Joseph B. Codd, who memorized the names of the Baltimore Orioles season ticket holders and their seat locations during his five decades in the club ticket office, died of pneumonia Tuesday at his Oak Crest Village retirement home in Parkville. He was 93.
Born in Baltimore, he was raised above a bar his father owned at Hoffman and Ensor streets. He attended St. Paul's Parochial School and Loyola High School.
After serving in the Army in Germany during World War II, he worked in real estate with his sister, Marie Codd, who had a flourishing sales and rental business in the Mount Vernon section of downtown Baltimore in the 1940s and early 1950s.
According to an article about Mr. Codd in an Orioles publication, he heard from a duckpin bowling companion about the team's purchase and transfer from St. Louis during the winter of 1953 .
"I went to see [Orioles business manager] Herb Armstrong and said, 'What can I tell you?' and he said, 'You don't have to tell me anything, if you know this fellow, he's a friend of mine. You're hired,'" Mr. Codd said in the article.
He began work selling general admission tickets April 1, 1954, days before the Orioles played their first home game at Memorial Stadium. He was initially hired on a part-time basis, but soon joined the organization full time and remained with the club until retiring Jan. 1, 2008. He was the Orioles' longest-tenured employee.
The Orioles observed a moment of silence for Mr. Codd at Wednesday's afternoon game.
In the 1950s, Mr. Codd worked from a small office at the old Southern Hotel on Light Street in downtown Baltimore, where the team stayed.
"He had a little cubbyhole there," said his daughter, Janet C. Williams of Upperco. "Offseason, he would travel around with the ballplayers and make appearances to sell ticket plans."
He recalled making sales pitches with Gus Triandos and Milt Pappas, among other players.
For most of his time in Orioles ticket sales, there were no computers. Tickets were printed elsewhere and delivered to the club.
"Tickets would come in boxes, and we had rows and rows of cabinets with compartments where tickets for each day were organized," he said in the Orioles publication. "Within each day, they were arranged according to price and location. It was a huge job. When I started, the most expensive seat was $12 and the cheapest was $2."
Mr. Codd went on to become assistant ticket manager and worked from a windowless vault in the old Memorial Stadium where tickets were arranged and money kept. Confined within the vault, he rarely saw a game and listened to the games on a radio.
"He knew every seat at the old stadium," his daughter said. "He operated in the vault on a stool with wheels, and would shoot forward and backward finding tickets from his cabinets."
Orioles management credited him with devising what became a popular sales plan.
"We often wondered how to get people who couldn't afford season tickets to come to the stadium," he said. "Plan 2 was all night games. Plan 4 was all the Sundays - so you, as an individual, had the chance to sit where the full-season tickets did, but didn't have to buy a full-season package."
Mr. Codd became a close friend of legendary third baseman Brooks Robinson, who entrusted his Gold Glove award to Mr. Codd to keep in the club's safe.
In later years, Mr. Codd worked in the team's financial office and cashed checks for players.
In the offseason, Mr. Codd followed the Maryland thoroughbred racing scene.
A Mass will be offered at 11 a.m. today at Oak Crest Village chapel, 8801 Walther Blvd.
In addition to his daughter, survivors include his wife of 68 years, the former Catherine White; and two grandchildren.