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Saturday, August 21, 2010
Baltimore Orioles Uniform and Team History
Please click on the evolution of the Orioles uniform poster above for a close-up version of the poster. The descriptions below give you some insight and background about the uniforms and/or eras depicted in the poster.
The Baltimore Orioles started out as the Milwaukee Brewers in 1901. After only one season, and finishing dead last, the team was moved to St. Louis where they were renamed the Browns. This jersey is a pullover style home jersey. The logo is an S,T, and L inside a diamond, and the patch on the left shoulder is a Fleur De Lis. If you notice, there is a center belt loop, which was to secure the belt buckle off to one side. Players of this era usually wore the belt buckle to one side so they could prevent injury when sliding into a base.
This pullover style home jersey features a Cadet collar, rather than the more “formal” collar of years past. In 1909 the Brown’s played in the third edition of Sportsman’s Park, which they would call home until 1953. In 1920 the other St. Louis team, the Cardinals, moved into Sportsman’s Park as well. In the time that the two teams shared diamonds, the Browns fans were forced to watch their National League counterparts go to the World Series nine times, six of which they won including one over the Browns in 1944, while the Browns only made it to the World Series once (losing to the Cards!).
The Browns road jersey, (typically, you can tell if a jersey is a home uniform or road jersey by the color and the lettering. If it’s a darker color, it’s most likely a road uniform, and if it says the team nickname as opposed to the team city, it’s probably a home uniform) has a patch on the left sleeve. This patch was commissioned by Donald L. Barnes, the owner of the Browns (the team was actually known as the “American League Baseball Co.”) in 1937. The winning design belonged to Miss Helen Seevers of St. Louis. It is an equestrian figure that stands atop a baseball that has “Browns” on it. The shield is made up of stars and stripes, nine stripes to be exact, the same number of players that take the field for each game.
During this time period, while America is at war, the question is raised, should able-bodied athletes of baseball be fighting for their country overseas? The commissioner of Baseball and the President of the United States discuss the game’s role in the war. Both agree that baseball is too important to the people. It will boost the morale of the entire country, and take their minds off of the war effort for a short time.
Wartime sleeve patches were worn by all levels of professional baseball teams. The Health patch was only worn for the 1942 season, part of a health and fitness awareness campaign. The Stars and Stripes patch, as shown on the left sleeve of this home jersey, was worn from 1943 to1945. It took World War II and the conscription of many star players from other teams to give the Browns their first shot at the World Series - against none other than their National League counterparts and Sportsman’s Park cohabitants - the Cardinals. In a World Series that never left the same ballpark, the Browns went up 2 games to 1, only to lose three straight, giving the Cards another championship. This was the only pennant the Browns would ever claim.
The season began with a bang, with Bobo Holloman pitching a no-hitter on May 6th in his first Major League start, (this was his only season in the Majors) and ended with the team being sold to Baltimore interests in September. This Browns home jersey is a prime example of “no-frills”, with the exception of the “brownie” face patch on the left sleeve, which was worn in the 1952-1953 seasons. (To be honest we know very little about this patch, but we think it has something to do with a contest that the owner at the time, Bill Veeck Jr., ran. If you know anything about this patch, please email us at email@example.com ).
When the Browns moved to Baltimore in 1954, and the name was changed to the Orioles, a team name long associated with the city of Baltimore. In fact, the New York Yankees started out as the Baltimore Orioles in 1901 before moving to New York for the 1903 season - see the New York Yankees’ poster for a picture of the 1901 Baltimore Orioles jersey. 1956 was the first year the Orioles replaced the team name on their road uniforms with “Baltimore”.
Notice the zipper on this road jersey. During the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s many teams used zippered jerseys instead of the more traditional button front jerseys, while a handful of teams wore them well into the 70’s and even the 80’s. The Reds, Yankees and A’s were the only three pre-1977 major league teams which never wore zippers. The 1937 Cubs were the first team to wear a zippered jersey, and as far we can tell the 1988 Phillies were the last to wear one.
The patch on the left sleeve of this jersey is a caricature of an oriole wearing a ball cap.
With the strength of Frank Robinson’s Triple Crown feat during the regular season, the Orioles took the American League Pennant, and stormed into the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. This would be the franchise’s second trip to the World Series, (the first as the Browns, losing to the Cardinals in 1944).
In a series that featured many great pitchers and future hall-of-famers, the Orioles swept the Dodgers in four straight. Los Angeles’ Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale were no match for the Orioles’ Jim Palmer, Dave McNally and Wally Bunker. The Dodgers scored only two runs to Baltimore’s five in game one, and didn’t score another in the series. In game two, 21-year-old Palmer allowed only 4 hits in a 6-0 win. Two days later, game three starter Bunker, a fellow young gun, threw a three hit shutout to win 1-0. After Frank Robinson’s homer in the fourth inning of game four, Dave McNally shut out the bewildered Dodgers, giving the Orioles their first World Series title, and Frank Robinson the series Most Valuable Player award.
Please note the uniform numbers on the front of this uniform - this practice started in 1958 for both Baltimore’s home and away uniforms. Uniform numbers first made their appearance on the front of a uniform in 1952 - the Brooklyn Dodgers were the first team to wear uniform numbers on the front of their jersey. The Braves followed suit in 1953, and the Reds joined in beginning in 1956. The 1916 Cleveland Indians actually wore a uniform number on their sleeve, but it wasn’t until the ’52 Dodgers that the number made it to the front.
After losing the World Series in 1969 to the Cinderella New York Mets, the Orioles made it back to the championship for the second year in a row. They faced Cincinnati’s young “Big Red Machine” this year and defeated them 4 games to 1. Brooks Robinson was the force behind the Orioles’ wins, batting .429, with 2 home runs, and collecting 9 hits for the series. As well, his 4 hits in one game tied the single game record, and his 17 total bases set a new one, making him the World Series MVP. Pitcher Dave McNally hit a grand slam, the first ever by a pitcher in the World Series. The road jersey we feature has very little change from the 1966 uniform.
It’s important to note that the 1969-71 Orioles have to be considered on of the best baseball teams in history - they are one of only 4 teams in baseball history to win 100 games three years in a row. In 1969 they went 109-53; in 1970 they went 108-54; and in 1971 they went 101-57. The three other teams to win 100 games three years running were the 1929-31 Philadelphia A’s, the 1942-44 Cardinals and the 1997-99 Braves.
A 3rd uniform was worn by some Major League Baseball teams, partly to break up the monotony of having just two to choose from, and partly to sell more jerseys. The Orioles 3rd uniform is a double knit style that most of the other teams succumbed to during the 70’s and early 80’s. It was a pullover style, made of synthetic material. The pants were called “Sans-a-Belt”’s because the elastic material of the waistline eliminated the need for a belt.
The Orioles have almost dropped the double knit uniform of the 70’s, and have reverted back to the more classic style uniform with button-down jersey - we say “almost” because for some reason they hung onto the double-knit pants with the Sans-A-Belt waistline.
In what was called the “I-95 Series”, Baltimore faced Philadelphia for the World Series. Oriole slugger Eddie Murray blasted 2 homers in game five and starting pitcher Scott McGregor, who took the loss in game one, turned it around to pitch a shutout, giving Baltimore its third World Series title (the others being in 1966 & 1970).
In a season where Oriole players and fans said farewell to their beloved Memorial Stadium, the home of the Birds since 1954, their uniforms go for a clean classic look, with no piping or stripes on this home uniform. Beginning in 1989, the O’s re-introduced the “swoosh” under the front-of-the-jersey lettering, a style used in the 50’s and 70’s. Cal Ripken Jr. has a career year in 1991, hitting .323, with 34 home runs, 144 RBI, winning the American League MVP, All-Star Game MVP, and Major League Player of the Year honors.
In the year of the 125th anniversary of professional baseball, (as shown on this third uniform, a pullover style with 2 buttons on the top, and a commemorative patch on the right sleeve with the Major League Baseball logo and “125th Anniversary” on it) there was no World Series due to a disruption of play in August. This is the only time since 1904 that a World Series was not played.
When play finally resumes the next season, one of the greatest records in baseball would fall, to an Oriole. On September 6, 1995, Cal Ripken Jr. became baseball’s new “Iron Man”, by playing in his 2131st consecutive game, overtaking Lou Gehrig’s old mark, which was long thought to be one of sport’s unbreakable records.
The Orioles went into the Division Series this year highly favored against the Cleveland Indians. Unfortunately it was the Tribe that had the last word, putting the Birds away in a tight six game series to take the A.L. Pennant.
The lettering on the front of this Orioles’ home uniform is predominantly black, while the jersey itself has black piping around the neck and down the front. The patch on the right sleeve is to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in professional baseball, a patch which all Major League Baseball teams wore in 1997. In addition, all MLB teams retired his number 42 - the first time in the history of the big four North American sports (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL) that a number has been universally retired.
On the left sleeve there are 2 patches, the first is the classic Oriole that usually appears on the ball cap, we’re fairly sure this is the first year that it appeared on the jersey. The patch below it commemorates the 200th anniversary of the city of Baltimore.
Following the 2003 season in which they had a 71-91 record, the Orioles fired Manager Mike Hargrove and replaced him with Yankees coach Lee Mazzilli. The O’s would attempt to improve themselves on the field as well through free agency signing C Javier Lopez and SS Miguel Tejada, while bringing back former Orioles 1B Rafael Palmeiro and P Sidney Ponson (Ponson was traded to the San Francisco Giants at the trade deadline in 2003).
In their first season under Mazzilli, the Orioles offense was one of the strongest in the American League as they hit .281 as a team. Miguel Tejada led the Majors with 150 RBI. However their pitching was not particularly strong in the first half of the season as the Orioles suffered through an awful 8-19 June, effectively knocking them out of the playoff race by mid season. The team hired former O’s skipper Ray Miller as the team's pitching coach and they pitched better in the second half posting a 3.01 ERA in September. However it would not help the Orioles finish above .500; but for the first year since 1992 the O’s did not finish in 4th in the AL East, they finished 3rd behind the Yankees and Bosox with a record of 78-84.
This 2004 Orioles home white uniform continues the “clean classic look” re-introduced in the early 1990’s. This uniform does feature some slight changes from earlier eras: Gone is the black detailing that outlined the collar and the button piping. Also, please make note of the patch, on the left shoulder, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Orioles arrival in Baltimore from St. Louis.
Celebrate the Orioles' uniform history by owning a piece of history:
If you love the Baltimore Orioles and the history of the Orioles franchise, you might really love to own an original piece of artwork celebrating the team's historic uniforms as seen in the poster at the top of this blog - you can actually own one of those original pieces of art! There are only 14 pieces of original art available for sale, and when these 14 are sold, that's it, they're all sold out.
These original watercolor paintings would make a great gift (birthday gift, anniversary gift, retirement gift, Christmas gift, etc.) for someone you love or even a great gift for yourself (one of these framed pieces would look fantastic in your home or office). Each piece can be bought one of three ways:
1. As unframed art that you could have framed or mounted yourself (the one on the left)
2. Framed in our "Classic" framed version (the middle version)
3. Framed in our "Deluxe" framed version (the version on the right)
If you would like more information about this great artwork including the three ways you could purchase each piece, please visit our Baltimore Orioles YouTube video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FP0KLRpsoo or go directly to the artwork website www.heritagesportsart.com/Baltimore-Orioles-c137/ where you can see and purchase the artwork.
And if someone you know loves the history of sports uniforms (but maybe another team) and loves great art, please let them know that we have over 1500 pieces of great original artwork for sale at www.heritagesportsart.com (all NFL teams, all MLB teams, all NHL teams, all CFL teams, select NCAA football teams) or check out each team's video at the Heritage Sports Art YouTube Channel www.youtube.com/user/ssillcox
And please search my blog archive http://heritagejerseys.blogspot.com/ for other blogs on the history of the Orioles.
This text was written by Scott Sillcox and was last updated August 21, 2010. I have tried to ensure the accuracy of the information, but I am human and can make mistakes. If you believe I have made a mistake, please let me know by email at firstname.lastname@example.org !