The idea of losing a professional team to a faraway coast – as St. Louis just did when the Rams bolted for Los Angeles – is not new to the people of that city.
In late September of 1953, St. Louis lost their baseball franchise, the Browns, to Baltimore – though the home team’s final game only drew 3,174 fans, so the sting of the loss is debatable.
The Browns adopted a new nickname and logo for their new city. They became the Baltimore Orioles, named after the Maryland state bird.
The team drew well over 1 million fans for their first season in Baltimore. Despite their dismal record, with more than 100 losses, a team was born.
So begins the creation story of the uniform history of the Orioles.
Baltimore Orioles WinCraft 12″ x 30″ Premium Pennant
1954–1962: The Lead-Off Bird
For nine seasons, this simple but life-like drawing of a bird adorns the Orioles caps.
1963: Orange “B”
For a single season in the team history, Baltimore’s cap is birdless.
1964–1965: The Chirping Bird
The bird is once again the word, returning to the Orioles’ cap.
1966–1988: The Original Cartoon Bird
Spending 23 glorious seasons on the Orioles’ cap, with various tweaks, this cartoon bird logo comes to symbolize the glory days of Baltimore baseball. They are easily the winningest team in baseball during this period, with 19 winning seasons, seven American League Championship Series appearances, six pennants, and three World Series Championships.
1989–1997: The Ornithologically Correct Bird
Heading into the ’90s, the Orioles remove the cartoon Oriole from their caps and try out another, more realistic depiction of the common migratory blackbird.
1998–2008: The Lifelike Bird
More detail is added to the face and body of the state bird.
2009–2011: The Traditional Bird
The bird logo is simplified and drawn in the traditional shades of orange, black, grey, and white.
2012–Present: The New Cartoon Bird
The smiling cartoon Oriole makes its return as the team celebrate their 20th anniversary at Camden Yards, widely regarded as a jewel of a park.
Baltimore Orioles Glitter Trail Pin
Notable Uniform Changes
- 1954: The team go traditional for their inaugural season, wearing white and grey uniforms with “Orioles” written in black.
- 1955: The text becomes orange.
- 1955–1974: Hats are black with orange brims and a logo.
- 1956: Road uniforms say “Baltimore.”
- 1958: Uniform numbers are added to the lower left abdomen.
- 1963–1964: Home uniforms are black and white with hints of orange outlining.
- 1968–1969: An alternate vest uniform is added.
- 1971: An orange alternate uniform is added for this landmark year, in which the O’s have four 20-game winners on their team.
- 1973: The text on the road uniforms returns, forever, to “Orioles.”
- 1975–1988: The cap gets a white, black, and orange brim and logo.
- 1993–1994: Black alternate uniforms are added.
- 1989–2011: Hats become fully black, with a logo.
- 2012: The away hats are entirely black, while the home hats are white in front and black in the back. Both have an orange brim and logo.
Looking Back to Look Forward
With a rich history, but a rather sparse run as of late, the Orioles currently rest with just six retired numbers, most of these coming from their glory days. Of the names on this list, only Cal Ripken Jr. spent any time toiling away on a losing squad:
No.4 – Manager Earl Weaver
No. 5 – Brooks Robinson
No. 8 – Cal Ripken Jr.
No. 20 – Frank Robinson
No. 22 – Jim Palmer
No. 33 – Eddie Murray
Cal Ripken Jr. Baltimore Orioles Majestic Cool Base Cooperstown Collection Player Jersey – Orange
On the other hand, the following two numbers are considered to be semiretired:
No. 7 – Cal Ripken Sr. – 36 years with the franchise in various capacities
No. 44 – Elrod Hendricks – 28 years as a bullpen coach and 11 seasons as a player
One number that has to be considered for the retired list is No. 35 – Mike Mussina. Leaving to join the rival New York Yankees certainly hurts his odds, but a WAR second only to Jim Palmer in franchise history helps.
Currently, the Orioles have a crop of talent, all in their prime. With any luck, the retired numbers list may be growing.
Before heading out to #BirdLand, make sure you are equipped with the latest Orioles gear from Fanatics to show off your true orange support!