Friday, December 15, 2017

Browns documentary underway


Browns documentary underway. The recent publication and overwhelming success of the book: St. Louis Browns - The Story of a Beloved Team has triggered the development of a film on the Browns baseball team's history that will be televised in the spring. Ed Wheatley of the Browns Fan Club has been working with the film's production team to turn the Gateway Grizzlies' stadium into 1930's and 1940's Sportsman's Park for scenes within the film. The scenes will include actual Browns uniforms, bats and other memorabilia. Stay in touch with this site as more information on the documentary's launch will be detailed. It is shaping up to be an excellent piece of baseball lore.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

18th Last-Place Finish in Franchise History

Here I thought the Orioles were in a resurgence under Buck Showalter.  Then I look up and see that the O's actually finished in last place. Hmmmn.  Well, for the record, that's the 18th last place finish for the franchise: 

7 with Baltimore
10 with St. Louis
1 as Milwaukee


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Yankees' Managerial Shift Recalls Days of Sis' and Sis' Jr.

Although there have been scores of sons who have followed their fathers in playing major-league baseball, there are surprisingly few who have followed their fathers as managers.  According to Elias Sports Bureau, Aaron [new Yankees skipper] and Bob Boone will be just the third father-son duo to both manage big-league teams. The others were George (St. Louis Browns) and Dick Sisler (Cincinnati Reds), and Bob (Philadelphia Phillies and San Diego Padres) and Joel Skinner (Cleveland Indians).  Nerd Note: Dick Sisler coached Bob Skinner while on the Cardinals in 1966.




Monday, December 4, 2017

Wow = What a gift and finish your Christmas shopping today.


Wow - what a gift! That's what people keep telling us about the St. Louis Browns' Historical Society's recently published book: The St. Louis Browns - The Story Of A Beloved Team. It is becoming a great Christmas present for people of all ages: it takes parents and grandparents back in time to the memories of Browns baseball as well as stories the Browns' rich history for new generations. The book can be attained online, at local books stores, big box stores like Costco, or through the Browns Fan Club. You can even get a copy signed by the authors. Relive baseball with the Browns with this tremendous Christmas gift.  And remember all proceeds from this book go to the Browns Fan Club and preserving the legacy and memorabilia of the Browns.

Friday, November 24, 2017

RIP Jim Rivera. Great bio/interview from his local paper

Former Chicago White Sox “Jungle Jim” Rivera dies at 96

FILE - In this May 6, 1953, file photo, Manuel "Jungle Jim" Rivera, of the Chicago White Sox 1953, poses in a batting stance. Rivera, an outfielder on the 1959 "Go-Go" White Sox pennant-winning team, has died Monday night in Fort Wayne, Ind. the team said Tuesday, Nov. 14, 2017. He was 96. (AP Photo/File)
“Jungle Jim” Rivera, an outfielder on the 1959 “Go-Go” White Sox pennant-winning team, died Monday in Fort Wayne. He was 96. The AL leader in triples in 1953 and steals two years later, Rivera played for the White Sox from 1952 to 1961. He was part of the 1959 team that — led by Nellie Fox, Luis Aparicio and Early Wynn — captured the franchise’s first pennant since 1919. Rivera batted .256 in a career that included short stints with the St. Louis Browns and Kansas City Athletics.
The following is a 2012 interiew with Rivera, who went on to own Captain’s Cabin Restaurant at Crooked Lake in Angola after retiring from baseball.
He once chided President John F. Kennedy for an illegible autograph on a souvenir baseball, telling him, “You certainly have to do better than this, John.” Another time, he boasted to former first lady Bess Truman, “I’m sure sorry my home run beat your club, but it was a helluva wallop, eh Bess?”
For 10 seasons, “Jungle Jim” Rivera played major league baseball, with most of his career spent playing outfield with the Chicago White Sox. The irrepressible Rivera, known for his speed, huge cigars, headfirst slides, and humor was often fodder for sports writers who delighted in his genial unpredictability.
Retirement from baseball saw him take up the reins at Angola’s venerable Captain’s Cabin — a role he relished for 26 years. Now, at age 90, he reflects on a life well-lived.
Your parents moved to New York from Puerto Rico. Describe your childhood.
When I was about three years old, my mother died, and my sister Mary and I were put in an orphanage. When we came out, I was 15, going on 16.
It was a Catholic home for boys and girls. My father would come up and visit once in a while. We had a place in the middle of the convent where you could sit and eat fruit, candy — whatever the parents would bring. They would visit for a couple hours and then go home. Every other year he would show up. I was glad… glad to see him.
After you returned home, you began boxing and continued in the Army.
I loved boxing. I was in the Golden Gloves in New York City. I got the h— beat out of me, but I loved it. I went to the finals one time.
In the Army if you won [the match] on Friday nights, you either got cigarettes, tickets to a movie, or you didn’t get KP. And I didn’t want KP!
You were also a judo instructor and played baseball in the Army before signing a contract to play major league baseball in 1949. Where did you play?
I was signed by the Atlanta Braves, and they sent me to Gainesville, Florida, Class D. I played there, and we won everything — play-offs, batting champ… Then I went to Pensacola, Class A, and won everything there. Next was Seattle, AAA, under Rogers Hornsby.
Hornsby signed you to the St. Louis Browns in 1952, where you played before joining the Chicago White Sox. How did that transpire?
Rogers Hornsby liked anyone who would hustle, and he said one day that he would pay $2 to see me play. I was with the Browns about a month and a half, and then the White Sox bought me.
I started in center field, but when we got Jim Landis, I went to right. Minnie Minoso was in left.
You set several records with the Sox. What were they?
Every time I stole a base, I had to deal with Frank Lane, the General Manager. When I stole a base, I got $100, and when I got thrown out, he’d take $100 off. That was good incentive! I had 25 that year (1955). My 16 triples held up for a long, long time.
Your birth name is Manuel Joseph Rivera. Where did the “Jungle Jim” moniker originate?
We were playing the Dodgers in an exhibition game in Florida, and Don Newcombe was pitching. I got a single off Newcombe — right through the box. When I got on first base, instead of leaning, I was [demonstrates a chimpanzee-like stance]. The announcer says to the newsman, “Look at him! He looks like he’s in the jungle!”
So, I took off for second base, dove headfirst, and they threw me out. It was in the Chicago Sun-Times the next day: “Jungle Jim”. Ah, well, it was better than some of the things I’ve been called.
You became famous for that headfirst slide.
I just did that automatically. If you dive headfirst you can see where the ball is coming from. It doesn’t hurt to slide like that if you do it right. I would rather have a broken finger than a broken ankle.
Colorful, unorthodox, bold, brash… what antics earned you those descriptions?
One night I had a home run to beat Kansas City. Bess and Harry Truman always sat between first and home in the upper deck. You could see the Secret Service guys all around them.
After the game we saw a big crowd at the front of the stadium. Harry Truman was in the middle. I walked up and said, “Hi, Harry. Jim Rivera and George Kell… Where’s Bess?”
There was this big black Cadillac, and Bess was in the back seat. I went over and said, “Hi, Bess. I’m the one who hit the home run and beatcha.”
Describe the encounter with JFK during a Washington Senators game.
I knew that every year on opening day, the president would throw the ball out, and I knew from watching films of him playing touch football with the family that he had a pretty good arm. Everybody was on the pitcher’s mound, but I went back further.
So here comes the ball… and I caught it.
It was later reported that you “danced a hilarious jig and then raced to the presidential box in quest of an autograph”. That autograph was barely legible. What did you say?
Something like, “what’s this? Is that your signature? It’s just a scribble!”
After 10 years in the majors, you retired to start a new chapter. What brought you to Captain’s Cabin?
My first wife lived in Angola, and her brother Bill and I bought the restaurant. It was a new role for me.
Besides the view of Crooked Lake with it’s stunning sunsets, what are some of your favorite memories of the Cabin?
On weekends a combo played for dancing. I had a box full of “instruments” I passed out, and everyone played along. Spoons was my specialty. Every year on a Sunday before Christmas, I fixed a chicken dinner for the residents of the County Home. New Year’s Eve was a big event, starting with a decorating party and ending with breakfast.
Customers from Indiana, Michigan and Ohio… euchre games… relaxing on Doc Nesbitt’s pontoon on Lake James… I loved my time at the Cabin, and I loved the people there. I wish I could do it all over again.
Life sometimes tossed you a curveball. Reflect on your experiences.
I’ve met so many people, from Presidents to ballplayers to fans and little leaguers, and the good things in life outweigh any hardships along the way. I have the two most important things in life — a wonderful wife and great friends — and, I might add, great memories.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

With the death today of Red Sox Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr, former Brown Chuck Stevens is now the oldest living major leaguer at 99 years and 127 days old. Stay healthy Chuck!



Monday, October 30, 2017

Great Coverage Of the St. Louis Browns Annual Reunion Luncheon by the St. Louis Cardinals for their program The Cardinals Insider.

Great segment from the St. Louis Browns Annual Luncheon captured by the St. Louis Cardinals for their TV show: The Cardinals Insider. Really shows what a great time had by all and a great turnout. Bottomline, it shows the tremendous vitality and commitment of Brownie Fans and how they turn out even 64 years after the team left St. Louis. The Fan Club welcomes all to attend. Here is the clip introduced by Ozzie Smith on the show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LLcyQUkdjV0.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Big News! Save the date for the very first St. Louis Browns Fan Club Quarterly Roundtable to be held Saturday January 20, 2018 from 1:30PM to 3:30PM at the Carondelet Historical Society building. The topic will be George Sisler and the great Browns teams of the 1920s. Members of George Sisler family will be attending as well as the Browns Fan Club. It will be an open discussion and all are invited to participate and bring items to show and discuss as part of the presentation led by the Browns Historical Society. Admission is free to all current Fan Club members and $15 for non-members. Full details of the event will posted around December 1, 2017.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

A New 'Brown' to Make Hall Of Fame?

(Blattner, left, Carl McIntire, right)


(UPDATE 12/12/18: Buddy did not make the Hall this time around bit good friend of the BFC, Bob Costas did make it.  Congrats, Little Bobby Costas!) There are 14 players who played for the St. Louis Browns who are in the  National Baseball Hall Of Fame.  In addition, there are another eight inductees who had a connection to the Browns either by being on the Browns roster as a player, or coach, or by being the everyday broadcaster of Browns games.


Frankly, we at the St. Louis Browns Historical Society and Fan Club were not expecting ever to have another inductee. But one has arisen on the horizon: Buddy Blattner.

Blattner is one of the nominees this year for the broadcaster wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame.  Broadcasters who are "inducted" receive the Ford C. Frick Award.

Blattner was the Browns radio broadcaster for four full seasons (from 1950 through 1953).  He was also the Browns television broadcaster in 1953 on KSD-TV and by mid-August, on "the Home of the Browns", WTVI (present day KTVI or "Fox 2").  On both radio and TV, Blattner's job was to handle play-by-play while a sidekick did "color" commentary (in 1952 and '53 the color man was Dizzy Dean).

Blattner was a fine broadcaster who later went on to greater fame in the broadcasting world than calling the lowly Browns.  But being required to make Browns games exciting on radio gave Blattner the "chops" he would need to rise to the level of being considered for the Hall Of Fame.

The Browns also gave Blattner the chance to get into TV sports reporting.  TV viewers wrote letters to the Post-Dispatch in protest when Blattner's and sidekick Howie Williams' hot stove league program recapping the week's Browns' escapades interrupted the center portion of Your Show of Shows, a Saturday evening staple and the fourth-ranked program in the ratings for 1951.  The Browns and Blattner were scheduled to broadcast every game in 1953 on WTVI.  Broadcasting games every day was a practice that was only found in the big markets of New York and Chicago.  Unfortunately, the new station, on Ultra High Frequency, couldn't get its signal together until early August.    Nonetheless, Blattner hosted a program previewing the Browns 1953 season on the only TV station on the air at the time, KSD-TV*.

Since Blattner was rehearsed for the nuances of TV description in 1953, but with no regular station, he was tapped to televise the Major League opening day game in Washington D.C. for the Game of the Week (Yankees vs.  Senators). But the game was washed out.  Blattner's first known Browns play-by-play telecast was Saturday, June 13, a contest against the Philadelphia Athletics on KSD.

Blattner was slated to be part of a Bill Veeck stunt that, if it had come off, might have made his name come up for consideration in the Hall of Fame a whole lot sooner, simply because the notoriety gained from the stunt would have made him something of a journalistic pioneer (and his name a household word almost on par with Eddie Gaedel's.)

Here's that scoop:  In 1951, Veeck was planning to activate Blattner on the Browns' roster, send him onto the field with a walkie-talkie strapped to his back, and have him broadcast a game while playing. (Much like the annoying little league right-fielder who gets bored and starts pretending he is a baseball announcer!).  Blattner had appeared in 272 major league games before retiring, and was only 31-years old, so the gimmick even had competitive plausibility.

But the experiment died when the Phillies, who still owned Blattner’s contract even though he was retired, demanded $10,000. Veeck couldn’t afford it.

After the Browns moved, Blattner became the play-by-play man for another pro sports franchise that moved from Milwaukee to St. Louis when the NBA’s Hawks moved from Milwaukee to St. Louis in 1955.  (The Hawks didn't last nearly as long as the Browns, though: just 14 years.)

* That season-opening TV appearance was April 10, 1953 on KSD-TV with "a studio program featuring Marty Marion, manager of the Browns, other Browns players" and Blattner as "m.c.".

Former Royals announcer Bud Blattner up for Ford Frick Award - Royals Review clock menu more-arrow no yes

Former Royals announcer Bud Blattner up for Ford Frick Award

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He was the original Royals broadcaster

Former Royals announcer Robert “Bud” Blattner is one of eight finalists for the Ford C. Frick Award, given annually by the Baseball Hall of Fame to recognize longstanding excellence in broadcasting. The other candidates are Joe Buck, Bob Costas, Dizzy Dean, Don Drysdale, Al Michaels, Joe Morgan, and Pee Wee Reese. Denny Matthews won the award in 2007. Blattner was paired with Matthews for the original broadcasting team in Royals history back in 1969.
Blattner grew up in St. Louis and played for his hometown Cardinals for a season before serving his country in World War II in the Navy. The second baseman returned for a few years with the Giants and Phillies before turning to broadcasting, working with the St. Louis Browns. He was teamed with Hall of Fame pitcher Dizzy Dean, known for his folksy sayings and mangling of the English language (he would frequently say runners “slud” into the base.) Blattner was the straight man to Dean’s mania, commenting, “People liked (Dean) giving everything but the score, but wanted me to restore sanity.”
Blattner and Dean were picked up nationally and eventually did TV broadcasts for ABC. They were the first team ever to do a weekly national broadcast. Blattner was known for “a sunshiny voice and his Rotarian of the Year personality.” Eventually, Blattner and Dean split up acrimoniously and Blattner returned to St. Louis to do Cardinals games.
After two seasons in St. Louis, Blattner moved on to the expansion Los Angeles Angels, where he served as their broadcaster from 1962 to 1968. In 1969, he again joined an expansion team, becoming the first broadcaster in Royals history, along with a young, fresh-faced Denny Matthews.
Despite being 23 years his senior, Blattner meshed well with the 26-year old rookie broadcaster from Peoria. Blattner became enormously popular, broadcasting games on 980 KMBZ, with games occasionally simulcast on KMBC Channel 9 in Kansas City. Blattner worked for the Royals until 1975, when he decided to retire and hand things over to Fred White, who paired with Matthews for the next two decades.
Blattner was also a very accomplished table tennis player, winning a national championship, and being inducted in to the U.S. Table Tennis Association Hall of Fame in 1979. He passed away from lung cancer in 2009.
The winner of the Ford C. Frick Award will be announced December 13, with a ceremony for the honoree at next year’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony next July.