1964 Pennant Fever

January 10

It has been a tough start to the year for the Kavanagh’s. Betty has lost her baby. It was early in the pregnancy but it is her third miscarriage in five years. She is nearly inconsolable but for the immediate day-to-day tasks of running her house with eight children, husband and elderly father-in-law across the street. Jack tries to help as he can but Betty just focuses on the children and the meals and the cleaning and she will find her way through it. She is such a natural mother this hurts her deeply partly due to her thoughts that perhaps she will not have anymore children after Little Jack. Eight is enough sure but Jack and Betty love kids and love family. She wanted this one more baby.

Jack Kavanagh Jr. 1963.

February 9

The Beatles appear on the Ed Sullivan Show and the Kavanagh girls are watching with Mom and Dad who don’t see what the fuss is about. The girls love it and the Beatles become a smash hit and take over the music charts. Jack and Betty are dubious. It sounds like a lot of racket to Jack but he assumes it’s harmless. The girls will hear it from Sister Mary Agnes, Aunt Anna, though. The next time they visit her at the Visitation Convent, she tells them that Ed Sullivan had to restrain the young Fab Four from gyrating and shaking themselves even more on the television. She instructs the girls to stay away from this group and this rock ‘n’ roll they play.

February 24

The Shop finishes some repairs on one of their beer stills at Seagrams. The Kavanagh beer still was installed three years ago and needs some stabilizing brass braces and replacement nose couplings. Some of the fabrication is done at the Shop but most is onsite at Joseph E. Seagrams on Kresson Street.  Werner Funke, Charlie Owens and a helper take care of this job.

The Shop’s job book entry. Joseph E. Seagrams job. February 24, 1964.

March 7

Jack and Betty have decided to buy season tickets to the Baltimore Orioles this year. They can’t afford a full season or tickets for all the kids but they purchase a half season plan for six tickets. That will be forty games and most of the time Jack will take the five oldest girls and Betty will stay home with JoAnn, Ann and Jack Jr. They get a deal that includes some kid friendly promotions and events. Jack is very excited and can’t wait for the start of the season.

Ann and Jack Kavanagh Jr. 1963.

March 13

Jack Ruby is convicted in Dallas of the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald. Like a lot of Americans, Jack believes there has to be more to it. Ruby couldn’t have been on his own. How did he get into the police station and so close to Oswald?  Why did he do it? Ruby is not very forthcoming but the jury decides he and he alone is guilty. Jack will wait and see what the so-called Warren Commission has to say on the matter.

March 17

The Joseph Kavanagh Company finishes another job for Seagrams. A brass angle is annealed and rolled into a ring. Some tinned rivets are required to stiffen the ring. Angle is a challenge to roll because you have three dimensions to keep straight and the tendency of metal angle is for one of the legs to move. Both must be kept under steady pressure during rolling to hold that 90 degree angle as close as possible. It’s a slow process but the angle turns out fine and the ring is very round.

April 9

A mash tank coil needs replacing at Majestic Distillery and they call Jack. The coils are made from 2 5/8” OD thin copper tubes. The coiling is a slow process in the roller but it’s something they do regularly. The work is still coming in strong and they are working Saturday half-days which makes the crew very happy for the extra hours. The fabrication and installation of this coil is a rush and Jack is able to charge accordingly.

The Shop’s job book entry. Majestic Distillery job. April 9, 1964.

April 17

It’s Friday and the Baltimore Orioles are hosting the New York Yankees for Opening Day. Jack has season tickets but not for the first game this year. He has work and the kids have school so this year their first tickets are for tomorrow night. Jack has the game on the radio at the Shop and listens while he works. He invited Eddie down from the upstairs office to follow the game with him but his father prefers to stay up in the quiet office, reviewing jobs and smoking a cigar. The Birds walk off with a win in extra innings, the score 4-3 over the Yankees. Oriole Russ Snyder singles in Willie Kirkland with one out and the bases loaded in the 11th. 35,000 fans at Memorial Stadium and one at 201 S. Central Avenue go wild.

May 24

The Kavanagh’s attend a Sunday double header today against the Minnesota Twins.  It’s a sunny summer day with just a bit of breeze and perfect for baseball. The Orioles seem to enjoy it as they take both games winning 2-0 and 7-6. The second game is another walk off victory and the ninth inning rally is started by a Jerry Adair home run. Jack couldn’t have scripted it better for his daughters. It’s a fun but long day for the Kavanagh’s and they head home with the Birds in first place.

Jerry Adair. Orioles Infielder. 1964.

June 15

Another job is completed for Majestic Distillery. A copper bottling tank was built from copper sheet and installed. Majestic is as reliable as it gets for the Joseph Kavanagh Company. They have maintenance and repair work for the Shop nearly every month of the year.

June 17

Eddie misses a few days at the Shop. He calls Jack at the office and says he’s not feeling well on the first day and lets him know he won’t be in. This goes on for three days,  then Eddie calls his doctor. He gets out of breath quickly and is feeling very weak. Jack is worried for his father who seems to be suddenly aging faster and faster. Eddie is not one to avoid the doctor but this time he is a little hesitant. This worries Jack more because it means his father is worried.

June 19

Eddie has been diagnosed with emphysema and will need to stop coming into the Shop. He wants to try a few days a week but his doctor and Jack say no. Eddie is 68 years old and his health demands he stop working. He accepts it, but grudgingly. The doctor has told them Eddie can be treated and he should be fine but no working and no smoking is advised. Jack is relieved. He knows his father worked at the Shop his whole life and it’s tough to step away. If you do the same thing every day for every week and every month and every year, it becomes who you are on a certain level. It’s time though and Eddie accepts it. He will stay at 434 N. Lakewood Avenue and Betty will take care of him during the day. She brings his breakfast and lunch over to him and during each of those trips, she makes the bed, does his laundry, sweeps, cleans and empties out all of the ashtrays. Eddie comes over for dinner every night and afterward one of the older girls spends a few hours at his house keeping him company.

June 23

The small radio in the kitchen has the Orioles game on and they are hosting the Yankees again. The radio plays and Jack keeps listening though he is in and out of the kitchen. They are down 7-2 going into the 7th inning. It looks like this one will be a loss. But in the bottom of the 7th, the Birds start to rally and as Betty is finishing the nightly cleaning of her kitchen, preparing for tomorrow’s breakfast for ten and making her final cup of tea, Jack starts lingering more. The Orioles are mounting a comeback and he and the four oldest girls are hovering in front of the back door and the stove. This leaves little room for Betty and she tries shooing them out of her kitchen but they are glued to the radio listening as Chuck Thompson gives the call and the Orioles come back to win. They score seven in the bottom of the 8th and finish with a 9-8 victory. There is considerable whooping and hollering in the small kitchen and Betty finally manages to get them all out into the living room. She can make that quiet cup of tea she has every night.

June 26

Jack’s brother Ed calls the Shop to talk about Eddie. He knows his father can no longer work and he asks Jack if he needs any help. Jack tells him things are okay but he could use a hand. Ed tells Jack he has joined AA and is no longer drinking. The job at Sparrows Point is not working out for him as well as he anticipated. Jack offers him a job. As long as he stays sober, he can work at the Joseph Kavanagh Company. Ed accepts and agrees to start on Monday. Jack lets him know he has to listen to him and if he does that, they won’t have any problems. Ed assures him he will and he thanks Jack.

July 3

The Kavanagh’s spend a Friday night at Memorial Stadium watching the Birds. The Orioles are looking good so far this season. They have been in first place for almost a month straight and Baltimore is getting very excited about this team. Jack takes his five oldest girls while Betty stays home with the three youngest. It’s Jack, Betty Ann, Nancy, Mary, Jane and Jackie sitting on the third base side cheering on the Birds. They have the annual Fourth of July crab feast tomorrow,  then fireworks at the park; a night at the ball game is a great way to begin the weekend. Wally Bunker is starting for the Orioles and he is dealing tonight. He retires the first twelve Kansas City Athletics batters while the Birds build a 2-0 lead on a run-scoring error and a home run by Brooks Robinson. The girls scream and cheer for Brooks and the rest of the team and they win 4-0. Bunker goes the distance throwing a complete game one hitter with just one walk. Jack is sure to tell his girls that Wally Bunker made the difference tonight. You pitch like that and you make it look easy. The Kavanagh’s have a great night and head home from 33rd street to Lakewood and Jefferson.

July 7

After reading a joking comment in the newspaper from Orioles outfielder Jackie Brandt that he was the President of the Jerry Adair fan club, the Kavanagh girls want to join. They send letters to Brandt and decide to organize their own group including some friends from school. Betty gets involved and agrees to make “jerseys” for them all. They are really sweaters but each with the number and name of a player on their back. Betty Ann’s jersey was John Orsino, Nancy’s Jackie Brandt, Mary’s Brooks Robinson and Jane’s was Luis Aparicio. They will wear them to every game.

Jack Brandt’s autograph to Mary Kavanagh from her Oriole scrapbook. 1964.

July 16

A tinned copper strainer is made for Montebello Liquors. Copper sheet is cut into the shape of the strainer, holes are drilled and the tin mixture is heated. Once boiling, the tin is spread carefully over the surface of the strainer. After cooling, reaming out the holes again and cleaning up any excess tin, the strainer is finished. These are custom duplicates made to match original parts of stills. All stills are different in shape, size and diameter. Jack’s brother has been back for about two weeks and so far so good. Ed is a talented coppersmith and his skills are still there. He does work slowly compared to some of the other members of the crew but his work is good and reliable. Jack and Ed work well together and the latter has no issues listening to the former. Their father, Eddie, is surprised to hear Ed has come back to work and advises Jack to be careful with him and the drinking. Jack tells his father he is unconcerned because Ed Jr. is sober now and if there is a problem, he’ll take care of it.

The Shop’s job book entry. Montebello Liquors job. July 16, 1964.

July 21

National Brewery calls the Shop for a repair and  an installation of a set of copper coils. This is very much a custom job, which is why they have called the Joseph Kavanagh Company. The old coils were damaged during an error in operation of the brewing system. The old tubes needs to be removed, new ones made to match what’s left of the original and they must be installed. This is a big order from National who normally only buys small parts. They buy regularly but not an order of this size.

The Shop’s job book entry. National Brewery job. July 21, 1964.

July 23

The Kavanagh’s are at the ballpark watching the Orioles play the Cleveland Indians on a Thursday night. The girls are in their jerseys and cheering hard for the Birds who dropped out of first place last night. They bounce back tonight and win going away 7-1 moving back to the top of the standings. After the game, Jack usually lets the girls linger for autographs on the parking lot and players have started to  notice them with their homemade jerseys; most of the Orioles sign autographs when they can. Tonight Jerry Adair stops by with Jackie Brandt and the girls tell them they are the Jerry Adair Fan Club. Brandt remembers the letters and they sign autographs and chat with the girls for a few minutes. Adair is much shyer than Brandt but is amazed at meeting his fan club. Adair and Brandt and other Orioles begin stopping and talking to the “Jerry Adair Fan Club” after every game. Jack and the Kavanagh girls get to know them throughout the season. The girls are a little awestruck at these players being so nice to them and though he might not admit it, Jack is too.

Autographs of Boog Powell and John Orsino from Mary Kavanagh’s Orioles scrapbook. 1964.

August 3

The Gulf of Tonkin incident occurs in South Vietnam. American Navy vessels are attacked by North Vietnamese forces and the violence escalates. In the coming months, Congress will pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which will give President Johnson sweeping powers to increase American military involvement in Vietnam.

August 10

A new album has been released in Baltimore celebrating the Orioles and this incredible season they are having. They are still in first and playing well. Jack buys each of his girls a copy and they begin to play the songs constantly. The album is called Pennant Fever and features songs by the Roy Ross Singers and it’s all about the team, their fans and baseball in general. The album is popular and only adds to the enthusiasm sweeping the Birds’ fans. The Orioles were welcomed with open arms and the fans have supported them since the franchise moved from St. Louis but there seems to be a new excitement in the City for the Birds. They are playing well and doing more than competing. They are winning. It’s getting late in the season and if they can keep winning, the World Series looms.

Back side of Pennant Fever Album. 1964.

August 19

F & M Schaefer brewing needs some custom “Y” nose couplings. Another company, McArdle and Walsh are working on a repair at Schaefer’s and they realize they need special couplings. The brewery calls the Shop and they are fitted and finished as quick as possible with another rush charge added. The workers are all busy on these parts, some copper tubes for a fountain and a set of U-Bends for Harvey Stambaugh & Sons. Jack, his brother and the workers spend the morning coffee break talking baseball. Jack gets the ball rolling when he steps into the Shop and says, “How about ‘dem Birds?” The fellows all chime in enthusiastically. People are really getting excited about this team.

The Shop’s job book entry. McArdle and Walsh job. August 18, 1964.

August 26

A busy hot day at the Shop is spent heating and hammering metal. The usual mix of brewery and distillery repairs and a large brass railing are the focus today. In the Shop’s corner office, Jack’s secretary, Julie begins recording jobs. Jack decides that though his father is not doing this anymore, the recording of jobs for future reference is a valuable thing. It helps in quoting similar jobs and it helps in analyzing costs of jobs and worker efficiency. He asks Julie to start typing up jobs from the Shop cards and adding any notes Jack makes related to them.

September 13

It’s the Baltimore Colts first game and Jack is there with Bumpsy and Shirley Crew,  his brother-in-law and sister-in-law. They lose 34-24 to the Minnesota Vikings but then the Colts get hot and win eleven in a row. Memorial Stadium is packed week in and week out with some of the loudest and most raucous crowds in the NFL. Baltimore’s fans are rewarded early this year when their football team clinches the Western Conference Championship with three games left in the season.

September 15

The Shop finishes some U-Bends for Riggs Distler who are making some repairs at A. Smith Bowman’s Distillery in DC. Distler knows the Kavanagh’s are familiar with the distilling system at Bowman’s so they call Jack and explain what they need. The U-bends are bent in the Pines Bender by Jack in a few hours. They are staying busy and still working Saturday half-days and Jack will keep that up as long as the work is there.

The Shop’s job book entry. Riggs Distler job. September 15, 1964.

September 18

After a couple of losses to the Minnesota Twins combined with victories by the Yankees, the Orioles drop out of first place. The fans are disappointed but are sure the team can fight back and end up on top. The Pennant Fever still is strong in Baltimore and with the Kavanagh’s. The girls play the Pennant Fever album over and over every day. Jack loves the Birds and loves his girls being fans but he tires of walking by the girls’ bedroom and hearing “Hey Doc! I got Pennant Fever. I’m having a blast!” The fever never fades but the Orioles fall short this season.

Oriole handout with rosters and statistic for Orioles vs. Angels game on September 18, 1964.

September 28

The Warren Commission’s report is published. Their determination is Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination of President Kennedy and Jack Ruby acted alone in his murder of Oswald. Jack is skeptical and it seems so unlikely to him and many other Americans. Congress is also investigating the Kennedy assassination and Jack hopes they will find an answer that may be more thorough and believable.

October 15

The New York Yankees lose the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games. The Kavanagh’s watch the Series but it’s a little rueful this year as the Birds were so close. The Orioles win 97 games but only make it to 3rd place two games behind the Yanks who won 99 and one behind Chicago who won 98. Baltimore was in first place through most of the season but were passed in the end. Jack and his family are disappointed but hope this bodes well for the Birds in the future. Some solace for Orioles’ fans comes when Brooks Robinson is awarded the Most Valuable Player of the American league Award. He bats .317 with 28 home runs and drives in 118 runs. Brooks is already the most popular Oriole and the fans are happy to see him get some acclaim and notice from the league.

1965 Orioles Program Guide Page commemorating Brooks Robinson’s 1964 MVP Award. Page from Mary Kavangh’s Orioles scrapbook.

November 3

Ed Kavanagh Jr. is hurt today at the Shop. While grinding a stainless steel pipe, a piece breaks off and lands in his eye. He is sent off to the clinic for eye wash and to check his vision. Everything seems fine but a Worker’s Compensation Claim must be filled out as is the case with any Shop injuries. Later that night, incumbent Democrat Lyndon Johnson defeats Republican Barry Goldwater to retain the presidency. The Kavanagh’s vote for Johnson, they are long time Democrats and Johnson was JFK’s Vice-President and that’s enough for the them.

Workers’ Compensation Claim for Ed Kavanagh Jr. November 3, 1964.

November 24

The building on the corner of Pratt and Central has been busy all year and they have worked most Saturdays but a small drop in work and the approaching winter causes Jack to cut Saturdays for now. Today, the crew are spread over several small jobs, most of them being brewery parts. Some custom hose-connectors are made for National Brewery and some “Y” unions are fabricated for McArdle and Walsh.

December 6

The girls are gathered around the television to watch a new Christmas special, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. It is a stop action movie made with puppets of the characters and the girls love it. There are several Christmas songs including the theme and Burl Ives singing “Silver and Gold.” Jack and Betty are going through their mass shopping as they do every year. With eight children, the shopping starts early and money has to be stretched. Their first seven children were girls and a litany of dolls were purchased over the years but a few balls and bats and games of course. The Kavanagh’s love baseball. With now two year old Jack in the house, there are trucks and cars to be bought and this year the little guy wants his own doll. The toy company, Hasbro has released an action figure which is basically a doll for boys called GI Joe. Jack and Betty search and find a GI for Jack.

Jack Kavanagh Jr. 1964.

December 10

A bottle filler is repaired at John Brown Distillery. A bottle filler is a device that does exactly as it says. There are nozzles and hoses connected to the brewing system and as bottles move along a conveyor, they are filled then capped. The couplings and hoses need replacing and the whole unit needs cleaning but this is standard stuff for a coppersmith and Ed handles most of the work on this one.

The Shop’s job book entry. John Brown Distillery job. December 10, 1964.

December 20

It’s the last Sunday night before Christmas and the girls are finally asleep. Jack and Betty have an hour before they go to bed to speak to each other without kids around. Betty has given Jack the best news he could hear. She is pregnant. They are both nervous as Betty is getting older and has miscarried in the past but this baby is farther along and they feel confident everything will be all right.

“We will have nine by next summer, Jack.” Betty beams at her husband.

Jack is grinning from ear to ear, “Yes, hon. Nine like my grandfather and his brothers and sisters. There were nine of them. Enough for a baseball team.” Jack chuckles and Betty giggles along.

“I know this baby will be fine, Jack. This will be our last and I will do everything the doctor says.” Betty places her hand on her belly.

Jack wraps his arms around her, “Of course, Betty. I know that. She or he will be great and there’s always room for one more.”

“In this house?” Betty replies, “There always is. What else would we do?” Betty smiles as Jack places his hand over hers on her stomach.

“You make me so happy, Betty. You know that right.” Jack plants a kiss on her cheek. “You’re my girl and everybody knows it.”

Betty turns a little pink and says, “Mmhmm. Everybody knows it.” They shut off the lights and head up to bed gearing up for the coming holiday week.

Kav, Ann xmas
Ann Kavanagh. Christmas 1964.

December 24

The Shop’s Christmas Party is today and Jack and Betty have a special reason to be thankful this Christmas. With baby #9 on the way, they have that excitement and anxiousness that comes with each new child. They hope and pray for this baby who should be born in June. The guests, mostly family and employees eat sandwiches and drink beer or tea. They move about on the squeaky old wooden floor greeting each other with handshakes and “Merry Christmases.” It has been a good year on Central Avenue overall. It is different without Eddie in the old place but it was time and with Ed Jr. back, it’s a mix of the familiar and the unfamiliar. Jack can finally do what he wants and feels confident in his abilities. He’s glad to have his brother back and is happy with the way Ed has handled working for him. Ed had problems getting along with Eddie and taking orders from his father but seems to have no issues with Jack. Ed is the older brother but never had any interest in owning or running the Shop so it does make sense that he is content just to be a smith. Among the work and holiday talk, there is chatting about the Colts who will play the Cleveland Browns for the NFL Championship on the 27th.  Baltimore will be disappointed again by a sports team as the Colts will lose to the Browns this time. The party breaks up in a couple of hours and after two workers are driven home or to the bus stop with a turkey and a bonus in hand, Jack and his family are driving along Patterson Park on Baltimore Street. The younger girls are ooing and ahhing at the houses decorated with lights, garland and wreathes. Christmas is upon them and it is the central day of most children’s year. They look forward to Santa’s arrival and opening presents and having a big meal tomorrow. Jack looks forward to the day as well but mostly he wonders if that red suit still fits.



Lyndon Johnson is the President of the United States. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is passed by Congress. Three Civil Rights Workers are murdered in Mississippi by the Ku Klux Klan. The 24th Amendment to the Constitution is ratified banning poll taxes in Federal Elections. Martin Luther King wins the Nobel Peace Prize. The first Ford Mustang is produced. The Good Friday earthquake strikes Alaska and is the largest earthquake in American history. “Hello Dolly” and “Fiddler on the Roof” open on Broadway. The films “Mary Poppins,” “My Fair Lady” and “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” are released. Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” is published. Michelle Obama, Tracy Chapman, Laura Linney, Lenny Kravitz and Eddie Vedder are born. Harpo Marx, Herbert Hoover and Sam Cooke die.

There are 50 states in the Union.

Pennant Fever. 1964.

To read prior years, click on the Table of Contents link below:

Table of Contents

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