Sunday, September 27, 2015

Yogi, Garver and the 1951 AL MVP Award

The passing of Yogi Berra reminds us of a controversey near and dear to the hearts of Browns fans.

In 1951, Browns' right-handed pitcher Ned Garver was setting the record that still stands for pitchers who won 20 games for a team that finished in last place and lost 100 games.  Better still, Ned was in the fourth year of an incredible four-year rWAR spurt (4.6, 4.1, 7.3, and 5.6) which started right in Garver's rookie season, 1948.  Meanwhile, in '51, Yogi could rise no higher than seventh in any major batting category (except for home runs where he was in a three-way tie for fourth place with a not-so-incredible 27 dingers).

Yogi of course also had "being a catcher" going for him.  But the Yanks had only the third-best pitching staff in the eight-team league.   And the staff featured - not kids who might need some grooming from their battery-mate - but veteran all-stars like Vic Raschi, Allie Reynolds and Eddie Lopat.  So "Where was the beef?" (as Yogi might have said himself).

Fielding-wise, Yogi was solid, but not spectacular, ranking only third in caught-stealing and fielding percentages and ranking first in errors.

Garver seemed to be the clear MVP.

And so Ned thought. The night before the announcement was due, back home for the off-season in Ney, Ohio, Ned received a call from a wire service reporter out of Cleveland (Ned doesn't remember whether it was AP or UPI) congratulating Ned on his MVP victory, and asking for his comment.

But then the announcement came out that Berra had won.

Yogi Berra     AL   M.V.P.
A griming Yogi Berra, center, Squat New York Yankee catcher, receives thumping congratulation from other Major Leaguers at American Baseball Academy in New York on Nov. 7, 1951 after learning that he will be named on November 8, most valuable player in the American League for 1951. Berra polled 184 votes to 157 for runner-up Ned Garver of the St. Louis Browns. From Left to right are: Sid Gordon, Boston Braves; Ed Lopat, Yankees; Berra; Gil Hodges, Brooklyn Dodgers, and Gil McDougald, Yankees. (AP Photo/John Rooney) (John Rooney)

The theory is that the votes were rigged by the New York press. Both American League and (especially importantly) New York Yankee attendance was falling in 1951, after robust postwar gains for several years. The baseball minions– and the press– decided that the very last thing the game needed was for a member of the laughingstock St. Louis Browns to win the MVP, and a pitcher at that. The likable and comical Yogi was the candidate to bring everybody out of the doldrums.

Ned himself says that the information he received down through the years was that the New York press even left Garver's name off of some ballots.

Yogi would repeat the MVP award in 1954 and 1955 with somewhat more formidable numbers.  But his 1951 award was the most inauspicious AL MVP winner until 1965's Zoilo Versailles of the Minnesota Twins.  The Browns, for their part, would never win a modern (post-1931) MVP award.

"Gee, Yogi, gimme a break!"

Friday, September 25, 2015

Yogi's Quotes

Yogi Berra  -  He was famous for paradox remarks. Here's a few more:
·         Every team should play their opening game at home.
·         Whenever you see a fork in the road, take it.
·         The future ain't what it used to be.
·         You gotta' be careful if you don't know where you're going, 'cause you might not get there.
·         He sure did make a wrong mistake.
·         This is the earliest I've ever been late.
·         Nobody goes to that restaurant any more because it's too crowded.
·         A game isn't over till it's over.
·         You'd be surprised how much you can observe by watching.
·         I just want to thank everybody who made this night necessary.
·         I didn't say everything I said.
·         Half the lies people tell about me ain't true.
·         If people don't want to come out to the ballpark, nobody's gonna stop them.
·         It was deja vu all over again.
·         Hiow can you think and hit at the same time?
·         I ain't in no slump. I just ain't hittin'.
·         In baseball, you don't know nothing.
·         These ain't Yogi remarks, but I heard them lately and get a kick out of them:
·         I talk to myself because I need expert advice.
·         My peop-le skills are just fine; it's my tolerance of idiots that needs working on.
·         I don't need anger management; I just need people to stop pissing me off.
·         At my age, getting lucky means walking into a room and remembering what I came for.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

YOGI: Almost a Brownie

An ardent athlete but an indifferent student, Berra dropped out of school after the eighth grade. He played American Legion ball and worked odd jobs. 

As teenagers, both he and Garagiola tried out with the St. Louis Cardinals and were offered contracts by the Cardinals’ general manager, Branch Rickey. But Garagiola’s came with a $500 signing bonus and Berra’s just $250, so Berra declined to sign. 

(This was a harbinger of deals to come. Berra, whose salary as a player reached $65,000 in 1961, substantial for that era, would prove to be a canny contract negotiator, almost always extracting concessions from the Yankees’ penurious general manager George Weiss.)

In the meantime, the St. Louis Browns also wanted to sign Berra but were not willing to pay any bonus at all. Then, the day after the 1942 World Series, in which the Cardinals beat the Yankees, a Yankee coach showed up at Berra’s parents’ house and offered him a minor-league contract — along with the elusive $500.

But what if . . . . .?  Thanks for the memories Yogi.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Once in a Lifetime St. Louis Baseball Event

You may have missed a once in a lifetime opportunity. 

Roy Sievers and JW Porter, former Browns players, were on hand at the St. Louis Browns annual reunion on September 10, 2015.  The place was Sheraton Lakeside Hotel in Westport. Almost 200 fans joined in to talk baseball along with Ned Garver and Ed Mickelson from the Browns.
Moderating the discussion was Benjamin Hochman, Sports Journalist with the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

Pictured below are some of that day's activities.

Benjamin Hochman, St. Louis Post Dispatch
and Bill Rogers, President, Browns Fan Club

Fan greeting Roy Sievers

Louie the Elf with his luncheon date.

Louie the Elf with Tom Keefe, President Eddie Gaedel Society

Browns merchandise for sale

Charlie Hopkins and his favorite fan.

Emmett McAuliffe, Vice President
St. Louis Browns Fan Club

Benjamin Hochman, St. Louis Post Dispatch

JW Porter, former player with the St. Louis Browns and Cardinals

Bill Borst, St. Louis Browns Fan Club,
Board of Directors

JW Porter

Visit the Browns Website at:

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Last of the Living Former Browns

In 1902, the original Milwaukee Brewers moved to St. Louis and became the St. Louis Browns. From 1902 through 1953, the St. Louis Browns, won only a single American League pennant and that was in the 1944 WWII year in which much of their Brownie good fortunes were attributable to the fact the Yankees and several other clubs were missing key players to military service while the St. Louis entry fared well with older players and draft-deferred flat foots. The Browns lost to their St. Louis NL rivals, the Cardinals, in six games in the 1944 World Series.

Over the years, the Browns were known best for finishing last or next to last; the great Hall of Fame first baseman George Sisler, who also led the city’s greatest AL club, the 1922 Browns, to a one-game finish behind the Yankees; the single pennant of 1944; Willard Brown hits the first American League HR by a black player for the 1947 Browns; the Barnum & Bailey world of new-in-1951 owner Bill Veeck; the August 19, 1951 appearance of 3’7″ Eddie Gaedel as a pinch hitter; Satchel Paige; Fan Manager Night, also in 1951 under Veeck; and Ned Garver winning 20 games for a last place Browns club that won only 52 games the entire season.

The Garver feat led to one of the most memorable anecdotes in baseball history. When Garver asked for a raise in 1952, owner Veeck is said to have turned him down with a very simple explanation: “No way. We could have finished last without you.”

After a couple of years of falling attendance, more losing baseball, chicanery with also suffering Cardinals, and political pressure from the AL owners who wanted to get rid of Bill Veeck, the Browns were sold to Baltimore interests after the 1953 season. They were re-christened as the Baltimore Orioles in 1954.

The St. Louis Browns Historical Society and Browns Fan Club has existed since 1984 for the purpose of keeping alive the memory of the St. Louis Browns baseball club. The Pecan Park Eagle wants to thank current president Bill Rogers for sending us this new list of the current surviving Browns players. With death of former shortstop Bud Thomas on Saturday, August 15, 2015, the list of living former Browns now has dropped to only twenty names.

The 20 Surviving St. Louis Browns Players Through 8/16/2015                                   
From Oldest to Youngest by Name, Birthdate, and Age in 2015

01) Chuck Stevens 07/10/18 – 97
02) Tom Jordan 09/05/19 – 94
03) Dick Starr 03/02/21 – 94
04) George Elder 03/10/21 – 94
05) Neil Berry 01/11/22 – 92
06) Johnny Hetki 05/12/22 – 93
07) Jim Rivera 07/22/22 – 93
08) Tom Wright 09/22/23 – 92
09) Billy DeMars 08/26/25 – 90
10) Ned Garver 12/25/25 – 90
11) Frank Saucier 05/28/26 – 89
12) Johnny Groth 07/23/26 – 89
13) Ed Mickelson 09/09/26 – 89
14) Roy Sievers 11/18/26 – 89
15) Hal Hudson 05/04/27 – 88
16) Al Naples 08/29/27 – 88
17) Billy Hunter 06/04/28 – 87
18) Joe DeMaestri 12/09/28 – 87
19) Don Larsen 08/07/29 – 86
20) J.W. Porter 01/17/33 – 82

Celebrating 64th Anniversary of the Smallest Professional (?) Baseball Player Ever

It was August 19, 1951 when Eddie Gaedel stepped up to the plate as a pinch hitter for Frank Saucier. Today we have Eddie Gaedel Societies popping up around the country recognizing short people. Pictured here is Bill Rogers, President of the St. Louis Browns Historical Society and Emmett McAuliffe, VP of the Organization. While not short in physical size, they say they are short of money.  Who isn't??

Click on Photo to Enlarge

Pictured is Tom Keefe, founder of the Eddie Gaedel Society, preaching the gospel about Eddie Gaedel.

There is one surviving member of this 1951 event, Frank Saucier.  Frank is pictured on the Browns luncheon flyer and can be seen at:

Monday, August 10, 2015

“Eddie Gaedel Day” Set for Wednesday, August 19 in South Pasadena


SPONSORS: Eddie Gaedel Society, Los Angeles Chapter #3, and the Baseball Reliquary

DATE: Wednesday, August 19, 2015, 7:30-10:00 p.m.

LOCATION: Griffins of Kinsale Irish Pub, 1007 Mission St., South Pasadena, CA 91030

CONTACT: Jon Leonoudakis, President, Eddie Gaedel Society, Los Angeles Chapter #3, phone (818) 886-2998 or e-mail:; Terry Cannon, Executive Director, The Baseball Reliquary, phone (626) 791-7647 or e-mail:

          In celebration of the 64th anniversary of Eddie Gaedel’s historic appearance as a pinch-hitter for the St. Louis Browns, the Eddie Gaedel Society, Los Angeles Chapter #3, and the Baseball Reliquary will observe “Eddie Gaedel Day” on Wednesday, August 19, 2015, from 7:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at Griffins of Kinsale, a traditional Irish pub, located at 1007 Mission St., South Pasadena, California.

          Eddie Gaedel (1925-1961), who at 3’7” and weighing 65 pounds was the shortest and lightest player ever to step to the plate in the major leagues, was inserted into the St. Louis Browns lineup as a pinch-hitter on August 19, 1951 in a game against the Detroit Tigers at Sportsman’s Park, St. Louis, Missouri.  Wearing jersey number 1/8, he walked on four pitches in one of the most legendary at-bats in the history of baseball.  The Eddie Gaedel Society was founded by Tom Keefe in Spokane, Washington in 2011 to annually honor the man whose one trip to the plate and whose perfect 1.000 lifetime on-base percentage remain a source of inspiration to all those who dream of following this diminutive star in making it to the big leagues.

          The inaugural “Eddie Gaedel Day” festivities in South Pasadena on August 19 will adhere to the Eddie Gaedel Society’s motto: “Small talk, short speeches, and half-pint beers!”  The fun-filled festivities will include introductory remarks by filmmaker Jon Leonoudakis, president of the Eddie Gaedel Society, Los Angeles Chapter #3, and a $2 Eddie Gaedel Trivia Contest.  A special guest speaker will be Bill Christine, who was a 13-year-old St. Louis Browns knothole gang member when he attended the Gaedel game on August 19, 1951.  Christine, who has belonged to the Baseball Writers Association of America since 1960 and has voted in the annual Baseball Hall of Fame election since 1970, will recall his memories of Gaedel’s historic pinch-hitting appearance.  Christine has written a biography about Roberto Clemente, and his biography of jockey Bill Hartack will be published next year.  From 1982 to 2006, he was a staff writer for the Los Angeles Times.  All attendees will also receive a special pin courtesy of the Eddie Gaedel Society, Spokane Chapter #1.

          For further information on “Eddie Gaedel Day,” contact Jon Leonoudakis, president of the Eddie Gaedel Society, Los Angeles Chapter #3, by phone at (818) 886-2998 or by e-mail at; or Terry Cannon, executive director of the Baseball Reliquary, by phone at (626) 791-7647 or by e-mail at

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Rugger Ardizoia, 95, Made Lone Big League Appearance at Sportsman's Park in '47

Pitcher Mopped Up 15-5 Loss to Muddy Ruel's Browns*

Gave Up 2-Run Homer to Fellow San Franciscan and Iwo Jima 'Teammate' Wally Judnich

Yankee Was One of Only 7 Players in Major League History Born in Italy

San Francisco Chronicle July 20, 2015 obituary of Rinaldo Joseph Ardizoia

*  There are no surviving members of the 1947 Browns. The last survivor, John Lester "Les" Moss, died August 29, 2012

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Interesting Orioles-Cardinals mashup

Via @tdylf

Satchel Paige's honor completes big night for Mobile baseball

Paige was among the four greatest Negro Leagues players when the results of an online poll were announced during Major League Baseball's All-Star Game.

Click on photo to Enlarge
Paige's recognition followed accolades for fellow Mobile natives Hank Aaron, Willie McCovey and Billy Williams at the All-Star Game, where former Mobile prep star Josh Donaldson started at third base for the American League.

Paige became a household name as a Negro Leagues pitcher and while barnstorming in the offseason with big-league players. Because of segregation, he didn't reach the Major Leagues until he was 42, but still managed to represent the St. Louis Browns in two All-Star Games. In 1971, Paige became the first player inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in recognition of his exploits in the Negro Leagues.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

St. Louis Browns Night at Busch Stadium

 Monday, August 17  Cards -vs. San Francisco Giants, 7:15 pm
Take a step back in baseball history and join us for St. Louis Browns Night - August 17, 2015 - at Busch Stadium. The St Louis Browns played in Sportsman’s Park from 1902-1953 and are a rich part of St. Louis baseball history. Fans who purchase a special Browns Night Theme Ticket will receive a limited edition Browns cap. Fans can also enjoy other Browns-related activities and special guests that night as well.

Join your fellow Browns Fan Club members to cheer on our St. Louis Cardinals. If you wish to sit in the St. Louis Browns Fan Club section, we have a hold on 100 tickets in the Left Field Porch. The price right now is $35.80 which includes the limited edition Browns cap.
To order as part of the STL Browns Historical Society group, please call Christine Goodman: 314-345-9512. NOTE: If you wish to purchase tickets in a different section, please  visit: or call the ticket registration service at 314-345-9000. Mention the Browns Fan Club.

 If you're not a member, join the Browns Fan Club and receive a replica scorecard from 1947 when the Browns and Cardinals played each other in their spring training St. Louis “City Series.” You will see the names of great Cardinal players during that time such as Stan Musial, Red Schoendienst, Marty Marion, Whitey Kurowski, Terry Moore, Joe Garagiola, Joe Medwick, Enos Slaughter and others.

 The ‘47 Browns players listed include Denny Galehouse, Bob Muncrief, Les Moss, Johnny Berardino, Bob Dillinger, Vern Stephens, Hank Thompson, Al Zarilla, Jack Kramer and others.  During the 1947 season, Dizzy Dean pitched one game for the Browns which was the last game of his career. All of these players for both teams are listed in this scorecard. Get yours today.

Ø  To order tickets on-line, go to

Ø  To order tickets for the Browns Fan Club Section, call Christine Goodman at 314-345-9512

Ø  To join Browns Fan Club and receive the Cards/Browns City Series scorecard, call 314-892-8632.

Ø  To obtain City Series Scorecard, donate $10. Send check to St. Louis Browns Fan Club, PO Box 510047, St. Louis MO  63151

For information on the STL Browns Fan Club, e-mail or call:

 Bill Rogers -

Bill Rogers - 314-892-8632

Note - Tickets, caps, scorecards, hot dogs, Cracker Jack, etc. are all limited. Reserve early.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Cardinals Trying to Break a Brownie Record for Wins at Home

  The St. Louis Cardinals are 29-7 at Busch Stadium as of June 29, 2015. It is the second-best home start in franchise history. 
  According to STATS LLC, only the 1885 St. Louis Browns (above) started better at home, at 31-4.  (And I bet they had fewer injuries).
'Home Sweet Home' 1885
'Home Sweet Home'  130 yeas later

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Congrats to Orioles: From Worst to First in Just 23 Games

The St. Louis Browns Fan Club would like to salute the Baltimore Orioles who have gone from tied for last place with the Boston Red Sox on June 3 to first place tied with the Tampa Bay Rays at the end of play on June 28 after sweeping the Cleveland Indians in a doubleheader. That's going from worst to first in just 23 games!  Baltimore has had a tough year, but the Orioles seem determined to bring pride to their city.

Cubs Manager Maddon: "Browns were more popular than Cardinals"

Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon was discussing with MLB Network the tenacity of Central-division rivals the St. Louis Cardinals and felt the need to name-check the Browns. Keep the name alive Joe!  I wonder if he would want to take our fan club membership pledge?