Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Stripped Bat of Goose Goslin

THERE’S an old saying about necessity, being the mother of invention. “Goose” Goslin, outfielder for the St. Louis Browns, was having a hard time hitting that old “apple” during the spring training so he adopted a black and white striped bat, shown at the right, and proceeded to pound his way out of the slump.
(Click on Photo to Enlarge)

This was the first time in baseball history that a camouflaged bat was used. It was designed by Willis Johnson, club secretary, who planned to equip other players with bats decorated with cross-rings, blocks and triangles until the “higher ups” declared the use of the bat illegal.

Brown Stockings Join Greater St. Louis Baseball Historical Society

The newest team of the Greater St. Louis Base Ball Historical Society (GSLBBHS ) takes a storied nickname. The St. Louis Brown Stockings, the third member club of GSLBBHS, will begin play at Emmenegger Park in Kirkwood.

The new team has been assembled by Tony “Lightning” Wicker, previously a member of the St. Louis Perfectos and the University City Lions.

“When I first started playing with the St. Louis Perfectos, I fell in love with the game, sportsmanship, and promotion of how the game was played in the 1860s,” Wicker said. “I knew then, that I wanted to start a team closer to home sometime in the future after I learned more about how to start a team and be able to run a team. I used the help of several members of the Perfectos to help get ideas on starting a team.”

Wicker’s nine plays in Kirkwood, Mo., a western suburb of St. Louis. With the addition of the Brown Stockings, the St. Louis area now boasts six teams, three of which are in the GSLBBHS (St. Louis Perfectos, Lafayette Square Cyclone BBC and Brown Stockings) and three others (St. Louis Unions, University City Lions and St. Charles Capitals).

The Brown Stockings lost both games of a doubleheader to the St. Louis Unions April 3.

“After we had our first matches, everything was worth it,” said Wicker. “We looked good, had fun, helped promote the game, were very respectful of one another, showed tremendous sportsmanship as that was the gentleman thing that was going on back then. We had a lot of comments of how the uniforms looked and how we played. With the help of my three other members and the Greater St. Louis Base Ball Historical Society, we are proud to be members of the GSLBBHS and that we are putting a very worthy product on the field to help promote vintage base ball.”

For the latest information on the Brown Stockings, please see www.tiptopworks.com/brownstockings/  or www.tiptopworks.com/gslbbhs/ .

Historically, the Brown Stockings were a St. Louis nine who entered the National Association in 1875. The team made the move to the National League as a founding member in 1876. George Washington Bradley pitched the first no-hitter in the National League as a member of the Brown Stockings.

The team played two seasons before going out of business in 1877 during the aftermath of a game-fixing scandal.

The name remained popular even after the team’s demise. In 1882, Chris von der Ahe entered a team called the Brown Stockings into the American Association. This team later had its name shortened to the Browns and it entered the National League by that name in 1892. The Browns became the St. Louis Perfectos in 1899 and the Cardinals the following season. The National League Cardinals have been one of the most successful teams in the league’s history.

In 1902, the Milwaukee Brewers of the new American League moved to St. Louis and took the name Browns. The team played AL baseball until moving to Baltimore to become the Orioles after the 1953 season.

“We looked at names for our team,” said Wicker. “Playing vintage base ball the way the game was played, I wanted to find a name of historical significance to help promote the game. With a lot of help from the Internet and my girlfriend, I was able to find that the first professional base ball team in St. Louis was the Brown Stockings in 1875. It wasn’t until much later, that I was able to understand the timeline of the Brown Stockings. Not only were the Brown Stockings the first base ball team in St. Louis, but they were the beginning of the St. Louis Cardinals organization. And they were started in time even before the Perfectos, so now we have two teams in the Greater St. Louis Base Ball Historical Society that both represent the birth of the St. Louis Cardinals organization.”