PHOTOS


CAPTURED MEMORIES FROM MY BASEBALL DAYS 

These are some photos from my book A SENSE OF BEING CALLED, which tells the story of my pilgrimage of faith from baseball into the ministry. These are from my baseball years.  

The 1948 Portsmouth Athletics finished second in the pennant race and led the Ohio-Indiana League in attendance. 
      
Lying at the confluence of the Ohio and Sciota rivers, Portsmouth, Ohio, is prone to flooding, and we had one in March , 1948. All of us in our training camp, including scouts, managers, and many players, joined the local citizens in their valiant but unsuccessful effort to prevent what was for most of us our first experience of flooding. Margie and I were impressed by the equalizing effect this common disaster has upon the residents of this historic river city.   



Our disappointment at being nosed out of the league championship was somewhat mollified by the fact that we led the Ohio-Indiana League in attendance, as the local fans poured out in great numbers tin support of their new professional franchise.
Attending the ball games became the thing to do in Portsmouth! It helped that we had plenty of free parking.

July 25, 1949 - It's Connie Mack Day in Portsmouth. Art Ehlers, Farm Director of the Philadelphia Athletics; George Trautman, Commissioner of Minor League Baseball (sixty leagues); Connie Mack, President and Manager of the A's; Frank Colley, President of the Ohio-Indiana League; and I were honored guests at a luncheon hosted by the mayor of Portsmouth. It was followed by an exciting parade down the main street of Portsmouth, as the city turned out to cheer "the Grand Old Man of Baseball."

The pennant-winning 1949 Portsmouth Athletics with the Grand Old Man of Baseball on Connie Mack Night at the Riverside Park.

Eleven members of the Portsmouth team were hospitalized, two with broken backs, following a bus accident in the middle of the 1949 season.  Despite the accident, the Portsmouth A’s, with help from other Philadelphia Athletics farm clubs, went on to win the Ohio-Indiana League pennant.


Cover of the 1950 Athletics Yearbook commemorating Connie Mack’s 50th year as Manager of the A’s. The excitement of the early season celebrations was offset by the A’s disappointing performance on the field, even as the pennant-winning Phillies, forever remembered as the Whiz Kids, were capturing the imagination of Philadelphia baseball fans. 





March, 1950. This is the way Mr. Mack usually dressed! He was a fashion plate on or off the field. We=re standing in front of the A=s dugout during a workout at Connie Mack Field in West Palm Beach.


Early one morning in West Palm Beach Mr. Mack agreed to don a uniform for the first time in fifty years and pose for our club photographer. I put out a press release under the heading AA=s Sign New Rookie.@ The wire services jumped on the story and it must have appeared in every newspaper in North America.

The boys in the Shibe Park press box. It was male turf in those days

This is old Oriole Park on 29th Street, home of the International League Orioles until it was destroyed by fire on July 4, 1944. I remember the date well, because I was home on leave from the Navy and pitched batting practice for the Orioles that night. The Orioles outdrew ten of the Major League teams that year, a feat that paved the way for Baltimore eventually to become a Major League franchise.

Following the destruction by fire of old Oriole Park on 29th Street (July 4, 1944), Orioles Business Manager Herb Armstrong (my Dad) achieved the miraculous feat of planning and supervising the conversion of  Baltimore Municipal Stadium into a baseball park in the space of ten days! Despite the tragic disruption, the Orioles went on to win the International League pennant and the Junior World Series,  breaking all Minor League attendance records, and  outdrawing ten of the Major League clubs. That achievement opened the eyes of the Major League owners and paved the way for Baltimore’s eventual return to the Majors. For his accomplishments Herb was named the International League’s front office Executive of Year by the Sporting News. He retired from the M. L. Orioles at the age of eighty, but continued to be active for another ten years in many sports related organizations and activities, and as a consultant to the Orioles. He was a founding member and President of the Shrine of Immortals, President of the Maryland Sports Hall of Fame, President of the Maryland Scholastic Association, one of the founders of the Greater Baltimore Chapter of the National Football Foundation, founder and long-time secretary of the Maryland Professional Baseball Players Association, and active in the leadership of many other civic and social organizations. Over his long span of service he was the recipient of more awards, tributes, and recognitions than probably any other person in the State of Maryland before or since. In high demand as a speaker, he was invariably introduced as “Maryland’s most beloved and highly respected sports figure.” The Sports Medicine Department of Baltimore’s Union Memorial Hospital was dedicated to his memory, and two significant awards are given each year in honor: the Herbert E. Armstrong Award for outstanding service to high school or college football, given by the Great Baltimore Chapter of the National Football Foundation; and the Herbert Armstrong Award for outstanding service to baseball, given to a non-uniformed person by the Baltimore Orioles Advocates


Baltimore Stadium, October 10, 1944. On this night, playing under the lights of the reconfigured football stadium, the International League Championship Orioles defeated the American Association pennant winners, the Louisville Colonels, 10 to 0, before 52,833 fans, the largest crowd in Minor League history and the largest ever to see a baseball game in Maryland before or since. The Orioles won the 1944 Junior World Series 4 games to 2 and outdrew ten of the Major League clubs that year.


My boyhood friend and Princeton teammate Jack Dunn III, owner and President of the International League Orioles. He sold the franchise to the new owners of the American League Orioles. The renowned Dunn dynasty did not completely end with the sale, however. In addition to a substantial cash payment, Jack received shares in the new A. L. franchise and was given a position in the front office. He served successively as the Traveling Secretary, Assistant General Manager, Public Relations Director, and finally as Vice President for Business Affairs, until his untimely death in 1987. An excellent speaker, Jack was a familiar figure on the banquet circuit.



A page from the 1955 Oriole Yearbook. The opening day parade was an auspicious
 introduction to a miserable season for the Orioles.
                                                                                                                                                


        

Island park, Daytona Beach, Florida, where the Orioles trained
in 1955. They were in Yuma, Arizona, the year before.
May 16, 1954. Memorial Stadium was packed for the Sunday afternoon doubleheader between the Orioles and the Yankees. Don Larsen went the distance for the Birds in the second game to garner his first win of the season, holding the Yankees to three hits in a well-pitched 6-2 victory. Maybe the New York powers-that-be recalled that victory when they later acquired Larsen in a 17-player off-season trade. Win or lose, the Baltimore fans were excited to be watching Major League baseball in their new stadium.




On the exterior wall of Memorial Stadium behind home plate was huge dedicatory inscription to the veterans of World wars I and II. A small replica of the wall has been erected outside Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Aerial view of Memorial Stadium. Baltimore City College, the third oldest boys’ public high school in the US, is in the upper left corner, and Eastern High School for girls is in the center just above the stadium. The Orioles moved to their new home at Camden Yards in 1992, and Memorial Stadium eventually became the second of my former baseball work places to be demolished, Connie Mack Stadium having been razed in 1976.

Philadelphia Athletics President Connie Mack, on his team’s first visit to Memorial Stadium, is flanked by Orioles Vice President Jim Keelty (L) and Arthur Ehlers (R), in an unfinished visitors’ box in the still-under-construction stadium. This was Mr. Mack's first ---and last--- visit to the Stadium! Art Ehlers came to the Orioles from the Philadelphia Athletics, where as Farm Director he signed me to a Minor League contract, after I graduated from Princeton. The A's were just starting to build a farm system, and I was thrilled when at the end of the season he offered me the job of Business Manager of the Portsmouth Athletics. He later recommended me to become the Philadelphia Athletics' first Public Relations Director.  We worked closely together when he became General Manager of the A's, and it was he who persuaded me to come to Baltimore to set up the Orioles' Public Relations Department.

                                       
Broadcaster Ernie Harwell emcees on Joe Coleman Day, as Orioles President Clarence Miles
 presents a check to the veteran Baltimore hurler. 
I engaged my friend Johnny Myers to be the first “Mr. Oriole,” because as I jokingly put it, his legs were perfect for the part. The huge bird was an instant hit with the fans, who were absolutely amazed and would cheer with delight when Mr. Oriole would suddenly produce a trumpet from beneath his feathered wings and play some terrific jazz! Mr. Oriole was the first Major League performing mascot. The next one to appear was Mr. Met, who made his debut ten years later!



Orioles Manager Jimmy Dykes and White Sox Manager Paul Richards with Umpire Eddie Rommel prior to a game in 1954. Little did either manager know then that Richards would replace Dykes before the end of the season. The tall Texan would also replace Arthur Ehlers as General Manager of the fledgling Orioles.


Newly appointed Orioles General Manager Paul Richards holds his first press conference. He always gave the reporters much to write about. On November 17, 1954, we announced the first part of the largest trade in Major League history. The Orioles and the Yankees swapped what was originally to be a total of 18 players, until one was withdrawn. The Orioles sent Pitchers Don Larsen and Bob Turley and shortstop Billy Hunter to the Yankees in exchange for outfielder Gene Woodling, pitchers Harry Byrd and Jim McDonald, catcher Hal Smith, first baseman (later a catcher) Gus Triandos, and shortstop Willy Miranda. The rest of the deal was announced on December 2, and resulted in the Yankees' receiving four more players (Jim Fridley, Darrell Johnson, Mike Blyzka, and Dick Kryhoski), and the O's also getting four (Don Leppert, Bill Miller, Kal Segrist, and Ted Guercio).

Willie Miranda, the Orioles' popular shortstop, who came to Baltimore in the big trade with the
Yankees, was our son Ricky’s favorite player. 



Mickey Mantle
Yogi Berra









September 16, 1955, “Dick Armstrong Night” at  Memorial Stadium. Never did I dream anything like this 
would ever happen to me! 



July, 1923. Baseball=s first commissioner, Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis, on his first trip to the East Coast, congratulates Cambridge Manager Herb Armstrong on their first place standing in the Eastern Shore League, a proving ground for numerous major league stars. Cambridge that day was playing an All Star team composed of players from the other teams in the league.





1 comment:

  1. These pictures are fantastic! I have many great memories of attending games at Memorial stadium with my dad. Thanks again for posting these

    ReplyDelete