It’s been quite a while since I took part in a UCB Project. As the Cardinals are on their way to Oakland for the first time since 2007, it seemed a good opportunity to rejoin the conversation. For a different perspective on June’s topic, take a look at recent posts by Dan and Dathan.
There are certain subjects I would classify as givens for the new museum. Displays for every Cardinal enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Exhibits for those great Cardinals not quite good enough to make the Hall (Willie McGee and Ken Boyer come immediately to mind). A whole bunch of stuff on the team’s NL Championships and World Series victories, key games, parade footage, the trophies, and press pins. The kinds of things that, when we take our kids there, we can point at them and say ‘this is why we root for this team’.
Baseball has a rich history in St Louis, and it doesn’t just belong to the Cardinals. There should be exhibits that talk to that history. I would include the history of the St Louis Browns. Yes I know the franchise moved to Baltimore following the 1953 season. That franchise has still played more seasons in St Louis than they have in Baltimore. The Orioles identify more closely with the great Orioles teams of the 1890s, so even though team records set in St Louis moved with the team Baltimore’s ownership has never embraced their history.
Honestly they can’t be blamed for that; the Browns finished first or second three times (1902, 1922, 1944) in 51 years of futility in St Louis. They were the Philadelphia Phillies of the American League for the first half of the 2oth century.
But that’s why the Cardinals should include them. Describe the great Browns teams of the 1890s, the ones Charlie Comiskey played for. Talk about the careers of George Sisler, Vern Stephens, Satchel Paige. There should be a whole video presentation about Bill Veeck, and the fact that the Browns owned Sportsman’s Park up until they moved east. And, if any still exist, actual Browns uniforms and equipment should be displayed.
Sidenote: when I visited Cooperstown in 1999, while wandering around the second floor by the press pin display, I noticed a nondescript green bench against the wall. It seemed kind of oddly placed so I took a closer look at it. On the bench was a brass placard, “Donated by the St Louis Browns.” I found this very funny. I hope it’s still on display.
This would be a good place for a display about the St Louis Stars as well, the local Negro League team. Regrettably this paragraph will give those teams short shrift because I don’t know much about them. The Stars played from 1922-1931. ‘Cool Papa’ Bell, elected to the HOF in 1974, played in St Louis for every one of those seasons. The team won 3 Negro League pennants in 4 years from 1928-1931. This would be a great opportunity to educate and remind fans that the team existed and was quite good. I think the Cardinals could do that without taking anything away from the Negro League Museum in Kansas City.
Yes these ideas aren’t specific to the history of the Cardinal franchise. But, seeing as the Cardinals are the keepers of the flame, if you will, why not include all the professional baseball history of the city in one location? Why not?