Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Vintage Fridays: Duane Pillette, 1954 Topps #107

Today's card is all about beginnings and firsts. It's the first 1954 Topps card in my collection. 1954 Topps was the first modern Major League Baseball card set (along with 1954 Bowman) to feature the Baltimore Orioles. The team had just moved east from St. Louis, bringing Charm City back into the American League for the first time since 1903, when the city's charter A.L. franchise was moved to New York. That's right, the Yankees were once the Orioles. Ugh. Anyway, the St. Louis club was the first pro sports team named the Browns to relocate to Baltimore from Middle America, but they wouldn't be the last.

At the time this card was designed, pitcher Duane "Dee" Pillette had yet to suit up for the O's - no one had. Topps was able to get a hold of the team's official logo, which is reminiscent of Heckle and Jeckle. But they had to do the best they could in approximating the new team's uniforms. For the headshot, Duane's cap has been colored in black with a reasonable facsimile of the scratchy-looking "realistic bird" that the club would wear in some capacity through the 1965 season. For the inset action pose, they decided that discretion was the better part of valor and just airbrushed out the Browns insignia on Duane's jersey and cap.

Pillette himself was involved in a couple significant "firsts" in baseball history. His father Herman, who won nineteen games for the Tigers the year Duane was born (1922), lost nineteen the following year to "lead" the American League. When Pillette the younger racked up fourteen defeats as a Brownie in 1951, he and his Pop became the first (and so far, only) father-son duo to lead their league in this dubious category. In brighter news, "Dee" was the first pitcher to win a game for the new Orioles, topping the host Tigers 3-2 in the Birds' second-ever game on Wednesday, April 14, 1954. Not a bad start, and certainly not a bad finish: the righty would wrap up the season as the Birds' first team leader in earned run average, at 3.12.

1 comment:

Jim Nichols said...

It was my pleasure to meet this 'Gentleman' in San Jose, CA, last night, after watching Duane dance with and treat his 'special lady' with the utmost love and respect. He has real 'class'!!- Jim