Bring Back the Browns

Is it possible, that a second major league franchise could survive or even strive in the St. Louis Metropolitan area?

Bud Kane, of Webster Groves, Missouri, a member and Treasurer of the St. Louis Browns Historical Society, recently came up with an interesting idea.

If you have tried to get tickets for St. Louis Cardinals recently you know that the demand greatly outweighs the supply.

The fact that the Cardinals tend to draw over 3 million fans per season is amazing, considering the demographics of what can be described as a mid-market team at best.

To put that in perspective, the New York Yankees would have to draw about 12 million fans through their turnstiles to equal the drawing power of the Cardinals.

Here is the comments from Bud Kane in a recent Sound Off, sent to an area newspaper;

"Here's an idea to benefit the Cardinals and St. Louis Baseball. The demand for baseball tickets for the new stadium has far exceeded the supply as we know from the recent ticket fiasco. The Tampa Bay franchise is in bad shape. I suggest that the Tampa owners move their team to St. Louis. They would pay the Cardinals a fair amount to rent the ballpark for 81 games, plus pay half of the total maintenance costs. The Cardinals would make a nice profit every year, Tampa gets a good deal and doesn't have to build a new stadium. St. Louis gets a huge benefit: 162 games played downtown instead of 81, sellout crowds using hotels, restaurants and all venues of the ballpark village. Play a three-game city series just before the regular season starts for bragging rights. That's a total of 165 games with fans swarming all over downtown. Of course the American League team would be called the Browns."

For those of you that are too young to remember, St. Louis was once home to two major league franchises, the St. Louis Browns and St. Louis Cardinals, who co-existed in the Gateway City for 52-years.

The Browns won-loss record of 3414- 4465 caused them to finished in the cellar 14 times, and seventh 12 times. They made only a dozen appearances in the first division. Once, in 1944, they treated their loyal fans to a pennant and faced their sister team, the Cardinals in the 1944 World Series.

With the arrival of manager Luke Sewell in 1941, the Browns began a rebuilding program that culminated in their only World Series appearance, in 1944. It took two home runs by outfielder Chet Laabs against the Yankees on the final day of the season to clinch the pennant. After leading the Cardinals two games to one in what was called the Trolley Series, the Browns lost the final three contests, and the World Championship.

St. Louis Cardinal Legend and Hall of Famer, Stan Musial, made an interesting observation about the 44 World Series; "The funny thing about that World Series (in 1944), the fans were rooting for the Browns, and it kind of surprised me because we drew more fans than the Browns during the season. The fans were rooting for the underdog, and I was surprised about that, but after you analyze the situation in St. Louis, the Browns in the old days had good clubs. They had great players like George Sisler and Kenny Williams, and the fans who were there were older fans, older men, old-time Brownie fans. But it was a tough series." - Stan Musial

Bud Kane's comments have garnered some support from others.

Tyson Meyer of Webster Groves, echoed Kane's comments; If the demands for baseball in St. Louis is so much greater than the supply, perhaps the answer is for Major League Baseball to consider another franchise here. Resurrecting the old St. Louis Browns name could cash in on the extra demand as well as nostalgia for the early 20th century.

George Walden an area scout for the New York Mets added, "I'll go one step further and suggest that the Browns reduce the Cardinals high ticket prices by one-half. If the Cardinals most expensive ticket is $60.00, the ex-Tampa Bay/new Browns ticket would be $30.00 and so on.

By 2007, when most of the Cardinals fans will be suffering from empty-pockets syndrome, a new American League team with more reasonable admission prices would be a welcome relief.

Personally, I do think the St. Louis market could support a second major league team. Certainly we could do much better than Tampa Bay, who drew only 1,124,189 fans last season, for an average of 14,052 in attendance for 80 home games.

Compare that to the Cardinals, who had 3,491,837 fans come to the ballpark, for an average attendance figure of 43,647 and you would have to think there is potentially a place for a second major league club.

Decent St. Louis Cardinal tickets have become so hard to come by or too expensive especially for families, that most fans have given up on even attending any games this season. It's hard for me to imagine just how many fans would go to games, if there was the chance they could get some decent seats at a price that did not require them to mortgage their home and first born.

I don't really think it's reasonable to think that the Cardinals would ever consider sharing their new stadium and facilities with an American League club. I wouldn't. But, the State of Illinois, spent a lot of time two years ago in effort to get the Cardinals to move across the Mississippi River and build the new Busch Stadium in East St. Louis.

My question is, why couldn't that same effort be made to entice the Tampa Bay franchise to move to the Illinois side of the Metro St. Louis area?

In 1951 Bill Veeck bought the noncontending Browns with the expressed purpose of driving the Cardinals out of town. Cardinals owner Fred Saight had income tax troubles that resulted in a prison term, but August Busch restored order by purchasing the team. To draw fans, Veeck gave them "fun 'n' games," including midget Eddie Gaedel. The stunts so angered the other owners that Veeck was forced to sell the club to Baltimore interests in 1953, putting an end to the St. Louis Browns.

Now 55 years later, we hear the cry, "Bring Back The Browns", from a lone misplaced baseball fan, and his voice is being heard by others. Who knows where it might lead someday?

  

Editor's Note: The St. Louis Browns Historical Society will be hosting a Browns Reunion Dinner this year on Thursday, June the 8th at the Missouri Athletic Club in downtown St. Louis. For more information or to make reservations for the reunion, check out the Browns Fan Club website at www.thestlbrowns.com.

 



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