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Integrating the Orioles

Baseball and Race in Baltimore

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The struggle to integrate the Baltimore Orioles mirrored the fight for civil rights in Baltimore. The Orioles debuted in 1954, the same year the Supreme Court struck down public school segregation. As Baltimore experienced demonstrations, white flight and a 1968 riot, team integration came slowly. Black players–mostly outfielders–made cameo appearances as black fans stayed away in droves. The breakthrough came in 1966, with the arrival of a more enlightened owner, and African American superstar Frank Robinson. As more black players filled the roster, the Orioles dominated the American League from 1969 through much of the 1970s and into the early 1980s.

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