Saturday, January 12, 2013

January 12- St. Louis Browns

I’ve never been much of a St. Louis Cardinals fan, but I’ve always been a fan of the “STL” intertwined logo on the front of the cap. Lucky for me, the old St. Louis Browns utilized the same logo on all of their caps for 1927 until their final year in St. Louis in 1953 before moving on to Baltimore to become the second incarnation of the Orioles. This particular cap was used for only two years (1950-51) and in my opinion, was the best color scheme the organization had, for their hats at least.

When I bought this hat in December of 2011 I didn’t have any real intention of purchasing any more of their hats. In fact when it came to all of my hats, I primarily only wanted one per team. Being such a huge fan of baseball caps it was hard to stay at just one per team, especially with so many awesome designs and logos each team created over their history. So, when choosing the numbers, I picked one from between 1950-51 and the other, as indicated, had to do with an earlier time in the teams’ history.

Starting with the ’22, which obviously stands for 1922 for those who don’t know shorthand for years. Back in 1915 a 22-year-old rookie took the field for the Browns with little to know aspirations of being one of the greatest hitters in Major League Baseball’s history. In his first five years he had no more than 190 hits in a season, nor did he have an average higher than .353. Yah, he was that good. In 1920 he had a career best 257 base knocks on a .407 average. It would be 84 years before his season hit total would be broken by the greatest Japanese baseball player MLB has seen, Ichiro Suzuki. That’s right, George Sisler, a Hall of Fame legend in his own right; however, 1920 was not his best year. In 1922 Sisler went on a hitting tear, but played in 12 less games than he did in 1920. That year he had 246 hits and held an astonishing .420 average which helped him lock up his one and only MVP. Just imagine if he had played those extra 12 games, let alone imagine if he played 162 games like today’s players do. In 1920 Sisler played in every game. 154 to be exact.

To keep things reflexive I opted to go with #22 for a jersey number. When looking through the players who had taken the field for the Browns between 1950 and 51 I didn’t see a lot of players of note, or at least ones that the casual baseball fan would recognize… except one. At the end of the 1950 season the Browns needed some help coming out of the bullpen so they looked heavily, and invested in a player who had been two years removed from the game. Oddly enough, this player had only played for two full season prior to coming over to St. Louis. Lucky for him, his team won the World Series his rookie year in 1948 and his is considered by some to be the greatest pitcher to ever live. Oh! Did I mention that he was 42-years-old when he made his MLB debut? That’s right; the great Satchel Paige donned the #22 for the Browns during his first few games with the Browns before switching back to #29, his number he wore with the Indians. Paige went 3-4 and only pitched for 62.0 innings that season, before rotating back to a starting position in 1953.

While some tend to forget about the brief Browns legacy of the golden era of MLB, I simply can’t. Despite never winning a World Series, 1922 was also the closest they came to winning one. Funny how the number 22 is truly synonymous with the franchise.

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