Between 1966 and 1983, the Baltimore Orioles were considered the best team in baseball. During that span, the team won three World Series, advanced to three others, and competed for a playoff spot just about every season.
The Orioles were a model franchise thanks to its “Orioles Way” approach to building a franchise through a strong farm system. Future Hall of Famers like Brooks Robinson, Jim Palmer, Cal Ripken Jr., and Eddie Murray made their ways through the ranks and helped put consistent winners on the field.
But five years after Ripken caught the final out to clinch the Orioles World Series victory over the Philadelphia Phillies, the franchise was in disarray. From not understanding how to utilize free agency to having their once famed farm system dry up of talent, the once-proud franchise was spiraling downward.
Heading into the 1988 season, the Orioles expected to struggle after a 95-loss season the year before. Not even the return of famed manager Earl Weaver in 1985 and 1986 was enough to turn the team around. The Orioles attempted to revamp their roster in 1988 with 14 new players on the roster compared to the year before.
The team opened that season 0–21, shattering the record for futility to start a season by eight games. They consistently found different ways to lose each night to the point that President Ronald Regan sent a message of support to the lovable losers from Charm City. Religious leaders and mental health professionals even offered to help the team find that elusive first win.
In the same vein as Jimmy Breslin’s Can’t Anyone Here Play This Game? on the 1962 New York Mets, author Ron Snyder discusses just how did a once model franchise devolved into a team with the distinction of having the worst start of any team in MLB history. A Season to Forget takes an in-depth look at the lead up to that season, a game-by-game breakdown of the streak, and the toll it took on those who lived through it.