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Thirty years ago, Orioles manager Frank Robinson received call from Ronald Reagan amid 0-21 start

So the Orioles are 6-17? Big deal. They’ve had starts just as bad — and worse.

The 1999 Orioles, a team littered with All-Stars (Brady Anderson, Mike Mussina, Cal Ripken Jr.) also won six of their first 23 games. But they played better than .500 baseball after that to finish a less dismal 78-84, in fourth place in the American League East.

And Adam Jones surely remembers 2010, his third season in Baltimore, when during the Orioles’ 5-18 start, he muffed a fly ball while blowing a bubble with a mouthful of gum. That team floundered until August, when Buck Showalter arrived as manager to go 34-23 thereon.

But the nadir of Orioles starts came in 1988. Thirty years ago, they lost 21 straight, an AL record, before a 9-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park in their 22nd game.

"We knew we'd win sometime, but we didn't think it would take 22 games," manager Frank Robinson said then. He’d replaced Cal Ripken Sr. after six games, to no avail.

The world took note in sympathy. That season, on April 25, with the Orioles’ loss skein at 18, President Ronald Reagan telephoned Robinson from the White House to wish him luck.

“He [Reagan] told me, ‘I’ve been accused of being a jinx by coming on Opening Day, but you can’t blame me for this one,’ ” Robinson said then. “I talked to him for about five minutes. … He told me to win one for the Gipper.”

“Baseball Tonight” analyst Tim Kurkjian, then a reporter for The Baltimore Sun, also recalled the interaction.

mike.klingaman@baltsun.com

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