After suffering through a baseball drought that lasted 52 years, all that changed on April 15, 1954, when Baltimore became a major league city and some 350,000 jubilant Baltimoreans lined the streets to witness the triumphal parade that welcomed the Orioles.
Along the route that coursed through downtown, the players rode in 11 open automobiles while throwing more than 20,000 plastic balls to spectators.
Vice President Richard M. Nixon, who later in the day threw out the first pitch at Memorial Stadium, and his wife, Pat, arrived by special Pennsylvania Railroad train an hour before the parade kicked off at 10:30 a.m. from Charles Street and Greenway. The Nixons rode in a Cadillac convertible.
Colorfully decorated floats sponsored by many businesses joined the parade, which was also lined with many decorated buildings.
A large sign outside of Pennsylvania Station said, “Pennsy says: ‘Let’s Go, Birds!’” and featured a picture of a railroad conductor and an Oriole.
Among the many celebrity spectators and politicians was Connie Mack, “the grand old man of baseball,” reported The Baltimore Sun, and the widow of John J. McGraw, the legendary Orioles third baseman who later managed the New York Giants for 30 years. During McGraw’s Orioles days, he helped the team win National League pennants in 1894, 1895 and 1896.
A sellout crowd of 46,354 saw the Orioles defeat the White Sox, 3-1 in an opener that was played under sunny skies. The only seats available that day were bleacher seats that sold for 75 cents.