baltimore Orioles Relocated?

The survival of the Orioles in Baltimore was tested a few years into their existence as intense competition for fans from the Federal League’s Baltimore Terrapins forced them to relocate temporarily to Richmond in 1914. The team would be revived in 1916 for a prolonged existence but a similar scenario also led to their eventual departure from Baltimore. In 1953, the impending arrival of the St. Louis Browns of the MLB saw the Baltimore Orioles jump ship in order to avoid a losing battle for fans with the more popular outfit. The team took off for Richmond where and they were christened the Richmond Virginians. Another relocation in 1965 would take them to Toledo, Ohio, becoming the present day reincarnation of the Toledo Mud Hens. Meanwhile, the Browns took up the Orioles moniker to become the new Baltimore Orioles, a team that is today one of the most successful teams in the MLB.

Baltimore Orioles Notable Players

Babe Ruth LHP 1914

Tommy Thomas RHP 1921-1925, 1935, 1941-1944

Robert Moses Grove P 1920-1924

Joe Cobb C 1923, 1924-1925, 1926

Merwin Jacobson OF 1919-1924

George Earnshaw RHP 1924-1928

Ernie Shore RHP 1914

Dick Porter OF/2B 1921-1928

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