This Day in Baseball History: March 14th, 1953

Well, at least they kept the same colors.

On March 14, 1953:

St. Louis mayor Joe Darst promises to block the impending move of the St. Louis Browns to Baltimore.

Before 1951, the St. Louis Browns weren’t much to watch. They hadn’t been a winning team since 1945, and there was no real reason to show up to the ballpark. That all changed in 1951 when Bill Veeck came to town. Known, loved, and hated for his antics, Veeck changed the Browns and made them, at least, more interesting. One of his most memorable acts of hi jinx was to bring in Eddie Gaedel. Regardless, Veeck didn’t think St. Louis was a big enough town to have two ballparks. His first plan was to get rid of the St. Louis Cardinals. He signed Dizzy Dean to be the broadcaster, Rogers Hornsby to be manager, and re-acquired Vern Stephens and Harry Brecheen, who were fan favorites. It almost worked. The Cardinals were reeling after Branch Rickey left, and when owner Fred Saigh put the team up for sale, most thought the Cardinals were done. The savior? Anheiser Busch.

Knowing he couldn’t compete, Veeck was determined to move the team, and the first attempt was back to Milwaukee, where the franchise began. However, as determined as Veeck was, the other owners were just as much so. They despised Veeck for his antics, and they moved to stop him. Their motives weren’t pure, but they succeeded. Veeck next tried Baltimore, but again, the other owners prevented the move. Sportsman’s Park was decaying, and Veeck had to sell it because he couldn’t afford to renovate or rebuild it. With his franchise in the toilet, he had to sell it to Baltimore-based Clarence Miles. With Veeck out of the way, the owners quickly approved the move to Baltimore, and the Orioles were now in business.

The first thing the new owners had to do was create a new identity. The Browns had a phrase written about them that wasn’t exactly pleasant. A vaudeville show once said, “First in war, first in peace, and last in the American League” in reference to the lowly Washington Senators, and as a spin-off, someone said the Browns were “first in shoes, first in booze, and last in the American League”. The franchise was obviously in need of some PR. The new owners accomplished that split. Late in 1954, they completed a 17-player trade with the New York Yankees that rid the team of most of the old Browns. Also, the Browns used to have shares of the team bought by fans, and they would eventually (though quite a bit later) buy those back, officially ending ties with St. Louis.

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4 Responses to “This Day in Baseball History: March 14th, 1953”

  1. Ron Rollins Says:

    I remember a few years ago at an Orioles game, a guy sitting next to me was going off about Indianapolis stealing the Colts.#

    When I mentioned the Browns, he wanted to fight me. He said it wasn’t the same thing.

    Then I mentioned the Ravens, and they had to call security.

    You just really have to wonder about Baltimore sports fans.

  2. tHeMARksMiTh Says:

    It’s funny how two teams that center around Baltimore stealing/being stolen from had the nickname Browns.

  3. Ron Rollins Says:

    YOu know, I never made the connection before. Good point.

  4. tHeMARksMiTh Says:

    This is what I do.

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