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Frobby

What MLB team did Baltimore fans root for before 1954?

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I got to wondering about this today.    Baltimore had no major league team before 1954.    Who did fans root for?    If you picked up the Baltimore Sun sports page from, say, June 1953, did they give preferential coverage to any particular team?    Whose games were broadcast on the radio in the Baltimore area?

If anyone here is old enough to know, or has parents who they can ask, I'd be very interested to get some feedback on this.

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It was a different time, and Baltimore and Washington were much different places than they are now. Baltimore was largely content to be the home of the International League Orioles during the first half of the 20th century. There was no appreciable civic resentment toward Washington for holding a monopoly on major league baseball in the region.

"We loved the O's," said longtime Baltimore broadcaster Vince Bagli, who grew up in Northeast Baltimore. "They won the pennant in 1944 and won the Little World Series. That was one of the biggest thrills I ever had in sports.

"People were pretty content, kind of laid-back and happy with the [minor league] Orioles. You didn't have the TV and other things then. You weren't really aware of the politics of sports."

Bagli, 76 and retired, grew up with split loyalties, because he was also a big fan of major league baseball and the Senators were the only game in town, even if it was the other big town in the region.


"My favorite team was the Senators," he said, "because we didn't have major league baseball."

 

http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/orioles/bal-sp.os5018feb18-story.html

Very interesting 2004 article with some tidbits about why the Senators' ownership allowed the Browns to move to Baltimore:

Quote

Current Orioles ownership views the possible return of baseball to the nation's capital as a threat to the team's economic security, but that wasn't a major issue when the Senators gave their blessing to the move that put the struggling Browns franchise in their back yard.

The Senators struck a sweeter sponsorship deal with the beer company owned by prospective Orioles co-owner Jerry Hoffberger. They also were guaranteed a cash payment of $300,000 for the territorial concession, but Griffith apparently considered the arrival of the Browns as a potential plus for his team.

"A lot of people believe they [the Orioles] bought the Senators' vote with beer sponsorship," [radio personality Phil] Wood said. "I think Griffith thought at the time that because both the Browns and the Senators were terrible, it would be a rivalry."

 

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My 87 year old dad grew up in Southern California as a Hollywood Stars fan. I’m going to guess that prior to 1954, the AAA Baltimore Orioles were the team of choice. 

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3 minutes ago, Larry18 said:

My 87 year old dad grew up in Southern California as a Hollywood Stars fan. I’m going to guess that prior to 1954, the AAA Baltimore Orioles were the team of choice. 

I was aware of the minor league Orioles, which is why I titled the thread “what MLB team did Baltimore fans root for before 1954?”      I assume most fans in cities with minor league teams still had their favorite major league teams.   Of course, the minor leagues had a much more independent identity in 1953 than they do today.    But even so, they were still the minors.     

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16 minutes ago, Frobby said:

I was aware of the minor league Orioles, which is why I titled the thread “what MLB team did Baltimore fans root for before 1954?”      I assume most fans in cities with minor league teams still had their favorite major league teams.   Of course, the minor leagues had a much more independent identity in 1953 than they do today.    But even so, they were still the minors.     

My point was they didn’t root for any MLB team to any measurable degree. 

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Just now, Larry18 said:

My point was they didn’t root for any MLB team to any measurable degree. 

Yes, and you may be right.    Of course, in SoCal there was no team within 1,000 miles at the time.    Things may have been a little different in Baltimore with two major league teams within 100 miles or so, and a third major league team that had been relocated from Baltimore many years before.    

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2 minutes ago, Frobby said:

Yes, and you may be right.    Of course, in SoCal there was no team within 1,000 miles at the time.    Things may have been a little different in Baltimore with two major league teams within 100 miles or so, and a third major league team that had been relocated from Baltimore many years before.    

Distance certainly was a factor but my dad remembers the Cardinals broadcasting into LA. I imagine the answer lies in whether Baltimore was part of the Phillies or Senators broadcast network. 

 

 

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7 minutes ago, Larry18 said:

Distance certainly was a factor but my dad remembers the Cardinals broadcasting into LA. I imagine the answer lies in whether Baltimore was part of the Phillies or Senators broadcast network. 

 

 

Yes, if either.    

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1954...I'm old but I'm not that old.  

I recall when I was  living in TN in the 60's the St Louis Cardinals were everyone's favorite team even though St. Louis was hundreds of miles away the Cardinals games came on our local TV stations. Because they were the closest team.

 I would imagine it would b the Senators carried by Baltimore TV stations in the early 1950's  although as I recall some  DC stations could also be picked up in Baltimore with the old rabbit ears TV so maybe that would not be necessary, you could just fool with the antenna and get the Senators games on TV. 

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1 hour ago, Frobby said:

Yes, and you may be right.    Of course, in SoCal there was no team within 1,000 miles at the time.    Things may have been a little different in Baltimore with two major league teams within 100 miles or so, and a third major league team that had been relocated from Baltimore many years before.    

They had a negro league team and an International league next to each other on Greenmount, I believe.  It was a different era.  In 1950 only 9 percent of Americans had TVs.  It wasn’t until 1954 that a majority had TVs. 
 

national games of the week started in 1953 and were not allowed to be shown within 50 miles of a major league park.  I think you are trying to put today’s standards on another era.  

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3 hours ago, Frobby said:

I got to wondering about this today.    Baltimore had no major league team before 1954.    Who did fans root for?    If you picked up the Baltimore Sun sports page from, say, June 1953, did they give preferential coverage to any particular team?    Whose games were broadcast on the radio in the Baltimore area?

If anyone here is old enough to know, or has parents who they can ask, I'd be very interested to get some feedback on this.

My Dad used to root for the Brooklyn Dodgers he said before the Orioles, he said it was because of the CBS radio broadcasts of Red Barber which he said were on WCAO here in the late 40s and early 50s...he said before the war, there was the Baltimore Elite Giants, a Negro League team.  One of the older black men that I knew as a kid verified that a lot of people in Baltimore later rooted for the Dodgers because Roy Campanella, Joe Black, Junior Gilliam all played in Baltimore and then became Dodgers and apparently got a lot of local press even though it was Negro League. 

 

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27 minutes ago, atomic said:

They had a negro league team and an International league next to each other on Greenmount, I believe.  It was a different era.  In 1950 only 9 percent of Americans had TVs.  It wasn’t until 1954 that a majority had TVs. 
 

national games of the week started in 1953 and were not allowed to be shown within 50 miles of a major league park.  I think you are trying to put today’s standards on another era.  

Did you notice I didn’t mention TV in my post?   And I’m not putting my standards on anything.    I asked some questions to which I don’t know the answers, hoping some knowledgeable  people would provide the answers.   

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My late father was born in 1947. I know when he was young he said he followed the Phillies some. He grew up in Carroll County, perhaps some of their games were available over the air back then, not sure, radio I would think no doubt. I do know growing up in the 80’s we were always able to get Phillies games over the antenna not that we ever rooted for them. 

My one uncle who was born in 1944 said he worked for a farmer who always listened to Senators games. This was probably late 50’s, early 60’s. 

My guess was it was probably a mix of Senators and Phillies  mixed with the Yankees. Not really sure though   

This is an interesting topic and not one I had really thought about before. 

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