As the 2013 major league baseball season has drawn to a close with Baltimore’s bitter division rival Boston clinching the World Series (ouch), let’s look back at some other baseball memories for Baltimore. The Lord Baltimore Hotel hosted the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues’ 48th annual convention in 1949. There’s a nice graphic on the front page of the Sporting News (1949 Sporting News front page), in which Edgar G. Brands wrote:
“Four issues – the bonus, salary limits, the draft and realignment of leagues – being considered by the National Association in its forty-eighth annual convention here, December 7-8-9, are as old as the minors’ organization. They have furnished the fuel for many battles and apparently are no nearer solution than they were when the minors emerged from their swaddling clothes to become a power in Organized Ball.
The bonus rule was adopted by the majors and minors beginning with the 1947 season, in an attempt to curb practices that were charged with defeating salary limits and encouraging cheating by club owners, after charges had previously been made by the late W.G. Bramham, then president of the National Association, that hundreds of thousands of dollars were paid players which did not appear on contracts.”
The issues may have been vexing and not new, but the popularity of baseball was soaring in the U.S. at the time:
“In the boom years after World War II, Minor League baseball spread to cities, towns and villages across the country. At the peak, there were 59 leagues with nearly 450 teams in operation. The all-time regular season attendance record of 39.7-million was set in 1949.”
The Sporting News detailed the breakdown of leagues at the time:
“Fifty-nine leagues, one more than last year, and the greatest number in history, hold voting privileges in this year’s National Association convention. Four classifications retain the same number – AAA’s, three; AA’s, two; A’s, four, and D’s 25. There are two more B’s, 11, as a result of the Carolina and Florida International moving up from Class C, and one less C, 14, because of the loss of the two loops and the addition of only one, the Evangeline advancing from D.”
Thirty years later, the major league Baltimore Orioles would lose the World Series to the Pittsburgh Pirates in seven games. But before the 1979 championship games began, the Orioles hosted a party at the Lord Baltimore Hotel. Larry Olmstead wrote for the Evening Sun:
“In Baltimore, they always treat you first class,” said George “Sparky” Anderson, manager of the Detroit Tigers.
The silver-haired skipper, who has seen a few World Series as the former manager of the Cincinnati Reds, was preparing to down a lavish banquet meal served last night in a big pre-series bash at the Lord Baltimore Hotel.
“Baltimore is known for its great food,” he continued, after passing the raw bar where a team of chefs was carving up oysters. “Baltimore and Cincinnati are the best.”
Mr. Anderson was one of at least 900 persons who attended last night’s affair. There were big league executives, Orioles from office personnel, scouts, former players and a whole lot of reporters.
Chuck Tanner, manager of the National League Champion Pittsburgh Pirates, had a broad grin on his face after finishing what he said were a dozen of Maryland’s best crabcakes.
The food spread, he said, was “as fine as any.” As for the hospitality of Baltimore, only superlatives left his lips.
“Tremendous. Outstanding,” he said, adding that he hoped the Orioles carried the hospitality onto the paying field tonight.”
The Orioles were actually inhospitable that night and beat the Pirates, and Baltimore was up in the series three games to one before losing the last three games and the Series. However, the Orioles would win their third-ever World Series title only four years later, in 1983, against another Pennsylvania team, the Philadelphia Phillies.