Giving an Old Club New Life

St. Louis Browns Historical Society

St. Louis Browns Historical Society

The Team Baseball Almost Forgot

With 41 losing seasons in 52 years, the St. Louis Browns are arguably the worst team in baseball. But their legacy is one for the record books. A World Series whiff. A handful of Hall Of Famers. Colorful characters whose ballpark antics — not batting averages — brought fans through the gate.

The St. Louis Browns Historical Society was equipped with true baseball gold, but the shine on their marketing materials had long faded. As baseball fans ourselves, we wanted to help bring the story of the Browns into the digital era, while paying homage to their past. So we built them a brand new website, brought home a CLIO, tripled the Society’s membership, and kept on swinging.

“HLK took an extraordinary amount of historical photography, memorabilia, stories and stats, and developed a truly engaging experience, from scratch, that would make any major league team proud.”

Bill Rogers | President, St. Louis Browns Historical Society

Bill Rogers | President, St. Louis Browns Historical Society

St. Louis Browns Historical Society

The Highlight Reel

You can’t always make it to the game (by which we mean, website).

And you can’t always read all the words. That’s why we made this highlight reel.

Thank You, Stat-lovers and Storytellers

Like any well-prepared player, we had to do our research before we could hit one out of the park. Thankfully, baseball is a famously well-documented game. We worked with our partners and subject matter experts at the St. Louis Browns Historical Society, scoured all kinds of stat websites, analyzed other sites that told accounts of historical events, and even read a few books (yes, actual books) along the way.

With 52 years to cover, we had to carefully curate what went on the site, and how. We decided the site should read like a Hall Of Fame exhibit: well-organized, easily scannable, and engaging.

A Tidy Clubhouse

The History section is divided into four chapters, chronicling the Browns’ early years, their years “in the cellar,” the war years, and the infamous Veeck era. Each vertically scrolling chapter contains anecdotes and important facts, supported visually by historic photos and memorabilia. The content is deep, but easy to read and browse.

HLK | St. Louis Browns Historical Society

Brownie Bios

The Player section scrolls horizontally, and can be viewed as a list. We’ve featured short biographies for the key players, as well as their stats. You might be surprised whom you’ll find there.

HLK | St. Louis Browns Historical Society

Keeping It Authentic

Today, interactive design is dominated by flat interfaces. We bucked the trends to stay true to what felt right. We chose era-specific fonts, featured artifacts and historic imagery, and incorporated textures and design elements inspired by pre-1950s aesthetics.

HLK | St. Louis Browns Historical Society
St. Louis Browns Historical Society

Winning Big with Small Ball

Vintage design and thoughtful interactivity share at least one thing: near obsessive attention to detail. From the site’s foundation to its finishing touches, we built the experience to be as delightful and seamless as possible.

What a Cache!

The site preloads and caches many of the images it uses before displaying any content.

This improves the loading time from page to page.

There’s No Such Thing as a Hot Dog Menu, But…

The hamburger menu at the top right of the page turns into a baseball upon rollover. Neat!

Framing It Up

We built the front-end of the site as a single-page Javascript application. It uses a custom framework to organize the content and pages. Node.js powers the backend of the site. Not everyone cares about this. But the CSS Design Awards cared enough to give us a Site Of the Day award.

“It was an honor for us to work with the St. Louis Browns Historical Society to help preserve the legacy of the Browns. Earning HLK’s first CLIO for something we’re all so passionate about? That’s icing on the cake.”

Joe Leahy | Partner, HLK

Joe Leahy | Partner, HLK

Joining the Club

Along with the website, we created a membership card for the St. Louis Browns Historical Society members. The seal gives it authenticity, the pledge makes it feel honorable, and the member number helps it seem exclusive.

Reaching Out to Fans

With their brand new website, the St. Louis Browns Historical Society finally felt they could talk the talk. We translated the look and feel of the site into a direct mail piece that asked sports fans (well-known and otherwise) to cheer us on. It also came with a nifty iron-on badge.

A Utility Player

We also developed a membership brochure that would work hard as an event handout, a direct mailer, and other uses. It pulls excerpts and imagery from the website, giving readers a peek at what the Browns are really all about.

The Collector’s Pack

Inspired by the tobacco cards of the early 20th century, we created a special edition pack of baseball cards that features the 13 former Browns who became Hall of Famers.

More Merch

We didn’t just slap a logo on ‘em and call it a day.

Curtain Call

CSS Design Awards Website of the Day
Typewolf Site of the Day
The Favourite Website Awards Site of the Day
Communication Arts Webpick of the Week
Awwwards Honorable Mention
Coverage by AdWeek’s AgencySpy

hlk | Browns