Unreal has long harbored a soft spot for the St. Louis Browns. Who among us can't love a team that once fielded a midget? Especially a team that lost the only game in which said little person appeared?
Truth be told, the Browns lost most of their games. Not even publicity stunts like Eddie Gaedel could offset this record of futility and draw fans to Sportsman's Park. But even though the team pulled up stakes in 1953, moved to Baltimore and changed their name to the Orioles, they have not been forgotten. In 1984, Bill Borst, the self-proclaimed Baseball Professor, established the St. Louis Browns Fan Club in the hope of bringing Browns players and fans together. Unreal recently caught up with Borst to talk some Brownie baseball.
Unreal: Why the Browns?
Bill Borst: [Laughs] Why not?
In 1984 I was driving up to Cooperstown for the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony with this guy named Ron Gabriel. He'd started up a club for Brooklyn Dodgers fans. I was living in St. Louis and thought it would be nice to honor some of the old Browns players. Since then we've grown by leaps and bounds. We have 300 to 400 members. We're trying to start up a newsletter. The Dodgers club has one called Line Drive, but we'd call ours Pop Flies because the Browns were more apt to hit a pop fly.
Who was your favorite Brown?
I loved Ned Garver. He was their best pitcher in the '50s. He won 20 games in 1951, but the team lost 100. There's an apocryphal story that he asked for a raise that year and [owner] Bill Veeck told him, "We could have finished last without you."
I know a lot of the players who are still alive. They come to the Browns Historical Society's annual banquet. Of the ten major leaguers who lived to be 100, five played with the Browns.
Wow. The Browns were first at something!
It's probably due to inactivity, not having to run all those bases. You know, the Phillies took 135 years to lose 10,000 games. I say the Browns could have done it in 95.
Somebody Buy My Crap
Item: Nativity Scene
Issue: November 18
Unreal: Christmas is just around the corner. Why are you selling your nativity scene now?
Frank: I had three of them, but I already sold one. I've been making nativity scenes since I retired in 1988. But this will probably be the last year. I'll be 82 this December.
Is your birthday on the 25th? Is that why you make nativity scenes?
No. It's the seventh. I do this to give me something to do — to keep from being bored. I start each year in January. I make them out of three-quarter-inch plywood and paint them and finish them with polyurethane. They're for your yard.
What do you think of those inflatable snowmen and Santa Clauses that people decorate their lawns with today? Do you think they distract from the true meaning of Christmas?
Yeah, but more than that I don't think they hold up. The paint peels off them. They're not quality.
How many nativity scenes do you have in your yard?
I got one leaning up against my truck, and that's where it will stay. I don't like to set it up because then you have to take it down. At one time I had the entire yard covered for Christmas, Easter and Halloween. I used to make plywood bunnies and black cats.
And just like that you're going to quit after all these years?
Well, most likely. I may make something if someone requests a special order. But I doubt it. People don't want to pay for anything these days. They want it cheap.
From time to time Unreal trolls the St. Louis Post-Dispatch classified section's "Bargain Box." We cannot guarantee any item remains available for purchase at press time.
Town Talk: Unreal Responds!
This week Unreal talks back to the following item, published in October and entitled "No lunacy, no Town Talk":
To the Pollyanna who wrote Town Talk is for angry, sad, confused people: Have you lived your life with rose-colored glasses on? You must be a sheltered little princess. Why don't you get a job and get out in the real world? The world is full of stupid idiots. That's why Town Talk is so popular. Check out my ignorant neighbor who parks his used cars on the street in front of No Parking signs. When he gets tickets he blames it on the neighbors for calling the police. Wake up, June Cleaver and smell the coffee.
Unreal responds! Now hold it right there just a minute: The cars in question — are they gently used, or hoopties?
Sometimes Unreal can't resist talking back to the South Side Journal's reader-generated "Town Talk" feature.