Thursday, March 29, 2012

Timing is Everything

Donald Barnes was the owner of the St. Louis Browns. And perhaps because he was tired of seeing the evergrowing dwindling number of fans attending the Browns' games (at Sportsman's Park) because he was working on a plan.

Barnes owned a chunk of Sportsman's Park and the St. Louis Browns was a money loser. The author, Kevin Nelson, of the Golden Game. The Story of California Baseball states:  Barnes had a plan. Move to Los Angeles. He checked into train schedules between California and the rest of the country, figuring ballclubs would be on the road more, criss-crossing between East and West, and travel costs would be higher.

He would have to sell Sportsman's Park. Then unload-for a fee- his territorial rights in St. Louis to the Cardinals, who would never have to worry about another baseball competitor in the city again.  With the money he would make from these deals he planned on buying Wrigley Field, in Los Angeles, and the Coast League Angels from Phil Wrigley. The Angels would leave town, clearing the way for the major leagues to begin play in Los Angeles by Opening Day of 1942.

Timing, in baseball and life, is everything, and Barnes's timing could not have been worse. The winter meetings of the owners took place December 8, 1941, the day after Pearl Harbor. Roughly 2400 American servicemen had been killed or wounded. The president of the United States declared war. It was believed or feared that California was next on the list of the Japanese and there was widespread doubt whether any baseball would be played during the war.

Nothing ever became of this plan and the Browns would eventually move to Baltimore in the early 1950s to become the Orioles.

(thanks to Kevin Nelson's aforementioned book for the info)

Kevin Marquez