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When The Birds Were Boss

See the Orioles, parading down Charles Street at Madison. See the fans, rushing out to greet them (women and children first). It's April 17, 1954, and Baltimore's love affair with its new baseball team is in full bloom.

Never mind that those Orioles of yesteryear were no better than today's sorry bunch. (The '54 Birds won exactly 54 games and lost 100). The city was just happy to have a big-league team, following a half-century of minor league ball, and officials staged a parade for the players when the club arrived in town.

 

For keen-eyed readers, that's a smiling Clint Courtney, riding shotgun, in the lead car. Good thing it's a convertible. Courtney, the Orioles catcher, was a tobacco-chewing, Louisiana farm boy who was strong as an ox and who smelled like one, too. On road trips, Old Scrap Iron visited stockyards in Chicago and Kansas City, looking to beef up the herd on his 200-acre spread.

"Clint would stomp around in that cow manure, wearing his only suit, then come straight to the park," Orioles' shortstop Ron Hansen once said. "The stink didn't bother him."

Fans could have cared less. They had a team, one that would evolve into champions in the years to come. Would that this year's faithful could expect the same.

Comments

Wow. This reads like an obituary.

"no better than today's sorry bunch"? Hmm, after their imminent loss to the Yankees tonight the Orioles will stand at 15-37, a .288 winning percentage. Against a 154 game season these Os would project to 44-110, a full ten games back of the Orioles of '54. That isn't exactly a horserace

And those Os weren't getting paid $70 million dollars for their awfulness...

Actually, that team may have been better than this year's team. Before today's game, we were on pace for 48 wins. And then we went out and lost tonight. Of course, one would hope that the team will be able to pick up the pace at least a little in the months to come to avoid setting a record for fewest wins in a season.... one would hope.

*sobs quietly*

'66,'69,'70, '71, '79, and '83!
We grew up taking it for granted that the Orioles were usually good and often great. Fantastic, in fact, like in 1970 and 1983.
What do we need? We need someone like Rick Dempsey or Davey Johnson
from the Weaver era to bring back some of that old Orioles magic and to rebuild this organization.
I'm just sayin'....
Someone who KNOWS baseball should be running the team.
The top-down Yankees style
hasn't worked very well for the last 17 years.
What's Cal Ripken up to these days?

It took 12 years for that "sorry" bunch to win a World Series. Under the current owner we haven't won a Series for 26 years. (I'll assume they won't win one this year.)

I'd say the ;54 "sorry bunch" was light years ahead of the current bunch.

Pity the Oriole fans.

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