Thursday, May 7, 2015

Lookee down by the train depot! The St. Louis BROWNS are passing through our lil' ol' town!!


100 years ago this week, the Daily Journal-Gazette of Mattoon, Ill., reported in their April 30 edition:
MATTOON -- The St. Louis Browns baseball club of the American League will pass through Mattoon on the Big Four Railroad the morning of May 2.
Rickey


I shall leave it to our readers in the railroad buff community to explain the details of the Big Four Railroad (the name popularly given to the Central Pacific Railroad, a/k/a the first transcontinental railroad).*

The Browns were finishing up a road trip in Cleveland and heading home to St. Louis to begin a homestand Tuesday.   Robert Lee Hedges, the original owner of the Browns is still owner for one last year. Still on the team is Hall of Famer Bobby Wallace, who goes all the way back to the St. Louis Perfectos (they of "best opening record in franchise history fame").  Branch Rickey is the manager. The Browns are stagnant in 8th place.

You can peruse other stories noted on April 30, 1915, courtesy of the Mattoon Journal Gazette and Times-Courier website.

I would note three things:

1. The daily newspaper was the thing, not twitter.

2. The Browns are in last place, but simply being part of the "big eight," of any one of the three major leagues operating at the time, was an attraction.

3. Not sure if there is a freight rail-line still passing through Mattoon, but look at how amazingly straight-arrow it is to pass over there "as the crow flies" from Cleveland to St. Louis. 

See:



If you went by Amtrak today, you would have to go through Chicago; if you drove, through Effingham.

* Though I cant resist pointing out that the railroad had its origins with a bill introduced by Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri for a "Great National Highway from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean, straight as may be, with branches to Oregon and Mexico. The Government was to reserve a strip one mile wide for it, so as to provide for every kind of a road and means of conveyance – railway, plank, macadamized, with railroad trains, wagons, stages, pack trains and even sleds in Winter".

Monday, May 4, 2015

Four Hits, Three Times in Browns/Orioles History

ST. LOUIS CONNECTION
Adam Jones is the first Orioles player to have four or more hits three times within the team's first 23 games. Since records are first available in 1914, the only other player in franchise history to do it was Baby Doll Jacobson in 1924 for the St. Louis Browns.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Browns Web Site Preview

Yes, try it out.
http://thestlbrowns.com

Take me to the Browns Fan Club web site.

Surviving Browns Players - 4/23/2015



Chuck Stevens 07/10/18 - 96
Tom Jordan 09/05/19 - 93
Dick Starr 03/02/21 - 93
George Elder 03/10/21 - 93
Neil Berry 01/11/22 - 92

Johnny Hetki 05/12/22 - 92
Jim Rivera 07/22/22 - 92
Tom Wright 09/22/23 - 91
Billy DeMars 08/26/25 - 89
Ned Garver 12/25/25 - 89

Frank Saucier 05/28/26 - 88
Johnny Groth 07/23/26 - 88
Ed Mickelson 09/09/26 - 88
Roy Sievers 11/18/26 - 88
Hal Hudson 05/04/27 - 87

Al Naples 08/29/27 - 87
Billy Hunter 06/04/28 - 86
Joe DeMaestri 12/09/28 - 86
Bud Thomas 03/10/29 - 85
Don Larsen 08/07/29 - 85

J.W. Porter 01/17/33 - 81

This Day In Baseball History


1952 — Bob Feller of the Cleveland Indians and Bob Cain of the St. Louis Browns matched onehitters. Cain wound up as the winner, 1-0.

1952 — Hoyt Wilhelm of the Giants hit a home run at the Polo Grounds in his first major league atbat.

He was the winner, too, and pitched 1,070 games in the majors — but never hit another homer.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

George Sisler Still Holds Record for Most Hits in a Season

I always get disturbed reading that Ichiro Suzuki broke George Sisler's season record with 262 hits to Sisler's 257. No mention is ever made that the season was extended from 154 games to 162 which helped Ichciro break the record.

Ichiro had 1.62 hits per game compared to 1.67 by Sisler. Sisler had the most per game and edged him out. George is still the leader.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Painting from 1944 World Series Unearthed at Boston Museum

“Saturday Afternoon At Sportsman’s Park,” oil 1945
We at the St. Louis Browns fan club were not aware of a critically acclaimed oil painting having been done around the scene(s) of the 1944 World Series, the subway series between the Browns and the Cardinals.

But same came to our attention courtesy of the Boston Globe, which ran a feature concerning the new “The Art of Baseball” exhibit at the Concord Museum in Concord, Massachusetts.

The painting is by Edward Laning and is entitled “Saturday Afternoon At Sportsman’s Park”. According to the Globe article, it depicts Game 4 of the World Series, played October 7, 1944. (The Browns went into that tilt leading the series two games to one).

Laning, who died in 1981, is a renowned mural painter whose works are still prominent in many public buildings around the country.

“The Art of Baseball” opens this Friday (April 17)* and runs through Sept. 20.  Doris Kearns Goodwin is honorary curator of the exhibit.

Perhaps Laning's most famous work is The Role of the Immigrant in the Industrial Development of America which hangs in the Aliens’ Dining Room at Ellis Island.

Laning was part of an art school called the Fourteenth Street school.  Laning and the Fourteenth Streeters occupied a peculiar role among their peers. While their subjects were distinctly contemporary, their style was proudly anachronistic: they drew inspiration from European masters like Rubens, Veronese, and Tintoretto. During a trip to Europe in 1929, Laning was taken by the work of Rubens, one of Miller’s favorites.

Laning was born and raised not too far from Sportsman's Park.  He was from Petersburg, Illinois in Menard County.  It is not known whether Laning was a Browns or Cardinals rooter .. or even a Cubs fan.

The Boston Globe article about the exhibit opening is here.

* April 17 is also the beginning of a three-day week-end homestand in Boston against the Baltimore Orioles, the successors of the St. Louis Browns.   Hopefully, more than a few Brownie/Orioles fans in town to root on their beloved O's will take in the exhibit this weekend in Beantown.

This Day in History: April 14, 1925

1925 — The Cleveland Indians opened the season with a 21-14 victory over the St. Louis Browns, the most runs scored by one club on opening day. The Indians scored 12 runs in the eighth inning when the Browns made five errors. Browns first baseman George Sisler had four errors in the game.

Gulp!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Seattle Mariners Catching up with the Browns' Opening Day Record

The Seattle Mariners yesterday tied a 70-year old record held by the St. Louis Browns.    It is the American league record of most consecutive wins on opening day, with nine.   The Browns won nine consecutive opening days from 1937 through 1945.

The Browns would have made it 10 straight, but in 1946, the Browns' Nels Potter  lost a pitchers' duel to Hal Newhouser, as the defending World Champion Detroit Tigers beat the Brownies 2-1.

Back in those days, the Browns opened the season against the de facto Western Division. During their nine season record-setting span, the Browns opened against the Tigers and  Chicago White Sox four times each, and the Cleveland Indians once.

Yes, the Browns were very proficient at giving their fans opening-day bliss. Rest of the season? Not so much....

http://www.seattletimes.com/sports/mariners/led-by-dominant-felix-hernandez-mariners-top-angels-in-season-opener/

Monday, April 6, 2015

Browns Fan Club at Card Show April 12


The St. Louis Browns Fan Club will be represented at the St. Louis Sports Collectors and baseball card show next show Sunday, April 12th at Orlando Gardens. The banquet center is south of Bayless Rd and Interstate 55 in South County.
 
On hand signing autographs are Lou Brock, Red Schoendienst and Jim Bunning. Feel free to view our autograph lineup on our homepage at www.stlsportscollectors.com .
 
Lou Brock won the hearts of Cardinal fans shortly after his trade to the Cardinals on June 15, 1964. That trade helped spark the Cardinals to an unexpected pennant and next the first World Series Championship for
St Louis. Why was the pennant and ensuing World Championship unexpected? When the trade was made, the Cardinals were in eighth place and as late as September 21st the Phillies had a 6.5 game lead for the pennant! During the remainder of Mr. Brock's career, he achieved another World Series Championship, one National League Pennant, 938 stolen bases (then an all-time record), over 3,000 hits, stolen base leader eight times and six time all-star. He also led the league at various time in at bats, doubles and triples! Other achievements include having the highest World Series batting average, .391, for those that played in 20 or more games, he was one of only four batters to hit a home run in the right center field bleachers in the Polo Grounds (Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron and Joe Adcock being the others), also he was the first batter in a major league regular season game in Canada when the Expos first played in Montreal.
 
The achievements of Hall of Fame member Red Schoendienst are many: he was an outstanding second baseman often leading the league in fielding statistics. He was a member of the 1946 Cardinal and 1957 Brave
World Champion Teams. He was a member of the 1958 Brave National League Champion team. Also as a player he was a ten time all-star, often hit over .300 and even lead the NL in base steals one year!
 
After retiring as a player he managed the World Champion Cardinal team of 1967. He managed the 1968 NL Champion team and was a coach for the World Series Champion 1964 and 1982 Cardinals! He was the bench coach of the 1985 and 1987 NL Champs. He ranks second in wins as a Cardinal Manager. In 1967 and 1968 he earned the Manager of the Year Award. Hope you can plan on coming out to meet the third oldest members of the Hall of Fame and the oldest manager of a World Series Champion team! He has been in a MLB uniform in various capacities for 70 years. Come out to congratulate him in his 70th season in uniform!!
 
It has been eight years since Hall of Fame pitcher, Jim Bunning, last appeared with St Louis Sports Collectors. The achievements of Mr. Bunning are numerous: nine time All-Star, three time
Strikeout leader, win leader, two no hitters, one of which was a perfect game. To put it in perspective of how dominate he was as a pitcher, when he retired, Mr. Bunning was second on the list of all time strikeouts, behind only Walter Johnson.
 
While with the Tigers, he pitched a no-hitter against the Ted Williams led Boston Red Sox. On Father's Day, 1964 while with the Phillies, he tossed a perfect game against the Mets. The perfect game was the first thrown in the National League since 1880! He is one of seven pitchers to throw a perfect game and a separate no hitter, four of those came after his. He is only one of five pitchers to have a no hitter in each league. Lastly, on August 2, 1959, Bunning struck out three batters on nine pitches in the ninth inning of a 5-4 loss to the Boston Red Sox. He is one of ten pitchers to accomplish a nine pitch/three strikeout inning. His post baseball career was also very rewarding by serving five terms in the US House of Representatives and two terms in the United States Senate.

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Most Unloved Team in Baseball

By

          

I was a thirteen-year-old baseball nut in 1948 when I discovered the St. Louis Browns of the American League. Red, white, and blue had monopolized big-league team colors since Bob (Death to Flying Things) Ferguson had cavorted for the Hartford Dark Blues decades before, but the Browns had been flouting color convention since their founding, in 1902. For the same logical reason that the Homestead Grays’ uniforms could hardly be puce or taupe, the Browns had to wear brown. A rich color, brown, but not a heroic color.
 
It was a perfect fit. A color scheme that evoked the barnyard and the excretions of babies fittingly defined the Browns. They were the Lowly Browns from the outset, setting all the wrong records: first in last-place finishes; leukemic attendance that reached a nadir, in 1933, when thirty-three fans paid to watch a home game; so financially strapped that scuffed, worn, and torn baseballs were put in play because the club couldn’t afford the regulation number of fresh ones.
 
Other than a freak World Series appearance in 1944, amid a wartime talent drought so dire that a one-armed outfielder eventually made the starting lineup, the Browns were as universally unloved a baseball team as ever existed. The National League Cardinals shared the Browns owned Sportsman’s Park with the Browns and were their opposite: perennial winners, darlings of St. Louis baseball fans. The red-white-and-blue Cards filled the park as fast as the Browns emptied it.
Which struck a resonant chord and endeared them to me, because of my own issues of low self-esteem. I identified with unloved losers in all spheres: in hockey, the then forlorn New York Rangers; in automobiles, Nash, a poor relation of Detroit’s Big Three, about to go under; in politics, Harold Stassen, the Don Quixote from Minnesota. Naturally, I despised the rich and smug New York Yankees the way Walter Reuther despised Henry Ford.
 
I wallowed in my Brownsophilia even after that baseball Barnum Bill Veeck took over the team, in 1951. He proceeded on the principle that stunts would be a faster, cheaper route to higher ticket sales than trying to build a winning team. It was Veeck who once sent a three-and-a-half-foot little person up to bat, who let the fans in the stands vote on strategy, who tried attracting St. Louis’s black community to Sportsman’s Park by signing the beloved grandfatherly pitcher Satchel Paige (the Cardinals stayed all-white to the bitter end).
 
I wallowed in Brownsophilia until that fateful day in 1953 when baseball exterminated the Browns like a roach (an ugly brown roach, natch) and the franchise morphed into, ladies and gentlemen, your Baltimore Orioles.
 
Yet that youthful crush abides even today. As I write this I’m wearing a sweatshirt with the classic BROWNS,” and atop it a medieval knight astride his horse, wielding a mighty sword, more Knights of Columbus heraldry than baseball iconography. (Its origins and meaning remain tantalizingly mysterious.) My sweatshirt was obtained via the official online Browns Fan Club, a hardy cell of nostalgists keeping the feeble flame alive sixty-two years after the last Brownie whiffed.
Browns logo over the heart: a shield enclosing a baseball imprinted with “
 
There’s even a Brownie theme song and a Surviving Players roll call. (The nifty fifties hurler Ned Garver, a twenty-game winner for a 1951 Browns team that lost a hundred and two games, is ninety years old.)
 
Baseball economics today have levelled out the old imbalance that kept rich teams like the Yankees riding so high and the impoverished Browns providing the flooring for the league cellar, year after year. I feel for the kid with an inferiority complex who has just discovered the game, because the sweet misery of Brownsophilia will never be his.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

'Did You Know That?' Dept.: St. Louis Browns First Team to Sell Hot Dogs.

Hot diggity dog!  Our crack St. Louis Browns Historical Society research crew has uncovered another Brownie record:   In 1893, the Browns became the first team in the history of baseball to sell hotdogs to fans. 

From the History of the Hot Dog over at hot-dog.org:

The year was 1893.  In Chicago that year, the Colombian Exposition brought hordes of visitors who consumed large quantities of sausages sold by vendors. People liked this food that was easy to eat, convenient and inexpensive. Hot dog historian Bruce Kraig, Ph.D., says the Germans always ate the dachshund sausages with bread. Since the sausage culture is German, it is likely that Germans introduced the practice of eating the dachshund sausages, which we today know as the hot dog, nestled in a bun.

 
Standard fare at baseball parks.

Also in 1893, sausages became the standard fare at baseball parks. This tradition is believed to have been started by a St. Louis bar owner,
Chris Von de Ahe, a German immigrant who also owned the St. Louis Browns major league baseball team.



 Inventing the hot dog bun.

 Many hot dog historians chafe at the suggestion that today's hot dog on a bun was introduced during the St. Louis "Louisiana Purchase Exposition" in 1904 by Bavarian concessionaire, Anton Feuchtwanger. As the story goes, he loaned white gloves to his patrons to hold his piping hot sausages. Because most of the gloves were not returned, the supply began running low. He reportedly asked his brother-in-law, a baker, for help.

The baker improvised long soft rolls that fit the meat - thus inventing the hot dog bun.

According to Busch Stadium Facts, in one year, the stadium sells:

540,000 hot dogs;
181,000 pounds of nacho chips; and

32,000 gallons of nacho cheese.


Go Cards!  Go Alka-Seltzer!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Coming Soon: Tiny Bar for Tiny People

Browns Fan Club officials, Emmett McAuliffe & Bill Rogers, are the two guys right in the middle.
Others toasting the event are officials and staff from Elasticity, a digital marketing and public relations
firm and HLK Agency
(Click on Photo to Enlarge)

A new bar is set to open in downtown St. Louis* in a month or so to pay homage to the "tiny" things in life - like former Browns player, Eddie Gaedel, the shortest player in baseball history. Gaedel is part of the mural hanging on the wall in the background
Official notices and press releases will be out soon.  Stay tuned.

*1008 Locust Street


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Roy Sievers Becomes Oldest Living Senator


Roy Sievers, a regular at the annual St. Louis Browns Fan Club player/fan reunion luncheon, has become the oldest living Washington Senator (expansion franchise).  This so, after the passing today of Minnie Minoso.

Roy was purchased by the Senators late in the 1964 season from the Philadelphia Phillies.  This entailed for Roy moving from a first-place team to a 9th-place team. Still, Sievers performed admirably, banging four home runs in just 58 at bats. Thus he led the Senators that year in both pinch hit home runs and home run percentage.

Sievers, a St. Louisan who attended Beaumont high school, was American League Rookie of the year in 1949 as a Brown.  He finished his career with the Senators in 1965, totaling 318 home runs.  When Sievers retired, he was the oldest non-pitcher, non-manager in baseball (age 38.172).  Roy and Minnie both played in the A.L. in the 40s, 50s and 60s.  But unlike Minnie, Roy did not make "stunt bows" in the 70s and 80s to become a most-decades leader.

Several other Brownies are featured on the Oldest Living Baseball Player List.  Chuck Stevens, 96, of Garden Grove, Calif., is the oldest living St. Louis professional ballplayer (Browns or Cardinals). A career Brownie, Chuck is also one of only six major league players who played before World War II.

Ned Garver, 89, is the oldest living member of the entire Los Angeles franchise.  Tito Francona, 81, who was signed by the Browns and played his first two years of professional baseball at the Browns' farm clubs at York and Aberdeen, is the oldest living player of two teams.  First, he is the oldest living member of the Oakland Athletics.  Second, Tito is the oldest-living Milwaukee Brewer (the Browns were originally derived from the 1901 Milwaukee Brewer franchise).










The St. Louis Browns/Baltimore Orioles currently have six players in the Top 25 Oldest Living Major League Baseball Players list:
#7   Stevens, 96
#13 Tom Jordan, 95
#20 Wally Westlake, 94 (Oriole only)
#22 Dick Starr, 93
#23 George Elder, 93
#24 Jim Rivera, 93

Dick Starr



George Elder
Jim Rivera

Friday, February 27, 2015

A 2015 Interview With Ty Cobb; Baseball With Matt



Posted: 25 Feb 2015 06:55 PM PST

Hey baseball fans!

Today I have a special interview! It's with the Hall of Famer who has the best lifetime batting average of all time (.366), Ty Cobb! But wait: Ty Cobb has been dead since 1961, so how could I have possibly interviewed him? Good question. Remember my "interviews" with Jackie Robinson and Babe Ruth, where I asked someone who knew a lot about one of the hitters to answer questions as if he was him? Well, I did the same thing with this interview. The person who answered my questions as if he was Cobb is Norm Coleman, an actor who actually plays Ty Cobb on stage for the past eight years in the play "Tyrus Cobb." Norm's answers were awesome and I think they sound exactly like how Cobb himself would answer the questions.

The real Ty Cobb below:
Ty Cobb
 

But before I present the interview, click here http://baseballwithmatt.blogspot.com/ . The link will actually take you to where you can buy my book, "Amazing Aaron to Zero Zippers: An Introduction to Baseball History, " which I highly recommend. If  you flip to chapter three in the book, you will see a whole section on "Cantankerous (meaning argumentative) Cobb." Hope you find the biography interesting. Anyway, let's get to the interview.

Matt: You faced a lot of tough pitchers during your playing days, but who was the toughest to hit against?
Ty: The two most difficult pitchers for me to handle were Babe Ruth when he pitched for Boston and Walter Johnson of the Washington Senators. Both entered the Hall of Fame with me in 1936. The Babe threw only two pitches, fastball, up high and in tight, and a curve, low and away. You knew they were coming and sometimes he’d yell at me, telling me what was coming. He dared you to hit it and if you got a hit, he’d scream at me, "You got lucky Ty."
 
I went 22 for 67 with a batting average of .328 against George. No one threw faster than Walter Johnson. If they had radar guns back then, his fastball would clock near 100 mph. Johnson feared hitting a batter, afraid he might kill him if he hit the batter in the head. So I would step in closer to the plate, making Walter throw a little outside, making it a little easier for me to hit the ball to left and get 120 hits in 328 at-bats for an average of .366.
 
Every hitter has one guy he can’t hit. For me, there was a little fellow named Bill Bayne (pictured below), pitched for the St. Louis Browns between 1919 and 1924. I faced him 36 times and got only 5 hits, which was a batting average of .139. I never could figure him out.
 
Read more at: http://baseballwithmatt.blogspot.com/
Bill Bayne


Monday, February 23, 2015

Don Johnson Dies at 88

Don Johnson was born Nov. 12, 1926, in Portland, OR.  In high school, he excelled as a pitcher attracting the attention of major league scouts and was signed by the New York Yankees in 1943. WWII interrupted Don's early baseball career. He served two years in the U.S. Army.

Don Johnson
At the age of 20, Don made his major league debut with the 1947 Yankees, going the distance against the Philadelphia Athletics in a 10 inning 3-2 victory.

Don's professional baseball career spanned 16 years with the Yankees, St. Louis Browns, Chicago White Sox, Washington Senators, Baltimore Orioles and San Francisco Giants. He also pitched for Toronto in the International League. He led the league in ERA and strikeouts and in 1957, was named the league's MVP.   v

 

So You Think You Know the Browns


Difficulty level: 6

  1. Who was the first Saint Louis Brown to play in an All-Star game?
    1. Beau Bell
    2. Harlond Clift
    3. Rick Ferrell
    4. Rollie Hemsley
    5. Sam West
  2. Who was the only Saint Louis Brown to twice win a batting title?
    1. Beau Bell
    2. George Sisler
    3. Vern Stephens
    4. Jack Tobin
    5. Ken Williams
  3. Who was the only Saint Louis Browns pitcher to pitch 36 complete games in one season?
    1. Red Donahue
    2. Fred Glade
    3. Harry Howell
    4. Barney Pelty
    5. Jack Powell
  4. In what year did the Saint Louis Browns win their one and only American League pennant?
    1. 1902
    2. 1906
    3. 1922
    4. 1944
    5. 1945
  5. Who was the first Saint Louis Brown to lead the American League in RBI?
    1. Del Pratt
    2. George Sisler
    3. Moose Solters
    4. Vern Stephens
    5. Ken Williams
  6. Who won the most games while pitching for the Saint Louis Browns?
    1. Red Donahue
    2. Bobo Holloman
    3. Barney Pelty
    4. Jack Powell
    5. Urban Shocker
  7. Who holds the Saint Louis Browns record for most hits in one season?
    1. Beau Bell
    2. Heinie Manush
    3. George Sisler
    4. Vern Stephens
    5. Jack Tobin
  8. Who did not throw a no hitter for the Saint Louis Browns?
    1. Bob Groom
    2. Earl Hamilton
    3. Bobo Holloman
    4. Harry Howell
    5. Ernie Koob
  9. Who was the last owner of the Saint Louis Browns?
    1. Philip Ball
    2. Donald Barnes
    3. August Busch
    4. Robert Hedges
    5. Bill Veeck