The 1950s Baseball in Baltimore

Don Collins had the honor of joining his father for the first Baltimore Oriole home game of the modern era  when  in 1954 major league baseball came back to Baltimore.  The Orioles played their first home game at Memorial Stadium to a sell out crowd of 46,354.  Don Collins sat in Section 38, Row 9, Seat 6 and still has his ticket stub to prove it.

Don started playing organized sports with the Kenwood Athletic Club when he was 10 years old.  His father, Frank W. Collins, was a key figure in the neighborhood youth organization helping to keep kids active in team sports.

Don Collins (Gordon's)

In 1951, Don was delighted to be asked to play for Gordon's Stores 14-16 year old baseball team alongside of future Hall of Famer, Al Kaline.  Don played first base and Al  played center field.  Gordon's Stores (a.k.a. Gordon's Quality Dry Cleaning and Laundry) finished the season with a 31-5 record.  The team won the Central Junior League Championship and the Cardinal Gibbons Championship.  Second baseman Ed (Butch) Houseknecht led the team with a .446 batting average while Kaline was second with a .411 average.  Don, batted .285  and recorded 133 put outs at first base.  Kaline led the team with 7 home runs and 15 stolen bases and even pitched 10 innings. 

Don Collins (Waverly Post)In addition in 1951, Collins played American Legion ball as he joined the Waverly Post # 164 squad.  The team was undefeated until playing Al Kaline's Westport Post # 33 team during the middle of the season.  On the final regular season game Waverly (12-1) faced Westport (11-2) again, this time for the regular season title.  The game ended due to darkness in a 7 to 7 tie.  The teams met still again in the playoffs with Waverly winning the Legion Title 3 to 2.  Don preferred to play with Al Kaline rather than against him.  In 1952 Don played for Patterson Park High School, while Al  played for Southern High School.

In 1953, the Detroit Tigers signed Al Kaline out of high school as a bonus baby and he stayed with them for his entire career never playing a minor league game.    Don Collins played for the Red Nelson Seafood team that year and in 1954 he played for the Little Tavern team in the Baltimore Unlimited League.  He continued to play in that Baltimore league in 1955 with the St. Elizabeth's Brotherhood.  After playing on the U. of Marylandís freshman team that year as well, Collins decided to abandon his pipe dream to sign professionally and concentrate on academics.

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