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Hotel moguls and road trip fashion for the 1970s Orioles

When Dave McNally was on the road and not studying the hitting traits of opposing players and getting ready for his next pitching start, he often could be found in his hotel room playing a classic board game.

By 1974, 12 years into his major league career, McNally had become a big fan of Acquire, a board game somewhat like Monopoly. Players in Acquire use tiles, and try to earn the most money by developing and merging hotel chains. The game involves stock ownership and money earned from liquidating stock at the end of the game.

Was this business training for Dave's post-baseball life, when he and his brother, Jim, would buy the Archie Cochrane Ford dealership in Billings? The McNally brothers owned and operated Archie Cochrane Ford from 1975 until the early years of the new millennium, before cancer took Dave's life in 2002.

Most of the Acquire games took place in the hotel room that McNally shared with his regular battery mate, catcher Andy Etchebarren. A September 8, 1974, article in the Baltimore Sun mentioned the game as part of a feature piece on the Orioles’ life on the road, or “Migrating ‘Birds’ On the Move,” as the story’s headline read.

To play Acquire, Bobby Grich and Etchebarren usually comprised a team that took on McNally and Mark Belanger. The four played for stakes of five dollars a game.

“After we won the first four games, Grich and Etch were going to quit,” Belanger said, “so, we gave them a handicap—an ‘IH,’ Mac and I call it, an Intelligence Handicap. A game is over when one company has forty-one tiles, usually in about two hours. Grich and Etch are improving all the time, but they still need the IH.”

Away from their rooms, on airplanes or in air terminals, the Orioles wore “natty,” 1970s-style traveling clothes on road trips. Ross Grimsley could be spotted in an ivory suit. Paul Blair favored green. Grant Jackson was “blinding in canary yellow.” Etchebarren preferred red and black, and Earl Williams went for solid black.

Doyle Alexander wore a solid “screaming red” jacket, complimented by red and white slacks, on the trip that the Sun’s Sunday magazine focused on.

“The fellow who designed Tommy Davis's jacket surely used a peacock as a model.” Enos Cabell was “stunning” in a black velvet suit, his silk shirt decorated with multicolored leaves, and he finished his wardrobe with a seashell-decked straw hat.

Mike Cuellar was in blue, true to his superstitious attraction to that color.

“I wear blue on planes all my life,” said the Puerto Rican-born pitcher, who owned four blue suits.

Teammate Rich Coggins said Cuellar had to wear blue for him, too. “On flying days, I always look to be sure he's in blue.”

Coggins and Jackson were considered the most eye-catching dressers among the Orioles. On the day the team was profiled, Coggins wore a silver “Flo-Toronto” suit that he called his "silver bullet.” He added a black, polished cotton shirt and black, high-heeled shoes rimmed with rhinestones. He stuck a white carnation in his lapel.

The Orioles right fielder always wore a flower during the summer, buying one at a florist shop or “taking one off somebody’s lawn, although I’m careful not to damage the rest of the plant.”

Coggins carried a bag, or a stash—not a purse, he took pains to point out—on his shoulder. He carried supplies “essential to any bachelor”: address book, pens and pencils, an Orioles’ schedule, pocket watch and fob, and a towel.

Why a towel?

“Of course,” Coggins said. “It gets hot when you walk and dance. You don’t think I want to perspire all over the lady I’m dancing with, do you?”

The article made no mention of McNally's road attire. Of course, he had been married since 1961, when he was a minor league player, to fellow Billings native Jean Hoffer. By 1974, they had three children and were part of the community in suburban Lutherville, Maryland, a Haven for Orioles players. McNally, who turned 32 in October 1934, probably served as an adult role model for his younger teammates.

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Jamie Larson