Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Happy Birthday, Mr. Baseball!

Today, Milwaukee's own Bob Uecker turns 82.

Today he is certainly identified with the modern day Brewers, as he is with the Braves before them, but like many Milwaukee youngsters of his era Ueck grew up watching games at Borchert Field.

In an interview with MLB.com last year, Uecker reminisced about the old wooden ballpark:
"I mean, we were up there all the time," Uecker said. "After the fifth inning, they'd let you in for nothing. Or we would just climb over the fence. It was a real neighborhood ballpark. The houses on 7th Street and 8th Street, my gosh, they used to all have broken windows. I only played one game there, a north-south high school all-star game.

"Stepping on the field, it was the big leagues. That's what you think, anyway."
By the time Uecker broke into pro ball himself, the Brewers had been displaced by the Braves and the old neighborhood ballpark had been torn down in favor of the modern concrete-and-steel park in Story Quarry. But although he never played for the Brews, his memories as a fan make him an indelible part of the history of our Brews.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Baseball!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Flying Milwaukee's Flag

In the first decades of the 20th Century, before the introduction of mass communication, the Brewers would fly a special flag over downtown Milwaukee indicating there was to be a game that day.

While researching my article on this unique form of one-way communication, I came across an interesting fact: at the time the Brewers first started hoisting their baseball standard up the flagpole in 1914, the city itself didn't have an official flag. It seems so strange now, in our era of branding and merchandising, that a city could go for so long without such a prominent symbol. The story of how Milwaukee finally got a flag (and got the flag it flies today) is a long one, but it does have a connection to baseball and the Brewers, so I'll ask you to bear with me.

Milwaukee has a flag now, of course. It was introduced in 1954 and boy, is it a doozy.

I doubt that many Milwaukeeans have an attachment to their flag. It's ugly, awkward and cluttered. It's such a non-symbol of the city that virtually all of the images to be found online are wrong. That graphic above, seen everywhere from Amazon to Wikipedia, is not the flag of Milwaukee. This is what the real flag looks like:

You can tell at a glance by the style of the numbers along the right side. The design isn't any better—if anything it's even busier—but at least you can tell what all those little blobs are supposed to be.

This detailed image, taken from a city park sign, lacks the "MILWAUKEE" lettering but provides us our best look yet at the fine details.


The parks graphic isn't quite the same as the city flag; it has been condensed down into a more squared-off shape and some elements have been removed. There are also some small differences in the details still present, like the stalk of barley.

A similar graphic appears on the side of city vehicles, although the sharp-eyed viewer will once again notice minor discrepancies in the details.


In any form, it's a Frankenstein's Monster of symbols, imagery and colors, without any overriding theme beyond "kitchen sink". The Milwaukee Sentinel on October 6, 1955 said the flag "symbolizes Milwaukee's history, culture, recreation, war service and her status as a great port and industrial center." That's an awful lot for one banner to carry.

That grand mission, and the resulting complexity, lends itself to all these variations and blunts its use as a cohesive symbol of the city. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Now that we see where we are today, let's review how we got here.

There had been attempts at a municipal jack before the Frankenflag, going at least as far back as this Civil War-era banner (which is itself one of the elements thrown onto the 1954 flag):

I can't find any information about this flag online. I don't know what if anything the colors or shapes was supposed to mean, nor precisely how long it was in use. If it wasn't thrown into the current flag's mix, this flag may well have been totally lost to history.

We do know that by the late 1890s, civic-minded Milwaukeeans felt the need for a city standard. In December of 1897 the Milwaukee Journal held a contest for Cream City residents to submit their own designs, offering cash prizes in the amount of $15 for the winner and $10 for a runner-up.

The contest rules seem to have been simple enough:
The competition is open to all. One person may send in as many designs as he or she may desire. The designs may need not necessarily be in colors, although it will be a great advantage to the design. When colors are not shown they must be indicated in writing on the design. Very brief explanations of the contestant's ideas in the design will also assist the judges in the making their decisions. Remember that the contest is open to all persons, young and old, who live permanently in the state of Wisconsin.

Every design must be accompanied by an appropriate motto which is to form part of the flag.
The deadline was pushed back, in part because people kept sending in submissions without mottoes. The eventual winner was announced on the paper's front page on the 10th of January, 1898.

The winning design, by Mr. John Amberg, was described as:
His design, as reproduced, is a simple but very appropriate one. The most striking quality of the Cream City as portrayed by Mr. Amburg is its Steady Progress. He represents this trait by a small branch of an oak tree with a few clustering acorns on it, an emblem of slow but steady and sturdy growth from small beginnings. The word "Milwaukee" appears below the figure and motto, and the whole is placed upon a cream background, with a border of blue.

The Journal also reminded Milwaukeeans why a city flag was valuable.
Flags both large and small upon which this design has been printed can be used for decorating stores and houses and all other buildings during celebrations of all kinds. The design can be put on buttons and worn in the lapel when any citizen of Milwaukee goes on a journey. Letter heads and business cards will be an appropriate place for the design, especially those of aldermen and other city officials.
The following day, the second place winner was announced.

The second place design, by Fred W. Dickens of the Whitnall and Rademaker Company, was descrivbed as "a neat, distinctive emblem":
His design its notable for its simplicity and chasteness of execution. The design is that of a flag of the regulation shape. The name Milwaukee runs obliquely from the flag staff to the lower right hand corner of the flag, the letters of black on a red background. The upper side of the flag is done in cream and the lower part in light blue.

Mrs. Lydia Ely, speaking for the judges, explained a bit of their process.
"The (winning) flag possesses dignity and artistic excellence, and would lend itself readily to architectural designs, while the choice of the oak as the emblem of Milwaukee's steady growth and progress is most appropriate. The design is eminently suited for decorative purposes, and will look well when floating from the staff, which is one of the points, among many others, that we had to consider.

"The design that was awarded second prize was remarkable for its clearness and simplicity. Either one would work up well on a button to be worn upon the lapel."
Everyone seemed in agreement. John Johnston, one of the judges, expounded on the value of a municipal banderole.
"A civic flag is an excellent thing to have an emblem of the city, its distinctive characteristics such as its present strength and steady advance in the past and its grand opportunities for the future."
Milwaukee mayor William C. Rauschenberger also praised the winner.
"The design is simple but it is artistic and eminently fitting. The very fact that it is simple will be a factor in having it copied largely and used very generally as a municipal decoration."
That might have been, but Rauschenberger was voted out of office just three months later. His successor David Stuart Rose may have been slightly less enthusiastic and the winning design appears not to have been used at all, much less "very generally."

In 1917, Alderman Frederick C. Bogk laid out an ambitious plan for Milwaukee's growth. Among his goals were expanding the harbor, investing in infrastructure, preserving residential districts, annexing the innermost suburbs, and commissioning a city flag. That last one was key to his goal of increasing public-spiritedness among Milwaukee's citizens. Bogk wrote:
"I would wish for the citizens of Milwaukee to pause and reflect, to scrutinize carefully and think deeply upon the various remedies suggested for our municipal ills.... I think our greatest fault heretofore has been our disposition to change according to the vision of each, instead of to work out a harmonious arrangement which would eventually make for the betterment of our municipal government. If citizens will get together and unselfishly work for the common good... I am sure that Milwaukee can get whatever added power is required to make a bigger and better Milwaukee."
Bogk introduced a resolution calling for "an emblem distinctly representative of Milwaukee", but the resolution died in committee, and Milwaukee continued without an official civic banner for the next several decades.

In early 1926, it was briefly suggested that the city adopt a flag for its 80th birthday, to be celebrated that year, but nothing ever came of it. In 1927, a "group of public-spirited citizens" had a flag made up for the police department, featuring "a field of Alice blue... with the city seal in the center, imprinted in golden orange."

It's a bright and sunny color combination.

This flag was "formally adopted by the common council as the municipal emblem of the city" for use by the police department in parades and other ceremonial occasions, but was not used beyond that. A similar flag, with a light blue city seal on a dark blue background, was later given to the fire department by the local Army and Navy garrison.

The following year, the city missed an opportunity to promote their Alice blue flag. When the Hamburg America cruise line decided to christen its newest ship the MS Milwaukee, they requested Milwaukee's city flag be brought to Germany for her launching ceremony.

Newspapers across the country picked up on the "perplexing situation" facing Milwaukee's leaders, as they considered how best to respond to the seemingly-simple request. The Associated Press ignored the Alice-blue-with-gold-seal flag, out of ignorance or perhaps to promote a more interesting "no flag at all" theme.

For whatever reason, the common council decided not to consider their existing "municipal emblem of the city". They instead considered commissioning a brand-new design, a "banner composed of alternate angular bars of blue and green with a red circle in the center containing a cream-colored letter M".

Hmm. This might have looked pretty good.

I do rather like the line in the AP report that "some wag suggested that a beer barrel rampant would be a more fitting design."

Eventually, the common council decided to order another flag with the city seal, sending the design to New York to "be reproduced in colors" so the Wisconsin dignitaries could take it to the ceremony.

The MS Milwaukee sailed under a different flag starting in 1933, when the entire Hamburg America line started flying the Third Reich's swastika-emblazoned maritime ensign.

The opportunity had passed, leaving Milwaukee again without a real city flag.

In 1942 Alderman Fred P. Meyers introduced a new resolution in the common council to change that. He proposed "a special city flag committee composed of aldermen and public-spirited citizens who, with the co-operation of the art commission and other art institutions would be commissioned to recommend a design to be ready for Milwaukee's one hundred birthday" on January 31, 1946. The Journal noted that this was the sixth request in forty-four years for a municipal banner.

For the next eight years it appeared that this sixth request would amount to about as much as the previous five. Milwaukee's hundredth birthday came and went with no new ensign. By 1950, however, the city was finally convinced. Alderman Meyers re-submitted his resolution, and an official contest was launched to find the perfect civic flag. Prospective designers were told:
Drawings must be submitted to the City Clerk's office at the City Hall before the deadline. They should not be signed and must be in sealed wrappers without identification marks. Contestants should give their names in sealed envelops along with their entries. The City Clerk's office will assign a number to each entry.

Drawings must not be larger than 18 by 20 inches, must be colored, but not more than four colors. Any medium may be used except crayon or charcoal.
The Art Commission received 153 entries, and promptly got to work judging.

Interesting. You can see in the middle of the photograph a flag which seems to be a mash-up of the two previous semi-official designs, with the city seal superimposed over dark/light/dark bars. If those bars were intended to be red and white, it would be a nice synthesis of the 1927 and Civil War flags.

The accompanying article is illuminating as to the process, so I think it's worth quoting at length.

Entries for City Flag Aflutter With Symbols

Beer, Sea Gulls, Music, the Arena Are Among Thoughts Expressed by Contestants

What Milwaukee people think of Milwaukee—their devotion clearly knows no bounds—is revealed by the 153 entries in the contest to design an official city pennant.

The entries were unveiled Wednesday morning and hung in three tiers at the north end of the council chamber in the city hall. They are strung out beneath the portraits of Mayors Carl F. Zeidler and Henry Hase, one representing the new, and the other the old, Milwaukee. They will remain on display until early next week.

When the home people think of their city, the entries show, they think of industry, beer, the harbor, the parks, the city hall, the new arena, sea gulls, shipping, art, music, grain, meat products and education. They think of a lot more besides, but these are the assets most frequently pictured or symbolized.

Top Prize is $100 Bond

Judges in the contest, which has a top prize of a $100 savings bond, are members of the art commission, four of whom were present when the designs were taken from their envelopes and hung on wires. They were Carl P. Dietz, former alderman and present chairman of the commission; Ald. Fred W. Steffan of the 9th ward; Walter Liebert, architect, and August Gross, architect. Francesco Spicuzza, artist, and Peter T. Schoemann, president of the school board, were absent.

The commission voted to take its time in naming the winners so that the public could view the exhibits. The point was also raised that it would do the common council a lot of good to see how Milwaukee looks to their artistic constituents, even though the council itself does not figure into any of the designs.

Beer is probably the most frequently saluted asset in the contest. Tributes to lager run all the way from mama and papa, sitting at a table with a red tablecloth under a very green tree, to delicate designs involving hops. Papa and mama in the drawing noted are clearly saying "Prosit!" to each other and there is a strong hint of an oncoming hiccup in papa's expression.

Is It Gertie or Gull?

Another impressive design shows a steer, a wheel, a keg of beer, grain and a vast expanse of green - the last for the city's parks. The rest need no explanation.

A preliminary survey by the diligent judges made note of a design showing a bird with wings spread to form an "M". Along with the bird were gears, a boat and a cool glass of beer. There was some discussion as to what type of bird it was. Some bystanders suggested it was Gertie, the famous duck, but the consensus settled on a sea gull.

The gull, at any rate, is pictured with a downcast look, indicating drowsiness, and there was some disposition to connect this pose with the beer. Other observers pointed out, however, that gulls seldom get a chance at the various brews hereabouts.

Attention also was drawn to a design saying "Milwaukee, Wis." and pointing up the lighthouse, the city hall, factories and shipping. This one made no mention of beer, to the manifest disappointment of sundry volunteer critics.


Chairman Dietz revealed, during the preliminary inspection, that the art commission is not necessarily committed to adopting the winning design as the city's official pennant. He suggested that the eventual flag might be made up of a combination of ideas. Or everything may be thrown out as inadequate.
That last bit is interesting, because that's exactly what the city did. The art commission was unimpressed with the submissions, first suggesting that the common council hire a "competent artist" to design a new flag, and then in late 1951 deciding that the commission "might save the city some money by doing it (them)selves."

And that, my friends, is how you end up with a city flag that features renderings of three specific local buildings, a factory, a church, two homes, four distinct industries, an Indian head, Aladdin's lamp, a body of water, the name of the city, the year of its founding, a flock of seagulls and a different, smaller flag. Guess they ran out of room before they could add the ten lords a-leaping.

Alderman Fred Steffan cobbled together the various elements, even as he lost his bid for re-election during the several-year process.

Among the (many) symbols of civic pride thrown into the mix was Milwaukee County Stadium, originally built for the Milwaukee Brewers but by this time Home of the Braves. And there's your Brewer connection.

So here you have it. In 1954, nearly sixty years after the Journal decided that Milwaukee needed a city flag, she finally had one.

At first, the design was exclusively for municipal use. In 1969 the city began to make copies of the flag available for purchase; until that point they had only been loaned out for special occasions.

It didn't take long for Steffan's hodgepodge design to wear out its welcome. By the early 1970s, barely two decades after its introduction, Milwaukee's flag had come to be seen as dated and stale. A new contest was created to replace it.

The winner was local artist Lee Tishler, who came up with a notched yellow banner featuring symbols of Milwaukee's people, parks, industry and lakefront.

It is very 70s in its bold iconography, isn't it?

Tishler was awarded a $100 savings bond at a ceremony at City Hall. And then his design was quietly shelved. The common council considered borrowing bits and pieces of it for another composite design, but thankfully decided against it.

Tishler's "winning" entry had been entirely forgotten when in 2001 another alderman launched another flag redesign contest. Adding to the poor sense of history, this seems to be when the current flag was mistakenly dated 1955.

By this point, County Stadium had been torn down, a fact that didn't go unnoticed by Alderman Jeff Pawlinski, author of the resolution. Pawlinski was quoted as saying "I think a change is needed because the old one is obsolete." His co-sponsor, Alderman Mike D'Amato, was slightly more poetic. "I think (the city flag) needs to represent who we are as a city now and (in) the future."

History, wrote Percy Bysshe Shelley, is "a cyclic poem written by time upon the memories of man." He must have been familiar with Cream City politics. Once again, prospective designers submitted their ideas, and once again the city found them lacking. This time, the judges found the entries so uninspiring that, having reluctantly picked five winners, they recommended the common council adopt "none of the above".

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, but can't say I really blame them there. If these finalists were representative of the entries, there's not much to recommend. Each one an over-designed mess. In January 2002 a council committee voted to delay the process indefinitely, and Pawlinski officially abandoned his quest the following November.

In recent months, the terrible state of the flag has been brought to the public's attention,perhaps more than it ever has before. In May of last year Roman Mars, host of the design/architecture show 99% Invisible on San Francisco public radio, gave a TED Talk entitled "The Worst-Designed Thing You've Never Noticed". That thing was, of course, city flags.

Mars played audio clips from Milwaukee graphic designer Steve Kodis and Ted Kaye, author of Good Flag, Bad Flag to talk about municipal flags design: the good, the bad, and the Milwaukee.
Roman Mars: Even though seal-on-a-bedsheet flags are particularly painful and offensive to me, nothing can quite prepare you for one of the biggest train wrecks in vexillological history. Are you ready? It's the flag of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Laughter) I mean, it's distinctive, I'll give them that.

Steve Kodis: It was adopted in 1955 (sic).

RM: The city ran a contest and gathered a bunch of submissions with all kinds of designs.

SK: And an alderman by the name of Fred Steffan cobbled together parts of the submissions to make what is now the Milwaukee flag.

RM: It's a kitchen sink flag. There's a gigantic gear representing industry, there's a ship recognizing the port, a giant stalk of wheat paying homage to the brewing industry. It's a hot mess, and Steve Kodis, a graphic designer from Milwaukee, wants to change it.

SK: It's really awful. It's a misstep on the city's behalf, to say the least.

RM: But what puts the Milwaukee flag over the top, almost to the point of self-parody, is on it is a picture of the Civil War battle flag of the Milwaukee regiment.

SK: So that's the final element in it that just makes it that much more ridiculous, that there is a flag design within the Milwaukee flag.

RM: On the flag. Yeah. Yeah. (Laughter) Yeah.

Now, Milwaukee is a fantastic city. I've been there. I love it. The most depressing part of this flag, though, is that there have been two major redesign contests. The last one was held in 2001. One hundred and five entries were received.

Ted Kaye: But in the end, the members of the Milwaukee Arts Board decided that none of the new entries were worthy of flying over the city.

RM: They couldn't agree to change that thing! (Laughter) That's discouraging enough to make you think that good design and democracy just simply do not go together. But Steve Kotas is going to try one more time to redesign the Milwaukee flag.

SK: I believe Milwaukee is a great city. Every great city deserves a great flag.
Kodis is right. Milwaukee deserves a flag that can be a true rallying point for her people.

For inspiration, we need only look to the City of Big Shoulders. Chicago has a truly awesome flag; four red stars on a white field. bordered above and below with pale blue bars.

Chicagoans love it. They fly it everywhere. Not to mention that they'll buy anything with its design.

Chicago's Major League Soccer team even incorporates the city flag into one of their uniforms. And it's beautiful.

Chicago's not alone in that. Washington's soccer team DC United has also adopted a flag motif.

You may recognize the District's flag across the eagle; inspired by the Washington family crest, its twin bars and three stars are iconic.

This pennant is as popular in its hometown as Chicago's flag is in its, and has similarly inspired much merchandising.

It's no accident that these flags are so beloved. They feature simple, bold designs that are as versatile as they are distinctive.

These are the five rules of good flag design, as identified by the North American Vexillological Association and extrapolated by Kaye and Mars:
  1. Keep it simple.  The flag should be so simple that a child can draw it from memory.
  2. Use meaningful symbolism.  The flag's images, colors or pattern should relate to what it symbolizes.
  3. Use two to three basic colors.  From the standard color set: red, white, blue, green, yellow and black.
  4. No lettering or seals.  Never use writing of any kind. If you need to write the name of what you're representing on your flag, your symbolism has failed.
  5. Be distinctive.
That Number Four is interesting. What would the judges of the Journal's 1897 contest think?

Chicago's flag ticks all the boxes. As does Washington's. Closer to home, so does the flag of Wisconsin's state capital.

Madison's flag, adopted just seven years after Milwaukee's, is its opposite in virtually every way. It has equally resonant symbolism yet abstracts those symbols into a more powerful design. A white bar separates two light blue fields as the isthmus separates Lakes Mendota and Monona. In the center, the state capital building is represented by a black outline of its footprint.

It's clear, beautiful, and meaningful, especially when contrasted with the glut of images on the Cream City's banner.

We would do well to remember what makes those three flags great, because once again Milwaukee is reconsidering its own. Maybe.

Steve Kodis was included in the TED Talk because he is spearheading a charge to redesign the city flag.

Kodis has clearly and consisely articulated the goals behind his drive. He writes in part:
This initiative to redesign Milwaukee’s flag is less about the flag itself and more about the way we perceive ourselves. Who we are, and how we visualize it.
I couldn't agree more.

Milwaukee Flag is now accepting submissions through its website MilwaukeeFlag.com. And since I've talked at length about how bad the current flag is, it's only right that I try my hand.

Every designer can submit up to five proposals. I'll let you know when I've settled on mine.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Jacket Weather in Brooklyn

Winter has (finally!) come to New York, and this morning I brought my reproduction 1950s Brewers jacket out of the recesses of my closet.

I've written about this jacket before; it was sold by Ebbets Field Flannels in the 1990s. It's based on this jacket modeled by right-handed pitcher Virgil Jester, who played for Milwaukee in 1951 and part of 1952 before being called up to the Boston Braves.

(Photo courtesy Paul Tenpenny)

Great to represent the Brews on the wild streets of Brooklyn.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year from Borchert Field!

Thanks for joining us on a fantastic voyage through Milwaukee's baseball history this past year.

We have lots of great things coming up in 2016, including the 80th Anniversary of the 1936 American Association pennant. See you then!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Happy Holidays from Owgust and Borchert Field!

Editor's note: in the holiday spirit, we are reprinting this article from December 2010.

This wondefully festive graphic is Owgust, the original Beer Barrel Man, in one of his many guises.

The scan comes from Brewer News, the club newsletter: Volume 3, Number 1, the December '44 issue. Brewer News was a four-page newsletter published throughout the season (and occasionally in the off-season) to keep fans appraised of the latest news and upcoming events. At this particular Christmastime, it was also used to sell season ticket packages for the upcoming 1945 campaign.

The cover page gives us the ticket details ($43.00 bought exclusive rights to a box seat for every home game in 1945) as well as Owgust in his Santa suit. The normally black-and-white newsletter was given a seasonally-appropriate splash of color:

This issue of Brewer News also reveals Borchert Field's street address - 3000 North 8th Street, and the team's telephone number - COncord 3180.

The interior spread introduced the fans to Nick Cullop, the Brews' second new manager in as many years. Cullop was familiar to the Orchard's patrons from his regular visits as the Columbus manager in 1943 and 1944. In those two years, he led his Red Birds to a very respectable 170-134 record. The fans also surely remembered Cullop from the 1944 All-Star Game, played at Borchert Field. In those days, the format was Association All-Stars against the reigning champs, which happened to be the Brewers. Guided by Cullop, the All-Stars cruised to an 18-0 whalloping of the mighty hometown Brewers, their most embarrassing loss of an otherwise sterling championship season.

Cullup replaced Casey Stengel, whose single season in Milwaukee was marked by success on the field and constant conflicts with team administration off it.

The interior spread also includes a preliminary roster for 1945 and a handsome headshot of Marine Private First Class (not to mention Brewer President and owner) Bill Veeck in his dress blues. Veeck was in the Corona Naval Hospital in California, recovering from wounds sustained in action.

The back page introduced two new players to the Brews' upcoming lineup - Bill Burgo and Lew Flick.

The men were acquired from the the Philadelphia A's as part of the deal for Brewer hero Hal Peck. Neither would last long in Milwaukee - Burgo was sent down to the Little Rock Travelers during Spring Training of 1946, and Flick followed him to Arkansas in May, after playing the first 21 games of '46 in Brewer blue.

With the news of wheeling and dealing, a brief look backwards and a great gaze into the team's future, this issue of Brewer News sustained the Cream City hopeful during that 1944/45 Hot Stove league and beyond.

There is a message on the interior pages which is as relevant to us today as it did to those fans who received this issue hot off the presses:
"Owgust and the entire Borchert Field force wish you and yours a merry, merry Christmas and the best for the new year."


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Put the Barrelman On Your Tree With a Holiday 4-Pack

The Milwaukee Brewers have a special holiday present for anyone who buys a 4-pack of tickets to see the Brew Crew at Miller Park next summer.

The 4-Packs are now on sale, and it's a great deal:
Starting at just $60 and featuring tickets to four of the season's most popular games - including Free-Shirt Fridays, All-Fan Sundays and rivalry games against the Cubs, Cardinals and Twins - Brewers Holiday 4-Packs are more attractive than ever before! Choose from four outstanding set plans or build your own 4-Pack with the flexible Fan's Choice Plan. Plus, if you're giving this as a gift, you can even allow your recipient to pick their own games at a later date.

As if that wasn't enough, every pair of 4-Packs also comes with a free Barrelman ornament! Hurry - Holiday 4-packs are only on sale through December 21.
It's interesting that they chose to use the all-white version of the Barrelman from the team's 1970-1977 logo, rather than the re-colored one introduced as a stadium giveaway bobblehead in 2008 and then again as a costumed mascot earlier this year. I happen to prefer the updated version, and not only because the design was mine.

I suppose this is good news in any case, that the mascot is a success, the logo still has resonance and we'll keep seeing more of them in 2016 and beyond.

Brilliant. I have to get one.

The Brewers did dampen my enthusiasm ever-so-slightly with this follow-up tweet:

Darn it! And I had just made a (very large) hole in my tree's decorations for him!

Here are more details on the ticket plans:
Fans will be able to choose from five great 4-Pack options, including the popular Weekend Plan. If shoppers order by Friday, December 18, their 4-Packs will be delivered in time for Christmas, ready to give to any Brewers fan on the shopping list.

This holiday season, the Brewers are offering a free Barrelman ornament gift-with-purchase to fans with every pair of 4-Packs ordered.

Brewers Holiday 4-Packs include many of the most anticipated games of the 2016 season. Three of the four set plans include at least one Giveaway date. The new Double-Bobble Plan guarantees fans a Vintage Bobble in a 1980s Uniform and a Jimmy Nelson Bobble. Back by popular demand, the Fan’s Choice Plan allows fans to select four games of their choice from an assortment of 38 games.

The Fan’s Choice Plan makes the perfect gift this holiday season. Fans can gift the plan to that special someone and the recipient can pick out four games from a list of 38 possible dates that are most convenient for them. The plan offers several great matchups including the Thursday, June 9 contest against the National League champion New York Mets, multiple games against the division-rival St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs and Interleague contests against the Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Angels. This plan also contains the Craig Counsell Bobble on Sunday, August 14.

Holiday 4-Packs range in price from $60 – $168 and are available in the Field Outfield Box, Club Outfield Box, Loge Infield Box, Loge Outfield Box, Terrace Box, Loge Bleachers and Terrace Reserved seat locations. All tickets are subject to availability while supplies last. Pricing is as follows and includes one ticket to each of four separate games:

Location:             4-Pack Prices:
Field Outfield Box $168
Club Outfield Box $168
Loge Infield Box $168
Loge Outfield Box $136
Terrace Box $100
Loge Bleachers $96
Terrace Reserved $60

Standard shipping and handling fees apply. Advance parking packages are also available. To make a purchase, call (414) 902-HITS (4487) or visit Brewers.com/4packs. For information on all other ticket plans, call (414) 902-4090. The schedule for the 2016 Holiday 4-Packs is listed below.

2016 Holiday 4-Packs

Matinee Plan:
Date Opponent Time
Wednesday, May 4 Los Angeles Angels (I)   12:40 p.m.
Thursday, June 30 Los Angeles Dodgers   1:10 p.m.
Thursday, July 28 Arizona Diamondbacks 1:10 p.m.
Thursday, August 11   Atlanta Braves 1:10 p.m.

Friday Plan:
Date Opponent Time All-Fan Giveaway:
Friday, April 8 Houston Astros (I) 7:10 p.m.
Friday, June 10 New York Mets 7:10 p.m. Free-Shirt Friday
Friday, July 22 Chicago Cubs 7:10 p.m. Free-Shirt Friday
Friday, August 26 Pittsburgh Pirates 7:10 p.m. Free-Shirt Friday

Weekend Plan:
Date Opponent Time All-Fan Giveaway:
Saturday, May 14 San Diego 6:10 p.m.
Sunday, June 26 Washington Nationals 1:10 p.m. Greg Vaughn in 1990s Uniform Bobble
Sunday, July 24 Chicago Cubs 1:10 p.m.
Saturday, August 27 Pittsburgh Pirates 6:10 p.m.

Double Bobble Plan:
Date Opponent Time All-Fan Giveaway:
Sunday, April 10 Houston Astros (I) 1:10 p.m. Vintage Bobble in 1980s Uniform
Wednesday, May 18 Chicago Cubs 7:10 p.m.
Sunday, July 31 Pittsburgh Pirates 1:10 p.m. Jimmy Nelson Pitching Bobble
Saturday, August 13 Cincinnati Reds 6:10 p.m.

(I) = Interleague Game

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

"Veeck Begins Shopping", 1944

On this day in 1944, minor league baseball's annual winter meeting was wrapping up in Buffalo, New York. And the Brewers' president Bill Veeck was there with Nick Cullop, his new manager.

"Just like old times," explained Pvt. Bill Veeck, president of the Milwaukee Brewers as he took advantage of a leave to attend the minor league convention in Buffalo. With him is his new manager, Nick Cullop. Veeck is seeking to strengthen his outfield.
As the caption notes, Veeck was on a 30-day leave from the Marine Corps, after being severely wounded in action in the South Pacific. He had been released from the naval hospital in Corona, California just a few days before.

From his hospital bed, Cullop had just weeks before been hired away from Columbus. He had been the Red Birds' skipper when they clobbered the Brews 18-0 in the 1944 All-Star Game, and Veeck had long admired the way he handled his players.

For his own part, Cullop was amazed at the speed with which his new boss worked. He told the Sporting News:
"I've never seen a guy do business like Veeck. I'm not used to seeing a club president spend money so freely. I heard a lot about him while I managed at Columbus, but man, you have to be around Veeck to believe what you've heard and read about him. He's a big leaguer in the double-A circuit."
This is particularly impressive considering how much trouble he was having even walking. The wounds in his leg had not yet healed, and in fact Veeck would return to Corona on New Year's Eve for further treatment.

Paul Dickson, in his excellent book Bill Veeck: Baseball's Greatest Maverick, tells us about the next stop on Veeck's winter tour:
Veeck next traveled to New York City for the Major League Winter Meetings beginning on December 12 to see and be seen. Writing about him in the New York Times, Arthur Dailey described Veeck as easily the "most striking" figure at the gathering. "Young Bill leaned on his cane, his face lined and drawn, but the usual cheery smile on his lips. Veeck joked that due to a pay glitch, he had only received $40 from the Marines so far, so he took the money and blew it at Toots Shor's.
Veeck was indeed able to secure some help for his outfield, laying the foundation for the deal that would eventually send the Buffalo Bisons' power slugger Ed "Shovels" Kobesky to Borchert Field. That deal is a story in itself, a story for another time.

Friday, November 27, 2015

"Clubhouse Shirt" at Ebbets Field Flannels

I hope everybody had a happy Turkey Day, but now that Thanksgiving is over, the holiday shopping season has officially begun.

Kicking it off, our friends at Ebbets Field Flannels in Seattle have just introduced a new Milwaukee Brewers shirt for us to add to our wish list.

Milwaukee Brewers Clubhouse Shirt

$39.00 $31.00

American Association

History: One of the most interesting things about the original minor league Brewers was their ballpark. The oddly-configured Borchert Field was built in 1887 and featured left and right field corners of only 266 feet. But the rectangular shape of the outfield made center field home runs nearly impossible. When the legendary Bill Veeck owned the team he installed a motor on the right field fence to move it back when the visiting team was up to bat. A rule was quickly passed outlawing this stunt.

Ebbets has used that graphic before, on a royal blue t-shirt (which is still available on their site). The image itself comes from the team's 1933 score cards.

I love the style of this new shirt. These contrasting-raglan sleeves are quintessential baseball.

As for using this graphic again, I don't wish to appear churlish; I do appreciate that Ebbets Field is giving us new Brewers merchandise. But that 1933 graphic is hardly the most uninspiring image in the Brews' history; how much cooler would that Clubhouse Shirt be if they used an Owgust graphic, such as this one from the club's 1950 letterhead?

Maybe if we all continue to support Ebbets Field Flannels, we can see something like that in the future. They certainly deserve our support; they're a great business, run by real baseball fans. We need them to continue to do well to keep this sort of merchandise alive at all. The only way we'll get more Brews merchandise is to show them there's a market for it.