With a legacy that spans two fiercely loyal baseball towns a half-nation apart, the Baltimore Orioles—originally the St. Louis Browns—rank among baseball’s most storied teams. One of the fifteen celebrated team histories commissioned by G. P. Putnam’s Sons in the 1940s and 1950s, The Baltimore Orioles: The History of a Colorful Team in Baltimore and St. Louis chronicles the club’s early history and is reissued on the fiftieth anniversary of their first season in Baltimore.
Hall of Fame sportswriter Frederick G. Lieb begins with the history of baseball in Baltimore from its pre-Civil War beginnings and its major-league debut as the Lord Baltimores in 1872 to the championship seasons of the National League Orioles in 1894, ’95, and ’96 when the roster included Willie Keeler, Joe Kelley, Kid Gleason, Roger Bresnahan, Joe McGinnity, and John McGraw. After the turn of the century, Baltimore was briefly home to the Orioles of the American League in 1901-02, then, after losing its franchise to New York, had to settle for the AAA International League Orioles until 1954. Under the leadership of Jack Dunn, the minor-league Orioles, while developing the talents of Babe Ruth, Lefty Grove, and other future major-league stars, won seven straight International League pennants from 1919 to 1926.
Here, too, is the colorful history of the precursors to the current Orioles, the lovable and luckless St. Louis Browns, augmented for this edition with a new foreword from St. Louis sportswriter Bob Broeg on the escapades of the Brownies. Though they lost more than a thousand games and captured only a single pennant in fifty-three seasons, the Browns remain a legendary part of national lore. Taking their lead in different eras from larger-than-life figures such as Branch Rickey, Rogers Hornsby, Urban Shocker, and the Barnum of Baseball, Bill Veeck, the Browns “boasted a one-armed outfielder, a hired hypnotist, the mighty midget [Eddie Gaedel] and—even the best ballplayer in the land—George Sisler,” as Broeg recalls in his foreword. In 1944, the Browns also played in the only all-St. Louis World Series, losing to the Cardinals.
Originally published in 1955 and featuring twenty-two photographs, The Baltimore Orioles history concludes with the new American League team’s first season in Baltimore, finishing seventh in the league but garnering the lasting adoration of their new hometown.