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Thread: Pete Gray: Single-Handedly Destroyed The Browns Franchise?

  1. #1

    Pete Gray: Single-Handedly Destroyed The Browns Franchise?

    I wrote and illustrated a little story about Pete Gray and the '45 Browns. My angle is that it is an interesting question to ponder whether the whole fortune of the Browns could have been different had Pete Gray not played for the Browns in 1945.

    The story is here: www.infinitecardset.blogspot.com
    See My Baseball Card Project: www.infinitecardset.blogspot.com

    See My Vintage Sports Posters: www.cieradkowskidesign.blogspot.com

  2. #2
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    I remember that movie as a kid, it came on during a weeknight and I think it was a 2 part movie. Cant say I remember too much more about it tho. I thought it was cool that a guy played with one arm but I never gave him much thought until I read that article. Very interesting piece.
    "(Shoeless Joe Jackson's fall from grace is one of the real tragedies of baseball. I always thought he was more sinned against than sinning." -- Connie Mack

    "I have the ultimate respect for Whitesox fans. They were as miserable as the Cubs and Redsox fans ever were but always had the good decency to keep it to themselves. And when they finally won the World Series, they celebrated without annoying every other fan in the country."--Jim Caple, ESPN (Jan. 12, 2011)

  3. #3
    Ellis Clary was quoted in this article. That quote came from my story. For those interested in more, here's my article on Gray and the '45 Browns (a missing chapter from my book on the '44 Browns):

    http://seamheads.com/2009/06/27/gray...or-the-browns/

  4. #4
    David - your book on the '44 Browns is a really great read. I haven't seen the seamheads article before - too bad it didn't make it in the book in its entirety. Are you planning on writing anything else on the Browns?
    See My Baseball Card Project: www.infinitecardset.blogspot.com

    See My Vintage Sports Posters: www.cieradkowskidesign.blogspot.com

  5. #5
    Its an open question as to whether or not Mike Kreevich (or anyone else) would have outplayed Pete Gray in the field, and at bat, if he had been playing rather than Gray. Thats not something we can ever know for certain, although surely we can all guess it most probably would have been the case. My question would be, has anyone ever reviewed the boxscores and/or any available play-by-play and newspaper articles from the games that Gray DID play in, as to how many of them Gray might reasonably be said to have "lost" by virtue of his play? Especially noteworthy would be any games Gray played in against pennant winner Detroit and runner-up Washington.

    If memory serves, Bill James once talked about Pete Gray in one of his books, quoted Babe Martin as saying Gray was the reason the Browns didnt repeat, and wound up showing in his article that Martin played worse than Gray did, and might have been the REAL reason the Browns didnt win again. Memory also suggests that James may have been being a little tongue-in-cheek toward Martin in that article.

    Its a shame the Browns didnt win again because the quality of play by the winning Tigers and losing Cubs in the 1945 World Series was so bad it got the nickname the "Worlds Worst Series" or something in that vein. The Browns may well have grabbed their only World Series title had they won the pennant that year.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Calif_Eagle View Post
    Its an open question as to whether or not Mike Kreevich (or anyone else) would have outplayed Pete Gray in the field, and at bat, if he had been playing rather than Gray. Thats not something we can ever know for certain, although surely we can all guess it most probably would have been the case. My question would be, has anyone ever reviewed the boxscores and/or any available play-by-play and newspaper articles from the games that Gray DID play in, as to how many of them Gray might reasonably be said to have "lost" by virtue of his play? Especially noteworthy would be any games Gray played in against pennant winner Detroit and runner-up Washington.
    According to Mark Christman, the main problem was Gray's inability to get ground ball base hits to center back quickly enough to hold the batter at first. Christman said this cost the Browns "8 or 10 games".

    Gray appeared in only 77 games in 1945, so it shouldn't be too hard for a fan with access to the St Louis papers for that year to work out a rough answer to how many games Gray may have cost the team. Anybody? Plus there's a biography, One-Armed Wonder, by Wm. Kashatus. This might have game by game breakdowns of his play, I don't know.

    The Browns did badly against Detroit that season, going 6-15. They were one game under with Cleveland (10-11) and they split with the Nats at 11-11. They were well above .500 with the other four teams.

    Possibly the worst thing that happened to the Browns that year was a six-game losing streak (their longest of the season) from September 6 through the 9th. After that they were 11-5 but it was too late.

    Finally, note that the 1945 Tigers were not that bad a team: they had Rudy York, Roy Cullenbine, Doc Cramer, Hal Newhouser, Dizzy Trout, plus of course Hank Greenberg was back for the second half of the season.
    Last edited by westsidegrounds; 06-23-2011 at 12:37 PM.

  7. #7
    Good points westsidegrounds. Maybe someday I will have the time to look into the boxscores for Gray's games. One thing that can not be overlooked is the way his presence really disrupted the team spirit. Sewell tried really hard to get rid of the guys with losing attitudes and bring in all fresh players who were not stimatized by the "loser Browns" attitude. Heller's book is really good on covering all of this in the first few chapters. I think the extra press plus the distraction Gray's presence brought went a long way to undermine the team's spirit and make it look like to the fans that the Browns regular players were so lousy, look, they had to bring in a one-armed guy to bolster the team! The Browns and Sewell fought very hard to get respect through 1944 and this was a huge step back for the organization.
    See My Baseball Card Project: www.infinitecardset.blogspot.com

    See My Vintage Sports Posters: www.cieradkowskidesign.blogspot.com

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by jerseygary View Post
    Good points westsidegrounds. Maybe someday I will have the time to look into the boxscores for Gray's games. One thing that can not be overlooked is the way his presence really disrupted the team spirit. Sewell tried really hard to get rid of the guys with losing attitudes and bring in all fresh players who were not stimatized by the "loser Browns" attitude. Heller's book is really good on covering all of this in the first few chapters. I think the extra press plus the distraction Gray's presence brought went a long way to undermine the team's spirit and make it look like to the fans that the Browns regular players were so lousy, look, they had to bring in a one-armed guy to bolster the team! The Browns and Sewell fought very hard to get respect through 1944 and this was a huge step back for the organization.

    With all due respect for Gray's tenacity, I have to agree that having him out there was a serious blow to the Browns' image.

    After the 1944 Series the Browns were sold to Richard Muckerman, who was quite a wealthy man - he spent $500k to buy Sportsman's Park, another $750k to refurbish it, another $750k on San Antonio real estate to provide a place for the Browns farm team there, etc - so it was not the case that he needed to take desperate measures to sell tickets. I wonder if Gray played a lot of road games? Maybe at the home teams' request? Because the Browns despite being defending AL champs may not have been a great attraction on the road except for Gray's curiosity value?

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by dave_heller View Post
    Ellis Clary was quoted in this article. That quote came from my story. For those interested in more, here's my article on Gray and the '45 Browns (a missing chapter from my book on the '44 Browns):

    http://seamheads.com/2009/06/27/gray...or-the-browns/
    Great stuff, thanks!

  10. #10
    A little more on how Gray was employed, thanks to baseball-reference.com:

    He actually started more home games than away games - 32H/22A.

    He had 174 PA in the first half of the season and 79 in the second.

    Most PAs were against the Yankees (63); fewest were against the Tigers & White Sox (21 each).

  11. #11
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    I am afraid you may be wrong on both counts (emphasis on the *may*). Have you ever heard of the phrase "house poor."? It's just as likely that a lavish-spending owner will be more dependent on ticket sales than a spendthrift owner. You just don't know. I'd suspect that fresh from buying the team AND doing all that spending ... well, no one in St. Louis is that wealthy generally-speaking and especially in the Depression era/war years.

    You can never separate Pete Gray from the speculation of "publicity stunt". You can never separate the thought of "publicity stunt" when it comes to any team struggling under adverse financial and competitive conditions. That is the darned-thing about the whole affair. Everybody deserved better. The Browns, Pete Gray, the fans .... I am sure Muckerman was hoping that Gray would come in like gangbusters and put the doubters to rest.

    Quote Originally Posted by westsidegrounds View Post
    With all due respect for Gray's tenacity, I have to agree that having him out there was a serious blow to the Browns' image.

    After the 1944 Series the Browns were sold to Richard Muckerman, who was quite a wealthy man - he spent $500k to buy Sportsman's Park, another $750k to refurbish it, another $750k on San Antonio real estate to provide a place for the Browns farm team there, etc - so it was not the case that he needed to take desperate measures to sell tickets. I wonder if Gray played a lot of road games? Maybe at the home teams' request? Because the Browns despite being defending AL champs may not have been a great attraction on the road except for Gray's curiosity value?
    Last edited by Brownieand45sfan; 10-25-2011 at 05:45 AM.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Brownieand45sfan View Post
    I am afraid you may be wrong on both counts (emphasis on the *may*). Have you ever heard of the phrase "house poor."? It's just as likely that a lavish-spending owner will be more dependent on ticket sales than a spendthrift owner. You just don't know. I'd suspect that fresh from buying the team AND doing all that spending ... well, no one in St. Louis is that wealthy genearlly speaking and especially in the Depression era/war years.

    You can never separate Pete Gray from the speculation of "publicity stunt": That is the darned-thing about the whole affair. Everybody deserved better. The Browns, Pete Gray, the fans .... I am sure Muckerman was hoping that Gray would come in like gangbusters and put the doubters to rest.
    I definitely agree with that!

  13. #13
    I completely agree with you 100%,the 1945 Series was terrible,and the two teams in it were lucky that it was still wartime,and there weren't any better teams out there. I feel that Martin DID play worse than Gray,and he may very well be the real reason why they didn't win in 1945.

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