The Orioles are celebrating the diamond anniversary of their arrival in Baltimore, an occasion the team is marking with a special 60th anniversary website and promotional days at the ballpark in August. If it were up to me, the season-long celebration would have started on Monday with an opening day parade, a nod to the celebratory atmosphere that pervaded Baltimore on April 15, 1954.
I enjoy learning about Orioles history, and the story of the 1954 parade is one of my favorites that I’ve written about since I started Roar from 34 in 2006. The O’s 60th anniversary season provides me - and, by extension, my readers - a chance to learn more about that inaugural season and the return of baseball to Baltimore.
I started my look-back with a February post about the O’s becoming Cactus Cup Champions during spring training in 1954. Now, it’s on to the start of the season.
The ‘54 parade was fit for a returning champion when in reality it recognized the relocation of a baseball team that finished 54-100 in St. Louis the season prior. An estimated 350,000 fans lined the streets of Baltimore that April day.
You can see a photo of Orioles fans spilling into the streets during the parade via The Dark Room. Dean Krimmel also sent me a photo of the team arriving at Camden Station from Detroit through Twitter earlier this week.
Mike Klingaman noted in a 2004 newspaper article that the crowd of 350,000 fans along the parade route was larger than the combined attendance of all St. Louis Browns’ home games in 1953. Baseball Reference confirms that fact, listing the Browns’ total attendance in 1953 at 297,238.
Here’s an excerpt from Klingaman’s article, which is worth a full read:
“People lined Charles, Madison and Howard streets, and hung from trees and fire escapes in a cold drizzle to watch their team, a caravan of .250 hitters and journeyman pitchers. Perched atop the back seats of cream-colored convertibles, players lobbed plastic baseballs - 20,000 of them - to the slew of school kids given the day off. ...
“Baltimore’s revelry went national: NBC-TV carried festivities live on the Today show with Dave Garroway. The New York Times likened the procession, 90 minutes long, to ‘the Florentine Army clanking triumphantly home after the second sack of Pisa.’ ...
“What last-place club rates a salute of 22 bands and 33 floats? Army bugles, Scottish bagpipes and German oom-pahs led the Orioles downtown.”
I love the Orioles, and I love a good parade. (Any other Catonsville Fourth of July parade fans out there?) I’d be just fine if the Orioles held an annual opening day parade like Cincinnati’s, which featured its 95th installment on Monday.
If it were ever going to happen in Baltimore, this would have been the year to do it. For old time’s sake.
Matthew Taylor blogs about the Orioles at Roar from 34. Follow him on Twitter: @RoarFrom34. His ruminations about the Birds appear as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our site. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.