Klingaman: A century ago, the Orioles won 25 straight to lift a city reeling from the flu pandemic

From Mike Klingaman at the Baltimore Sun on April 9, 2020:

A century ago, Baltimore had baseball fever.

In 1920, the Orioles won 110 games — including the final 25 — to capture the International League pennant. The team’s success buoyed the spirits of a city struggling through the third and final year of the flu pandemic that killed 675,000 Americans.

Baseball, too, was hit by the flu. At least eight pro players succumbed, as did an umpire and several sportswriters. Even slugger Babe Ruth caught it once, or maybe twice. Not coincidentally, 1920 saw baseball ban the spitball pitch for all but a handful of veteran hurlers who’d always thrown it.

The disease cut a swath through Baltimore, killing 5,400 in 1918 alone, but somehow spared its Class AA ballclub. The Orioles, who also won it all in 1919, were minor league in name only.

Read the full article here: https://www.baltimoresun.com/features/retro-baltimore/bs-fe-retro-1920-orioles-20200401-3auvbp6j5fczlgsare2pdrhuim-story.html

Originally published: April 10, 2020. Last Updated: April 10, 2020.