RIP: Ned Garver Dead at 91

Ned Garver, 5'10

Ned Garver, 5’10”, 180 lbs.
Born: in Ney, OH, 12/25/1925
AL RHP: 1948-1961
Won 129, Lost 157, ERA 3.73
Died in Bryan, OH, 2/26/2017
At 91, Rest in Peace, Sweet Ned!

Ned Garver was a much better role model than Fiction’s Joe Hardy

As a baseball card collecting, sandlot baseball playing, and summer Game of the Day listening kids of the Post World War II era, many of us were blown away by the accomplishments of pitcher Ned Garver during the 1951 season.

And how could we not be?

As a smaller sized right handed pitcher for the lowly St. Louis Browns, all Ned did in 1951 was win 20 games for a club that finished eighth and dead last in the American League while still losing 102-games as a club – in spite of all that one fellow named Ned Garver did to play the game as though he had a chance to help his club reach the World Series. If it did nothing else, the Garver accomplishment managed to get through its message to thousands of us who could only follow major league baseball from the boondocks via radio, The weekly Sporting News, and whatever our local newspapers cared to print for us on a daily basis.

The 1951 Garver accomplishment was loud enough to reach and capture many of us out here – even converting many us to scattered allegiant, sometimes quietly so, followers of the St. Louis Browns. In 1951, the kids in our town followed the Texas League Houston Buffs, a farm club of the NL St. Louis Cardinals. The City of Houston was no fertile ground for the cultivation of Browns fans, after all, for another good reason, One of our big Texas League rivals, the San Antonio Missions, were a farm club of the St. Louis AL club. When the Missions came to play our Cardinal-dressed out Buffs, they came dressed out in the brown and ornage apparel of their own mother ship club.

Ned Garver did not turn us against our Houston own, but he did convert some of us kids into Browns fans who already had bought into the message that those things in life we give our hearts to full bore have a chance to succeed. Nobody in baseball modeled that belief better than Ned Garver did back in 1951. To me, he will always be the man in reality to beat out the fictional Joe Hardy from “Damn Yankees” – or even Roy Hobbs from “The Natural” – for what’s possible when, in the real world, the qualities of talent, commitment, determination, luck, and the blessing of the baseball gods come together, but only when they can all get behind the lead force of individual heart. With heart, we may all be able to push beyond the horizon of our current perspective and find the real potential of our possibilities. Without our own heart involvement , all the forces of support we can think of, all blowing as a mighty gale behind us, will not get us there.

Bill McCurdy (L) and Ned Garver St. Louis Browns Luncehon St. Louis, MO May 1996

Bill McCurdy (L) and Ned Garver
Annual St. Louis Browns Luncheon
St. Louis, MO
May 1996

Garver Career Stats

Ned and Dolores Garver St. Louis Browns Banquet St. Louis, MO  2007

Ned and Dolores Garver
St. Louis Browns Banquet
St. Louis, MO

Garver Obituary

Garver the Humorist

Over the years, New Garver served as either the toastmaster or lead speaker at just about every annual St. Louis Browns Fan Club Luncheon we held in St. Louis. We  have neither the time or space to cover all the things he said here, but this one example should support the point we are hoping to make about their spontaneous (or well planned) quality. Asked once by a dinner guest if the fans in St. Louis ever gave the Browns a hard time for their losing ways, Garver just smiled as the guest concluded his somewhat bloviated version of the same idea. “Our fans never booed us,” Ned Garver offered, in that same straightforward  midwestern tone he always used. Then he added: “They wouldn’t dare to boo us. – We outnumbered them.”

Our Loss

The St. Louis Browns, the Game of Baseball, the State of Ohio, the USA, and People Everywhere, especially including those of us who came to realize the influence he had come to be in our lives, all of us – just took a big loss in the passing of this good man, Ned Garver. The thing we get to keep is all the love that came with the life lesson gifts he instilled in so many of us by simply being all of the caring human being he really was born to be. And so lived to be. For 91 years, 2 months, nd 1 day.

Bob Feller (left) and Ned Garver; Two of our favorite pitchers of all time Photo by Associated Press

Bob Feller (left) and Ned Garver; Two of our favorite pitchers of all time
Photo by Associated Press

An Aside to Bill Veeck

“Hey, Bill! Here comes the guy who helped make your legend what it grew to be. Maybe you really did explain your reason for not granting Ned Garver a raise after 1951 because “we (the Browns) could’ve finished last without you”, but maybe not. All we know, Mr. Veeck, is that you personally could never have left the planet as the most magical owner in baseball history without the earlier presence of Ned Garver on your 1951 Browns club.”

Rest in Peace, Ned Garver

We shall miss you – and love you – forever.


 Bill McCurdy

Publisher, Editor, Writer

The Pecan Park Eagle

Houston, Texas


5 Responses to “RIP: Ned Garver Dead at 91”

  1. Al Doyle Says:

    Garver got a raise to $25,000 after the ’51 season according to what he told me when I interviewed him for a Baseball Digest feature. Garver’s salary was the largest in Browns history, which is comparable to being the biggest Chihuahua in town.

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Al Doyle, old friend, how are you? So good to hear from you after too long a gap in contact about baseball, life, or the possible resurrection of the Oshkosh textile industry. – Thanks too for the confirmation of Ned’s actual raise in 1952. Also proving again that legends always fly further than facts – and that the Veeck alleged raise refusal line, “we could have finished last without you”, simply was a sterling example of support for the general proposition. – Stay in touch,

  2. Robert McAuliffe Says:

    Ned had a fresh-faced farm-boy-handsome look to beat the band didnt he?

  3. Bill McCurdy Says:

    R.D. Lerner submitted the following as a private e-mail. It deserves to be here as a public column comment:

    “The following piece from the obituary seems to indicate that the Veeck quote was probably a joke someone (perhaps Veeck) came up with later rather than something actually said to Garver in negotiations:

    “Mr. Garver was traded to the Tigers in 1952, but the eight-player deal sent Mr. Wertz to St. Louis.

    “Months earlier, Browns owner Bill Veeck had rewarded Mr. Garver with a $25,000 contract for his achievement in the 1951 season: winning 20 games for his 52-102, eighth-place American League team. A home run he hit won that 20th game for the Browns.

    “The salary data on shows a raise from $19,000 to $25,000 for the 1952 season.”

  4. Anthnony Cavender Says:

    How was he able to win that many games with the Browns? I suppose some things simply defy any explanation.

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