How baseball’s westward move sank with the ships at Pearl Harbor

January 23, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | Filed in: baseball, journalism.

The owners of major-league baseball teams in 1941 had a radical plan to change the game. It was not a rule change. Baseball rules have been in place for more than four decades, and they seem to be working well.

This was a change of venue.

For all of its existence major league baseball head resided in the eastern United States . It had tiptoed early on across the Mississippi river to St. Louis, but that was as far west it is as it had gotten. St. Louis, in fact, had two major league baseball teams when was the St. Louis Cardinals, a team that in the 1930s had won the hearts and minds of most of the cities residence.

The other was the St. Louis Browns. That team had struggled for most of his existence. It had never been very good, and it had never had much of an audience in St. Louis. Still it hung on.

In 1941, in early December, the owners had decided that it was time for a change. Transportation of teams to and from the West Coast to play their games was one of the big problems. But that problem has been solved by the Railroads and also the possibility of the air travel. It was time for major-league baseball to claim the West Coast.

The plan was to move the St. Louis Browns into the Los Angeles area. There had been a lot of difficulties to overcome with this plan, but the owners Dash understanding the revenue potential’s baseball fans On the West Coast Dash and work through those difficulties. It was then time to announce the plan.

The announcement was scheduled for Monday, December 8, 1941. There would be a press conference, and the owners would tell the public that western audiences would finally be able to enjoy major-league baseball games in person, not just on the radio.

But then, December 7 happened. It was to become, as Franklin Roosevelt stated, a date that would “live in infamy.” And a surprise attack, Japanese bombers flew into Pearl Harbor with the intent of destroying the US naval fleet, which was anchored there. Their actions drove the unit I did states into World War II.

With that event, major league baseball owners canceled their press conference and canceled their plans to move west. This was not the time.

It would be 16 more years, long after war two had ended, before ownership had gotten their act together to move west.

As much baseball history as I have read — and I have read plenty — I had never heard this story before a few weeks ago when I read an article about it by in The Guardian, a British publication/website that pays scant attention to baseball. Here’s a portion of the article:

One day after the attack, Major League Baseball’s owners were expected to approve the move of the American League’s St Louis Browns to Los Angeles for 1942 – 16 years before Walter O’Malley’s former Brooklyn Dodgers played their first season on the West Coast. The Browns felt so confident that they even scheduled a press conference in Los Angeles to announce the move on the afternoon of Monday 8 December 1941.

The article is How Pearl Harbor stopped the birth of the LA Browns and changed baseball history and is well worth reading.

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