First Pitch to First Pennant
1858 - 1894
by Ken Mars
Emerging from the riot torn 1850's, the Excelsior Base Ball Club established their first formal diamond in Druid Hill Park. During the divisive Civil War years, the Excelsiors became the Pastimes and saw stiff competition rise up all around them. The 1870's ushered in the early Major Leagues with the Lord Baltimores, but outside forces would conspire to throw the town into a six year baseball depression. In 1882, Baltimore became a last minute addition to the American Association and did so poorly that the club was completely reformed and named the Orioles in 1883. The Orioles of the Beer and Whiskey League of the 1880's were a scandal ridden lot. The Birds struggled for years, but they survived. In 1887 Baltimore took part in the short lived National Colored League, the first professional league for African American players and hosted its first game a Oriole Park. Bald Billy Barnie, the Orioles first manager and co-owner, wasn't the greatest tactician, but in the early 1890's he would begin to collect a fantastic core of players, including Wilbert Robinson and John McGraw. After Barnie left out of frustration, club owner and brewmeister, Harry Von Der Horst, hired Ned Hanlon, a player with a bad knee at the end of his career. After cleaning out the old Bird cage, Hanlon completely remodeled the Orioles, who came from out of nowhere to win the 1894 National League Pennant.
- Over 400 games cataloged from 1860 to 1881!
- Over 800 local players listed from the amateur era!
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