NOVEMBER 17, 1953 | LOUIS, MISSOURI • The story from November 17, 1953 in baseball history is – Browns fade to black. Stockholders of the beleaguered franchise voted to change the team’s name from the St. Louis Browns to the Baltimore Orioles.
The name change was the final step in the transition from former owner Bill Veeck to a new group of owners which would start the 1954 baseball season near the shores of Chesapeake Bay rather than the banks of the Mississippi.
The Browns began as the Milwaukee Brewers in 1901 – a charter American League franchise – not to be confused with the present day Brewers. The team stayed only one year in Milwaukee, moving to St. Louis in 1902 and becoming the Browns, which was the color of their uniforms.
In all the years spent in St. Louis (and one in Milwaukee) the Browns went to the post-season once. They won the American League Pennant in 1944, losing the World Series to the cross-town St. Louis Cardinals.
The franchise’s change of scenery did them good. The Baltimore Orioles have been to the post-season more than a dozen times since moving to Baltimore. They won the World Series in 1966, 1970 and 1983.
The story from November 17, 1953 is Browns fade to black, and the Orioles come out a winner.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 18, 1953
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*1946 | CLEVELAND, OHIO – Groucho Marx once said, “I would not join a club that would have someone like me for a member.” Non-conformist Bill Veeck probably shared some of that attitude, but on this date in 1946 he joined a club he would often be at odds with – major league baseball owners.
Veeck was a showman who would stop at practically nothing to get fans in the stands.
Veeck put together a group, which included entertainer Bob Hope, that inked a deal for the Cleveland Indians on June 22, 1946. This was the start of a career as a major league club owner. He later ran the St. Louis Browns and Chicago White Sox (twice) franchises.
Veeck was a showman who would stop at practically nothing to get fans in the stands. He employed a midget who had one at bat for the Browns and walked; the pitcher had a tough time finding 3’7″ Eddie Gaedel‘s strike zone. The commissioner’s office didn’t like the idea and immediately barred Gaedel from baseball, but not before his one at bat.
There were a number of Veeck innovations fellow owners originally balked at that have since become commonplace; player names on uniforms, fireworks displays, food other than peanuts and Cracker Jacks available at the ball park.
He also understood the importance of winning. Only three teams other than the New York Yankees won the American League pennant from 1947 to 1959, two of them were Veeck’s – the ‘48 Indians and ‘59 White Sox. Each team set attendance records under Veeck’s leadership as well.
Richard Dugan, United Press (UP), June 23, 1946, Cleveland, Ohio
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