In the years leading up to the franchise relocation to Baltimore, the St. Louis Browns were painstakingly entrenched in the business of occupying the AL basement and they were damn good at it. Enter try anything owner “Sport Shirt Bill” Veeck who hired Rogers Hornsby as manager for the 1952 season, briefly boosting fan interest. Hornsby had delighted citizens of “The Gateway City” with his spectacular play for both the Cardinals and the Browns. The honeymoon was short and definitely not sweet, as “The Rajah” was fired on June 9th, after just a few months of service.
From Hornsby’s final St. Louis hurrah, comes this 1952 St. Louis Browns period-signed baseball. Featuring the autographs of (13) players and coaches, this OAL/Harridge ball was likely signed and possibly used during Spring Training of ’52. Evidence supporting these notions lies in the inclusion of Matt Batts and Bill Kennedy, who were traded prior to the start of the regular season; H.P. (Howard) Waters and Everette Neal who were minor leaguers; John Fine whose role in undetermined; Frank Saucier who was cut in 1952; and possible use is suggested by the ball’s one abrasion, which is signed over by three Browns regulars on the west panel. Other than the single abrasion, the ball (VG-EX) is clean and solid with light, even toning and faint but recognizable factory stamps.
The broadly pleasing signatures range (“7” to “9”, auction LOA from JSA) with:
Sweet Spot: H.P. Waters (minor leaguer)
North Panel: Cliff Fanin (d.1966), Rogers Hornsby (manager, d.1963)
South Panel: Bill Norman (coach, d.1962), John Fine (unknown), Matts Batts (traded off-season)
East Panel: Jim Rivera, Bob Scheffing (coach, d.1985), Everette Neal (minor leaguer), Bill Kennedy (traded off-season, d.1983)
West Panel (signed over an abrasion, but signatures are bold): George Schmees (d.1998), Roy Sievers, Franks Saucier (played for Browns in 1952, cut in 1952)