Flashback Friday: The man who pitched the Orioles' first home opener
April 5, 2013
Jake Arrieta got the call to start the Orioles' home opener this year after the Birds started the season on the road at Tampa Bay. Nearly 60 years earlier, "Bullet" Bob Turley took the hill at Memorial Stadium for the first-ever Orioles home opener after the team started the season on the road at Detroit.
Turley came to Baltimore after the St. Louis Browns relocated East. He pitched one season for the Orioles before being shipped to the New York Yankees as a part of a 17-player trade that brought Gus Triandos to Baltimore. Triandos died last Thursday; Turley died on Saturday.
Turley became the second Baltimore Orioles pitcher to record a win by tossing a complete game against the Chicago White Sox in that first opener on April 15, 1954. The O's won 3-1 and Turley tallied nine strikeouts.
Nearly a week later, on April 21, Turley started the first night game in Baltimore and came within two outs of the team's first no-hitter. An Al Rosen single cost him the no-hitter and a Larry Doby two-run homer in the following at-bat cost him the game as the Orioles lost 2-1 to the Cleveland Indians. Turley struck out every Indians starter, including Doby twice. (Read the game story.)
Turley's 185 strikeouts were the most in baseball in 1954, as were his 181 walks. He finished the season with a 14-15 record and a 3.45 ERA for the seventh-place (out of eight American League teams) Orioles, who finished 54-100.
“What did I learn from that '54 season? That I never wanted to be on a loser for the rest of my life,” Turley said.
That quote would make it seem like Turley was happy to leave Baltimore. His full comments following his November 1954 trade to the Yankees, which he learned about while watching TV in his apartment with his wife, suggest otherwise.
"It really gives you a shock to learn you've been traded, and I certainly didn't know anything about it," he told the Associated Press.
"I hate to get traded from Baltimore where I've been treated so wonderfully, but that's something you just can't turn down - going to a first division club. That's a ballplayer's dream to play with a first division club," he added. "I had hoped it would be with Baltimore."
Turley was a three-time All Star. His 21 wins earned him the Cy Young with the Yankees in 1958. He was named World Series MVP that year as well after winning games 5 and 7 and picking up the save in Game 6.
-Bob Turley, former Orioles pitcher, dies (Baltimore Sun)
-Bob Turley, pitcher with a blazing fastball, dies at 82 (New York Times)
-Remembering when 'Bullet' Bob Turley was part of the Bel Air Bowl (Baltimore Sun)
-Bullet Bob Turley, R.I.P. (Village Voice)