Baltimore Orioles Cartoon Bird Cap Logos

My long time friend, graphic design artist and comic book creator, Matt Strackbein, took it upon himself to convert the Forgotten Cartoon Bird logos from photographs to graphic images, and he did an absolutely fantastic job!  Feast your eyes, folks:

Baltimore Orioles cap logo 1966 (click here for more info)

Baltimore Orioles cap logo 1966-1973

Baltimore Orioles cap logo exact years unknown (sometime between 1966-1974)

Baltimore Orioles cap logo 1974

Baltimore Orioles cap logo 1975-1977 (note that this is the same design as the previous logo with a black outline added)

Baltimore Orioles cap logo 1975-1977 (this is a similar design to the previous two logos, slightly enlarged with enhanced features)

Baltimore Orioles cap logo 1978 (very similar in design to the 3rd logo listed on this page, with added black outline and orange color deleted from cap button)

Baltimore Orioles cap logo 1979-1988 (this logo also showed up previously on the ’66-’74 black crowned cap, exact years unknown)

Baltimore Orioles helmet logo 1966-1988

Here are Matt’s thoughts on the project:

When taking on a project like this one, recreating decades old logo art with modern day software, you quickly realize a few things right away. Most obvious is the fact that the logos were likely created by hand, whether actually drawn by hand or rendered by hand for decals, embroidery, screen print etc.

Therefore nothing is exact…no perfect curves, straight lines or angles, and so, much of the re-creation process becomes interpretive. Small decisions are made along the way with lots of editing afterwards, in a constant struggle between “making it look right” and “making it look good”. These decisions are left to the individual doing the work and the outcome could change from person to person.
 
So one must embrace the essence of the original logo art, and try to capture that spirit in the end. I personally like the “crude” aspects of the old logos from the 60s and 70s, but my modern day software (Adobe Illustrator) can’t help but make everything look polished and neat. I have cut out rubylith masks by hand with a knife before, and while I am thankful those days in graphic design are behind us (it was not easy), I still appreciate the compromises that were made over the years to get the best results possible. And so when I say I wanted to maintain a degree of “crudeness” what I actually mean is I did not want to sacrifice or completely hide the various by-hand-individuality that has traveled through time with the actual logo art.
 
Basically, my effort to restore these logos was more a task to preserve the secret legacy of each one, the craftsman who took part in their various renderings and uses, more than a task at recreating them exactly as they were. And, above all, I sacrificed my own personal art style, and relied only on technique and skill in order to get as close as possible to the original artwork I was presented with as resources (decals & embroidery mostly).
 
I record these thoughts, because they are important to me as a commercial artist, and also because my appreciation for the history of graphic design increases a bit more with every job. Great pains have been taken to bring colorful characters and images into the world, in this case the Oriole Bird, and those images have made every single one of us joyful to one degree or another. So why not show equal effort in restoring them?
 
One other note in regards to the Orioles’ logos from one to the next…never, as far as I could tell, did elements repeat. Meaning I do not think anyone ever borrowed from a previous version, and must have started their design process over entirely each time. The shape of the eyes is always different, as is the space between them. The angle of the head is sometimes tilted, sometimes not. The brim of the cap changed often too, and is more representational than illustrative. That said, it is obvious that it is the same character throughout the years…the same Bird. Same expression, same smile, same tuft of hair in the back, and same profile. 
 
From a distance such comparisons may be lost on us, but when you’re in close, as I was during this task, you see the subtle differences as easily as the large ones. Apparently, the logo designs were handled differently each time, with some hint of the artist or artists individuality peeking through, and I for one find that fascinating.
                              Matt Strackbein — June, 2012
All of the known variations of the official, on-field Orioles Cartoon Bird cap and helmet  logos.  Which one is your favorite?
All information compiled by T.L.Lears 2012

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