EFF Founder Jerry Cohen, gives us a brief history of our latest jersey release, the Brownsville Charros 1951 Home Jersey.
It’s fascinating what I find when going through photos and baseball reference books while researching obscure baseball history. After all, we like to say that there’s a story behind every jersey we make – and there is – it’s just that sometimes the story is pretty thin. What we often have to work with is just a few stats out of a minor league record book, or some names in a lineup. But often the digging is worth the effort, and we are constantly surprised by the twists, turns, and serendipity of baseball history. Such was my delight when researching one of our new flannels, the Brownsville Charros of the 1950 Class C Rio Grande Valley League. If you are a James Stewart fan (or merely a baseball history fan) you might be familiar with the 1949 film “The Monty Stratton Story” in which Stewart depicted the former White Sox pitcher Monty Stratton. Stratton was a five-year veteran of the Sox when his pistol misfired while hunting rabbits in the off-season. His leg was amputated the next day, and his baseball career seemingly over. After spending a couple of seasons coaching and pitching batting practice for the White Sox (and attempting to join the army in World War II), Stratton became determined to make a comeback, wooden leg and all.
Monty Stratton and Jimmy Stewart
Monty Stratton for the Chicago White Sox circa 1938
Monty Stratton in his Charros Jersey circa 1950
Although he did not again play at the major league level, in 1947 Stratton joined the Sherman-Dennison Twins of the Class C Big State League, and managed to go 18-8 with a 4.17 ERA. Stratton was able to pitch and field his position. Stratton had a lengthy career in the minors, in his later years mostly signing one-day contracts, which included an appearance for Brownsville in 1950. He relied on a trick pitch called “the Gander”. (I have not found accounts of his hitting in those pre-DH days). After Stratton sold his story to Hollywood, Gregory Peck, Robert Taylor, and Van Johnson were reportedly considered for the role of Stratton until the studio settled on Stewart (Agnes Moorehead played Monty’s mother, although she was only eight years older than Stewart). So, we are proud to welcome to the “family” our 1950 Brownsville Charros Monty Stratton jersey!
My is Rene Torres, born and raised in Brownsville, Texas and I have an original Brownsville Charros Jersey worn by the bat boy (1951). In 1949, the city celebrated the opening of one of its movie theaters, the “Majestic.” The house was full to see the “Monty Stratton Story.” In fact, the second showing attracted just as many. I was only 3 years old in “49,” but saw the movie years later. I also have a copy of an original advertising poster that came out in the local daily. The Charros won on that day 10-2 before a crowd of 2,910. I have written a short essay about Stratton
Great writing and research. Years ago, before Monty’s son died, I spent some time with him as I was wanting to get some history about his dad. Long and short, I asked if he had anything of his dad’s baseball career that I could purchase or that he was willing to part with. Oddly enough, he had a jersey his dad wore to an old timers day. It was not the usual team and league issue because there were circumstances beyond control. Monty had this jersey made up in time for the Old Timers Day. I have the picture of him holding it. It is a pullover jersey with his number and team professionally sewn/attached.
I have no intention of parting with it as I believe it is one of those Holy Grails. My reason for responding to you here, is that Monty Stratton is a baseball player of honor, skill, and class and according to his son, a fella who as a dad, did right by everyone, animals, and the game of baseball… He was indeed the Gander…
Cool story Jerry. I can’t wait for memorial weekend, since I’m finally going to visit the EFF store!
Great article and great products Jerry. As a graphic designer and a traditionalist baseball/historian fan I can greatly appreciate both the reasearch and creative execution. Well done and uniqiuely original. Similar storylines can be had and explored in the histories of Pete Grey and HOF Three Finger Brown. Great stuff. Cheers, Kurt