The Los Angeles Browns? It Almost Happened, in 1942
Did you know that the St. Louis Browns almost moved to Los Angeles in 1942? You're one up from me if you did. And I thought I knew everything about Los Angeles Dodgers history.
Of course, this isn't Dodgers history, and had the Browns made the move - and they were oh-so-close - well, imagine how different all our lives would be. Actually, you don't have to imagine, because Mike Petriello has done that for you, in a great piece published Sunday at MLB.com. Mike explains:
"The Browns were so certain they were moving that they had even set up a news conference in Los Angeles at Lyman's Cafe. All they needed was for the official vote, which was expected to pass. The Browns would head west, more than 15 years before the Dodgers and Giants ended up doing so.
"And so, the vote was scheduled. It was to take place in Chicago on the morning of Monday, Dec. 8, 1941. The news conference in Los Angeles was scheduled for 1 p.m. PT the same day. The Browns would triumphantly introduce themselves to Southern California. Major League Baseball would span coast to coast.
"The vote did indeed take place. Each team voted against the move -- including the Browns. If you know anything about American history, you know what had happened. The Browns would remain in St. Louis. Baseball wouldn't arrive in California until 1958.
"The night before, while Browns owners were at Comiskey Park in Chicago watching the NFL's Bears beat the Cardinals, 34-24, and eagerly anticipating the next day's presumed success, word reached the continental United States about the attack on Pearl Harbor, and America's subsequent entry into World War II. Quickly realizing the timing clearly wasn't right to move a team 1,800 miles west, Browns ownership reversed course on the plan. The Browns stayed in St. Louis for another dozen years, eventually moving to Baltimore following the 1953 season to become the Orioles."
Gulp. Big gulp.
It's fascinating stuff and I had absolutely no idea. Please read the entire 3400-word piece, will you? Citing the butterfly effect, the author goes on to answer his own questions:
"But ... what if they didn't? What if the vote had happened before Pearl Harbor, and it wasn't rescinded? Or a mere one season sooner? Or if Japan had attacked later, or never, or if America had never entered the war at all?"
For example, with details in each section:
1942. Fantasy: The Browns rule Los Angeles. Reality: A country at war stalls St. Louis' move west.
1948. Fantasy: The Philadelphia A's move to the Bay Area.
Reality: Family ownership squabbles lead to a 1955 move to Kansas City.
1954. Fantasy: Willie Mays returns to Minnesota a hero.
Reality: Mays makes arguably the most memorable play in history.
1958. Fantasy: Sandy Koufax and Vin Scully head to Texas.
Reality: Sandy Koufax and Vin Scully head to California.
1961. Fantasy: The Angels are born into the National League.
Reality: The Angels are born into the American League.
1966. Fantasy: Atlanta gets a team from Washington, D.C.
Reality: Atlanta gets a team from Milwaukee.
1960s. Fantasy: Lots of expansion, but in a different form.
Reality: Lots of expansion.
1974. Fantasy: Washington gets its team back.
Reality: Washington almost gets its team back.
1977 - present: Everything else unfolds as it did. Almost.
And remember, glove conquers all.
Howard Cole has been writing about baseball on the internet since Y2K. Follow him on Twitter.
Photo via Boston Public Library. St. Louis Browns Baseball Team, 1902. Creator/Contributor: Horner, Carl J. (photographer). McGreevey no. 154 Location: Boston Public Library, Print Department