Bob Turley, a hard-throwing right-hander who won the Orioles’ first home game, died of liver cancer early Saturday morning, according to his son Terry Turley. He was 82.
Turley pitched one season for the Orioles in 1954, their first in Baltimore, and he started the first big league game at Memorial Stadium. He was traded to the New York Yankees, with whom he won the Cy Young Award in 1958.
The April 15, 1954 opener at Memorial Stadium was a 3-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox played in front of 46,354 fans. A News-Post editorial called it “the most thrilling day in Baltimore history since the bombardment of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812.” Turley pitched all nine innings, striking out nine.
Teammate Billy Hunter recalled arriving at Camden Station that day and the players getting changed into their uniforms on board the train before heading in a procession to Memorial Stadium.
“He was an outstanding pitcher,” said Hunter, who was traded to New York in the same deal as Turley. “Nobody meseaured how hard anybody threw then, but he threw pretty hard.”
Turley, who became known as “Bullet Bob”, was sent to the Yankees as part of a package that also included Don Larsen and brought slugging catcher Gus Triandos to Baltimore. The deal involved 17 players and remains the biggest trade in the sport’s history. Triandos died Thursday.
The rest of the 1954 season did not go so well for the Orioles, and Turley told The Baltimore Sun in 2004 that he got the good end of the deal.
“I'd have crawled to New York,” he said. “What did I learn from that '54 season? That I never wanted to be on a loser for the rest of my life.”
Despite playing for the Yankees, Turley continued to live in Lutherville and sent his children to local schools. He lived just down the road from Hunter on Seminary Avenue and told The Sun in 2010 that he had fond memories of his season with Orioles.
“The fans were friendly in every sense of the word,” he said. “When my first son was born that season, people gave us a crib and free diapers. They treated us royally.”
Turley later opened a bowling center in Bel Air and an insurance firm on York Road, where he partnered with Triandos.
After retiring from baseball, Turley went on to work with financial firm Primerica and lived in Alpharetta, Ga. In 2004, Turley came back to Baltimore and threw out the first pitch with four other members of the 1954 team to celebrate the Orioles’ half-century in town.
In addition to his son Terry, Turley is survived by another son, Don Turley, daughter Rowena Turley, numerous grandchildren and his wife Janet Turley.
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