Turley's '54 home opener as artful as his Fla. home


They haven't worn Orioles uniforms for years. But what are they doing today? Get updated on the lives of former stars of Baltimore baseball. Today: the man who pitched the Orioles' first home opener, Bob Turley.

To look at his Marco Island, Fla., home with the marble columns and the ersatz Michelangelo ceiling paintings, one might take Bob Turley for a 1994 major-league pitcher, a seven-figure-salary man with a vicious slider and an equally effective agent. One never would know that the year he entered Orioles history he made $9,000.

That was 1954, when Turley was 23 and major-league baseball did not pay as well as, say, selling life insurance and securities on a national scale. Turley, who pitched the Orioles to a 3-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox at Memorial Stadium in their first home opener, has found that life after baseball also offers rewards.

The investment marketing company he owns, Primerica Financial Services, is one of the largest, if not the largest, of its kind in the country, dealing in life insurance, mutual funds, stocks and debt consolidations. Turley presides over 20,000 employees across the country, including about 100 offices in Maryland.

The company sells about $15 billion in life insurance a year, says Turley, who flies around the country in a seven-passenger corporate jet. He lives in an Italian villa made of stone imported from California. He couldn't afford the original Michelangelo paintings, but he did hire an artist to grace one ceiling with images from the Sistine Chapel.

Turley says he prepared himself for his life in business while he was still in baseball. He had to, he says. In his day, one could not save for retirement on baseball wages.

Turley retired as a pitcher in 1963 after having compiled a 101-85 record and an ERA of 3.64. Control often was a problem for Turley, who walked 1,068 and struck out 1,265. In his eight years with the New York Yankees, Turley pitched in five World Series, going 4-3.

Orioles manager Jimmy Dykes gave Turley the assignment to pitch the home opener, April 15. Described in the newspaper report as a "burly, fireballing right-hander with the heart of a lion," Turley pitched out of trouble several times with the help of nine strikeouts for a complete-game victory.

Turley remembers the chilly weather that day, the rain that canceled batting practice, the home runs by his teammates Vern Stephens and Clint Courtney, even the leadoff single he gave up to Chico Carrasquel.

He mentions all this off the top of his head, as if not so much time has passed, as if he has not really come so far since the first hungry years in the big leagues.

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad