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HISTORY OF A DIFFERENT HUE BEFORE PEARL HARBOR, ST. LOUIS BROWNS WERE L.A.-BOUND.



Byline: KEVIN MODESTI

Dec. 7, 1941, like Sept. 11, 2001, did not really change everything about American life. But the Pearl Harbor attack Pearl Harbor attack

(Dec. 7, 1941) Surprise aerial attack by the Japanese on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor on Oahu island, Hawaii, that precipitated U.S. entry into World War II. In the decade preceding the attack, U.S.
, like this year's terrorist hijackings, did change little things in big ways.

One of the little things that Pearl Harbor Pearl Harbor, land-locked harbor, on the southern coast of Oahu island, Hawaii, W of Honolulu; one of the largest and best natural harbors in the E Pacific Ocean. In the vicinity are many U.S. military installations, including the chief U.S.  altered dramatically - 60 years later we can only speculate on precisely how - is the course of sports history in Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. .

The story begins in St. Louis with a baseball team called the Browns, affectionately referred to as the saddest major-league franchise ever. The Browns were the club that let front-office genius Branch Rickey
    Wesley Branch Rickey (December 20 1881 – December 9 1965) was an innovative Major League Baseball executive best known for two things: breaking baseball's color barrier by signing the African-American player Jackie Robinson, and later drafting the first Hispanic
     get away, that used one-armed outfielder Pete Gray
      Peter J. Gray, born Peter Wyshner (March 6 1915 – June 30 2002), was a professional baseball player best known for playing in the major leagues despite having lost his right arm in a childhood accident.
      , that sent up 3-foot-7 pinch hitter pinch-hit
      intr.v. pinch-hit, pinch-hit·ting, pinch-hits
      1. Baseball To bat in place of a player scheduled to bat, especially when a hit is badly needed.

      2.
       Eddie Gaedel
        Edward Carl "Eddie" Gaedel (June 8, 1925 - June 18, 1961), born in Chicago, Illinois, was an American midget who became famous for participating in a Major League Baseball game.

        Gaedel gained immortality in the second game of a doubleheader on Sunday, August 19, 1951.
        .

        ``First in Shoes, First in Booze,'' boasted St. Louis, which was big in those industries, ``and Last in the American League American League (AL)

        One of the two associations of professional baseball teams in the U.S. and Canada designated as major leagues; the other is the National League (NL).
        !''

        From their inception in 1902 (formally christened the Brown Stockings) through the 1930s, the Browns had the distinction of never winning a pennant while finishing as high as second place only twice. In 1936, sharing the threadbare Sportsman's Park field with the vastly more popular St. Louis Cardinals For the National Football League team that played in St. Louis from 1960 to 1987, see .
        The St. Louis Cardinals (also referred to as "the Cards" or "the Redbirds") are a professional baseball team based in St. Louis, Missouri.
        , they drew only 80,922 fans all season. In 1939, they finished 64 1/2 games out of first, the worst showing in baseball's past 92 years.

        ``Have you ever watched a baseball game in absolute silence?'' said Bill Miller, 71, a St. Louis University history professor who is an officer in the 600-member St. Louis Browns Historical Society. ``That's what it was like.''

        In the summer of 1941, the Browns remained frustrated observers as baseball enjoyed the drama of Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak and Ted Williams' .406 batting average, marked such milestones as Lou Gehrig's death and Stan Musial's debut, and ushered in the eras of ballpark organ music and batting helmets.

        Sometime in the middle of that season, Browns owner Donald Barnes reached a momentous decision. In a vicious circle A Vicious Circle (1996) is a novel by Amanda Craig which dissects and satirizes contemporary British society. In particular, it describes the world of publishing -- its aspiring young authors, busy agents and opportunist literary critics.  of weak rosters and low revenue, Barnes decided the only way out of the trap was to move the club out of St. Louis.

        For the Browns' new home, Barnes had his eye on Los Angeles.

        If he was tired of competing for the professional sports fan's dollar, Barnes was planning to come to the right place. In 1941, Walter O'Malley's Dodgers were 17 years away from moving out of Brooklyn and Gene Autry's Angels would not throw their first pitch for 20 years. The Rams would be in Cleveland for five more seasons and the Lakers would be in Minneapolis for 19 more years.

        A major-league baseball team on the West Coast in the 1942 season would have been a pioneering move.

        ``He (Barnes) was way ahead of Walter O'Malley,'' said Bill Borst, a St. Louis author and radio host who founded the Browns Historical Society.

        It was all set to happen, too, according to ``The Spirit of St. Louis Spirit of St. Louis

        Charles Lindbergh’s plane. [Am. Hist.: Jameson, 287]

        See : Aviation
        ,'' Peter Golenbock's 2000 oral history of baseball There are a number of articles about the history of baseball:
        • Origins of baseball
        • History of baseball in the United States
        • History of baseball outside the United States
        • Baseball in the United Kingdom
        • 1845 to 1868 in baseball
        • Pre-1850s in baseball
         in that city, a book that deals with the Browns-to-Los Angeles plan in three of its 650 pages.

        The Cardinals were to pay the Browns $350,000 to get out of town. The Browns were to purchase Los Angeles' Wrigley Field, then the home of the Pacific Coast League's Angels, for $1 million. An American League schedule was in the works that would allow for cross-country train trips.

        Air travel was not yet a fact of life for professional athletes: The Browns arranged to transport their players to Los Angeles two at a time on 21 TWA TWA Time-weighted average, see there  flights because they thought putting the entire roster on one plane would risk wiping out the franchise.

        The plan to move was ``an open secret,'' Miller, the history professor, said by phone from Mansfield, Mo.

        But Bud Kane, 71, another old Browns fan, said from Webster Groves, Mo.: ``I would have been shocked if I'd known they were thinking about moving.''

        And Eldon Auker, a submarine-style right-hander who finished his career with the Browns in 1940-42, remembers that he had to read about the plan in the newspapers.

        ``The players didn't know anything about it,'' Auker, 91, said from his home in Vero Beach, Fla. ``But I think it would have been a good move for the Browns.''

        To become official, the transfer of the Browns to Los Angeles needed only the rubber stamp of the major-league owners. Their meeting was scheduled in Chicago for Dec. 8, 1941.

        ``Perfectly horrible timing,'' Borst said, ``which is symptomatic of how things went for the Browns.''

        When news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor reached Chicago and World War II became inevitable, the owners were too worried about the future of major-league baseball to deal with the cares of one little franchise. The Browns' move was tabled.

        The episode is a provocative footnote in sports history. File the Los Angeles Browns under ``People and Things That Might Have Been.''

        We know what became of the Browns. Ironically, during World War II, the Browns enjoyed their greatest on-the-field success, winning the pennant behind shortstop Vern Stephens in 1944 while more talented teams' stars went off to fight. Unfortunately, the Browns earned few new fans because their opponents in the World Series were the Cardinals, who won the ``Street Car Series'' 4 games to 2.

        Bill Veeck bought the club and flirted with a move to Los Angeles in 1953 but sold out instead and allowed the Browns to become the Baltimore Orioles in 1954.

        We don't know Don't know (DK, DKed)

        "Don't know the trade." A Street expression used whenever one party lacks knowledge of a trade or receives conflicting instructions from the other party.
         - but we can have fun wondering - what would have become of L.A. sports if the Browns had landed here in 1941.

        Would the Dodgers have come to Los Angeles in 1958? Would they have come sooner? Or not at all? Almost certainly, the major-league Angels would never have come to be.

        Would stars such as Jim Palmer, Brooks Robinson and Cal Ripken Jr. have spent their careers as Los Angeles Browns instead of Baltimore Orioles? Would Los Angeles have swept the 1966 World Series instead of seeing the Dodgers get swept by the Orioles?

        Would a manager such as Tom Lasorda have claimed to ``bleed Browns brown''?

        This is for sure: Dec. 7, 1941, is a date that lives not just in infamy Notoriety; condition of being known as possessing a shameful or disgraceful reputation; loss of character or good reputation.

        At Common Law, infamy was an individual's legal status that resulted from having been convicted of a particularly reprehensible crime, rendering him
         but in Los Angeles sports history.

        ST. LOUIS BROWNS ALL-TIME TEAM

        --MGR Rogers Hornsby

        --1B George Sisler, George McQuinn

        --2B Del Pratt

        --SS Vern Stephens, Red Kress

        --3B Harlond Clift

        --LF Ken Williams, Chet Laabs

        --CF Baby Doll Jacobson
          William Chester "Baby Doll" Jacobson (August 16, 1890 - January 16, 1977) was a Major League baseball outfielder. Jacobson was born in Cable, Illinois, USA.

          His best season was 1920, when he hit for a .355 batting average and amassed 122 RBI's.
          , Pete Gray

          --RF Jack Tobin, George Stone

          --C Rick Ferrell, Hank Severeid

          --PH Eddie Gaedel

          --SP Urban Shocker

          --SP Jack Powell

          --SP Ned Garver

          --SP Harry Howell

          --SP Lefty Stewart

          --RP Satchel Paige

          --RP Carl Weilman

          --RP Nels Potter

          --RP Bob Holloman

          CAPTION(S):

          2 photos, box

          Photo:

          (1 -- color) If not for the events of Dec. 7, 1941, Eric Karros could be wearing L.A. Browns brown.

          Photo Illustration by Shane Michael Kidder

          (2) St. Louis Browns owner Donald Barnes, right, made plans to move his team West and play at Wrigley Field in L.A.

          St. Louis Post-Dispatch The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is the only major city-wide newspaper in St. Louis, Missouri. Although written to serve Greater St. Louis, the Post-Dispatch is one of the largest newspapers in the region, and is available and read as far west as Springfield, Missouri.  File Photo

          Box:

          ST. LOUIS BROWNS ALL-TIME TEAM (see text)
          COPYRIGHT 2001 Daily News
          No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
          Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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          Article Details
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          Title Annotation:Sports
          Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
          Article Type:Statistical Data Included
          Date:Dec 7, 2001
          Words:1177
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