Bob Cooney (

July 31, 1932: It was a ‘dark and stormy day’ for Browns, Red Sox

This article was written by Mike Cooney

Bob Cooney (“It was a dark and stormy” day. It was the kind of day that might have inspired Edward Bulwer-Lytton to open his 1830 novel, Paul Clifford, with the now cliché “It was a dark and stormy night.”1 It was the kind of day the fictional Snoopy, in myriad Peanuts cartoons, would start with those same words.

However, July 31, 1932, was not a fictional day. Instead, it was a day when members of the St. Louis Browns and the Boston Red Sox woke up knowing they had a doubleheader to play. The weather forecast indicated that thunderstorms were probable.2 The forecast was almost a reminder of Bulwer-Lytton’s opening words: “It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents – except at occasional intervals. …”3 Both teams looked forward to long occasional intervals.

When the 1932 American League schedule was released, the Browns were scheduled to host the Red Sox in a four-game series on July 30 through August 2. For an undetermined reason, the August 1 game was moved forward to July 31. Perhaps it was felt desirable to have a Sunday doubleheader. Perhaps earlier in the week the weather forecast for July 31 expected warm sunshine while the August 1 forecast anticipated thunderstorms. Perhaps it was felt the players needed August 1 as a day of rest. Or perhaps it was just because they could.

The reason didn’t matter; the Browns and Red Sox had a doubleheader to play. As game time approached, Sportsman’s Park, with a capacity of 30,611,4 looked deserted. The rain would come and go. It was hard to tell if the intervals occurred when the rain began, or when the rain stopped. While a normal Sunday doubleheader would draw a large crowd, maybe even a capacity crowd, that day most fans looked to the sky – and stayed home. Only about 2,000 fans had braved the rain and the gloom to attend. (It should be noted that the average home attendance for the 1932 Browns was around 1,600. However, newspaper reports indicated that the crowd was much less than would be expected with good weather.)5

Without regard to the rain and the dark clouds, game one started with umpire Bill Dinneen behind the plate and umpire Bill McGowan at first base. With intervals of rain and the threat of rain, three of the first six innings were played in the rain. Then, at the end of the sixth inning there was a 15-minute rain delay.6 After the rain let up and the game resumed, the Browns, leading 10-2, went on to win 13-2. Between the rain and the Browns taking an early 7-0 lead, many of the spectators lost interest in the first game. The weather didn’t get any better for the second game. Still, most fans stayed.7

As a result of the August 1 game having been moved forward to force a July 31 doubleheader, Browns manager Bill Killefer did not have a veteran pitcher available for game two. Instead, “after scanning the bench from one end to the other, he tossed a baseball in Bob] Cooney’s lap and remarked, ‘Here kid, take this pill out there and stand those monkeys on their heads. … Don’t get excited and try to mix ’em up for these birds. Now, get out there and bring back a victory.’”8 Cooney had been brought up by the Browns in September 1931 and had started four games, going 0-3. In 1932 he was used exclusively as a reliever. Until the July 31 game.

With umpire McGowan behind the plate, umpire Dinneen at first, and the rain holding off, Cooney, with 13 relief appearances so far in the season and no wins or losses, took the mound. Whether it was nerves or the Red Sox hitters, he got off to a rocky start.

In the first inning the second batter, Tom Oliver, singled. Doubles by Roy Johnson and Smead Jolley followed, each driving in a run. After a walk to Dale Alexander, Cooney was bailed out when he induced Urbane Pickering to hit into a double play.

Like the Browns’ Killefer, Red Sox manager Marty McManus had to go with one of his rookies, 27-year-old Larry Boerner. Boerner had made his major-league debut on June 30. After four weeks in the big leagues, he had a 0-2 record. Like Cooney, Boerner was looking for his first major-league win.

After the Red Sox gave him a 2-0 lead, Boerner took the mound for the bottom of the first inning. It didn’t take the Browns long to erase the deficit. After a single by Fred Schulte and walks to Bruce Campbell and Goose Goslin, Ski Melillo’s triple cleared the bases. One batter later, the Browns took a 4-2 lead when Melillo scored on an error by Red Sox shortstop Rabbit Warstler.

After the rocky start, both pitchers settled in. Cooney pitched scoreless second and third innings with Ed Connolly (second-inning double) the only Red Sox baserunner. Boerner also allowed only one baserunner, walking Schulte in the second inning. Schulte was thrown out stealing.

The Red Sox fourth started with Pickering reaching first on an error by Browns shortstop Jim Levey. Warstler singled and two batters later Boerner, drove Pickering home with a fly ball. (Boerner’s RBI was the only one of his career.) The unearned run made the score 4-3, Browns. Boerner pitched a clean fourth inning.

After the Red Sox went scoreless in the fifth inning, the Browns, with the help of two Red Sox errors, got to Boerner for three runs. The inning started with a single by Levey. Cooney was safe on Warstler’s second error of the game. After Schulte moved the runners up with a sacrifice, Jack Burns singled both runners home. An error by first baseman Pickering on Campbell’s groundball allowed Burns to score.

The Browns’ three runs in the fifth inning gave them a 7-3 lead. After being removed for a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning, the Red Sox’ Boerner was replaced on the mound by Bob Kline, who pitched two innings of one-hit ball. Kline came out for a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning. Johnny Welch, who had started and was the losing pitcher in the first game, finished the second game with a three-up-three-down inning.

Cooney held the Red Sox to three hits and no runs in the final five innings, and the final score was Browns 7, Red Sox 3.

The Red Sox outhit the Browns 9-6, but the Browns bunched five of their hits, along with two walks and three Red Sox errors, to score four runs in the first inning and three in the fifth.

Larry Boerner pitched five innings, giving up seven runs (four earned) on five hits. He was the losing pitcher, giving him an 0-3 record. (Boerner would finish the season, his only season in the major leagues, with an 0-4 record.)

Bob Cooney pitched a complete game, giving up three runs (two earned) on nine hits. He was the winning pitcher, giving him a 1-0 record. It was his only win in the major leagues.

When the game came to an end, the 2,000 fans, two teams, and two umpires left the stadium. The entire day had been either raining or threatening to rain, As the Red Sox walked off the field, they shared the dreary gloom of the day. For the Red Sox, after losing both games, “It was a dark and stormy day.” In every way.

At the same time, Browns fans and players did not see those dark dreary clouds. They didn’t worry about the rain. Instead, after two wins in the same day, for the Browns; “It was a bright and sunny day.” In every way.

(For Cooney, however, it was not so bright. He finished the season with a 1-2 record. After 1933 spring training he traveled to St. Louis with the team, but on the second day of the season the Browns optioned him to San Antonio, and he never returned to the major leagues.)



This article was fact-checked by Bruce Slutsky and copy-edited by Len Levin.



In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted and

The author and Bob Cooney are not related.



1 Tracy Mumford, “Who Really Wrote, ‘It Was a Dark and Stormy Night?,’”, October 27, 2015,

2 “Thunderstorms Probable; Tomorrow Slightly Warmer,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 30, 1932: 1.

3 Mumford.

4 Seamheads Ballparks Database, “Sportsman’s Park III,”, accessed May 30, 2023,

5 Martin J. Haley, “Browns Take Double Bill from Boston,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, August 1, 1932: 6.

6 Haley.

7 Haley.

8 Charles “Kid” Regan, “Cooney Comes to Browns’ Rescue in Hill Shortage,” St. Louis Star and Times, August 1, 1932: 16.

Additional Stats

St. Louis Browns 7
Boston Red Sox 3
Game 2, DH

Sportsman’s Park
St. Louis, MO


Box Score + PBP:

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