St. Louis Browns: 1902-1953

Andrew GodfreyCorrespondent IDecember 13, 2009

Eddie Gaedel is probably the only player to have his shoes tied by the manager in this photo of manager Zack Taylor tying Gaedel's shoes before he became the smallest player in baseball history to play in a major league game..

St.Louis Browns replaced the Milwaukee Brewers in the second American League season of 1902 and would play in the American League through the 1953 season.

The Browns would lose 107 games in both the 1910 and 1911 seasons. George Sisler had a great year in 1920 hitting .407 and hitting safely 257 times a record that Ichiro Suzuki would break 84 years later.

1922 Browns Had Best Record

The 1922 Browns had the best record ever by a Browns team when they were 93-61 but still finished a game behind the Yankees.

It wasn’t easy for the Browns to put together a good team since it took money to build a team and the Browns were drawing so few fans they were caught in an endless cycle of no money and poor attendance. The 1933 Browns played a game in front of only 33 fans.

Browns Drew 81,000 Fans in 1935 Season

The Cardinals featured the Gas House Gang in the 1935 season and that hurt the Browns at the turnstiles drawing only 81,000 fans.

Then the 1939 Browns took their mediocrity to a new level with a 43-111 season with a team ERA of 6.01 and finished 64 1/2 games out of first place.

Won Only Pennant in 1944

Because so many teams had lost so many stars due to the war the 1944 St. Louis Browns captured the pennant taking the lead over the Tigers in the last week of the season finishing with a 89-65 record which would probably not be good enough to win a division today much less a pennant.

The Browns took a 2-1 lead after the first three games of the 1944 World Series with the crosstown Cardinals as their opponents. The Cardinals came back to win the final three games to end the Browns hopes of winning a world championship for the first time in their history. It didn’t help that the Browns made 10 errors in the series.

One-armed outfielder Pete Gray played for the Browns in 1945 and did relatively well in the outfield but hit only .218. He did the best he could throwing to the infield after catching the ball but baserunners took advantage of him taking more time than usual by advancing extra base on his throws. The Browns were 81-70 and finished in third place.

Veeck’s Biggest Stunt

Browns owner Bill Veeck pulled one of the most famous baseball stunts in 1951 when Eddie Gaedel at 3 foot 7 inch and 65 pounds pinch hit in a game on August 18. Gaedel drew a walk but never appeared in another major league game. Bob Cain who pitched to Gaedel was the only one from major league baseball to show up at Gaedel’s funeral after he had been mugged and suffered a fatal heart attack in 1961 in Chicago at the age of  36.

Veeck would try to move the Browns to Los Angeles in 1952 but his request was denied since no other teams played on the west coast.

3,174 Fans Attended Last Browns Game

In 1953 Veeck would request to move the team to Baltimore but the move was approved on the condition Veeck would give up his interest in the team and when he relinquished his control the team was moved to Baltimore and became the Baltimore Orioles. They would play their last game on September 28 before a crowd of 3,174 and finished 54-100 in their last season.

The Browns would win more than 90 games only once in their 52 year history. I doubt that any other major league team has won less than 90 games in 51 or their 52 seasons.


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