Saturday, September 1, 2012

St. Louis Browns/Cardinals: A Hotbed of Activity in Early 20th Century

St. Louis was a hotbed of baseball activity in the early 20th century. Two of baseball's great wars played out here-the rise of the American League and the rise and fall of the Federal League. No pennants flew over the city from 1900 to 1925, yet St. Louis teams were involved in a number of torrid pennant races.

 Here is the heyday of the St. Louis Browns and the emergence of the Cardinals, as well as a vibrant scene for semi-pro and black teams. The city had two of the greatest hitters in baseball history- George Sisler and Rogers Hornsby-and one of the game's most influential executives - Branch Rickey. Twenty-one members of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown played baseball in St. Louis during these years.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ruth Taken Out for Pinch Hitter

While the following baseball event does not involve our Browns, it's a bit of baseball lore of interest. It is about Babe Ruth and the Yakees, who almost always beat up on our Browns.

On opening day of the season in 1927, the Yankees entertained the Philadelphia Athletics. It was a strong rivalry then against the beginning of Connie Mack's last great team with Lefty Grove, Jimmie Foxx, Ernshaw, Mickey Cochran, Al Simmons, Jim Dykes and others.

Ruth had held out signing that spring, and he did not show up for spring training. He waited until a day or so before the first game in early April before coming to terms. Not having batted since the 1926 World Series games against the Cardinals, Ruth was rusty. He struck out in his first 2 plate appearances. The Yankee manager, Miller Huggins (I think it was) put in a 3rd string catcher to pinch-hit for the Babe.

In 1944 I wrote to John Wray, then sports editor of the Post, about this.  He featured the incident in his column the next day. It was a rarity for anyone to pinch-hit for the great Bambino. Wray commented that Ruth was shocked. Also that he so recovered that he hit 60 homes runs that year of 1927.

(Sent in by Monsignor Jerome Sommer, St. Louis, MO)