O’s were minor-league juggernaut in days of yore
“O’s Clinch Pennant,” The Sun trumpeted on Sept. 8, 1919. That headline would be repeated each season for some time to come. Ninety-eight years ago today, the Orioles won the International League flag and began a streak for the ages: seven consecutive championships that earned them fame as one of baseball’s great dynasties.
Never mind their minor-league status. Between 1919 and 1925, Baltimore won 777 games, averaging111victories a year. Many of those Orioles would later flourish in the majors, and four (Hall of Famer Lefty Grove, Max Bishop, Joe Boley and George Earnshaw) would star for the world champion Philadelphia Athletics of 1929 and 1930. Also, Jack Bentley, whom the Orioles sold to the New York Giants for a then-staggering $72,000, pitched that team to a 1924 World Series victory over Hall of Famer Walter Johnson and the Washington Senators.
The Orioles were flush with homegrown talent, including Fritz Maisel, “The Catonsville Flash,” a onetime star for the New York Yankees who, in 1914, led the American League with 74 stolen bases — more than twice that of Ty Cobb.
Howdid Baltimore reign, year after year? An independent team, it owned players outright and wasn’t subject to major league call-ups. And owner-manager Jack Dunn paid his charges well, often as much as big-leaguers, so most stuck around. The result? In 1920, the Orioles won the final 25 games of the season; a year later, they rattled off 27 victories in a row.