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Wednesday Bird Droppings: Where Babe Ruth might be the greatest former Oriole

It is the anniversary of The Great Bambino’s professional debut.

Baltimore Orioles Photo by Diamond Images/Getty Images

Good morning, Birdland!

Today is a momentous day in baseball history. You can read more about it in the “birthdays and history” section at the bottom of this blog. But to keep it brief, this is the day that Babe Ruth played his first professional baseball game.

The Sultan of Swat. The King of Crash. The Colossus of Clout.

Babe. Ruth.

The Great Bambino!

The uniform that Ruth donned that day was not that of the Boston Red Sox, who he was famously traded away from early in his career. Nor was it the pinstripes of the New York Yankees, who he would lead to four World Series titles. Nope, on that day Ruth wore the duds of his hometown Baltimore Orioles.

Those Orioles are not the same organization that exists today, but they are at the very least the direct inspiration for the modern club. Ruth’s Orioles actually went on to become the Toledo Mud Hens of the International League, who currently serve as a Triple-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers.

Anyway, this anniversary of Ruth’s debut got me to thinking about how he fits in the pantheon of “Orioles greats.” Does Ruth count? His Oriole team was in the minors, and he only spent a few months with them before being bought by the Red Sox. But he is still technically a “former Oriole,” right?

And if he is a former Oriole, where does he rank in terms of all-time O’s? His on-field contributions for the club are close to nothing. But the man may be the most well-known baseball player of all-time, and he has a statue just outside that gates at Oriole Park for a reason. It’s not because he was a great Yankee. It’s because he is perhaps the city of Baltimore’s most famous athlete. That’s gotta be worth something, right?

I’m not saying Ruth beats out the obvious greats like Cal Ripken Jr., Brooks Robinson or Jim Palmer. But do we give him a spot in the top 100? 50? Is this just a completely stupid thing to discuss? Almost certainly.

Links & Notes

Orioles to pay all employees through May; city council members call on team to pay contracted concession workers - The Baltimore Sun
There is good news! The Orioles have confirmed that they will be taking care of the staff that they directly employ. However, to this point, that does not include the concession workers at Camden Yards, who are actually employed as contractors by Delaware North. I am nowhere near smart enough or informed enough to know the best way to go about helping those who were put out of work by the stoppage of the baseball season, but it would seem to be both the decent thing to do as well as an easy PR victory for MLB teams to step up and put together some sort of fund for these individuals and their families.

A few Orioles questions that can’t be answered - School of Roch
The “Could Chris Davis have carried his hot spring into the summer?” storyline briefly returns in this blog post. But only for a moment, thankfully. The crux of the post is simply about how this MLB season will, at best, be abbreviated, which denies us of the ability to get the most of many of the Orioles biggest names.

Diner Question: Would you consider attending Orioles games in 2020? - Baltimore Baseball
I’m currently in the camp of people that is hesitant to go just about any public place, let alone a sporting event where I would be sitting millimeters from a complete stranger. Layer in the likelihood that the O’s are going to struggle, and you can probably count me out of attending any games in 2020. I would still love to watch baseball, provided that the players and staff can be kept safe, but I wouldn’t anticipate any fans being in attendance.

Your regular Dwight Smith Jr. update:

Smith went 1-2 on Tuesday, beating Rhys Hoskins (Philadelphia Phillies) but losing to Gavin Lux (Los Angeles Dodgers) and Lucas Giolito (Chicago White Sox). He takes on Brett Phillips (Kansas City Royals), Lance McCullers Jr. (Houston Astros) and Fernando Tatis Jr. (San Diego Padres) on Wednesday at 9 p.m. He currently sits at 12-7, which puts him on the bubble to get into the eight-team playoff bracket. A strong showing on Wednesday could put him on better footing.

Orioles birthdays and history

Is it your birthday? Happy birthday!

Jimmy Key, who was the Orioles Opening Day pitcher in 1997, turns 59 today. He spent two seasons in Baltimore (‘97 & ‘98) to round out a 15-year career that saw him pitch for both the Blue Jays and Yankees before becoming an Oriole.

It’s the 63rd birthday for Dave Schmidt. The right-handed pitcher appeared in 114 games as an Oriole, including 49 starts, from 1987 through 1989. During that time he compiled a 4.39 ERA but struck out just 183 batters in 410.1 innings.

Finally, a melancholy happy birthday to the late John Orsino (b. 1938, d. 2016). He spent three of his seven big league seasons with the Orioles. Between 1963 and 1965, Orsino batted .247/.322/.424 as the Orioles catcher.

1898 - Two no hitters on the same day: Ted Breitenstein of the Reds and Jay Hughes of the Orioles.

1914 - Babe Ruth, 19, plays his first professional game. The Baltimore Orioles pitcher tosses a six-hit shutout against the Buffalo Bisons. Ruth also goes 2-for-4 at the plate.