By Glen Sparks
The old Milwaukee Brewers began play in the Western League in the late 19th century. In 1901, they joined the newly formed American League. The following season, the team moved to St. Louis and changed its name to the Browns, the original moniker of the National League’s St. Louis Cardinals.
More often than not, the Browns battled it out for last place in the A.L. “St Louis-first in booze, first in shoes, last in the American League.” The Browns made it to one World Series, in 1944, against the Cardinals. The Cards won the Streetcar Series in six games.
The Browns nearly moved to Los Angeles in 1942, but World War II intervened. They almost moved back to Milwaukee and finally left for Baltimore in 1954. Rechristened the Orioles, the franchise has won six pennants and World Series in 1966, 1970 and 1983.
Good luck with the quiz!
- Which Browns outfielder hit above .300 every season from 1919 through 1925, including a .355 mark in 1920 and .352 in 1921?
- Which Browns first baseman batted better than .400 twice and won the MVP award in 1922?
- Which Browns pitcher threw a no-hitter in his first start, May 6, 1953?
- Which Browns pitcher made his debut with the team at the age of 44 and compiled an 18-23 won-loss record over three seasons?
- Which Browns first baseman led his team with a .438 batting average in the 1944 World Series (minimum 10 at-bats)?
- Which Browns outfielder was the first player in MLB history to reach the 30-30 mark (30 homers, 30 steals) in one season?
- Which Browns shortstop, nicknamed “Little Slug,” led the A.L. in RBI (109) in 1944 and home runs (24) in 1945?
- Which Orioles outfielder, described by his former team as “an old 30,” won the MVP and Triple Crown for Baltimore in 1967?
- Which Orioles pitcher beat the Dodgers’ Sandy Koufax 6-0 in Game 2 of the 1966 World Series at the age of 20?
- Which Orioles pitcher, with a 78-79 lifetime record, put together a Cy Young season in his next-to-last campaign?
- “Baby Doll” Jacobson. Supposedly, they called William Chester Jacobson “Baby Doll” because when he came up to bat once in the minors in 1912, the ballpark band was playing “Oh, You Beautiful Doll.” Jacobson promptly hit a home run and a lady fan shouted, “You must be that beautiful doll they were talking about.” He spent most of his career with the Browns and hit .311 over an 11-year career (.317 with the Browns.)
- George Sisler. He was the greatest Brownie of them all, no question. He played 12 of his 15 seasons in St. Louis, enjoying a .407 season in 1920 and .420 in 1922. Sisler also led the league in stolen bases three times. The Hall of Famer hit .340 lifetime.
- Alva Lee “Bobo” Holloman. Holloman only went 3-7 in the major leagues, all of that in 1953. He made four relief appearances and kept bugging Browns manager Marty Marion to give him a start. Marion finally gave in, and Holloman no-hit the Philadelphia A’s on a rainy afternoon in front of about 2,500 fans. He never came close to repeating that effort and was out of the majors for good by July 19, never to return.
- Satchel Paige. He established himself as a legend in the Negro leagues. Baseball policy kept him out of the big leagues for much of his career. Finally, in 1948, at the age of 41, Paige made it to the Majors with the Indians. He spent three years in St. Louis and made two All-Star teams.
- George McQuinn. Several fine players put on the Browns uniform through the years. McQuinn, from Virginia, was another standout. He hit .283 in eight seasons with St. Louis. McQuinn recorded seven hits in 16 at-bats against the Cardinals in the 1944 Series. He hit just .130 (3-for-29) for the Yankees in the 1947 Series against the Dodgers.
- Ken Williams. The lefty batter belted 196 home runs in his career and swiped 154 bases. He was never better than he was in 1922. Williams hit .332 and drove in a league-high 155 runs. He also led the league with 39 homers and stole 37 bases.
- Vern Stephens. The shortstop broke in with the Browns in 1941 and played his first seven seasons in St. Louis. He made three All-Star teams during that time. Later, with the Red Sox, he played on four more All-Star teams and led the league in RBI in 1949 (1959) and 1950 (144). Stephens slugged 247 homers in his career.
- Frank Robinson. A six-time All-Star with the Cincinnati Reds, Robinson was dealt to the Orioles before the 1966 campaign. In his first year in Baltimore, he led the league in home runs (49), RBI (122) and batting average (.316). Robinson slammed 586 homers in his career and was a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
- Jim Palmer. The future Hall of Famer was in his second season in the majors and just 20 years, 11 months when he beat Koufax. The Orioles swept the Dodgers in the best-of-seven Series.
- Steve Stone. The stocky right-hander had a career losing record before going 25-7 and winning the 1980 Cy Young. He retired after a 4-7 campaign in 1981, with a lifetime record 107-93.