“I was ready to go in the game in relief, and this old gal got up and screamed, ‘The more they come the worse they get.’ I think so often of that rather unusual welcome to Baltimore and it always gives me a chuckle.” -Hal Brown
Hector Harold Brown is a perfect fit for this week’s edition of Flashback Friday.
1. The Oriole Advocates’ 2009 Hall of Fame induction ceremony is on Friday afternoon.
Hal Brown was a 1991 inductee. He played for the organization from 1955 to 1962.
2. The O’s face the Indians in the evening.
Brown, the 6’2″, 186-pound player nicknamed Skinny, accomplished an unusual feat against the Indians on Aug. 31, 1955: He tossed eight no-hit innings in relief during a 5-1 Orioles loss.
The Indians’ first five batters – Al Smith, Bobby Avila, Hoot Evers, Ralph Kiner, and Al Rosen – scored against Orioles starter Bill Wight during that August game at Cleveland Stadium. Evers and catcher Jim Hegan drove in two runs a piece.
Brown took the mound in the second inning and proceeded to strike out 10 batters while allowing no hits during the game’s final eight innings. However, Cleveland starter Herb Score went the distance, striking out 13 Orioles and allowing just three hits to earn the victory.
Brown’s performance against the Indians was no fluke.
In 1957 he was one of four consecutive O’s starters – Billy Loes, Connie Johnson, and Ray Moore were the others – to toss a shutout. The collective effort tied an American League record that the 1974 Orioles topped by one.
In 1960 he one-hit the Yankees in a 4-1 Orioles victory. Mickey Mantle hit a first-inning home run for New York.
In 1961 he pitched a then-franchise-record 36 straight scoreless innings from July 1 to Aug. 8, 1961. He didn’t allow a walk in 24 of those 36 innings.
(Of interest: Gregg Olson tossed 41 straight scoreless innings from Aug. 4, 1989 to May 4, 1990.)
All in all it was a good Baltimore career for Brown despite a less-than-hospitable welcome to the city.
Here’s how he recalled his first game in an O’s uniform:
“I was ready to go in the game in relief, and this old gal got up and screamed, ‘The more they come the worse they get.’ I think so often of that rather unusual welcome to Baltimore and it always gives me a chuckle.”
Extra credit reading assignment: John Steadman, “This former Oriole Pitcher Wasn’t Too Skinny.”
Matt Taylor is author of the popular Baltimore Orioles’ sports blog Roar from 34 and is a regular contributor to Baltimore Sports Then and Now.