The Baltimore Orioles have had experience playing through a pandemic. One hundred years ago, they had to deal with the Spanish Flu.
The Spanish Flu took the lives of millions in the United States between 1918 and 1920. During this time, cities did what they could to protect residents. The residents of Baltimore were not immune to the horrible disease, but the 1920 Baltimore Orioles team gave the residents something to enjoy.
During the Spanish Flu pandemic, the MLB team we know today as the Orioles was playing in St. Louis as the Browns. The Baltimore Orioles of 1918-1920 was affiliated with the AA International League, and featured a few Major League players. The team that closed out the pandemic was one for the record books.
Bentley started his MLB career with the Washington Senators in 1913 where he pitched for them for four years. He left the MLB in 1917 for a stint in AA, then played for the Baltimore Orioles between 1919 through 1922. He returned to the MLB and played for New York Giants and the Philadelphia Phillies.
Left-handed Bentley finished his MLB career with an ERA of 4.01. But, when he pitched for the Orioles in 1920, during the pandemic, he had an ERA of 2.91.
Lefty Grove was born in Maryland in 1900 and went on to be one of the best pitchers in the history of the game. He is in the Hall of Fame, has nine ERA titles, and two World Series rings.
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During the Spanish Flu pandemic, Grove pitched for the Orioles in 1920. He stayed with the team through 1924. But, in 1920 with Bentley and Grove on the mound, the team won the International League pennant. Their record was 110-43 with 25 consecutive wins at the end of the season.
During the 1920 season, Bentley pitched a 2.10 ERA in 22 games. Grove had an ERA of 3.80 in 19 games. Bentley also batted in 145 games hitting .371/.569/.941. with 20 home runs. Grove didn’t bat often, and when he did, he rarely got to first.
When Bentley wasn’t on the mound, he manned first base. Baseball is a team game, but individual stats are what make it remarkable.
Grove went on to play for the Philadelphia Athletics and Boston Red Sox. He played for 17 years and had a career ERA of 3.06.
Other players from the 1920 Orioles team played in the MLB include Max Bishop, Fritz Maisel, Ben Egan, Lena Styles, Merwin Jacobson, Otis Lawry, Bill Holden, Joe Boley, Jim Sullivan, Rube Parnham, and Doc Newton.