Major and Minor League Baseball in Baltimore

Introduction

Mr. Boh's 1954Organized American baseball began in the mid-1840s with the New York Knickerbockers, and flourished during the Industrial Revolution. The sport became popular as leisure time for the wealthy and middle class increased. Many towns and cities had amateur leagues in which teams were created based on professions. For example, a team of grocers would play against a team of bankers at a nearby park. Established in 1869, the Cincinnati Red Stockings became the first professional team in the United States.

Although not always remembered today as a great baseball town, Baltimore has a strong baseball tradition. The Lord Baltimores became the city's first professional team in 1872 when they joined the National Association of Professional Baseball Players. However, the team was plagued from the start with rumors that its players threw games. In the early 1880s, Baltimore's professional baseball legacy began with the introduction of Bille Barnie and the Orioles. Barnie was both the team's manager and catcher. His team, owned by Baltimore brewer Harry Vonderhorst, was a member of the American Association baseball league. In their first year in 1883, the Orioles made $30,000 for Vonderhorst. The next year, Baltimore fans witnessed the sport's first double-header between the Orioles and Indianapolis. The Orioles of the 1880s had many notable and recognizable players including T. P. "Oyster" Burns (shortstop, hit .401 in 1887), Bill Shindel (third base), and Blondie Purcell (right field and captain). Also on the team, pitcher Matt Kilroy won 46 out of 69 games in 1887. By the early 1890s, right fielder (later third base) John McGraw had joined the team.

In 1892, the Orioles joined the National League under the leadership of manager Edward "Foxy Ned" Hanlon. During his tenure, the clever Hanlon brought "Wee" Willie Keeler to Baltimore and took majority control of the franchise's stock from Vonderhorst. Hanlon also developed what was known as "inside baseball." The strategy focused on making game-winning plays in the infield such as bunt plays, sacrifice hits, and base stealing. Hanlon's Orioles of the 1890s were known to do whatever was necessary to win by pushing the boundaries of the game's traditional code of ethics and morals. The team was known to slide with spikes up, trip players, and purposely hit foul balls in an effort to tire the pitcher. Their tactics were successful as they won three consecutive pennants from 1894 to 1896 and finished second in 1897 and 1898. In 1899, Hanlon took most of his better players to Brooklyn and McGraw stepped up to manage the team. During the 1901 and 1902 season, the Baltimore Orioles joined the American League and introduced infielder John (Jack) Dunn. The franchise was unstable as McGraw became the second manager to abandon the team for New York. In 1902, the President of the American League, Ban Johnson, sold the Baltimore Orioles to two New York businessmen to create the New York Yankees. 

Minor league play continued in Baltimore as the Orioles again came under the ownership of Hanlon with Jack Dunn as manager. During the early 1900s, Johns Hopkins medical student, Merle T. "Doc" Adkins joined the team and became a well-known and successful pitcher. In 1914, George Herman "Babe" Ruth joined the team as a 20-year old pitcher. That same year the organization joined the majors with the short-lived Federal League as the Baltimore Terrapins. However, a losing season combined with a faltering new league resulted in an unfortunate venture. The Federal League was disbanded after the 1915 season, and Dunn moved the team to Richmond after he sold Ruth to the Boston Red Sox.

By 1918, Dunn returned to Baltimore; this time to manage and own the minor league Orioles. Between 1919 and 1925 Dunn established one of the best minor league teams in the United States, winning seven consecutive pennants. Baltimoreans enjoyed their minor league Orioles until finally in 1954, the St. Louis Browns moved to Baltimore bringing the major leagues back to the city after almost 40 years.

Sources: Bready, James, H. Baseball in Baltimore: The First 100 Years. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998; Lancaster, John, H. "Baltimore, Pioneer in Organized Baseball." Maryland Historical Magazine XXXV (1940): 32-55.

National History Standards

Materials compiled in this document can be used by educators to fulfill the following National History Standards for Grades 5-12.

Era 6: The Development of the Industrial United States (1870-1900)

STANDARD 2: Massive immigration after 1870 and how new social patterns, conflicts, and ideas of national unity developed amid growing cultural diversity.

STANDARD 2C: The student understands how new cultural movements at different social levels affected American life.
5-12: Investigate new forms of popular culture and leisure activities at different levels of American society. [Draw upon visual sources]

Era 7: The Emergence of Modern America (1890-1930)

STANDARD 3: How the United States changed from the end of World War I to the eve of the Great Depression

STANDARD 3B: The student understands how a modern capitalist economy emerged in the 1920s.
5-12: Assess how increased leisure time promoted the growth of professional sports, amusement parks, and national parks. [Analyze cause-and-effect relationships]

Era 10: Contemporary United States (1968 - present)

STANDARD 2: Economic, social, and cultural, developments in contemporary United States.

STANDARD 2D: The student understands contemporary American culture.
5-12: Explain the reasons for the increased popularity of professional sports and examine the influence of spectator sports on popular culture. [Reconstruct patterns of historical succession and duration]

Primary Resources

  1. DESCRIPTION: Medium Prints - Sports - Baseball. "Members of the Lord Baltimore Baseball Club of Baltimore"
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: Unknown
    SOURCE: Portraits - Part 1, Z24.862
    REPOSITORY: H. Furlong Baldwin Library, Maryland Historical Society
     
  2. DESCRIPTION: >Billy Barnie
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1887-90
    SOURCE: Baseball Cards from the Benjamin K. Edwards Collection
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
     
  3. DESCRIPTION: Oyster Burns
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1887-90
    SOURCE: Baseball Cards from the Benjamin K. Edwards Collection
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
     
  4. DESCRIPTION: Jack Farrell
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1887-90
    SOURCE: Baseball Cards from the Benjamin K. Edwards Collection
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
     
  5. DESCRIPTION: John Harkins
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1887-90
    SOURCE: Baseball Cards from the Benjamin K. Edwards Collection
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
     
  6. DESCRIPTION: Matt Kilroy
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1887-90
    SOURCE: Baseball Cards from the Benjamin K. Edwards Collection
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
     
  7. DESCRIPTION: Matt Kilroy
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1887-90
    SOURCE: Baseball Cards from the Benjamin K. Edwards Collection
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
     
  8. DESCRIPTION: Matt Kilroy
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
    1887-90
    SOURCE: Baseball Cards from the Benjamin K. Edwards Collection
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
     
  9. DESCRIPTION: Blondie Purcell
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
    1887-90
    SOURCE: Baseball Cards from the Benjamin K. Edwards Collection
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
     
  10. DESCRIPTION: Shindel
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1887-90
    SOURCE: Baseball Cards from the Benjamin K. Edwards Collection
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
     
  11. DESCRIPTION: Baltimore Baseball Club 1892
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1892
    SOURCE: Portraits - Part 3, Z24.1867
    REPOSITORY: H. Furlong Baldwin Library, Maryland Historical Society
     
  12. DESCRIPTION: Baltimore Baseball Club - "Champions of 1895"
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: Unknown
    SOURCE: Portraits - Part 1, Z24.914
    REPOSITORY: H. Furlong Baldwin Library, Maryland Historical Society
     
  13. DESCRIPTION: Union Baseball Park (ca 1895) (stadiums)
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: c. 1895
    SOURCE: Baltimore - Buildings, Structures, etc., Z24.480
    REPOSITORY: H. Furlong Baldwin Library, Maryland Historical Society
     
  14. DESCRIPTION: John Dunn
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1911
    SOURCE: Baseball Cards from the Benjamin K. Edwards Collection
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
     
  15. DESCRIPTION: Doctor Merle T. Adkins
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
    1911
    SOURCE: Baseball Cards from the Benjamin K. Edwards Collection
    REPOSITORY: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
     
  16. DESCRIPTION: Babe Ruth, with Baltimore Orioles
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: Unknown
    SOURCE: Portraits - Part 3, Z24.2103 VF
    REPOSITORY: H. Furlong Baldwin Library, Maryland Historical Society
     
  17. DESCRIPTION: P.E. - sports - Jack Dunn - 1920's Eastern League - baseball card
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: c. 1920s
    SOURCE: Ephemera and Advertising, Z24.1395
    REPOSITORY: H. Furlong Baldwin Library, Maryland Historical Society
     
  18. DESCRIPTION: Fritz Maisel at old Oriole Park, ca. 1931 Neg. Z7.1292.B27; dup/copy neg Z4.160.B27
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: c. 1931
    SOURCE: Kniesche Collection
    REPOSITORY: Prints and Photographs Division, Maryland Historical Society
     
  19. DESCRIPTION: Baltimore Stadiums Oriole Stadium 1938
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1938
    SOURCE: Baltimore - Buildings, Structures, etc., Z24.1236
    REPOSITORY: H. Furlong Baldwin Library, Maryland Historical Society
     
  20. DESCRIPTION: Baltimore Orioles: baseball schedule for 1940 season
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
    1940
    SOURCE:
    Maryland Department, Ephemera Collection
    REPOSITORY: Enoch Pratt Free Library
     
  21. DESCRIPTION: Baltimore Orioles: International Baseball League official schedule 1944
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
    1944
    SOURCE:
    Maryland Department, Ephemera Collection
    REPOSITORY: Enoch Pratt Free Library
     
  22. DESCRIPTION: Baltimore Orioles: 1947 playing schedule
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1947
    SOURCE: Maryland Department, Ephemera Collection
    REPOSITORY: Enoch Pratt Free Library
     
  23. DESCRIPTION: Baltimore Orioles: 1948 playing schedule
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
    1948
    SOURCE:
    Maryland Department, Ephemera Collection
    REPOSITORY: Enoch Pratt Free Library
     
  24. DESCRIPTION: Baltimore Orioles: 1949 schedule
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
    1949
    SOURCE:
    Maryland Department, Ephemera Collection
    REPOSITORY: Enoch Pratt Free Library
     
  25. DESCRIPTION: Baltimore Orioles: 1951 schedule
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1951
    SOURCE: Maryland Department, Ephemera Collection
    REPOSITORY: Enoch Pratt Free Library
     
  26. DESCRIPTION: Baltimore Orioles: 1952 schedule
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
    1952
    SOURCE:
    Maryland Department, Ephemera Collection
    REPOSITORY: Enoch Pratt Free Library
     
  27. DESCRIPTION: Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals: 1954 baseball schedule
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED: 1954
    SOURCE: Maryland Department, Ephemera Collection
    REPOSITORY: Enoch Pratt Free Library
     
  28. DESCRIPTION: Baltimore Orioles: 1954 baseball schedule
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
    1954
    SOURCE:
    Maryland Department, Ephemera Collection
    REPOSITORY: Enoch Pratt Free Library
     
  29. DESCRIPTION: Baltimore Orioles: 1954 schedule
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
    1954
    SOURCE:
    Maryland Department, Ephemera Collection
    REPOSITORY: Enoch Pratt Free Library
     
  30. DESCRIPTION: Baltimore Orioles: official 1955 American League schedule
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
    1955
    SOURCE:
    Maryland Department, Ephemera Collection
    REPOSITORY: Enoch Pratt Free Library
     
  31. DESCRIPTION: Baltimore Orioles: schedule for 1957
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
    1957
    SOURCE:
    Maryland Department, Ephemera Collection
    REPOSITORY: Enoch Pratt Free Library
     
  32. DESCRIPTION: Baltimore Orioles: 1963 home games / away games / games on TV
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
    1963
    SOURCE:
    Maryland Department, Ephemera Collection
    REPOSITORY: Enoch Pratt Free Library
     
  33. DESCRIPTION: Baltimore Orioles: 1980 schedule
    DATE CREATED/PUBLISHED:
    1980
    SOURCE:
    Maryland Department, Ephemera Collection
    REPOSITORY: Enoch Pratt Free Library

Additional Media Resources

Baltimore Orioles History

Baseball Almanac

Baseball as America

Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns

Minor League Baseball History

National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

Negro League Baseball Players Association

Science of Baseball

Society for American Baseball Research

Tickets to the Past: Baseball History

Additional Instructional Resources

Crossing the Line: Jackie Robinson

Back By Popular Demand: Jackie Robinson and Other Baseball Highlights, 1860s-1960s

Baseball Geometry

Baseball Memories

Bases Divided: Segregation and Discrimination in Baseball

The Best of the Best

Mapping Baseball

Rounding the Bases: Race and Ethnicity in America

Shadow Ball

Stadium Consultants

Teaching with Documents: Beyond the Playing Field - Jackie Robinson, Civil Rights Advocate

Women in Baseball: Talk Show

Secondary Resources

Bready, James, H. Baseball in Baltimore: The First 100 Years. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.

Bready, James H. The Home Team: A Full Story of Baseball in Baltimore, 1859-1959. Baltimore, MD: James H. Bready, 1958.

Griffith, William Ridgely. The Early History of Ameatur Base Ball in the State of Maryland: 1858-1871. Baltimore, MD: John Cox's Sons, 1897.

Lancaster, John, H. "Baltimore, Pioneer in Organized Baseball." Maryland Historical Magazine XXXV (1940): 32-55.

Lieb, Fred. The Baltimore Orioles: The History of a Colorful Team in Baltimore and St. Louis. New York: G.P. Putnam, 1955.

McGraw, John J. My Thirty Years in Baseball. New York: Boni and Liveright, 1923.

Miller, James Edward. The Baseball Business: Pursuing Pennants and Profits in Baltimore. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1990.

Soloman, Burt. Where They Ain't: The Fabled Life and Untimely Death of the Original Baltimore Orioles, The Team that Gave Birth to Modern Baseball. New York: Free Press, 1999.

Associated Heritage and Preservation Organizations

The Babe Ruth Birthplace & Museum
Sports Legends at Camden Yards

216 Emory Street
Baltimore, MD 21230
   

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Credits

Teaching American History in Maryland is a collaborative partnership of the Maryland State Archives and the Center for History Education (CHE), University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), and the following sponsoring school systems: Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Baltimore City Public School System, Baltimore County Public Schools, and Howard County Public Schools.

Other program partners include the Martha Ross Center for Oral History, Maryland Historical Society, State Library Resource Center/Enoch Pratt Free Library, with assistance from the National Archives and Records Administration and the Library of Congress. The program is funded through grants from the U.S. Department of Education.

This document packet was researched and developed by Sarah Davis.

 

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