YEARS that end in a 4 tend to be big, in Baltimore...


January 26, 1994

YEARS that end in a 4 tend to be big, in Baltimore baseball. Not always, though; 1984 didn't amount to much. It's remotely possible that 1994 won't be big. If so -- or even if Fernandez, Palmeiro, Sabo & Co. go out there and win everything in sight -- some part of the season can be enjoyable if spent looking backward.

One hundred years ago, the Orioles won Baltimore's first pennant ever. Fifty years ago, the International League Orioles made an unexpected, dramatic sweep of everything in high-minors sight. And there have been other moments, such as 1914 when we were a founding member of the late Federal League, and 1954 when we managed to climb back aboard the American League.

How much notice will the present club, full of its major leagueness, give to that World War II club? Now, 50 years later, is the last, best time to round up those still living among the players who squeaked by Newark, Montreal and Toronto (!) to win Baltimore's first pennant in 19 years; who then beat Louisville, pride of the rival American Association, in the Junior World Series.

How many of them are still alive? Tommy Thomas, the manager, is not; Howie Moss, Sherm Lollar and Jack Dunn 3d are not.

Now comes word from Dave Howell, the Virginia sportscaster who maintains a 1903-1953 Orioles roster, that Felix Mackiewicz died Dec. 20, at his home in Olivette, Mo., aged 76. The center fielder, Mackiewicz (non-Polish fans blurred it into Mackawitz) hit .294 that season and had 86 rbi's. Born in Chicago, he was a three-sport star at Purdue. After two years in the low minors, he joined the O's in 1943. From 1945 to 1947, he was with the Indians and then Senators, in the majors. A good man to have around, in 1944, when the team's collective batting average was only .259.

If Red Embree is still around, and Stan Benjamin, Blas Monaco, Kenny Braun, many a long-lived fan would hail them joyfully, on some appointed day this summer.

Should nothing be done to commemorate this semi-centennial of astonishment and euphoria, it's not as if anyone would angrily go to some ballpark and burn it down. (Remember the fire at the last previous Oriole Park -- in 1944?) But of a certainty, something should be done to honor Tommy, Howie, Sherm, Felix & Co.

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