Surviving St. Louis Browns Down to 14

Bill McCurdy and Ned Garver
1996 St. Louis Browns Banquet
St. Louis, MO

The recent deaths of former St. Louis Browns pitcher Ned Garver and outfielder Roy Sievers brought the question home: How many of the former Browns are still alive to this date in 2017? As a younger fan, I used to know the answer like the back of my hand, but not so much in recent times. The Browns haven’t existed since their last game of the 1953 season. As you probably know, they left St. Louis after 1953, moving east to become the Baltimore Orioles in 1954.

Ned Garver was the amazing right-handed pitcher who won 20 games for the last place 102 season-team-loss last place 1951 Browns. That’s right. He was the same guy who was refused a raise in 1952 by club owner Bill Veeck with the simple explanation that “we can’t give you more money. Look at us. We could have finished 1951 in last place without you!”

Roy Sievers was 1909 AL Rookie of the Year, who later went on to have his best home run production years as a member of the Washington Senators. As a St. Louisan, however, he remained a loyal Brown alumnus into retirement and he would become one of the pillars of the community that started the St. Louis Browns Historical Society and Fan Club, an organization that continues to this day under the able care of Executive Director Bill Rogers and the club’s amazing “Pop Flies” periodical and few local annual gatherings.

As a member of the clubs, I remember when we could have annual banquets and player-fan gatherings in St. Louis annually, but that future has dwindled away with the availability of survivors of every kind.

Thanks to a quick turnaround to my request for an update from Bill Rogers, here’s the tab on the 14 surviving former Browns:

Surviving St. Louis Browns

By Birthdates & Ages in 2017 *

01) Chuck Stevens 07/10/18 – 99
02) Tom Jordan 09/05/19 – 98
03) George Elder 03/10/21 – 96

04) Johnny Hetki 05/12/22 – 95
05) Jim Rivera 07/22/22 – 95

06) Tom Wright 09/22/23 – 94
07) Billy DeMars 08/26/25 – 92
08) Frank Saucier 05/28/26 – 91

09) Johnny Groth 07/23/26 – 91
10) Ed Mickelson 09/09/26 – 91
11) Al Naples 08/29/27 – 90

12 Billy Hunter 06/04/28 – 89
13) Don Larsen 08/07/29 – 88
14) J.W. Porter 01/17/33 – 84

* Ages each will be on this year’s birthday.

Notes:

With 11 of their 14 survivors now already in their 90’s, maybe it really was true what some coaches used to yell at us kids: “Go out there and give it your best! Losing won’t kill you!”

Don Larsen is the most famous survivor, best remembered for his perfect game victory for the New York Yankees in the 1956 World Series. Larsen is also a surviving member of the last 1964 Houston Colt .45s club of 1964 and also a survivor of the first Astros club to play in the Astrodome in 1965.

Errata: As my friend and colleague, Tom White, has pointed out to me, I mistook Chuck Stevens for former Dodger/Pirate Ed Stevens when I wrote that Chuck once addressed our Larry Dierker SABR Chapter. I do know better. (Most of the time). – Yes. We heard from Ed Stevens. Not Chuck Stevens. – Thanks, Tom. At least it was an error that serves itself appropriately on a column about an aging group of ballplayers.

********************

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

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5 Responses to “Surviving St. Louis Browns Down to 14”

  1. Tom Keefe Says:

    I had lunch earlier this summer with Don and his delightful wife Corrine at O’Doherty’s Irish Grille & Pub, home of the Eddie Gaedel Society, Spokane Chapter #1. Don mentioned he is the last man standing from players in that perfect game. When I asked Don what he thought about his accomplishment he said, with a grin, “Well I don’t have to worry about anybody beating it. They could tie, but they couldn’t beat it!” Great guy with an endless stream of great memories.

  2. Tom White Says:

    Bill,

    You confused Chuck Stevens with Ed Stevens. Chuck is the former Brown. Ed played in the National League and addressed our SABR chapter on May 12, 2009.

    Keep up these interesting articles.

    Regards,

    Tom

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Thanks, Tom. – I have inserted an “errata” into the column on the same point. Thanks to you for caring enough to let me know. I have also been contacted by another “No Tom Fooling” friend, Tom Hunter, that it was always only you as the only Tom to call my attention to the original mistaken identity error. So, naturally, I then got to throw the mistaken identity ball away after first allowing it to roll between my legs by mistaking the presence of two “Toms” on my list of “Correcting Thomases” for a double error on the play. There was a third “Tom” who has commented on this column, (Tom Keefe), but, for some inexplicable reason, the third Tom found nothing else to correct. Maybe there’s hope for me yet.

      It occurs to me that life again is like the long season of baseball. It’s just that the errors we make early in the game are more often about the things we don’t know – and the late inning errors are more about mistakes we make with things we do know.

      Let’s all keep picking up our gloves and playing every inning that’s open to us – for as long as we can. – And may we all hope to get by with a little help from our friends – to the very dad-gum end.

  3. Shirley Virdon Says:

    Thanks for the update on the old St. Louis Browns who are still living! Billy Demars was one of Bill’s coaches in Montreal in 1983-84! Haven’t had any contact with him & Katie for a few years—-probably my fault as I didn’t get any Christmas Cards out the last 2 years!!! My brother was always a Browns fan when we were ” growing up”.

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