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: