1911 – Helene Britton First Female Owner

Before the season began, the Cardinals were about 2-3 weeks away from the start of the season when owner Stanley Robison unexpectedly died on March 24th. This sort of thing happens but in this case there were some anxious people in and around baseball. Cincinnati Reds owner August “Gary” Herrmann received a telegram asking him to be a pallbearer from Robison’s niece Helene Hathaway Robison Britton. Stanley Robison had no children of his own.

Baseball people were quick to point out that the Cardinals needed to be sold since there were no men in line to take it over. Herrmann, who doubled as chairman of the National Commission, suggested that Robison’s heirs – as well as National League club owners – might wish to sell the franchise.  The rumor was that all of Robison’s heirs were female. On March 28th when the will was probated, Ms Britton was recipient of three-fourths of the estate, including all of the St. Louis club’s stock. The 32-year-old assumed the club’s presidency and intended to run the team. Helene Robison Britton becomes the first female owner of a major league franchise.

20th Season in National League

The Cardinals in 1911 are now in their 20th season in the National League with very little success to its name. The early part of the year finds many runs scored on from both teams. On May 13, the Cardinals score 13 runs but allow 19 runs to the New York Giants. All 13 runs were scored before an out was made in the first inning. Later on the 31st, The Cardinals put up 15 runs against Cincinnati. During the year they were shutout 13 times and finish 36-38 at home and 39-36 on the road to end one game above .500 (75-74).

More on Britton:

first female owner

first female owner

She became the owner of the St. Louis Cardinals upon the death of her father, Frank, and her uncle Stanley Robison. Many people made fun of her being a female and owning a team. Cartoonists would draw pictures of the team in pantaloons and she faced the wrath of other women being in a man’s business. She was constantly being told to sell the team but refused for many years. Britton attended National League owner meetings where other owners spent a lot of time trying to convince her to sell the team because she was a woman. She had a public spat with her manager, Roger Bresnahan, and had to pay him off to go away. She eventually sold the team for a profit to Sam Breadon in 1917.


Team Saved from Death

On July 11th it is possible the team was saved from death as they requested their Pullman car be put near the back as it becomes too noisy near the front. Later that trip the train has an accident and the car that replaced them was crashed down an embankment and 14 people are killed. The players rush to the scene and help with the crash scene. The Cardinals board another train for Boston.

More on the train crash:

They were riding the nine-car Federal Express on July 11, 1911 heading to Boston for a four game set against the Rustlers. Just after 3:30 a.m. the train derailed at high speed in Bridgeport, Connecticut, killing 14 and injuring 47.

“Among those who led in the work of rescue were members of the St. Louis Cardinals National League baseball team, who were passengers aboard the wrecked train,” the New York Times reported on July 12.

The Cardinals’ car had been moved from its original location near the front after Manager Roger Bresnahan reported that his players could not sleep due to engine noise; the car that took its place was crushed, according to the Times.

Cardinals Score on Mathewson and Attendance Increases

The Cardinals move into September having been dominated by Giants pitcher Christy Mathewson. In the sixth inning, they finally manage to score a run and stop the streak at 41 innings. The Cardinals finish the season 22 games back of New York. Roger Bresnahan was the manager as the team finished in fifth place by scoring 671 runs and allowing 745 to their opponents. The attendance was third out of 8 teams with 447, 768 for the season.

Leading the team was Steve Evans with a .294 batting average and 19 hit by pitches along with Ed Konetchy hammering 6 home runs. Bob Harmon won the most games with a 23-16 record and had 144 strikeouts on the year. Arnold Hauser committed 56 errors to lead the team that collectively made 262 miscues.


The Owner and the Manager Feud in 1912.