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Old 01-07-2014, 01:12 PM   #16
joefromchicago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thehef View Post
Along these lines, though, another interesting "what if" would have been the following:

1) The Browns agreed to move to LA and the league approved much earlier in 1941, well before the attack on Pearl Harbor.
2) After the attack all parties agreed that the Browns playing in LA was not possible due to wartime travel restrictions.
3) The Browns had burned all bridges as far as returning to St Louis and Sportsman's Park.

What options would there have been?
You're right that there would have been no good options for the Browns if they had moved (or announced a move) to LA and then were forced to go back east because of the war. If they had gone back to St. Louis, it would have been like the situation with the Braves in 1965, who had announced their decision to move to Atlanta but who were then forced to play one last season in Milwaukee. The team's attendance plunged from 910,000 in 1964 to 555,000, despite having nearly identical records in both seasons. The Browns had even worse attendance in St. Louis - they likely would have been drawing only a couple of hundred fans per game if they moved back to St. Louis.

Making the Browns a travelling team is an interesting idea. It was tried before with the 1899 Cleveland Spiders, but that was a special case, and both the experiment and the team were disasters. I doubt that the AL would have allowed that kind of expedient for more than one season.

Bringing up the Browns' AAA affiliate in Toledo is a good point. The Braves moved to Milwaukee because their AAA affiliate in that city gave them territorial rights to the area. If they had moved anywhere else, they would have needed permission from the rights holder. But it's unlikely that the AL would have permitted the Browns to move to Toledo, which was about a third of the size of St. Louis and a good deal smaller than even the smallest big-league city, Cincinnati. In addition, Detroit and Cleveland would have undoubtedly blocked any move by the Browns into northwestern Ohio.

Kansas City would have been a good alternative, as would Baltimore. Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and Buffalo were also larger than Cincy and homes to thriving minor-league clubs. The Browns and the AL would have needed to negotiate territorial rights, but it's possible that some sort of arrangement could have been worked out. Their ballparks were not major-league caliber, but, as you point out, the Brownies probably still would have drawn better than they had in St. Louis.
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