By the Numbers: Orioles flying away with AL East ... for the time being

Greg Jayne: By the Numbers

By Greg Jayne, Columbian opinion editor

Published:

 

We better do this one quickly, before the universe rights itself.

The Baltimore Orioles went into Friday with a 20-12 record. They were tied for first in the AL East and a half-game out of the best record in the league.

Not saying that we don’t think that will last … but we don’t think that will last. So there’s no better time to provide 20 factoids about the Baltimore Orioles:

1) The Orioles began life as the Milwaukee Brewers in 1901, the inaugural season of the American League. They went 48-89 and finished last.

2) From 1902-53, they were the St. Louis Browns. They often finished last.

3) They moved to Baltimore in 1954 and became the Orioles, inheriting the name of one of the great NL teams of the 1890s and one of the great minor-league teams of the 1920s. They finished next-to-last.

4) From 1901 through 1965, the Brewers/Browns/Orioles won one American League pennant, losing the 1944 World Series to the Cardinals. In 18 seasons from 1966-83, the Orioles appeared in six World Series and won three. They haven’t been back since.

5) With an all-time record of 8,168-9,064, the Orioles have more losses than any AL franchise. A total of 21 of those came in the first 21 games of the 1988 season.

6) Since 1975, the Orioles have played John Denver’s “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” during the seventh-inning stretch. Because, you know, Baltimore is in the country. Or something.

7) Cal Ripken holds the club record for consecutive games played. We’re guessing you knew that.

8) The franchise’s first world title came in 1966 with a sweep of the Dodgers. The rest of the eight original AL teams all had won a World Series by 1935.

9) The best player in Browns history was George Sisler, who batted .420 in one season and .407 in another. In 1920, when he hit .407, Sisler batted .473 in home games.

10) The best player in Orioles history has been Ripken, who holds franchise records for games, runs, hits, total bases, doubles, homers, RBI, walks, and public adulation.

11) The Orioles of 1969-71 might have been the best team ever assembled. Led by Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer and manager Earl Weaver, they won 109, 108, and 101 games. Alas, they went 1-2 in the World Series, being upset by the Miracle Mets in 1969 and the Pirates in 1971.

12) The 1971 Orioles are one of two teams to have four 20-game winners in one season: Dave McNally (21-5), Pat Dobson (20-8), Mike Cuellar (20-9), and Jim Palmer (20-9). The 1920 White Sox also had four.

13) In December 1965, the Orioles traded Milt Pappas and two others for Frank Robinson. Robinson won the Triple Crown in 1966 and led Baltimore to the pennant.

14) In 1916, Del Pratt drove in a league-leading 103 runs for a team that had 499 RBI — 20.6 percent of the team’s total. By comparison, when Hack Wilson had a record 191 RBI in 1930, that was 20.3 percent of the Cubs’ total.

15) Vancouver’s Randy Myers holds the club record with 45 saves in 1997.

16) In 1951, Bob Nieman hit home runs in his first two major-league at-bats. He was the only player to do that until 2000, when Keith McDonald joined him.

17) Also in 1951, the Browns sent to the plate Eddie Gaedel — all 3-foot-7 of him. The publicity stunt made Gaedel the only midget in major-league history. He walked.

18) Five Hall-of-Fame players are primarily identified with the Orioles: Jim Palmer, Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken, Brooks Robinson, and Frank Robinson. The Browns had three Hall of Famers: George Sisler, Bobby Wallace, and Rick Ferrell.

19) Brooks Robinson won 16 Gold Glove awards at third base, the most of any player other than pitchers.

20) All-time Browns/Orioles lineup:

C — Chris Hoiles

1B — Eddie Murray

2B — Bobby Grich

3B — Brooks Robinson

SS — Cal Ripken

LF — Ken Williams

CF — Paul Blair

RF — Frank Robinson

SP — Jim Palmer

SP — Mike Mussina

SP — Urban Shocker

SP — Jack Powell

SP — Dave McNally

RP — Hoyt Wilhelm

RP — Gregg Olson

RP — Stu Miller

Mgr — Earl Weaver

Questions or comments for By the Numbers? You can reach Greg Jayne, Sports editor of The Columbian, at 360-735-4531, or by e-mail at Greg.Jayne@columbian.com. To read his blog, go to columbian.com/weblogs/GregJayne