1901: Ban Johnson had seen what happened in 1899, and decided to take advantage. Johnson was president of the Western League, a minor league in the Central region of the country. Johnson decided it was time for a step up and decided to add teams in a few of the cities victimized by the National League’s actions, including Baltimore, a highly successful team that won three pennants. With the new teams in the National League disposed of cities of Washington, Cleveland, and Baltimore, Johnson encouraged the teams to raid NL rosters, and the American League was born. The new Orioles were led by 1890’s hero john McGraw and would finish fourth with a respectable 68-65 record. Before the season manager, John McGraw tries to bring Charlie Grant a black pitcher into the league by claiming he is a Cherokee Indian named Chief Tokohama. However, McGraw’s plan fails when Chicago White Sox owner Charles Comiskey learns that Grant is a member of the Columbia Giants, a Black team that plays in Chicago
1902: On April 29th, Player-Manager John McGraw was plunked five times by Boston hurler Bill Dineen. Home plate umpire Jack Sheridan didn’t think Mr. McGraw was making a game attempt to avoid the pitches, because the Bird’s skipper was never awarded first base. After he was plunked for the fifth time, McGraw sat down in the batter’s box and refused to get off the field. Because of McGraw’s “sit-down” protest, American League President Ban Johnson suspended McGraw for five games. Old Oriole Park was the site of the next imbroglio when McGraw and Joe Kelley of the Orioles got into a heated discussion with umpires Tom Connolly and Jimmy Johnstone. The Orioles manager was ejected, and Kelley let his feelings be crystal clear. The Birds forfeited the game, and both Kelley and McGraw were suspended indefinitely. “Little Napoleon’s” days in Baltimore and the American League were now numbered. By early July, John McGraw was the manager of the New York Giants, and shortly thereafter, several of the Orioles stars would join him. The Orioles were left in a shambles, finishing in last place with a 50-88 record. American League President Ban Johnson picked up the scraps and took over the operation of the Birds for the rest of the season. It would be these incidents that would lead in part to there being no World Series in 1904.
1903-1953: In January AL President Ban Johnson, NL President Henry Pullman, and the owners of the two feuding leagues met for a peace summit. At this meeting in January, the two leagues formed a co-existence, with AL agreeing to a few of the NL’s rules, including the reserve clause, and the “Gentlemen’s Agreement.” They also agreed on a post-season series for one champion, and that the AL would stay with the same eight teams, and be on level par with NL. However, Johnson agreed only when he was allowed to move one team to New York to make the league competitive, and had a presence in the Biggest City. Unfortunately, for Baltimore, the team that was chosen to move north was the Orioles. This would leave Baltimore without a Major League team for 52 years. Baltimore would have to wait its turn to be Major League again, but the Orioles would establish themselves as one of the top Minor League franchises in the International Leagues. In 1914 the Orioles signed a resident from a local boarding school. His name was George Herman Ruth, better known as Babe to his teammates. The Babe was so impressive that the Red Sox signed him midway through that first year, and the rest was history. Eventually, the Majors would return in 1954 with another team called the Orioles.
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Page created on June 4, 2001. Last updated on March 13, 2016 at 1:25 am ET.