Home Attendance of the St. Louis Browns

Back in the day, before there were any residual incomes from television to drive fan interest in the game, baseball had to rely upon gate income and concession sales to cover the cost of very low player and administrative salaries and minimal maintenance of the club’s equipment, uniform, and venue expenses. It helped if an MLB club owned its own stadium.

1944: Just a Dream. Just a Dream. Just a Dream.

1944: Just a Dream. Just a Dream. Just a Dream.

The St. Louis Browns of the American League (1902-1953) did own their own game arena. It was a place known for most of its life as Sportsman’s Park. They also pocketed good side income by serving as landlord to the St. Louis Cardinals of the National League until they sold the place to their highly more successful same-city rivals in 1953, the last year of the Browns’ existence.

It was easy for the Browns to become dependent upon the sale of good ballplayers rather than the attainment of pennants as the unspoken priority plan for economic survival. The club could not draw the fans they needed to pay for a winning team on the field, so, in effect, if not by stated goal, they showcased and sold many of their best talents to wealthy clubs like the Yankees just to pay their bills and stay afloat. As a result, all hope spun as wasted motion in the mud. The St. Louis Browns were going nowhere “up” in the AL standings, except in 1921, when they got there honestly and fell a mere one game short of winning the pennant, and in 1944, when World War II and military draft conspired to leave the Browns with their only pennant winner against inferior competition.

In these 52 annual attendance figures from Baseball Almanac, pay special notice to how bad things got during the Great Depression years. 1935 was their worst year. The Browns drew only 80,922 fans for the season in 1935, To say the least, their per game average of 1,044 fans was both abysmal and unsustainable by today’s financial needs.

It reminds me of pitcher Ned Garver’s favorite line about poor Brownie game attendance during their last generation of air-gasping survival in the years that followed World War II.

“Our fans never booed us,” said Browns pitcher Ned Garver. “They wouldn’t dare. – We outnumbered them.”

St. Louis Browns Attendance1902 – 1953
Year Ballpark Name Attendance

Game Average

Season Total

A.L. Average

1902

1903

1904

1905

1906

1907

1908

1909

1910

1911

1912

1913

1914

1915

1916

1917

1918

1919

1920

1921

1922

1923

1924

1925

1926

1927

1928

1929

1930

1931

1932

1933

1934

1935

1936

1937

1938

1939

1940

1941

1942

1943

1944

1945

1946

1947

1948

1949

1950

1951

1952

1953

Sportsman’s Park (III)

Sportsman’s Park (III)

Sportsman’s Park (III)

Sportsman’s Park (III)

Sportsman’s Park (III)

Sportsman’s Park (III)

Sportsman’s Park (III)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park IV

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

Sportsman’s Park (IV)

3,890

5,474

4,078

4,348

5,054

5,407

7,986

4,757

3,163

2,737

2,727

3,230

3,078

1,891

4,250

2,716

1,985

4,991

5,446

4,623

9,259

5,588

6,972

6,012

3,664

3,198

4,409

3,645

1,975

2,326

1,462

1,152

1,497

1,044

1,203

1,578

1,672

1,399

3,072

2,245

3,386

2,803

6,606

6,273

6,749

4,162

4,330

3,496

3,209

3,815

6,694

3,860

272,283

380,405

318,108

339,112

389,157

419,025

618,947

366,274

249,889

207,984

214,070

250,330

244,714

150,358

335,740

210,486

122,076

349,350

419,311

355,978

712,918

430,296

533,349

462,898

283,986

247,879

339,497

280,697

152,088

179,126

112,558

88,113

115,305

80,922

93,267

123,121

130,417

109,159

239,591

176,240

255,617

214,392

508,644

482,986

526,435

320,474

335,564

270,936

247,131

293,790

518,796

297,238

275,807

293,111

378,004

390,094

367,260

424,846

451,421

467,484

408,836

417,439

407,954

440,851

343,449

304,336

431,486

357,357

213,500

456,780

635,538

577,541

609,294

575,324

656,930

648,356

614,073

576,619

527,649

582,809

585,716

485,412

391,654

365,776

470,451

461,001

522,365

591,979

555,711

533,825

679,224

613,995

525027

462,071

599,770

697,553

1,202,648

1,185,759

1,393,762

1,341,331

1,142,795

1,110,334

1,036,737

870,510

Tags: ,

7 Responses to “Home Attendance of the St. Louis Browns”

  1. Anthony Cavender Says:

    I recall seeing some attendance figures for the Browns’ home games against the Yankees during DiMaggio’s streak–only a few thousand showed up.

  2. Greg Lucas Says:

    We revere the history of the game from the past and the many great players, but even with competition of other sports today baseball is a far more successful business than at any time in its history. It is far from dying even if certain segments of the population in certain areas of the country think it is. It the great areas of the nation where it was born (Northeast and Midwest) baseball is still #1–everything else is popular, but seasonal. MLB had revenues of $8-billion in 2013. That is NOT something a dying sport could achieve.

  3. Bruce Bumbalough Says:

    Garver was misquoted in the piece. He said, “Our fans never booed us. They wouldn’t dare. We outnumbered ’em.”

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Bruce – Thanks for the belated correction. Sometimes I suffer from a dyslexic reversal of quotation-intent when I get in a hurry. I caught my error in the Garver quote on the first rattle out of the box and made the immediate correction, but it was too late to keep it from quick eyes like yours. Thanks, anyway.

      It’s a tough condition sometimes. When my son was in middle school, one of his classmates was on her way to winning the competition for their school team with a talk about JFK, until she concluded with “Ask not, what you can do for your country. Ask what your country can do for you.” – Come to think about it, maybe she was simply trying to make a point about things to come that we just didn’t get back then when there was still time to correct a growing cultural attitude. Unfortunately.

      Regards, Bill McCurdy

  4. tom murrah Says:

    Perhaps I should check the figures from ’47 thru ’53 to see if the
    Browns-owned ball park in San Antonio might have enabled the
    Missions to out-draw their owners. My Dad used to recall going from his hometown of Bartlesville, Okla. to see Browns’ games in
    the 1930’s. His lesson for us was, “It’s not so bad to be fans of a
    weak team. It’s never a problem to get tickets when the good clubs
    dome to town!” Sounds familiar. Thanks for another column on
    the Browns. Merry Christmas.

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Tom – Look no further than 1935, when the Missions drew 109,66 to 80,922 for the Browns. As for the ’46 thru ’53 period, here’s how it went, listing only the winner and the comparative totals for each of those years:

      1946: Browns, 526,435 to 295,103;
      1947: Browns, 320,474 to 152,605;
      1948: Browns, 335,564 to 263,959;
      1949: Browns, 270,936 to 225,500;
      1950: Browns, 247,131 to 180,580;
      1951: Browns: 293,790 to 180,577;
      1952: Browns, 518,796 to 110,001;
      1953: Browns, 297,238 to 98,711.

      Browns 8 – Missions 0 in the Post WWII Era.
      Close for SA in ’49, but no cigar.

      There may be some other SA wins from the 1930’s. I only checked the outrageous year of 1935.

      Merry Christmas to You and Yours!

  5. RedState’s Water Cooler – August 26, 2018 – Open Thread – “A Whole New World” – IGO.NEWS Says:

    […] Great Depression had nearly ruined several major league teams. From 1932-1939, the St. Louis Browns never had a season where they averaged more than 2,000 fans per game. The Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Braves nearly went out of […]

Leave a Reply to Bill McCurdy Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: