When the Baltimore Orioles' organization eliminated the hometown name from its traveling uniform it was a marketing scheme predicated on financial return. All it accomplished was to alienate a loyal constituency. A public relations blunder of the first magnitude.
It was as if the baseball team was ashamed of where it played but, hypocritically, it didn't mind at all if Baltimore men, women and children bought tickets to the games. But at the same time it endeavored to deny the historical fact the Orioles are located in Baltimore.
This was initiated under the administration of the late Edward Bennett Williams, who believed that if the Orioles were presented as an area entity it would draw more customers from Washington and its suburbs. What those responsible for making such a rock-head play didn't realize is the Orioles are synonymous with Baltimore -- past, present and future.
Stripping Baltimore from any mention of the Orioles wasn't going to achieve what some humpty-dumpty advertising whiz conceived in the grand overall plan. Baltimore resented the way it was humiliated. It was as if the Orioles were saying we'll take all the money you spend on admissions and concessions but, at the same time, we will deny in public that the Orioles, major and minor leagues, are located in Baltimore and have been for more than 100 years.
Radio and television stations and their announcers, trying to be the good little boys they were told to be, went along with the dictum. Too bad. The shill concept continued with the way they fell into line and succumbed to this phony identity concept.
Now the Orioles, in a grandiose gesture, have decided to put Baltimore back in their logo -- but not on the uniforms. The club is telling us it doesn't need to do anything for Baltimore after the state and city are building a multimillion-dollar park, where they can make even more profit than when they were playing in Memorial Stadium.
How condescending can they be? And not a word of protest from the governor or mayor. With Baltimore being included in a small way, the Orioles are said to be doing all of us a momentous favor. Is that supposed to make the long-denied Baltimore fans dance in the streets of Highlandtown, Roland Park or Pig Town? Hardly.
Throw 'em a bone. Put Baltimore on the printed marketing material but not the uniforms. Continue to deny them their birthright. Similar to the way the Soviet Union tried to stamp out Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and other countries. Treat them as if they don't exist.
Now the same continues to be done to Baltimore, a city that is second only to Cincinnati in baseball tradition. Baltimore's support for the Orioles has been overwhelming. Why wouldn't the team, instead of restricting its new design to souvenirs and letterheads, put Baltimore on the road uniforms and do the right and proper thing?
Otherwise, it can only be construed that the Orioles are still ashamed to be in Baltimore.
What they were attempting in this aborted try to blot out Baltimore was a subliminal effort to play cheap mind games with the audience. Take Baltimore off the shirts and this will make the Orioles a generic team, similar to the basketball Globetrotters or else a collection of itinerant musicians from No Place who travel the open road.
Baltimore and its glorious baseball past, including such heroes as Babe Ruth, John McGraw, Wee Willie Keeler, Lefty Grove, George Earnshaw, Joe Boley, Max Bishop, Fritz Maisel, Tommy Thomas, Joe Hauser, George Puchinelli, Howie Moss, Cliff Melton, Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer, Frank Robinson and Jack Brandt deserve much more than that.
To the credit of public relations director Rick Vaughn, and others with the Orioles who feel the same way, a start to ease Baltimore back into the picture is under way. Obviously, Vaughn believes any progress is positive but this is, indeed, demeaning us with a small favor.
The Orioles should take full page ads in Baltimore newspapers to trumpet the news: We are the Baltimore Orioles and proud of it. They should apologize and ask to be forgiven for this despicable act against its own city. Let Washington get its own baseball team.