Few people expected the 1988 Baltimore Orioles to be World Series contenders, but no one could have predicted their astonishingly bad start to the season. Cal Ripken Sr. was at the helm of the struggling Orioles franchise, which finished 13th in the American League in 1987, ending the season with a dismal 42 losses over their last 56 games. That's momentum, all right, just the wrong kind of momentum [source: Washington Post].
For the 1988 season opener, a crowd of 52,395 packed Memorial Stadium in Baltimore to watch their hopes of redemption crushed by a 12-0 slaughter at the hands of the Milwaukee Brewers. The embarrassing loss included a botched bunt, a run scored from second on an infield hit, two wild pitches, two hit batsmen and even a rare stolen base by the Brewers: home [source: Justice].
Somehow, things only got worse from there. The Orioles lost their next game, then the next, then the next. After the seventh consecutive loss of the season, the Orioles management fired Cal Ripken, Sr., despite the awkward fact that Ripken's two sons were playing shortstop and second base [source: Justice].
By the time the cursed Orioles faced the Minnesota Twins on April 26, 1988, they were a national media sensation for all of the wrong reasons. They had lost an unprecedented 19 of their first 19 games. It seemed quite possible that they would never win, ever. Still, the Orioles kept hope alive. Cases of champagne were on ice in the locker room. President Ronald Reagan even called the team before the game to wish them luck. But did they win one for the Gipper? Nah.
The Orioles finally snapped their headline-grabbing losing streak with a 9-0 drubbing of the Chicago White Sox, 26 days and 21 losses into the season [source: Justice]. The mood in the clubhouse was relief, not elation. No one even bothered to crack open the champagne.
"The worst we could do is lose one more," said Orioles pitcher Mark Williamson. "I'm relieved, but we have to keep it in perspective. It's not like we just won the seventh game of the World Series. Maybe we won't be so much of a household name now" [source: Justice].
To top the incredibly poor performance of the 1988 Orioles, we have to travel back to the 1961 Philadelphia Phillies.