Cheap Seats

On this date in Cardinals history: Feb. 20, 1953

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Facing pressure from Major League Baseball to sell the team because he was convicted on tax evasion charges, on this day 58 years ago, Cardinals owner Fred Saigh sells the Cardinals to the Anheuser-Busch brewery in a deal orchestrated by beer baron August Busch, Jr.

The final sales price was $3.75 millon, substantially less than bidders from Milwaukee and Houston offer for the club. But Saigh wanted to see the Redbirds stay in St. Louis, so he accepted Busch's offer.

He wasn't happy about it, however. Saigh refused to go to Sportsmans Park or Busch Stadium to see his team play until the Anheuser-Busch brewery sold the club to a group chaired by Bill DeWitt Jr. following Busch's death.

Saigh, a real estate investor and ironically a tax lawyer, bought the Redbirds for $4 million in 1947 from longtime owner Sam Breadon.

Click here to see KSDK Channel 5's video of the sale announcement.

The brewery used the Cardinals, who at the time of the purchase were the southernmost and westernmost team in Major League Baseball and who were broadcast to two-thirds of the continental United States by KMOX radio, to advertise their products. In the process, the company went from being the fourth-largest brewer in the country to the largest.

After purchasing the club, Busch had the novel idea of renaming Sportsmans Park "Budweiser Stadium." Major League Baseball blocked the plan, however, calling it too commercial. So the beer baron named the ballpark after himself (ahem), changing the name to Busch Stadium. Then he announced the launch of a new product called Busch Beer.

Of course, today nearly all of the stadiums in baseball have corporate sponsorships for naming rights, including Anheuser-Busch's (Now AB-InBev) competitors in Milwaukee and Denver.