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How Pearl Harbor stopped the birth of LA Browns and changed the history of baseball | MLB

Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor 80 years ago not only ensured the United States’ entry into World War II. It inadvertently, but resolutely changed the history of baseball.

The day after the attack, Major League Baseball owners expect Walter O’Malley’s former Brooklyn Dodgers to approve the move of the American League’s St. Louis Browns to Los Angeles in 1942, 16 years before playing their first season on the West Coast. It was done. Browns was so confident that he planned a press conference in Los Angeles to announce the move on Monday afternoon, December 8, 1941.

However, in the aftermath of the attack in Hawaii 24 hours ago, and as the declaration of war by US President Franklin D. Roosevelt echoed vividly in national consciousness, owners unanimously made this move at Browns’s claim. I refused.

If owners approve of this move, it may have changed the landscape of American professional sports and created broader social, cultural, and economic changes.

Ten weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Browns finished his 12th consecutive defeat season. Between 1933 and 1941, the club finished the last three times in the eight-team American League and reached sixth place only twice. In 1937, Browns lost 108 games. Two years later, they dropped 111. Until 2003, American League teams did not exceed either sum.

The fans reacted by moving away. Until 1941, Browns was the last to finish participating in the American League each year since 1926. Throughout the 1933, 1935, or 1936 season, no 100,000 fans went to Sportsman’s Park to see the Browns.

Browns had lost so much money that he had to drop five minor league teams, fire four scouts, and need a $ 25,000 league grant to survive.

Meanwhile, the Browns tenants at Sportsman’s Park dominated the city. The Cardinals won five National League pennants and three World Series, and the other five times were second, never falling below fourth between 1926 and 1941. It attracts nearly three times as many fans.

So Harry Arthur, a Californian officer at Browns, persistently suggested moving them to Los Angeles. Los Angeles is the fifth largest city in the United States and the largest city without major league baseball. The club lost just $ 100,000 (almost $ 2 million in today’s terminology), so owner Don Burns asked Arthur to go west to seek interest.

“Well, the results bothered me,” Burns told Sporting News in 1957.

AP Giannini, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Bank of America, has agreed to a large amount of funding. The Junior Chamber of Commerce in Los Angeles guaranteed 500,000 attendees annually during the season for the first five years and provided financial compensation for less than that.

“That was all I wanted to know,” Burns told Sporting News.

However, Burns faced two problems. First, he had to acquire territorial rights to Los Angeles. At that time, major league clubs could only move to cities that owned minor league teams. However, major league baseball was played in only 10 markets, so some big cities offered attractive opportunities.

Burns solved his first problem when he met a potential investor in Los Angeles. While there, he spoke with chewing gum mogul Philip K. Wrigley, who owned the Chicago Cubs and his top farm team, the Pacific Coast League’s Los Angeles Angels.

“Wrigley was very supportive,” Arthur told Sporting News. “Even at that time, I felt that Los Angeles was worthy of Major League Baseball.”

Wrigley sells Angels, their stadium (also known as Wrigley Field as well as Chicago’s counterpart), and most of their roster to Burns for $ 1 million (almost $ 19 million today). I agreed. Burns will transfer the PCL franchise to nearby Long Beach. Burns pays $ 250,000 and then $ 30,000 a year for the next 25 years.

“His payment terms were very fair,” Arthur said. “I couldn’t have asked for a fairer deal!”

Cardinals owner Sam Breadon promised $ 250,000 to drive his competition out of town when he learned that Burns wanted to move the Browns.

With the help of Breadon and Wrigley, Burns had to solve the problem of transcontinental travel in an era when railroads prevailed and air travel was primitive.

“If the move from Browns to Los Angeles made the club need to fly, the team president was concerned about the safety of the players,” Burns told Sporting News in 1949.

After consulting with Trans World Airlines (TWA) and the Santa Fe Railroad, which operates the route between Los Angeles and Chicago, Browns will enable two rail and one plane cross-continental trips to make the trip feasible. I devised a schedule to have enough holidays. .. Browns will partially cover the travel expenses of other clubs and provide their players with $ 1 million in travel insurance.

Negotiations on all aspects of the move were so secret that Burns signed all relevant documents as “Mr. X”.

In 1957, Burns vowed to keep everyone secret because he realized that Leak could ruin our own plans to destroy the Coast League and at the same time relocate the club. “. After months of negotiations, no one broke our confidence. “

With logistics in place, Burns, General Manager Bill Dewitt, Travel Secretary Charlie Dewitt, and Manager Luke Sewell arrive in Chicago to announce the proposed moves at the Winter Meeting on December 8-10. Did. Arnold stayed in Los Angeles and held a press conference scheduled for December 8th at 1:00 pm Pacific time.

“I was a little worried about some of the owners, but there was a clear commitment from others,” Burns said. “In fact, all the owners seemed to sympathize with our situation in St. Louis and help us.”

But while attending the NFL game on December 7, Burns and his party heard about Pearl Harbor through a public address system.

“Our dreams have been shattered,” Burns said in 1957. “Fear of the West Coast aggression quickly made us realize that Los Angeles was not the location of the Browns.”

The next day, Burns gave his presentation, but asked the owner to reject it because of the upcoming war. The other 15 owners agreed.

Ironically, Browns then enjoyed the most successful period ever. While the stars of other teams fought abroad, Browns stocked military ineligible players on their roster. As a result, they not only set a winning record in three of the next four years, but also won the only pennant in 1944. In a fateful twist, they faced the World Series Cardinals and lost all six games at Sportsman’s Park.

By 1953, Browns had returned to a dire road. Nevertheless, they still had the chance to be the only team standing in St. Louis.

The Cardinal was in financial difficulty. Owner Fred Sai had to sell the team after not challenging federal tax evasion that January. A group in Houston offered to buy the Cardinals and move them to Texas. However, shortly before he accepted the offer, Sai sold the club to Anheuser-Busch Brewery and kept the team in St. Louis.

Maverick promoter Bill Veeck, who owned the Browns, found that Anheuser-Busch had the resources to overwhelm his club. The 1953 season was the last of the Browns. Four days after the final round, Veeck sold them to a group in Baltimore, relocated the club and renamed it “Orioles”.

Imagine the World Series between the Los Angeles Browns and the Houston Cardinals, given that each team will be successful in the decades that follow.

How Pearl Harbor stopped the birth of LA Browns and changed the history of baseball | MLB

Source link How Pearl Harbor stopped the birth of LA Browns and changed the history of baseball | MLB

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