The old St. Louis Browns evoke a lot of memories for those old enough to remember. The Browns began their American League career as the Milwaukee Brewers in 1901, moving to St. Louis the following year where they played their first game at Sportsman's Park on April 23, 1902. Not the most successful franchise in baseball history, the Browns – often overshadowed by their cross-town National League rivals the St. Louis Cardinals – made only one World Series appearance in their history. That came in 1944, where they lost to the Cardinals four games to two. The Browns moved to Baltimore in 1954 and became the Orioles, capturing World Series titles in 1966, 1970 and 1983.
Here are ten valuable St. Louis Browns baseball collectibles that are sure to interest both Brownie fans and sports memorabilia buffs. "First in booze, first in shoes and last in the American League," hometown sportswriters once wrote of St. Louis and its hapless Browns.
St. Louis Browns 1942 Autographed Baseball
In 1942 the St. Louis Browns compiled a record of 82-69, good for a third place finish. An Official American League baseball from that year signed by 23 Browns players, including Rick Ferrell, Al Zarilla, Mike Kreevich, Joe Schultz, Steve Sundra, Al Hollingsworth and Vern Stephens, sold at auction for $334.60.
St. Louis Browns 1942 signed baseball $334.60 - Heritage Auction Galleries
St. Louis Browns Don Gutteridge 1944 American League Championship Ring
The Browns captured their only American League pennant in 1944 with an 89-65 record. Don Gutteridge played second base for the Browns and earned a league championship ring that year. Gutteridge's worn 14K gold Browns pennant ring brought $7,170 at auction. During his 12-year career in the big leagues, Gutteridge had played for the St. Louis Cardinals, Boston Red Sox and Pittsburgh Pirates.
Don Gutteridge's 1944 St. Louis Browns championship ring $7,170 - Heritage Auction Galleries
St. Louis Browns 1950s Souvenir Pennant
A St. Louis Browns souvenir stadium pennant from the early 1950s measuring 29 inches in excellent condition sold at auction for $107.55.
St. Louis Browns 1950s pennant $107.55 - Heritage Auction Galleries
St. Louis Browns 1941 W753 Team Issued Cards
The St. Louis Browns issued their own 29-card baseball set in 1941 at a price of 25 cents. Designated W753 in the standard baseball card catalog, a set in near mint-mint condition with every player card bearing an original autograph – including ones for Luke Sewell, Rick Ferrell, Johnny Beradino, Bill Trotter, Zack Taylor, Fritz Ostermueller, et al. – fetched a top bid of $2,151. An unsigned set is valued at $850-1,000.
St. Louis Browns 1941 signed baseball card set $2,151 - Heritage Auction Galleries
St. Louis Browns 1944 World Series Program
It was an all St. Louis World Series in 1944, where the Cardinals bested the Browns four games to two. A 1944 Fall Classic program from Sportsman's Park in excellent condition sold at auction for $215.10.
St. Louis Browns/St. Louis Cardinals 1944 World Series program $215.10 - Heritage Auction Galleries
St. Louis Browns 1944 World Series Press Pin
The 1944 World Series was played exclusively at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis, pitting the hometown Browns vs. the hometown Cardinals. A Browns World Series press pin (the Cardinals had their own version) – worn by members of the media – in fine condition sold at auction for $334.60.
St. Louis Browns Lin Storti Home Jersey
St. Louis Browns baseball jerseys are huge with collectors. A game-used #24 Browns home jersey worn by utility infielder Lin Storti in 1933 sold at auction for $7,540. Storti played in the major leagues for only four years – 1930-34 – and all with the Browns.
Lin Storti 1933 St. Louis Browns home jersey $7,540 - Robert Edward Auctions
St. Louis Browns Armando Marsans 1916 Player's Contract
An American League Player's Contract, dated April 12, 1916, between Cuban player Armando Marsans and the St. Louis Browns brought $2,644 at auction. Both Marsans, who had come from a wealthy Cuban family, and Browns club president Branch Rickey signed the contract, which called for an annual salary of $5,000 in 1917 along with a $1,000 bonus. Rickey of course made baseball history 30 years later when he signed Jackie Robinson for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Pete Gray's St. Louis Browns Baseball Cap
A St. Louis Browns baseball cap from 1945 attributed to player Pete Gray sold at auction for $1,880. Gray, who had only one arm, played but one year in the major leagues. That came in 1945 when he played in 77 games for the Browns and collected 51 hits for a batting average of .218. Many returning veterans from World War II who had lost limbs took great inspiration in Pete Gray's story.
Pete Gray's 1945 St. Louis Browns cap $1,880 - Robert Edward Auctions
St. Louis Browns Eddie Gaedel Signed Photograph
On August 19, 1951, St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck (that's "Veeck as in wreck") sent midget (or little person today) Eddie Gaedel (1925-1961) to the plate as a pinch hitter to face the Detroit Tigers' Bob Cain. Because of his small stature (3'7" and 65 pounds) Gaedel walked, with Major League Baseball immediately banning all midgets thereafter. Gaedel, who made baseball history, later worked as a mascot for Mercury Records. Eddie Gaedel was mugged and murdered in Chicago, Illinois, on June 18, 1961. A super rare Mercury Records real photo postcard autographed by Gaedel brought $6,960 at auction.
Eddie Gaedel signed postcard $6,960 - Robert Edward Auctions
St. Louis Browns 1952 Bowman Baseball Card Bob Cain Original Art
Southpaw Bob "Sugar" Cain toiled in the big leagues for five years, playing for the Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Browns. It was Cain, then a Detroit Tiger, who walked midget Browns player Eddie Gaedel in 1951. The original artwork for card #19 Bob Cain in the 1952 Bowman baseball card series sold at auction for $3,735.50.
Bob Cain 1952 Bowman original card art $3,735.50 - Robert Edward Auctions
Yes, that's eleven items – but the Browns were "special" in more ways than one...
St. Louis Browns Credits & Top Image
- Auction results and images courtesy Heritage Auction Galleries, Dallas, Texas, and Robert Edward Auctions, LLC, Watchung, New Jersey
- Top image: St. Louis Browns 1940s mini pennant $39 - Heritage Auction Galleries
Copyright © 2012 William J. Felchner. All rights reserved.