Oriole baseball history includes loss to Westminster in 1885 [Column]

Roses are red, violets are blue. I hate snow ... and you should too.

For those with a bad case of chionophobia — a fear of snow — no worries, spring is near. We know this because last Monday was Opening Day for the Baltimore Orioles.

After yet another unexpected Maryland snowstorm, the weather gave way to warmer temperatures and blue skies on March 31.

According to The Baltimore Sun, "a sellout crowd of 46,685 filled the ballpark" to see the Orioles defeat the defending world champion Boston Red Sox, 2-1.

Baseball has a long history in Baltimore. The current Baltimore Orioles franchise began playing baseball in 1954 in the old Memorial Stadium on 33rd Street, after it was announced on Sept. 28, 1953, that the St. Louis Browns were moving to Baltimore.

The first game took place April 15, 1954, when the Orioles beat the Chicago White Sox, 3-1.

There were actually at least two sports stadiums in Northeast Baltimore at 33rd Street and Ellerslie Avenue in what was once a city park by the name of Venable Park.

The first, Baltimore Municipal Stadium, began operations Dec. 2, 1922. It was replaced by a newer facility, Memorial Stadium, which opened April 20, 1950.

Although there are conflicting historical accounts, many versions of the history of baseball in Baltimore report the first mention of the game taking place in town in 1882.

The home team was fielded by Harry Vonderhorst in the American Association baseball league, which operated from 1882 to 1891.

Over the years, there have been a number of baseball teams in Baltimore by the name of the Orioles. Those teams played in various leagues, such as the International League during World War II.

In 1894, the Baltimore Orioles were members of the National League. That league traces its roots back to Feb. 2, 1876, when it replaced the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players."

After winning the league championship in 1894, the Orioles moved to New York in 1903 and eventually became the Yankees.

Hopefully, under the leadership of Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who took over the Birds on July 29, 2010, the Orioles will fare better than the 1885 squad that was bested by a team from Westminster.

Historian Jay Graybeal researched the event for the Historical Society of Carroll County several years ago and wrote, "One of the great stories from the County's sports history is the June 1885 baseball game between the Westminster Base Ball Club and the Baltimore Orioles. …"

Graybeal quoted an old newspaper article which noted, "The Westminster Base Ball Club on Monday last, the 22d, won the most remarkable victory in their history, defeating (the) Baltimore team by a score of 9 to 7."

On that same date in 1962, Boog Powell became the first player to hit a ball over the hedge in center field at Memorial Stadium, according to a book of Orioles history by Ted Patterson.

Go Orioles.

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