Wednesday, December 7, 2016

These Three Played Big League Ball Before Pearl Harbor Day

As we pause to remember the 75th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor bombing, it is worthwhile noting that there are only three men living who were active major league players at the time. Hence, there are only three men left who played before World War II, which some call the "Golden Age" of baseball.

They are
Fred Caligiuri of the Philadelphia A's
Chuck Stevens of the St. Louis Browns (and benefactor of the St. Louis Browns Historical Society)
and
Bobby Doerr of the Boston Red Sox (Hall of Famer too).

Unsurprisingly, these three men are (in reverse order) the three oldest living Major League baseball players.

All three served in World War II.
Bobby Doerr
Chuck Stevens


Caligiuri

Sunday, November 27, 2016

When Browns Games Were on TV Every Day

Check out these listings from the St. Louis Post Dispatch August 30, 1953. A complete Browns Sunday doubleheader with the Senators on Sunday, an entire home series with the Yankees and Tigers Wednesday through Sunday. Complete with pre-game shows "Rookie of the Day" and "Stars from the Coaching Box" with Milo Hamilton and Bill Durney every day, home and away.

Wonder if any other MLB team in '53 was giving their fans as much free baseball as the Browns were? Teams were worried about the invention of television. If you could watch the games at home, why would you ever come to the park? Before that, they were even worried about live radio cannibalizing tickets.  The Cardinals only televised a couple of road games in 1953 (on KSD-TV).

But the Browns' management was in a position to experiment. Ticket sales were not great anyway. Why not try to make money through TV advertising? Another way in which the Browns revolutionized the game.


Found on St. Louis Post Dispatch powered by Newspapers.com

Courtesy St. Louis Media History Foundation.

ps in Game One of that doubleheader, Don Larsen outdueled Connie Marrero 3-0. Connie died recently at age 102. Don recently visited St. Louis and went to new Busch Stadium and to old (old) Busch Stadium.

pps When WTVI signed off the last Browns contest at 4:15 pm Sunday, September 27 (vs. White Sox), and threw it over to the "Your Doctor" program, that would be the last regular-season broadcast that St. Louisans would see from Sportsman's Park.  Although the Cardinals had allowed a smattering of home games on KSD '49-51, as of the '52 season, only a few road games were provided.  The Cardinals did not allow a single home game to be broadcast again until 1982 (Busch Stadium II).

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

1886 Browns-Reds Trade Was the ...


First Trade in MLB History

There has to be a first for everything. On this day, in 1886, the first ever trade in Major League Baseball occurred between the Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Browns in the American Association.

Trades are quite commonplace these days. Teams will  make a swap of players in order to improve their Major League roster, or to add depth. Sometimes, these deals are a matter of finding a change of scenery or to unload a bad contract. In fact, trading between teams is so common that some deals can go by unnoticed.
Yet, that was not always the case. It was on this day in 1886 when the first trade in MLB history took place between the Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Browns. In that swap, the Reds sent hometown kid Jack Doyle to the Browns for fleet footed outfielder Hugh Nicol.
It was a trade that paid dividends for both teams. Doyle had appeared in only one game for the Reds, but found a role with the Browns. In his four years with the team, he was their primary catcher, becoming one of the few catchers of his era that could swing a bat. While his .241/.303/.316 batting line with the Browns may not seem impressive, it was enough to make Doyle one of the top catchers of his day.
Nicol also performed well after the swap. In what was the greatest stolen base performance of the 1800’s, he swiped a record 137 bases in 1887, and followed that up with another 103 steals the following year. Although he did not hit well, with a .234/.330/.281 batting line in his four seasons in Cincinnati, he stole 345 bases.
While Doyle would go on to play until 1898, Nicol’s career was over in 1890. There were, interestingly enough, a few parallels to both player’s careers. Both Nicol and Doyle spent four seasons with the teams that traded for them, and both players were out of the Majors at age 32.
In the end, this swap achieved what every trade aims to accomplish. Both teams got a valuable player, helping them move forward over the next few years. The Browns received a solid catcher who helped solidify the position, while the Reds received a speedster to jumpstart their offensive attack.
Trades may be commonplace now, but it was not until this day in 1886 until the first one took place. Given the success of the players involved, both the Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Browns had to be happy with the returns.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Longevity 'R' Us: Half of Top 20 Living Players are Browns or O's

Four out of Five Doctor's Agree:  Playing for a cellar-dwelling baseball team adds to your life expectancy.

Of the current list of Oldest Living Baseball Players, half played for the Browns or the Orioles.

(please note that #1 on the below list, Eddie Carnett, recently passed).



Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Brown Baseball Uniforms, a Rarity, May Be Returning Soon

Great article (via Hardball Times) on the rarity of the color brown in baseball.
1934 home and away uniforms, the first with orange

"But the team on the extreme southern tip of California wasn’t always just another navy blue team in a sea of navy blue. There was a time when the Padres had the extremely unusual color scheme of brown-and-gold.
When San Diego entered the National League with this color scheme in time for the 1969 season, it marked the return of brown to the baseball world for the first time in 15 years.
"The aptly named St. Louis Browns were in the American League from the early 1900s until 1953. The Browns started out as a strictly brown-and-white team in 1902 and stayed that way for 32 years. By the 1934 season, the Browns had infused orange into their color scheme and orange would remain a major part of their identify until the team’s final two seasons of existence.
"Then, orange was pushed to the wayside as a tertiary color in favor of white becoming the secondary color once again. This became a fact of life for the Browns for the 1952 and 1953 seasons. In 1954, orange returned to the franchise’s color scheme, but this time it was the primary color along with black — but this is because the St. Louis Browns were now in a new city with a new nickname. You know them now as the Baltimore Orioles."

Read the entire great article here

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

87 y.o. Don Larsen Takes the Mound Again at Sportsman's Park

North St. Louis, Mo.  -  Don Larsen rekindled old memories, walking around Sportsman's Park on September 10, 2016.   Don pitched over 100 innings at the field in 1953 for the St. Louis Browns.  "Sportsman's" is now a youth football field. 


Don Larsen, 1956 World Series Perfect Game pitcher
In the background of this shot, is the YMCA building on Grand Avenue, where a lot of Cardinals and Browns, and newly-arriving rookies, crashed. Still a YMCA. Larsen was visiting fans in the St. Louis area and took time to visit the location along with a Cardinal ball game that evening.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Bobblehead Night Fans at the Ballpark with Don Larsen

Don Larsen (center), baseball's only perfect game pitcher in a World Series, waving to fans at the September 9, 2016 game at Busch Stadium.  

Larsen was signed by the St. Louis Browns and played in St. Louis during the 1953 season. His perfect game was when he was with the New York Yankees on October 8, 1956 against the Brooklyn Dodgers. No other player in the 114 year history of baseball has achieved this feat. 

Pictured below left to right is Bill DeWitt, Jr., Cardinals Chairman, Ed Wheatley, STL Browns Fan Club, Don Larsen waving along side of Eddie Gaedel family members.


Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI
The gathering capped the night recognizing the Eddie Gaedel bobblehead night. The Cardinals gave away 30,000 bobbleheads to fans. 



Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Joe Demaestri, All-Star, dies, age 87. Down to 17 Browns.

This write-up courtesy of Uncle Mike:


    Joe DeMaestri, 87, from San Francisco. A shortstop, and like Billy DeMars also a survivor of another defunct team: the Philadelphia As.  "Froggy" played 81 games for the Browns in 1952, before playing for the A's from 1953 through 1959, including the move to Kansas City in 1954-55. He was an All-Star in 1957. He was a throw-in in the trade that brought Roger Maris to the Yankees. He was sent in to replace Tony Kubek after his injury in Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, and his last major league appearance was on the next year's Series, winning a 1961 World Series ring.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Neil Berry, member of last Browns team passes. Now just 18.

Former Detroit Tiger and Kalamazoo life-long resident Neil Berry dies

John Tunison | jtunison@mlive.comBy John Tunison | jtunison@mlive.com 
Follow on Twitter
on August 27, 2016 at 2:30 PM, updated August 28, 2016 at 8:44 AM
Neil Berry.jpgNeil John Berry in a photo used for his obituary 
KALAMAZOO, MI -- Neil Berry, a Kalamazoo athletic standout in the 1930s who later played for the Detroit Tigers and other MLB teams, has died.
Berry was a life-long resident of Kalamazoo. He was 94.
Berry was a utility player with the Tigers for five years, starting in 1948. He played second base, shortstop and third base.
Later, he played for the Chicago White Sox, the St. Louis Browns and Baltimore Orioles in 1953 and 1954.
Berry was a top high school athlete in the Kalamazoo area in the late 1930s and attended Kalamazoo Central High School. He was on Central's football team that won the state championship in 1938.
He also excelled in basketball and was on Central's state championship team in 1937.
Berry later attended Western State Teacher's College, which became Western Michigan University, and played on the freshman football and baseball teams.
His sports career was interrupted when he served in the United States Army from 1943-1945 during World War II.
After baseball, he was in the sporting goods business, then worked to install gymnasium floors and finally as a Kalamazoo County government employee.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Baseball's Browns were St. Louis' colorful, lovable losers

ESPN series on lost teams: Warriors, Trojans, Pilots, Whalers, Expos, Braves, Lakers, Athletics, Clippers ... and our ever-lovin Brownies!

http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/16404285/baseball-browns-colorful-lovable-losers-were-first-franchise-leave-st-louis-behind

Eddie Gaedel's pinch-hitting appearance -- he walked, of course -- was just one of the stunts Bill Veeck pulled when he owned the St. Louis Browns. AP Photo


With the Rams rebooting in Los Angeles, ESPN.com presents a series exploring the remnants departed teams have left behind in the cities they abandoned.
St. Louis has been jilted by the professional sports world yet again.
The Rams have returned to Los Angeles, reuniting with their ex after a two-decade fling in the Gateway City. St. Louis enjoyed a Super Bowl victory and five postseason appearances from 1999-2004, but the divorce ingloriously capped a decade of playoff-free football for the city's NFL fans.






Worse, the Rams are the fourthmajor sports franchise to abandon St. Louis. The NFL's Cardinals bolted for Arizona in 1988. The NBA's Hawks relocated to Atlanta in 1968. MLB's Browns pulled up stakes for Baltimore after the 1953 season and became the Orioles. That doesn't even count the decommissioning of the Spirits of St. Louis prior to the ABA-NBA merger in 1976.
The baseball Browns played 52 seasons in St. Louis, not far off the sum of the Rams (21), football Cardinals (28) and Hawks (13) combined. That fact alone makes the Browns unique among franchises to defect from St. Louis -- but it's a colorful legacy as lovable losers that places them in a sentimental category of their own.
"It's not just that they're bad -- they're comically, lovably, absurdly bad," said sportscaster Bob Costas, who lived in St. Louis for years and still owns a home there. "So I think the reason why they're remembered nostalgically isn't just because they once existed and then left, or because they were bad. It's because they were interestingly bad."






More than six decades after their departure, traces of the star-crossed Browns remain in St. Louis.
A display of Browns memorabilia exists as part of the St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame exhibits at Scottrade Center, home of the NHL's Blues. It contains vintage photos, uniform articles, a bat used in the 1944 World Series, a baseball used in the team's final game and a custom pair of cowboy boots bearing Browns logos that belonged to onetime owner Donald Barnes. The centerpiece is a video documentary about the team's history, narrated by Costas, who helped fund the display.
A sign at the Herbert Hoover Boys and Girls Club commemorates the site where Sportsman's Park stood in various iterations from 1881 to 1966. It lists star players who competed there and notes World Series contested at the location. There are still approximately 20 living former Browns players. Chuck Stevens, 97, is the oldest. J.W. Porter, 83, is the youngest.
The Browns held primacy over the rival Cardinals early in the 20th century, serving as landlords in Sportsman's Park to their National League counterparts. In 1922, the Browns enjoyed a landmark season, winning 93 games but finishing one game behind the New York Yankees for the American League pennant. That year, future Hall of Famer George Sisler established a franchise record by batting .420, and Ken Williams became the first major leaguer to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in the same season.
But it wasn't long before the Cardinals would take over the town, and they won their first World Series in 1926 by defeating the Yankees in seven games. From that point until the Browns departed for Baltimore, the Cardinals won eight NL pennants and five World Series. Meantime, the Browns topped the .500 mark just five times in the next 27 seasons -- and three of those came during World War II, when MLB's ranks were depleted of star players.
The Browns' only AL championship came in 1944 with a wartime roster. They won two of the first three games in the World Series, only to lose in six games to, of course, the Cardinals.






While the Cards were writing history, the Browns had to settle for footnotes. Pete Gray, who had lost his right arm in a childhood accident, played 77 games as an outfielder in 1945. Roy Sievers, a St. Louis native, was named 1949 AL Rookie of the Year and later became an All-Star for the Washington Senators and Chicago White Sox. Then there's the unlikely tale of Bobo Holloman, who pitched a no-hitter in his first career start on May 6, 1953, only to be permanently demoted to the minors 2 1/2 months later.
It was during the Browns' final three seasons, under the eccentric ownership of Bill Veeck, that they established themselves as a team for the ages. Veeck and the Browns created myriad spectacles during the second half of the 1951 season alone. A sampling:
  • July 2: Veeck purchases the club.
  • July 14: The team signs legendary Negro Leagues pitcher Satchel Paige, thought to be 45, although his true age was debatable. Paige would compile an 18-23 record in three seasons with St. Louis -- pretty good for a team that lost 292 games during that span.
  • Aug. 19: Eddie Gaedel, at 3-foot-7 and 65 pounds, draws a walk as a pinch hitter in his only career plate appearance. Detroit Tigers catcher Bob Swift is reputed to have offered this sage advice to pitcher Bob Cain prior to the encounter: "Pitch him low."
  • Aug. 24: The team holds Grandstand Managers Night, whereby fans made actual game decisions by voting with flash cards.
  • Sept. 30: On the final day of the season, Ned Garver becomes the first pitcher in modern baseball history to win 20 games for a team that lost at least 100. He remains the only major leaguer to do so.






"In a weird way, it was almost better for the long-term memory of the Browns that we didn't win any pennants except the asterisk pennant of 1944," said Emmett McAuliffe, vice president of the St. Louis Browns Historical Society. "It almost cements us in the public mind."
Don Larsen is known best for the perfect game he threw as a Yankee in the 1956 World Series, but he began his career with the Browns. He was a rookie during the team's woebegone 1953 season, and he closed out the final Browns victory by pitching two innings in relief of Paige. That game, a 7-3 win at Detroit on Sept. 22, also turned out to be the final victory of Paige's career.
Larsen recalls traveling by train on road trips and the willingness of veterans to help him acclimate to the majors. He also remembers participating in spring training in San Bernardino, California, alongside a young left-hander named Tom Lasorda, whom the team eventually couldn't afford to keep under contract.
Larsen compiled a 7-12 record in 1953 and threw a team-leading 192 2/3 innings. He also hit three homers and drove in 10 runs. The team infamously went 54-100 that year while drawing only 297,238 fans -- an average of 3,860 per game.
"Of course, we didn't do all that well," Larsen said. "We didn't draw for crap, but I liked St. Louis. I enjoyed it, especially with the guys we had. It was my first year. They all treated you well, and we were just trying to do our job the best way we could and hang in there."
Larsen remembers Veeck, who once lived with his family in an apartment under the Sportsman's Park grandstands, regularly mingling with players. Larsen can picture Veeck and catcher Les Moss regularly playing cards during the owner's frequent visits to the trainer's room to receive treatment on his right leg, which was injured and amputated at the knee in World War II.
"I liked him very much," Larsen said of Veeck. "He was a good man. I think the other owners didn't like his showmanship, per se, but I think he tried to give something back to the fans."






The Browns Historical Society curates the Scottrade Center display and has since become de facto caretakers of a trove of memorabilia and countless recollections of the bygone franchise. It holds an annual reunion luncheon for players and fans, although only two former Brownies -- Porter and Sievers -- were able to attend last year's event. The group, also known as the Browns Fan Club, published a three-part book titled "Ables to Zoldak" of the team's historical numbers years before statistics were readily available online.
Although the ranks of the living Browns are inevitably shrinking, the historical society dutifully endures "to keep the memory alive of this odd duck," McAuliffe said.
"When we started in 1984, there were a couple hundred living Brownies," McAuliffe said. "It was mainly an effort by us to get as many of them as could come back, kind of like a college reunion. We would get dozens of Brownies back then. As the players have gotten older and there's gotten fewer and fewer, it's turned into like a last man's club."
St. Louis is widely considered second to none as a baseball town, so McAuliffe pitches a wild idea. Maybe the city could lure a relocated or expansion team to share Busch Stadium and become the new Browns. If a rekindled team attracted even half the 3.52 million who attended Cardinals games last season, it would outpace the 2015 totals of four MLB clubs. So what if ...
"No, no, no, no," Costas said, bringing reality back into focus. "That is a sweet notion that comes from a good place and has no practical justification."
Unlike the Rams, the Browns never won a championship. But unlike the Rams, the Browns had a spirit that leaves them remembered fondly by the city they left behind.
"It's one thing just to suck and to fail," Costas said. "It's another to fail colorfully, nobly and unforgettably -- which brings up the question: Did they really fail? Here we are [talking about it] 60 years later. ... Their place in history exceeds their accomplishments about 10 times over."

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Eddie Gaedel Mayoral Proclamation Featured on Fox 2 News

Don't forget to get your tickets for the Eddie Gaedel Bobblehead Night Pregame Party with Don Larsen and other Browns players (see info in post below)!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

RESERVATIONS DUE 9/6: "Double Down with Don" September 9th... Exclusive 'Eddie Gaedel Night' Engagement

Don Larsen felt so bad about missing our June luncheon due to a scheduling snafu, he offered to come back and do an event with the fan club as soon as possible.

"Why wait til next year?", we decided, "when the biggest publicity-generating event in fan club history is September 9?".  As you know, at Busch Stadium on that Friday night, 30,000 fans will pass through the turnstiles with a box under their arm containing a limited-edition Eddie Gaedel Bobblehead. And 30,000 fans will have conversations among their family, "Who were the St. Louis Browns??"

Granddads will explain to grandkids. And so on. And the memory of the St. Louis Browns will have been preserved in one great leap. (And just in the nick of time while we are down to only 17 living Browns players).

So we decided to "Double-down with Don".  We're bringing Don into town (from Idaho).  Don will be representing the Browns on the field and in the broadcast booth that evening on KMOX radio.

But first, Don will be appearing at a special event.  And you are invited! But space is limited.


In other words ... DONT THINK!  It's Don Frickin Larsen and a free Eddie Gaedel Bobblehead!  ACT!  And when you hear the special venue where this pregame party will be taking place (SEE BELOW) ... I know you are going to flip.  And when you hear how you will be riding in style to be dropped off directly at your stadium gate you are going to flip (plus breathe a sigh of relief knowing that downtown hassles will be at a minimum).
So here are the dirty deets:  

Location: The Tiny Bar (Eddie Gaedel-themed bar voted The Riverfront Times Best New Bar of 2015
1008 Locust at 10th Street 
Downtown St. Louis

Time
Friday, Sept. 9
2:30 to 5:30pm 
              
Deluxe trolley to the ballpark (gates open at 6:00 p.m). The trolley service provides roundtrip transportation from the Tiny Bar to Busch Stadium and back to your parking location.

Parking:
Two convenient surface lots and one garage available within two blocks.

Here's what you get:
    Image result for don larsen browns color
Meet & Greet Don Larsen & Corrine Larsen
Live Interview of Don by Benjamin Hochmann of the Post-Dispatch
World's only Browns-themed bar
Appetizers catered by Art of Entertaining® and two (2) not-so tiny drinks from the Tiny Bar 
Your photo professionally taken with Don Larsen (w/ Polaroid­® ~ no charge)
Two (2) autographs (your item or Polaroid)
Round-trip deluxe trolley ride
Short video presentation on the only perfect game in the 111-year history of the World Series 
Just $60 tax-deductible!!!*
Reservations:
For the ballgame and the Eddie Gaedel Bobblehead and to sit with fellow Browns fan club members, make reservations direct with the Cardinals at: www.cardinals.com/browns  or call 314-345-9000. Ballgame ticket is only $25 per person for BFC members.  7:15pm start time.  

For the meet and greet with Don and Corine Larsen: The tax deductible reservation is $60 per person.

Make your tax deductible reservation with a check of $60 per person payable to the “St. Louis Browns Historical Society” and mail to:

     John Rappold
     St. Louis Browns Fan Club
     13525 Chatham Manor Dr.
     St. Louis, MO   63128
     E – mail   Jrjr21937@yahoo.com

Questions:
Vicki Martin  -  314-852-1402
Bill Rogers  -  314-892-8632
e-mail  -  stlbrowns@swbell.net

Don Larsen . . . . Eddie Gaedel
Two guys with a couple of things in common -  they both played for the St. Louis Browns, and they both achieved baseball immortality from ONE GAME.

Cut and paste the following reservation form to a blank sheet of paper and then print.  





Make ________ reservation (s) for the Larsen Meet & Greet gathering @ $60 each.                             $_______

Your Name:        ___________________________________________________________

Address: _________________________________________________________________

City: _______________________________ State: _____  Zip:________________________

e-Mail: ___________________________________________________________
We'll be waitin for ya!


Mail check payable and mail to: 
                          St. Louis Browns Fan Club
John Rappold
                          13525 Chatham Manor Dr.
                          St. Louis, MO   63128
                          E – mail   Jrjr21937@yahoo.com



Generous donation to Don and Corine's travel expenses provided by the St. Louis Cardinals.

Please note that the Double Down with Don will take place at the Tiny Bar plus the 2nd floor breakout space.  Elevator service inside the Tiny Bar to the 2nd floor.

October 6, 1956  -  On this day in 1956, baseball history was made. Don Larsen pitched the first perfect game in the World Series against the rival Brooklyn Dodgers. Yogi leaped into Don's arms as the game ended, and now this image is one of the most iconic in history and will be shown at our reception on September 9.  Join us!