Dec 07, 1941: Did Pearl Harbor affect baseball
Submitted by BTGrimes on Fri, 12/07/2012 - 6:00am
Los Angeles Browns... Not!
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI - The St. Louis Browns was a struggling franchise in the standings and at the box office throughout most of the time it shared St. Louis with the Cardinals. The team drew just 193,000 fans in 1940, about 2,500 a game. It was not unusual to have fewer than 1,000 people in the stands. For example, the paid attendance on September 11, 1940 was 472. Needless to say owner Donald Barnes wanted a change of scenery.
It had been rumored for years that if the Japanese hadn't bombed Pearl Harbor on this date in 1941 the Browns would have moved to Los Angeles, more than a decade before the Dodgers did. Some said it was a "done deal." Researchers at the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) decided to investigate. What they found out is... maybe.
Read SABR's Business of Baseball Committee paper "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Coliseum" by Norman Macht for all the details.
In a nutshell the committee looked into a Los Angeles Examiner report in 1946 that the deal only needed formal approval from major league baseball at its winter meetings starting December 9, 1941. Pearl Harbor happened two days before that. One theory for why little was known about the almost move is that after the move fell through the Browns ownership was all hush-hush so the St. Louis faithful wouldn't be offended.
The Browns moved east instead of west in 1953 and today go by the name Baltimore Orioles.
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