Countdown to the 2017 NHL Winter Classic: 5 Days

In Part One, I talked about the original Sportsman’s Park. This Sportsman’s Park would be the home for both the St. Louis Cardinals and the St. Louis Browns from 1920-1953.

The new ballpark made of steel was built in 1909 on the corner of Grand Boulevard and Dodier Avenue. It was originally the home of the St. Louis Browns of the American League. In 1920, businessman Sam Breadon bought the St. Louis Cardinals from Helene Britton and the Robison family. He, along with team president Branch Rickey, turned the Cardinals into a National League powerhouse. On the other side, St. Louis Browns owner Phil Ball knew that the ballpark could be an attraction after the Browns finished one game behind the New York Yankees in the race for the American League pennant in 1922. The next year, the ballpark’s capacity nearly doubled from 18,000 to 30,000 by adding an upper deck.

It would be the Cardinals that would bring a World Series Championship to St. Louis in 1926. After winning again in 1931, 1934, and 1942, there would be an Intercity World Series in 1944 — the only time the Browns and the Cardinals would meet in the Fall Classic. The Cards beat the Browns in the 1944 World Series in 6 games, and two years later, the Cards would win their sixth World Series Championship, punctuated by Enos Slaughter’s mad dash to home plate in Game 7. One year later, the Cardinals were sold to Fred Saigh.

The Browns at the time of the Cardinals sixth World Series Championship were owned by Richard Muckerman. Just a few years later, Bill DeWitt Sr. became the new owner of the Browns. By 1951, Bill Veeck purchased the Browns from DeWitt. It was around this time that Sportsman’s Park would only be home for one team. After Saigh was forced to sell the Cardinals, Veeck sold the Browns and the team departed to Baltimore to become the Orioles. As for the Cardinals being sold, the buyer was August Augustus Busch Jr. Gussie Busch was the third-generation leader of his family that ran the world’s largest brewery, Anheuser-Busch. And it was that purchase that the history of the Busch family and the St. Louis Cardinals began. Sportsman’s Park was originally going to be renamed Budweiser Stadium, but because of fears from Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick have a ballpark named after a brand of beer, the stadium was renamed Busch Stadium from 1953 until its closing in 1966. As part of the new ownership, an electronic sign of the Anheuser-Busch eagle atop the left field scoreboard would flap its wings every time the Cardinals hit a home run.

After the Cardinals moved to downtown St. Louis, Busch donated the land to become the Herbert Hoover Boys & Girls Club. A sign at the club marks the location of where Sportsman Park once stood.



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