Baltimore Orioles: How the team got its name and ended up in Birdland
In the world of sports, some team names make perfectly good sense and the Baltimore Orioles are one of those teams.
The Baltimore Orioles are named for the state bird of Maryland, which just happens to be the Baltimore Oriole (not just an Oriole).
Interestingly, though, the Baltimore Orioles as we know them today, were originally the St. Louis Browns. Prior to becoming the Browns, the team was located in Milwaukee as the Brewers in the earliest days of the organized game.
Where the current MLB team originate
According to the timeline on SportsEcyclopedia, the St. Louis Browns became a team in 1902, when the Milwaukee Brewers moved to the southern state. Prior to 1902, the Brewers played in several early leagues before they joined the American League in 1901. Even though the Brewers are on record for one season in the official American League, they were playing as an organized team in 1894 in what was called the Western League.
When the Brewers became the Browns, they earned the name based on the color of their socks. The team was originally called the Brown Stockings, but Browns is the name that stuck. The team was the AL competition for the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL. For 52 years, the Browns lost over and over again, despite having strong players and well-known managers. Branch Rickey managed the team for two years and 24 other men also tried to get the team under control. Dizzy Dean, Goose Goslin, Satchel Paige and many other Hall-of-Famers roamed the grass at Sportsman’s Park. The team won one pennant in 1944. According to Baseball Reference, the Browns only had 11 winning seasons.
The move from St. Louis to Baltimore
Eventually, the team was moved to Baltimore after Bill Veeck failed at getting the Cardinals to leave St. Louis when the Busch family bought the team. He attempted a move back to Milwaukee, but that didn’t work. He was not able to move the team, so he sold it to Clarence Miles, who did receive permission to move the team to Baltimore in 1954, where they have been since.
Babe Ruth played here first
However, the current Orioles were not the first Orioles to find a home in Baltimore. Baseball fans know that Babe Ruth was from Baltimore and that he played for an early Orioles team. But, that still wasn’t the first time the Orioles were a team in Baltimore.
There was an Orioles team in the 1880s that was a part of the American Association, but after too many losses, the team was kicked out of the AA. It then joined the National League in the early 1890s. This NL team also lost a significant number of games and was eventually moved to New York to provide balance between the NL and AL. After being renamed the New York Highlanders, the team was eventually renamed the Yankees and the name has stuck.
More from Orioles History
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- Former Orioles Players on Playoff Teams this October
- On This Day: 2012 Ragtag Orioles Win Wild Card Game
- The April Orioles Seem Like a Completely Different Team
So, yes, the original Baltimore Orioles team became the Yankees.
The new Orioles in town
Another Orioles team sprouted up in its place and soon joined the International League. This is the team that Ruth played in during his time in Baltimore. Ruth stopped playing for them when the Red Sox picked him up in 1914.
Even without Ruth, the minor league Oriole won several championships in the early 1920s. Sadly, they lost their home in a fire in 1944. Ten years later, the stadium was rebuilt and became the home to the new Orioles in 1954. But, the International League team was long gone by that time.
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The traditional name was given to the team seven years after Maryland made the Oriole the official state bird. It was only fitting that ten years after the popular team lost its stadium that a new Orioles was able to take its place. When you really think about it, there is no other name that would have been appropriate for a baseball team in Baltimore.