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Frobby

What MLB team did Baltimore fans root for before 1954?

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2 hours ago, Frobby said:

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.   

Pretty hard to root for a team you never can see play. Or is not even covered by the local paper.  
 

  I can’t seem to find attendance figures for international league Orioles but it wouldn’t surprise me if they out drew the Senators.

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31 minutes ago, atomic said:

Pretty hard to root for a team you never can see play. Or is not even covered by the local paper.  
 

  I can’t seem to find attendance figures for international league Orioles but it wouldn’t surprise me if they out drew the Senators.

As to your first paragraph, that’s why I asked what coverage there was of MLB in the local papers, and what teams were on the radio.    I simply have no idea.    I tried to look at a July 1953 copy of the Baltimore Sun online today, but they wanted to charge me money to do it.     
 

And I’d be interested in the attendance of the IL Orioles, too.   

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8 hours ago, atomic said:

Pretty hard to root for a team you never can see play. Or is not even covered by the local paper.  
 

  I can’t seem to find attendance figures for international league Orioles but it wouldn’t surprise me if they out drew the Senators.

In 1944 the IL Orioles made it to the Junior World Series against AA champion Louisville.  I've read that the '44 Junior World Series out-drew the real World Series between the Cards and the Browns.  That was at least in part because earlier that year Oriole Park burned to the ground and the O's had to finish out the year at Municipal Stadium, which was a large football field on the future site of Memorial Stadium.

My dad was born in '46 in rural Virginia and was nominally a Yankee fan.  But I don't think they had TV until about the time the Browns moved to Baltimore, and I have no idea if he listened to the radio.  So his fandom was that he had some Mickey Mantle baseball cards that were thrown away prior to the big baseball card boom in the 80s.

I really think that if you were a baseball fan in Baltimore between 1903 and 1953 there's a good chance you were an Oriole fan more than anything else. Especially in the time before about 1935 when the Orioles were independent, and often dominant.  By the late 40s that may have shifted somewhat, with the O's being an affiliated team and a lot more radio and eventually TV coverage of the majors. It's probably true that the late teens and early 1920s Orioles could have been an average team in the majors. 

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9 hours ago, atomic said:

I can’t seem to find attendance figures for international league Orioles but it wouldn’t surprise me if they out drew the Senators.

It might be in the old annual guides that were printed and sold.  Things like Who's Who in Baseball, or the Spink, Reach or Spalding Guides, or Sporting News Guidebook or similar.  I don't think much of that has made it onto the internet.  At home I have a guide like that that from the 1950s that I got from a great-uncle who had boxes of that kind of stuff.  I'll have to look.

It appears that the Spalding guide stopped after 1939...

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On 10/31/2019 at 5:28 PM, Too Tall said:

I grew up to age 4 in Arlington Virginia and then to the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Up to age 14, all I knew were the Cambridge Dodgers ( Dodger's Class D team) and the Washington Senators. My uncle took me to a Sunday Senator's double header in 1952. Watched the Senators beat the Yankees twice, each time with a Cuban starting pitcher for the Senators. Was special cause that may have been the only time that year they beat the Yankees. Got Mickey Vernon's and Eddie Yost's (The Walking Man)autograph. When the Brown's moved to Baltimore in 1954, I became hooked. Have been a Oriole's fan ever since. I remember that first year like it was yesterday. My favorite players were Ole Scrap Iron - Clint Courtney ( I caught in Little League) - and Chuck Deering - a fleet no hit center fielder ( I couldn't hit either but played good defense ). When it came to the National league, I rooted for the Dodgers. As is still true today - ANY ONE BUT THE YANKEES!

Thanks for your post.  As a fan in my early 40s, I had no idea that the Eastern Shore league even existed, and had a blast looking up everything I could about the history. 

I grew up there and had no clue that it had even been a thing.  It's not very often I learn something new and so close to home about baseball.  It's appreciated.

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A high school class mate of mine wrote a book about the Eastern Shore League. Can't remember the name of the book but his name ( the author) is Bill Mowbray. A google search may find that for you. I remember seeing Don Zimmerman play for the Cambridge Dodgers. Hope you can find it and enjoy. 

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22 hours ago, Frobby said:

As to your first paragraph, that’s why I asked what coverage there was of MLB in the local papers, and what teams were on the radio.    I simply have no idea.    I tried to look at a July 1953 copy of the Baltimore Sun online today, but they wanted to charge me money to do it.     
 

And I’d be interested in the attendance of the IL Orioles, too.   

You can view the old issues of the Sun for free through pro quest if you have Baltimore city or county library card. Looks like Orioles are the main coverage and all mlb teams have short articles about their games.  I found an article about the Browns might be moving to Baltimore and it said the disasterous attempt to move the team to Miami the year before,

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Looking at 1952 they only have local writer covering Orioles and they have AP summary of other International League games and box scores and after that they have AP summaries and Box scores for mlb games.  No order it seems.  

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Newpapers provided the means of following professional sports or most any sports back in 1953 and before. You read about an event the day after it happened. TV was just starting to grow up and radio provided little instant feed back. Anybody ever try listening to AM radio at night? Scratchy and staticy with stations fading in and out a lot of the time on a summer evening. If the Baltimore newspapers followed anybody consistently it was the minor league Orioles. Other major league teams were little more than a score and maybe a headline if someone pitched a no hitter. I remember waiting for the Sunday papers so I could get the stats on anybody outside the leading top 10 hitters or pitchers in the league. The was more local buzz about the upcoming Hampstead Merchants men’s fastpitch softball game on Sunday then there was about a major league team. Nobody ever mentioned the Washington Senators that I can ever recall. This was northern Carroll Co in the early 50's. Washington was 2.5 hours away by the roads of the day. Changing the topic slightly, one of the greatest sports names started opening day for the Orioles in 1953. Stan Jok! He played about 10 games in the show for the Phillies.  

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One of the things I find interesting here is that my parents grew up in Akron Ohio, which is almost exactly the distance from Cleveland that Baltimore is from Washington.    I know from talking with them that most Akronites were Indians fans.   My mom was a big fan of Lou Boudreau and Satchel Paige in the late 40’s.     Now, I don’t think Akron had a minor league team in that period (the Yankees had an affiliate that left in the early ‘40’s), so it was different from Baltimore in that respect.     
 

I looked at a couple of copies of the Akron Beacon Journal from 1948 and 1953 and they had banner headline coverage of the Indian games.    

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On 10/31/2019 at 6:05 PM, 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.    

St. Louis was\is 1,829 miles.

 

Had to look it up. 😛

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9 hours ago, Frobby said:

One of the things I find interesting here is that my parents grew up in Akron Ohio, which is almost exactly the distance from Cleveland that Baltimore is from Washington.    I know from talking with them that most Akronites were Indians fans.   My mom was a big fan of Lou Boudreau and Satchel Paige in the late 40’s.     Now, I don’t think Akron had a minor league team in that period (the Yankees had an affiliate that left in the early ‘40’s), so it was different from Baltimore in that respect.     
 

I looked at a couple of copies of the Akron Beacon Journal from 1948 and 1953 and they had banner headline coverage of the Indian games.    

I think the difference is that Baltimore had a famous major league team in the 1800s, then a dynastic International League team in the teens and 20s.  And I think Baltimore always saw itself as a "big" city at least on par with Washington and others. 

Akron had few or none of those things.  Even in the chaotic 19th century they never had a major league team, even briefly.  Butts Wagner (Honus' brother) played briefly for Canton in the low-level Interstate League in 1895... Akron had a team in the 1920 IL featuring Jim Thorpe, but they didn't have one in '19 or '21.  Apparently they had a Yanks' affiliate in the 30s.  I'm guessing the sporadic fielding of teams in the area made it hard to be a fan of the local team.  And in 1940 Akron had 250k people, Cleveland 900k.

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Part of this is the independence of the Orioles.  They were a minor league team from 1903-53, but bb-ref doesn't list them as affiliated with any MLB team until they were a Phillies farm team in 1940.  I think they started some kind of arrangements maybe a decade prior, but for most of the time they weren't developing someone else's prospects, they were trying to win the pennant.  Today basically nobody cares about the record of the Norfolk Tides, or the Rochester Red Wings.  Not really.  The SoMd Blue Crabs draw more for promotion nights in July than they do for playoff games in September.

In 1925 everyone who was a baseball fan in Baltimore cared about wins and losses, just like they were a MLB team.  It's roughly analogous to cheering for a mid-level college football team.  They have zero chance of unseating Alabama or Clemson, but everyone at East Carolina wants to win the AAC.  Nobody is happy if they go 3-9 but their QB and RB end up in the NFL.

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