Bill Borst, a writer and adjunct professor of baseball history at Webster University in St. Louis, founded the club three years ago. "Our purpose is to remember the Browns' good times and the bad," says Borst. "Mostly, though, they were bad." The fan club has its own hall of fame (13 members), an annual banquet and plans for a permanent display of Browniana at Maryville College in Creve Coeur, Mo. At this year's fete on May 21, the club officially retired the uniform number (31) of pitcher Ned Garver, who in 1951 went 20-12 and often batted sixth in the order as the Browns lost 102 times. Says Garver, now 61 and living in his birthplace of Ney, Ohio (pop. 400): "When they get that permanent display up, I'm gonna take a busload of folks from Ney down there to St. Louis to show 'em my uniform."
Among the members of the fan club are 100-year-old John Daley, a former Browns shortstop (1912) who, according to some sources, will soon become the oldest major leaguer ever; Jim Delsing, the pinch runner for midget Eddie Gaedel in 1951 and father of pro golfer Jay Delsing; and Max Patkin, the Clown Prince of Baseball, who once coached for the Browns.
The Browns moved to Baltimore after the 1953 season, but only lately have the Orioles begun to play like their predecessors. So, in an effort to help out their stepchildren, the Browns Fan Club will conduct a pregame rite when the O's meet Kansas City at Royals Stadium on July 18. "Using Browns and Orioles caps, we will try to exorcise the demons," says Borst.