Sunday, October 10, 2010

#16 - Baltimore Orioles (BAL)

This is the Oriole team (mostly) of lore during my youth.  The pitching staff was simply amazing year to year.  Jim Palmer, Mike Cuellar, Dave McNally.  I'm sure that during my youth, baseball cards had a greater influence on forming an image of players as to their greatness than great players had in forming an image of their baseball card.  I played with, shuffled, organized, re-organized and everything else with my cards so often that they became part of me.  Kids are so impressionable.  Hey, Boog Powell, Bobby Grich, Mark Belanger, Brooks Robinson, Andy Etchebarren.  All those outfielders couldn't have shared three spots, could they?  These names are etched in my memory forever.  My eyes immediately run to Mark Belanger and Paul Blair at the end positions of the back row.  Simply glancing at their form gives me a glimpse of great baseball from the 70's.  This particular team won the AL East in 1974, as they did in '73, with losses to the A's in the ALCS.  No doubt revenge for 1971.

Yes, the O's used to be the St. Louis Browns before they moved to Baltimore in 1954.  And they originally started out as the Milwaukee Brewers at the formation of the American League in 1901 before moving to St. Louis in 1902.  And the Baltimore Orioles team that was part of that original league moved to New York in 1903 and became the NY Highlanders before changing their name to the Yankees in the teens.  It's odd to see the Brownies' names on the back holding all-time team records.  Some of the all time greats. 

Cartoon:  Team photo's don't have cartoons on the reverse in this set.  But if they did, I'm sure they could come up with some odd piece of trivia or ten on Earl Weaver.

Ballpark background:  With their home uniforms on and everybody assembled in one place, I'd guess that this was taken at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore. The shape and deck layout, along with the pronounced upper deck tunnels all look like Memorial Stadium.  A lot of great Oriole baseball was played there from 1954 to 1991.  The team won the four pennants shown on the back of the card, plus 1979 and 1983 in their old yard.  If you look closely at this picture, you can see Stabler to Casper in double overtime for a touchdown in another great Raiders playoff victory.  This is the first Oriole card in the set, and I'm guessing that there aren't too many photos taken at this venue.  I never got to see Memorial Stadium, and I regret it.

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