In the 1890s, the legendary Baltimore Orioles of the National League [sic] under the tutelage of manager Ned Hanlon, perfected a style of play known as "scientific baseball," featuring such innovations as the sacrifice bunt, the hit- and-run, the squeeze play, and the infamous Baltimore chop. Its best hitter, Wee Willie Keeler, had the motto "keep your eye clear and hit 'em where they ain't"--which he did. He and his colorful teammates, fierce third-baseman John McGraw, avuncular catcher Wibert Robinson, and heartthrob center fielder Joe Kelly, won three straight pennants from 1894 to 1896. But the Orioles were swept up and ultimately destroyed in a business intrigue involving the political machines of three large cities and collusion with the ambitious men who ran the Brooklyn Trolley Dodgers. Burt Solomon narrates the rise and fall of this colorful franchise as a cautionary tale of greed and overreaching that speaks volumes as well about the enterprise of baseball a century later.
BURT SOLOMON has been a staff correspondent for the National Journal since 1985, where he has covered the White House, lobbying, and ideas. A native of Baltimore and a lifelong Orioles fan, he lives in Arlington, Virginia.
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