Bock’s Score: O’s Woes

Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire

This will surprise no one but there are a number of baseball teams out there masquerading as Major League franchises.

The Arizona Diamondbacks, Pittsburgh Pirates and Texas Rangers all will be turning into September, the season’s final month, with 80 or more losses. That is bad baseball.

And then there are the Baltimore Orioles, burdened by the worst record in baseball. They finally ended a 19-game losing streak and, miraculously, have won two in a row.

The Orioles had a 14-game losing streak earlier in the season so this is not exactly new territory for them. The strange part of their saga is the Birds started this season with three straight victories at Boston and enjoyed the excitement of a no-hitter by John Means. The rest of their 2021 story is sad and comparable to the anguish experienced in 1889 by the Louisville Colonels who finished their season at 27-111, an astounding .196 winning percentage.

Included in that nightmare Colonels season was a 26-game losing streak which stands as the longest in baseball history and was in Baltimore’s cross-hairs. The Colonels were the first team in history to lose 100 games in a season and the first (and only) to lose five games in two days dropping, a tripleheader on Sept. 7 and a doubleheader the next day. That punishment was inflicted by – believe it or not – the original Baltimore Orioles.

The ragtag Colonels were owned by Mordecai Davidson, who delighted in fining his players for misdemeanors on the field — “stupid baserunning’’ and “a disastrous wild throw’’ were two of them. You don’t lose 26 in a row playing good baseball.

It’s not as if Louisville didn’t try to halt the agony. The Colonels went through four managers that sorry season – Dude Esterbrook, Chicken Wolf, Dan Shannon and Jack Chapman. Wolf endured most of the punishment, going 14-51 during his time in charge of the team.

Wolf also played right field for the Colonels and three years earlier had hit a memorable walk off inside the park home run against the Cincinnati Red Stockings. The ball eluded Cincinnati outfielder Abner Powell, whose pursuit of it was impeded when the commotion woke a dog who was sleeping alongside the outfield fence. The dog was annoyed enough to chase after and bite Powell, which made Wolf’s hit less important to him.

The modern Orioles haven’t had any comparable adventures but they do have another month to play. There’s no telling what could happen to them.

About the Author

Hal Bock

Hal Bock covered sports for 40 years at The Associated Press including 30 World Series, 30 Super Bowls and 11 Olympics. He is the author of 14 books including most recently The Last Chicago Cubs Dynasty and Banned Baseball's Blacklist of All-Stars and Also-Rans. He has written scores of magazine articles and served as Journalist In Residence at Long Island University's Brooklyn campus where he also served on the selection committee for the George Polk Awards.

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