The Bob Turley thread, in which a poster noted that the Orioles may have had recourse to using hype to attract fans in their first season, had me looking at what moves they made during the off-season.
You would think that in inheriting the Browns, an owner would be tempted to "blow it all up and start over with a youth movement." But an analysis of their transactions shows that despite whatever reasons they may have had to acquire a player, in almost every case the transaction yielded an older, albeit more famous and gate-worthy, roster.
February 5, 1954
Traded Johnny Groth and Johnny Lipon to the Chicago White Sox. Received Neil Berry and Sam Mele.
December 17, 1953
Traded Bob Cain to the Philadelphia Athletics. Received Joe Coleman and Frank Fanovich.
February 18, 1954
Traded Roy Sievers to the Washington Senators. Received Gil Coan.
March 28, 1954
Purchased Ray Murray from the Philadelphia Athletics for $25,000.
April 8, 1954
Purchased Dave Koslo from the New York Giants.
And the ultimate in my book: Sending down Eddie Mickelson and acquiring Eddie Waitkus. Waitkus was 34 y.o., would only hit 2 HR and drive in 33 runs for the O's. Not good production from a power position of 1B. 1954 would be his penultimate year. Not saying it was his fault for getting shot (it sure wasn't!) but you have to factor that in to at least make him an "old 34". Meanwhile Mickelson was 26, in his prime, had just finished an 80-game stint with the Little World Series-winning IL-AAA Rochester Red Wings and was in the midst of becoming "one of the premier minor league players of his era"* with a lifetime BA of .316 and slugging percentage of .475. Sorry for Mickelson that he didn’t get that opportunity in 1954 because he was never able to get back in the big leagues again until it was too late.
On the flip side, it must have been a remarkable gate draw to have the famous** and good-looking Waitkus at 1B, plus the draw from curious nearby Philly fans.
Other than off-loading the St. Louis gate draw of Harry Brecheen, most of the O's moves appear to be for gate and not to rebuild. I'm not saying that there is anything wrong in hiring some or all of your players for their marquee value. That's within the realm of legitimate business decision. However, I am just surprised that the Orioles were so nervous about gate and you didn't see a full-throttle youth movement, and instead a little of the opposite. That would have been a golden time to do it.
*Tom Kayser, Texas League President
** He saw some of the bloodiest fighting of World War II with the U.S. Army in the Philippines, earning four Bronze Stars. Upon his return to baseball he quickly became a star for the Chicago Cubs. He also became a popular media figure, as he was well-educated and could speak several languages. The best-selling Bernard Malamud book The Natural (released in August 1952) was somewhat based on Waitkus. (Wikipedia)