1954 Baltimore Orioles Memories – DICK KRYHOSKI
The Orioles went just 54-100 in the 1954 season that marked Baltimore’s return to the major leagues. Things to cheer about were scarce, and most of the players are unknown even to today’s most fervent Orioles fans. Occasionally I like to try to do something about that. Today, I’m thinking about Dick Kryhoski.
Kryhoski, described by The Sporting News as a “big, blond New Jersey resident”, debuted in the Yankees chain as a 21-year-old in 1946 after serving in World War II. A Baltimore Sun article for the 50th anniversary of the ’54 O’s noted that:
“Kryhoski’s ship, the USS Ticonderoga, had been struck in a kamikaze attack, killing more than 100 seamen. The nightmares lingered for years, accompanied by Kryhoski’s screams of ‘Fire! Fire!” that terrified his roomates on road trips.”
Anyway, the lefty-hitting first baseman reached the majors with the Yankees in 1949, played the next two seasons with the Tigers after a trade, then wound up with the St. Louis Browns after another deal. He had his best season in 1953, walloping 16 homers in 338 at-bats before the franchise moved to Baltimore.
Kryhoski fractured a wrist in spring training and later cracked a rib, and couldn’t seem to stick in the lineup after the Orioles purchased a better fielding first-sacker who also hit from the left side in Eddie Waitkus. On June 9 at Fenway Park, however, Kryhoski’s pinch-hit single off in the ninth inning of a tie game off Frank Sullivan began one of the most memorable performances of Baltimore’s 1954 season. Waitkus turned an ankle the next day, and Kryhoski hit safely in 18 straight starts to extend his hitting streak to 19 before Cleveland’s Mike Garcia stopped him at Memorial Stadium on June 30.
Now, the 1954 O’s won nine games all season in their final at-bat, but Kryhoski stroked walkoff game-winners three times in five days from June 23-27, and also scored to end another contest in the same stretch!
On June 23, Baltimore coughed up a four-run ninth inning lead to the Red Sox, and the game remained deadlocked until the bottom of the 17th. That’s when Kryhoski ended the madness with a bases loaded fielder’s choice that Boston’s second baseman couldn’t make a play on to conclude what was the longest game in American League history at the time (4 hours, 58 minutes). The Philadelphia Athletics came to town next and, after Baltimore’s Duane Pillette went the distance to win the opener, Kryhoski got busy again. He singled home the tying run in the bottom of the 10th on a Saturday afternoon, then raced home with the winning tally on a wild pitch two batters later. In the Sunday doubleheader that followed, Kryhoski smoked a two-out single through the box to decide the opener in the bottom of the 11th, then helped the O’s complete the sweep with an opposite field game-winner with two outs in the bottom of the ninth in the nightcap! If that’s not Orioles Magic, I don’t know what is.
Unfortunately, Kryhoski struggled through a .185 July with only 2 RBI as the O’s went 9-21 that month. When the team suffered through a miserable 7-25 August, he received only 24 at-bats. In September though, he showed Orioles fans a couple more tricks. His 9th inning single on September 5 drove in the winning run at Detroit and, with the team back at home for a double-header the next day, his 10th inning, bases loaded single to left off Early Wynn salvaged the Orioles a split.
All told, Kryhoski delivered four of the 1954 Orioles game-ending hits. Not bad for a guy who started less than half the games and tallied only 34 ribbies all year. Overall, Kryhoski batted .260 in 100 games (300 at-bats), but hit only one home run for the Birds. After the season, he was traded back to the Yankees in a massive 17-player deal, then traded to the Athletics (who’d moved to Kansas City), just before opening day. He got into just 28 games in 1955, which proved to be his last season.
Kryhoski died of cancer at the age of 82 in 2007, but he deserves to be remembered for providing some of the most exciting Orioles moments in 1954.
by Malcolm Allen