Living Browns Dwindle Down to Precious Few

Bud and Janet Thomas With Stan Musial At the Annual Browns Banquet St. Louis, 2003

Bud and Janet Thomas
With Stan Musial
At the Annual Browns Banquet
St. Louis, 2003

Former St. Louis Browns shortstop John Tillman (Bud) Thomas died of natural causes at age 86 in Sedalia, Missouri on Saturday, August 15, 2015. Bud’s passing brings a touch of irony also to the taste of sadness that those of us knew him even slightly felt for a really good man, now gone.

Bud’s death occurs only four days shy of August 19, 2015 – and the big celebrations planned by the Eddie Gaedel Society for the one and only under four feet tall vertically challenged little person ever to have achieved one plate appearance in the big leagues on that same date in 1951. Thomas’ own debut for his one 1951 tail-end season big league career came exactly two weeks after Gaedel’s only game. Bud Thomas only played 14 games himself in that one-and-done big league one-season tour, but he did go 7 for 20 – imprinting his name in the record books with a .350 limited service career batting average. – Not bad for a guy who went on from baseball to becoming a superstar educator and world class wood carver.

We also wrote a column on Bud Thomas for The Pecan Park Eagle four years ago:

Eddie Gaedel was gone from the big leagues after one game in 1951. Bud Thomas was gone from the big leagues after 14 games in 1951. The St. Louis Browns disappeared into baseball history altogether after 1953. And now the surviving members of the fabled American League club that left the midwest to become the Baltimore Orioles in 1954 are down to a precious few.

The death of Bud Thomas leaves only 20 living survivors of the American League St. Louis Browns franchise that played as such from 1902 through 1953. St. Louis Browns Historical Society President Bill Rogers is checking that number for me. We should have that confirmation sometime on Monday, August 17th. When we do, the number and names of the list will be added here to the column.

St. Louis Browns Historical Society and Fan Club President Bill Rogers also recently sent me this photo show of the 2013 Browns luncheon in St. Louis. Check it out. One of them is Don Larsen, the only former Brown to also later play as a Houston Colt. 45 and Astro. Catcher Clint Courtney did go to spring training with the 1962 original Houston Colt. 45’s, I think, but he didn’t make the club. Former catcher Les Moss also served the Astros as a pitching coach some years later. – You will find a number of other familiar names in the slide show, and they all are now attached to some quite less familiar faces, if your memories of these older Browns players are all from ancient baseball cards:

Watch out for the sands of time, folks. When it comes down to our material presences and impressions on the social and physical landscape of this planet, the sands of time eventually take us all – and all we do in physical imagery form. Better that we remember the multi-colored electricity of life’s great energy daily – and never lose heart in the power of Love on the day that darkness comes to us personally on this physical plain. Any day may not have to be so dark, if we can honestly accept that God is Love – and that Love never really dies. It remains, even when those who love us leave via death – and it stays – to whatever extent we are able to embrace the concept of forever that is the driving force we embrace in the only time zone that ever really exists – the here and now of each ever-changing moment in the day.

God Bless You, Bud Thomas, old friend! And May God Bless our Memory of the St. Louis Browns – and all else that we hold dear as a spiritual force of Love and Life.

______________________________ (C)

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3 Responses to “Living Browns Dwindle Down to Precious Few”

  1. Tom Hunter Says:

    As you probably know, Bill, the only person from the major leagues to attend Eddie Gaedel(e)’s funeral was former St. Louis Browns lefthander, Bob Cain. Of course, he was pitching for the Detroit Tigers–when Eddie Gaedel came to bat–and walked him on four pitches.

  2. Walter R. Canty Says:

    Hi Bill,
    Yes, Bobby Cain was pitching for the Detroit Tigers on that day, and Bob Swift was the Detroit catcher when Eddie Gaedel strode to the plate. I was just a sophomore in high school (Lebanon, Illinois) and listening to all of the Browns games on the radio.

    Walt Canty

  3. Rebecca Garst Says:

    Thank you for the kind words about my brother, Bud. It is truly appreciated.
    Rebecca (Thomas) Garst

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