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Original Issue


As the Baltimore Orioles, the former St. Louis Browns are the same old cellar-dwellers. Sports Editor J. Roy Stockton, who knew them in good times and bad, examines their history and the sad lesson of a ball club bled white.

St. LouisPost-Dispatch

We haven't heard anything lately about the small crowds and unfriendly fans inSt. Louis having been responsible for the poor showing of the 1953 Browns onthe playing field. Perhaps they're learning in Baltimore that a poor ball clubis just that, whether it plays in Missouri or Maryland.

They still have alot to learn in Baltimore, however, such as the fact that firing a managerand/or a business manager isn't an open sesame to the first division.


Let's review thefront-office operation of the Orioles since the transfer from St. Louis toBaltimore. In the purchase of the Browns, Baltimore acquired a field manager,one Marty Marion, who knew all about the ball club's playing personnel, and ageneral manager in Bill DeWitt, one of the shrewdest men baseball has known indecades.

So what did thefront office, headed by Clarence W. Miles, do? It fired Marion because he washonest enough to say the ball club was a bad one and could expect to finish nohigher than seventh. And instead of persuading DeWitt, who also was undercontract, to contribute his talents to the rebuilding job, the front officehired Arthur Ehlers away from the Athletics.

It took a longtime to get the Browns, now the Orioles, into the plight they're in and it'sgoing to take a long time to make them a ball club worthy of the name again.Miles says "at least $250,000 will be available next year for the purchaseof playing talent."

It's going to takemuch more than that, Mr. Miles.

The Browns'troubles and their downward trend started years ago when Dick Muckerman madeextensive improvements in the Grand-Dodier baseball plant, then Sportsman'sPark, and invested a large chunk of dough in a new ball park at SanAntonio.

Muckerman's ballclub found itself in a bad financial situation. Something had to be done. BillDeWitt started selling. The club's talent pool was used to bail out the ballclub.

Then the DeWitts,Bill and Charley, bought the club from Muckerman. They may have had a burningdesire at the time to make the investment a permanent thing. If they had theburning desire or the hope, they were soon disillusioned.

Subsequently, tokeep their ownership alive pending a capital-gain deal, which was their onlyout, they had to dip into the talent pool. We remember one dip. The DeWittsannounced they had made a deal with the Red Sox, trading Al Zarilla for StanSpence, "in an effort to strengthen the Browns." That one didn't foolanybody. It was soon learned that the Browns had received, with the agingSpence, more than $100,000.


The cash dealskept the DeWitts in business, however, until Bill Veeck came along, and in thesale of the club to Bill and his associates the DeWitts emerged with a handsomeprofit.

Veeck, too, was acapital-gain man. He had no intention of making ownership of the Browns apermanent thing in St. Louis. But when he finally sold the wreck to theBaltimore group, Veeck also came out with a profit.

It's going to takea long time, Mr. Miles, to put all that blood back into the ball club. Andyou're right when you use the word drastic. What has to be done must bedrastic. But $250,000 isn't drastic enough.

Each week SPORTS ILLUSTRATED will reprint anoutstanding sports column from a daily newspaper. The writer will receive aprize of $250.