Game 50: July 11, 1941
The hottest “ticket” in baseball was Joe DiMaggio—in every major league city except St. Louis.
Even the white-hot DiMaggio, with his 49-game hitting streak and American League-leading 20 homers and 73 RBI, did nothing to bring the fans out on July 11, 1941.
A forecast of rain, an afternoon game and the likelihood of another Browns defeat brought only 1,625 to Sportsman’s Park that Friday.
Most St. Louis baseball fans missed Joltin’ Joe at his best: a 4-for-5 effort featuring another long circuit clout. The Streak was 50. Oh, and of course, the Browns lost, this time 6-2. They were now 27-47, a distant 22 games off the Yankees’ pace.
The misery accompanying this franchise was nothing new. Despite having Hall of Famer George Sisler in the lineup 20 years ago, St. Louis won only one AL title—and that came in 1944 when the cream of the majors’ crop was fighting a war.
Even as a participant in their only World Series, the Browns couldn’t catch a break: the opponent was their stadium roommate, the beloved Cardinals, who won that Series in six games.
The Browns would stop winning games again once the war ended and—despite the efforts of brilliant new owner Bill Veeck—the American League St. Louis entry would languish near the bottom of the standings year after year.
Veeck was the P.T. Barnum of baseball.
As a fan-drawing curiosity, he had 3'7'' Eddie Gaedel (wearing No. 1/8) pinch-hit in a Browns game in 1951. Gaedel drew a walk, but the other owners were not amused and the commissioner stepped in, banning the little guy’s return to the lineup.
Veeck tried to move his club to Los Angeles, six years before the Dodgers and Giants successfully went west. Veeck was foiled when the other owners vetoed the idea, citing horrible travel expenses. The owners didn’t like Veeck anyway, so even if he were to have a companion team in California, it’s doubtful he would have gotten approval to relocate.
Veeck tried everything to increase attendance for a team that 10 years before couldn’t even put 2,000 people in the stands for the great Joe DiMaggio.
The innovative Veeck would go on to change the promotional landscape of baseball.
With St. Louis, he sponsored giveaway days. Fireworks displays were more frequent and the PA began playing music between innings.
Later in Chicago, his White Sox were the first team with players’ names on their uniforms. He had an exploding scoreboard that spewed fireworks when Chicago did something spectacular.
As accomplished as Veeck was elsewhere (like in 1948 when he was the orchestrator of Cleveland’s pennant), the master showman couldn’t resurrect the Browns.
The apathy was ingrained in St. Louis, and by the 1953 season, the Browns became the Baltimore Orioles.
JoeDiMaggio.com is the official and authorized website of Joe DiMaggio. During the 70th anniversary of DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak, it is publishing “Reliving Joe DiMaggio’s Streak,” which follows the daily progress of Joltin' Joe in 1941. Series Archive
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