Subscribe to our newsletter

Once Upon a Time…When “Orioles” Meant Football Too

Kevin Gausman of the Orioles throws a football.
Share
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Reading Time: 2 minutes

In the beginning was baseball. Did you know that the first American League of Professional Football in the United States was created by… the owners of the National League of Professional Baseball Clubs? Yes, the National League. That was a long, long time ago. In 1894, to be precise. Eons before anyone could even dream that there would be anything like online football betting some day, there was already a clear business case for the move: baseball stadiums were empty during the winter, so additional activities were needed. There was also a promotional reason, and that was to keep public attention somewhat on baseball even during the off-season.

This is wise strategy. Now, Baltimoreans were even wiser. Guess what? They did it first. The F.C. Baltimore Orioles was founded even earlier, in 1883. It was short-lived, just one season. The baseball club, the first, 19th-century Baltimore Orioles, was born in 1882 and lived through 1899. A short but very successful life, starting from the flamboyant three consecutive first places in the League, in 1894, 1895 and 1896. And the victories in the “Temple Cup” national championship series in 1896 and 1897.

Then something went awry. The National League reduced its number of teams and franchises from 12 to 8, concentrating on the northeastern United Stated. The Baltimore Orioles were contracted out of the League after the 1899 season. After reorganizing, they became a prominent member of the Western League, which in turn evolved into the American League.

But what about the Orioles football club?

They were actually very successful. There were remarkable crowds that gathered to attend their matches, as many as 8,000 people. This stirred some jealousy in the owners of other clubs. They started to campaign against Baltimore on allegations that the Orioles were illegally employing British players. This in turn caused the U.S. immigration services to investigate the situation. But this was only part of the story.

Before the professional football League was created, the sports American Football Association had been in operations since 1884, in an effort to standardize rules and procedures. They did not appreciate at all that a new, professional league had been created and started to encroach on their territory. The stage was set for a frontal clash, and happen it did: the AFA banned players of the ALPF from playing in their tournaments. As a result, the season that had been planned for 1885 collapsed and the American League of Professional Football fell apart.

Actually, what really tanked the Baltimore football adventure was business. Baseball was much more successful and lucrative. The average public for National League games at that time was in the range of 6000, while the only season organized by the American League of Professional Football in 1984 had a weak turnover of 500 spectators on average. A total of 23 games with six teams were played, and the club owners tried to make them more attractive with very low ticket prices (about 25 cents), but to no avail.

This is why the Baltimore Orioles in the end dropped the football.

Clock at Oriole Park at Camden Yards Warehouse
News and Analysis

It’s Time to Spend – Will Ownership Step Up for Rebuild to Progress?

As the end of the 2021 season approaches, the Orioles are in another compelling race for worst record in the league. They are neck and …

Read More →
people standing by entrance to stadium with large potted plants
Down on the Farm

A Farewell with a Twist…to the FCL

Several years ago, while recovering from a major accident, I started fixating on the Orioles minor leagues. It was an outstanding decision and a way …

Read More →
News and Analysis

O’s Need to Aim to be Competitive in 2022

As another lost season in Birdland mercifully comes to a close, O’s fans are left yet again waiting for a future that we’re promised will …

Read More →
Colton Cowser
Down on the Farm

Colton Cowser Showing Off Tools in Delmarva

The Orioles had a lot of good options in the 2021 MLB Draft. Many experts had them picking either a pitcher or infielder with the …

Read More →
outfield at night with scoreboard at orioles stadium
News and Analysis

Maryland Food Bank & O’s Join Forces for Weekend Series

The Maryland Food Bank and the Orioles are joining forces before the O’s go head-to-head with the Toronto Blue Jays this weekend at Camden Yards. …

Read More →
Palmer McNally Cuellar
News and Analysis

Greatest O’s Pitchers of All-Time

Our beloved Orioles may not be giving us hope for anything more than a merciful end to this season but there have been many highlights …

Read More →
Get notified of the Latest Sport News Update from Our Blog
Latest posts
Join our newsletter and get 20% discount
Promotion nulla vitae elit libero a pharetra augue