Brown Stockings

Four St. Louis major league baseball teams have carried the nickname Browns, from the “brown stockings” the players once wore.

The St. Louis baseball reader
edited by Richard Peterson.
Columbia : University of Missouri Press, c2006.
As good as it got : the 1944 St. Louis Browns
David Alan Heller.
Charleston, SC : Arcadia Pub., c2003.
The spirit of St. Louis : a history of the St. Louis Cardinals and Browns
Peter Golenbock.
New York : HarperEntertainment, 2001.
No metropolis in America has more pure baseball spirit than St. Louis, Missouri. It's a love affair that began in 1874, when a band of local boosters raised $20,000 to start a professional ball club, and the honeymoon still isn't over. Now Peter Golenbock, the bestselling author and master of baseball oral history, has written another remarkable saga enriched by extensive and incomparable remembrances from the scores of players, managers, and executives who lived it. These pages capture the voices of Branch Rickey on George Sisler. Rogers Hornsby and his creation of the farm system. Hornsby on Grover Cleveland Alexander -- and Alexander on Hornsby. Dizzy Dean on -- who else? -- Dizzy Dean. And so many others including "The Man" himself, Stan Musial; Eldon Auker, Ellis Clary, Denny Galehouse, and Don Gutteridge on the 1940s Browns; Brooks Lawrence, the second man to cross the Cardinals' color line; Jim Bronsnan, the first man to break the players' "code of silence"; Tommy Herr, Darrell Porter, and Joe McGrane on Whitey Herzog's Cardinals; and Cardinal owner Bill DeWitt, Jr., on the team today.

The first Browns performed in 1875 as the city’s initial major league entry, finishing fourth in the National Association. They were led by the patriotically named pitcher, George Washington Bradley, and outfielder Lipman Pike. Bradley and Pike helped the Browns finish third in the new National League in 1876 but took better salaries elsewhere in 1877; the financially strapped Browns then disbanded.

Sportswriters William and Alfred Spink, the latter founder of the Sporting News, and flamboyant German saloon owner Chris von der Ahe restored major league baseball here in 1882 with a Browns team in the new American Association. That club won four straight pennants, 1885-1888, and an undisputed “world’s championship series” title over National League champion Chicago in 1886. The Browns joined the National League in 1892 and played miserably enough to finish last three times; new owners renamed them the Cardinals in 1900 in hopes of escaping the decade’s losing tradition.

St. Louis Browns Logos included the Statue of Saint Louis on horseback holding his sword, an elf mascot, and the overlapping STL just like the Cardinals use today.

More logos

The new American League welcomed a St. Louis team in 1902 that took the name Browns in hopes of restoring 1880s glories. Yet except for a few seasons, the A.L. Browns often finished near the bottom and became the Baltimore Orioles in 1954. However, the A.L. Browns had their stars – slugger George Sisler, whose 257 hits in 1920 was the single-season record until recently, and pitcher Ned Garver, who won 20 games for the 1950 last-place team.

St. Louis' rich baseball traditions owe much to the four Browns teams.

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff