Monday, July 18, 2011

Baseball: A Distant Fire That Launched the Modern Orioles

 
The 1944 Baltimore Orioles at Municipal (nee Venable) Stadium


Baltimore - It was on this date in 1944 that the Baltimore Orioles of the International League returned home to play their first homestand since a devastating fire on July 4.

The Independence Day fire destroyed Baltimore's Oriole Park that served as the team's home since 1916. Originally built for the Federal League's Baltimore Terrapins, the all-wood park went up like tinder in the pre-dawn hours of the 4th. The blaze probably began from an errant cigarette tossed at an Orioles/Syracuse Chiefs game on July 3. The O's had an employee with a firehouse regularly scan and douse the bleachers, but the odds were against him.

Baltimore Style magazine, not typically a hotbed of page-turning baseball fare, featured an excellent article on the July 4 fire. Baltimore's Sports Legends Museum has a display dedicated to the event, including some of the (very few) remains.