Submitted by BTGrimes on Sat, 12/07/2013 - 9:00am
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 has been rumored for years that if the Japanese had not bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 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 became, and remain, the Baltimore Orioles.
This baseball history story about the St. Louis Browns is brought to you by TODAY in BASEBALL.
Submitted by BTGrimes on Fri, 12/06/2013 - 9:00am
Angels Join American League
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI - Cowboy TV star Gene Autry won the approval of major league baseball owners in St. Louis today in baseball history (December 6, 1960) to put an American League team in Los Angeles. The team would be called the Angels (today's Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim). They would begin play in 1961.
It wasn't all smooth sailing. Los Angeles Dodgers' owner Walter O'Malley, who had just moved the Dodgers to LA from Brooklyn in 1958, had been adamantly opposed to having an American League team in the LA market. According to the Associated Press (AP), O'Malley made a surprise peace proposal to Gene Autry's group to allow the expansion Angels into his territory, with certain conditions. One of them was where the new team would play.
At the time, even the Dodgers didn't have a ballpark to call their own. They played in the LA Coliseum while Dodger Stadium was under construction and wouldn't be ready until 1962. O'Malley insisted that the Angels play in Wrigley Field (pictured above) - no, not the Wrigley Field in Chicago, the one in Los Angeles. A replica of the Chicago landmark existed in Los Angeles at the time, but had a seating capacity of only about 20,000. It had been home to the Pacific Coast League Angels before major league baseball moved to Los Angeles.
O'Malley also wanted the Angels to become tenants of Dodger Stadium when it was finished. The Angels knew they would probably have to take the Dodgers up on the deal for a couple years, but had plans to build their own ballpark down the road, which they did. Autry moved the team to Anaheim in 1966, and changed the name to the California Angels.
This baseball history story about the California Angels is brought to you by Today in Baseball.
Submitted by BTGrimes on Wed, 12/04/2013 - 9:00am
No more "bonus babies"
HOUSTON, TEXAS - Today in baseball history (December 4, 1964) was trumpeted as the end of the "bonus baby" era - the throwing of tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of dollars (a lot of money in those days) at wide-eyed kids expected to become the next Mickey Mantle or Sandy Koufax. More often than not they didn't pan out.
Major League Baseball owners meeting in Houston on this date in 1964 decided to put an end to the chasing of unproven kids by hordes of scouts with wads of cash and approved an amateur draft. The first one was held in 1965.
There still is chasing after kids and some significant bonuses because the team that drafts the player retains the rights to signing him until the next year's draft. If a propsect is not signed he can re-enter a future draft and be chosen by any team but the one which selected him the previous year, unless the player consents.
Those eligible to be drafted are:
• Residents of the United States or Canada who have never signed a major or minor league contract
The first ten #1 picks of the amateur draft:
This baseball history story about the amateur draft is brought to you by TODAY in BASEBALL.
Submitted by BTGrimes on Tue, 12/03/2013 - 9:00am
Ballpark by any other name
HOUSTON, TEXAS - Despite, at the time, the biggest bankruptcy filing in U-S history Enron Corporation made it known on this date in 2001 that it intended to keep the naming rights to the home of the Houston Astros - Enron Field. This created a sticky situation for Astros ownership which wanted out of the deal with a company that in the span of a couple months became the poster child for corporate greed.
Despite the bankruptcy, Enron found a way to satisfy its financial obligations to keep its name on the ballpark (wonder how that sat with the 7,500 Enron employees who lost their jobs and pensions).
The Astros soon went to court pleading Enron's collapse "tarnished the reputation of the Houston Astros." The court agreed and forced Enron to accept a buyout. By opening day 2002 Enron Field became Astros Field, and by 2003 it was Minute Maid Park.
Corporate naming rights of stadiums, arenas, ballparks and bowl games have become commonplace in the last twenty years; US Cellular Field (Chicago White Sox), Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia Phillies), Coors Field (Colorado Rockies), Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (Phoenix) and on and on. Many stadiums change their names almost as often as managers. The San Francisco Giants' home field, AT&T Park, used to be SBC Park, and before that it was Pac Bell. The Arizona Diamondbacks played in Bank One Ballpark, which became Chase Field.
The most well known corporate moniker on any sports venue is Wrigley Field, because the chewing gum manufacturer owned the team, until a few years ago when it was sold to the Ricketts' family.
A few venues have kept their traditional names. You couldn't imagine Yankee Stadium, Soldier Field or The Rose Bowl with corporate names in front of them, but that doesn't mean it won't happen.
This baseball history story about Enron Field is brought to you by TODAY in BASEBALL.
Submitted by BTGrimes on Mon, 12/02/2013 - 9:00am
Casey at the mic
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - New York Yankees manager Casey Stengel went on a verbal rampage today in baseball history (December 2, 1952). His targets were several teams and Jackie Robinson. Robinson, who became the first black player of the modern era in 1947, stirred up emotions a few days earlier by criticizing the Yankees for not having hired a Black player. According to the United Press, while at a banquet in Phoenix Stengel reacted,
"I don't care who you are in this organization, you're going to get along and make the big team if you've got the ability. We've got good coaches, a good front office, good scouts and good minor league managers, and we're not going to play a sap at second base just because somebody said we ought to put him there."
Even after Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947 it took a while for most teams to integrate. The Cleveland Indians and St. Louis Browns also integrated in '47, but it took thirteen more years for all sixteen teams to put African Americans on their rosters.
Stengel also lashed out at the Cleveland Indians boss,
"Why does Hank Greenberg of Cleveland say ‘I hate the Yankees?' He should say that he ought to hate himself for not winning the pennant with the kind of a pitching staff he's got. When do teams in this day fail to win pennants with three twenty-game winners on their pitching staff. The Yankee players don't hate the Cleveland players, they hate you Mr. Greenberg."
Stengel also blasted Washington Senators owner Clark Griffith who had accused the Yankees of shady dealing in going after one of their players. The Yankee manager finished his tirade by promising a 5th straight American League pennant in 1953, which is exactly what the Yankees did, and went on to win their fifth straight World Series.
This baseball history story is brought to you by TODAY in BASEBALL.