Friday, July 13, 2012
Vintage Fridays: Baltimore Orioles, 1956 Topps #100
So, the front of the card. We've got a group portrait of the 1955 Orioles, who still had that new-team smell. Maybe "smell" is a poor word choice for a club that had a 57-97 record and was only spared the ignominy of the American League basement by their poorer Beltway cousins in Washington. But back to the matter at hand. We've got the fantastic original Orioles logo, with the grinning little bird perched atop a baseball bearing the team name, set in front of a pair of crossed bats. There's the rare sight of an O's team shot that lacks Brooks Robinson, who had just a cup of coffee in September at age 18. Though Brooksie is absent, three batboys are present - and acknowledged by Topps! I'm going to take a leap of faith and assume that "Batboy Diering" is the son of center fielder Chuck Diering, who at 32 could conceivably have a son of batboy age. Also getting in on the action is trainer Edward "Doc" Weidner, Jr., pictured at far right in the second row in the classic white outfit. His employment with Charm City's baseball teams spanned the 1915 through 1967 seasons. He came on board when Baltimore was still a minor league city, hosting rising stars like Lefty Grove and Max Bishop and veterans giving it one last try (Rube Marquard, Chief Bender, etc.). How's that for a bit of baseball history?
Flipping the card over, we've got a brief and garbled history of both the St. Louis Browns/Baltimore Orioles American League franchise and Baltimore's overall pro baseball history. I appreciate the effort, anyhow. At the bottom of the card, there's a notation of the one sad, lonely A.L. pennant that the Browns won before heading east to Charm City in 1954. But the best thing about this card is the diagram of Memorial Stadium, complete with the original outfield dimensions...FOUR HUNDRED AND FIFTY feet to straightaway center field! That's not a baseball field, it's a deserted moonscape.