O’s were mi­nor-league jug­ger­naut in days of yore

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND - By Mike Klinga­man mike.klinga­man@balt­sun.com

“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.

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