Thursday, August 16, 2018

A Modest Proposal for the Chicks' 75th

Okay, it's time.


If we want the Brewers to host a Turn Back the Clock game next year honoring the Milwaukee Chicks/Schnitts, we all need to advocate. And now.

We have a petition on Change.org:


You'll also see the link in the sidebar.

Why the Petition?
This is our opportunity to celebrate Milwaukee's short-lived club in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. So much more than just the inspiration for the film A League of Their Own, the league represents an important chapter in American history, opening up the professional game to a whole new group of players.

The league started in 1943 with four franchises within driving distance of Chicago: the Rockford Peaches, South Bend Blue Sox, Kenosha Comets, and Racine Belles. For its sophomore season, the league expanded to Milwaukee and Minneapolis, borrowing names from the local American Association clubs: the Minneapolis Millerettes and Milwaukee Brewettes.


Okay, So Who Were the Chicks? And Who Were the Schnitts?
The "Brewettes" name never caught on, and by the time the season started the papers had assigned them a pair of new names. Names were less official in the AAGPBL, as in the early days of the majors. The uniforms only ever said "Milwaukee", in the form of the city seal in a patch. In league materials such as this schedule, teams were principally identified only by their home cities. They wore city seals on their tunics, and city initials on their caps.


When simply "Milwaukee" wasn't enough, such as this newspaper ad promoting Opening Day in the Milwaukee Sentinel, the Chicks were referred to as "Our Milwaukee team".


This Opening Day ad from the Milwaukee Journal covers both bases, with "Milwaukee" and "Milwaukee's Own Team." Still no evidence of any nickname to be found.


Still, the papers needed to call them something. The Milwaukee Journal called them the "Schnitts", after the Bavarian term for a small glass of beer. The Milwaukee Sentinel dubbed them the "Chicks" after their manager, future Hall of Fame outfielder Max Carey. There had been a popular RKO movie several years before called "Mother Carey's Chickens", about a hardscrabble family at the turn of the century, adapted from a 1911 book of the same name. The pun must have been too tempting for the Sentinel's sportswriters to resist.

Why a Turn Back the Clock Game?
Turn Back the Clock Games are a common way to celebrate defunct clubs. The Brewers have been participating in Negro League TBTC events since 2001, and have been hosting an annual tribute to the one year Milwaukee Bears club since 2006.

This 75th Anniversary is a rare opportunity to commemorate an entirely different slice of Milwaukee baseball history.

What Would They Wear?
Ay, there's the rub!

No, we're not talking about putting our True Blue Brew Crew in the short-skirt tunics from A League of Their Own. There already exists a male version of the club's uniform, as worn by the manager. Think Tom Hanks as Rockford Peaches manager Jimmy Dugan.


In the case of the Chicks, we have a simple template to follow.

We start with solid white uniforms (or cream-colored, for that vintage feel). Add black socks and red belts. Just as the Carey, and the women, wore back in 1944.

The numbers on the back of the original uniforms were single-color felt in black. No outlines. The number font was the same one originally used by the Chicago Cubs in the 1930s, which should be unsurprising. The original AABPBL uniforms were designed by Otis Shepard, art director for all of William Wrigley's enterprises: first his gum company, then his National League baseball club, and finally his women's baseball league. Can't really blame Shepard for re-visiting some greatest hits, and these numbers are clean, legible, and stylish all at once.


The logo on the chest is the Seal of the City of Milwaukee, modified slightly in chain-stitch form.


The overall effect is simple but distinctive, as seen in this reproduction from Ebbets Field Flannels:


On their heads, the Chicks wore black caps with a red brim and button. The cap logo was two-tone, a black sans-serif "M" withing gold-and-black concentric circles.

Translated by New Era onto a modern cap template, it would look something like this:


And there we have it. A classic throwback look.


What Else Would a TBTC Game Entail?
The Brewers could invite members of Wisconsin's own WWII Girls Baseball Living History League, who keep the AAGPBL alive by playing vintage games by 1943 rules in vintage uniforms. They could screen A League of Their Own afterwards on the Miller Park scoreboard. Couple that with the standard TBTC events of trivia, vintage photos and film usually found on scoreboards at these events, it would be a good time for all. There are no living Chicks players, but perhaps the Brewers could ask their daughters or granddaughters to throw out first pitches.

For a giveaway, about a bobblehead?


How Can We Make This Happen?
Spread the word! Use social media, hashtag #ChicksTBTC, if you're a Brewers season ticket holder call your rep and let them know you want to see this next year. Follow the AAGPBL Players Association on Twitter and help us tell their story.

Together, we can bring this often-overlooked chapter of Milwaukee history to life once again. Even if only for one day.

Monday, August 13, 2018

1923 Milwaukee Badgers Program Up for Auction

Milwaukee football fans take note; Heritage Auctions' upcoming Fall Sports Memorabilia Catalog Auction has a one-sheet program for a game between the Milwaukee Badgers and the Racine Legion on November 29, 1923.

Unfortunately for us, it was a road game, and not at Borchert Field, but it's still a fascinating artifact from the days when Milwaukee had its own NFL team.
1923 Horlick Racine Legion vs. Milwaukee Badgers Program. One of the earlier NFL programs ever to hit the auction block, this gridiron artifact represents the intrasquad meeting between Horlick Racine Legion and the Milwaukee Badgers. One of the only artifacts in existence from the league's third season, the two-sided paper lineup sheet measures at 6x9", while exhibiting Fair-VG quality throughout.

Guide Value or Estimate: $1,500 - up.

I love the list of cheers and songs. The Legion had been around since 1915 (as opposed to the Badgers, then in their sophomore season), long enough to develop their own culture.


All those cheers couldn't help the Legion that day at Horlick Legion Athletic Field, as the Badgers came up victorious with a score of 16-0. Box score courtesy of Pro Football Reference:

1234Final
Milwaukee Badgers730616
Racine Legion00000

This auction will be open September 26th, closing on October 19th. Bid early, bid often.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Milwaukee Schnitts T-shirt

The first Milwaukee Schnitts merchandise is now available, starting with this t-shirt from Teambrown Apparel.


There hasn't been much Chicks merchandise available in the past: a deeply flawed reproduction cap in the 1990s and a uniform to match. But as part of their 75th Anniversary push, the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League Players Association is expanding into more licensed merchandise. And this is just the beginning.


I already have mine, and am proud to rep this chapter in Milwaukee's baseball history.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Vintage Brew: "CATCH 22: Milwaukee Brewer Glenn Myatt"


Editor's Note: This article, originally published by MEARS, spins a unique (if brief) chapter in the story of the Brewers, using an artifact left behind. BorchertField.com is grateful to contributor Paul Tenpenny for allowing us to re-print it here.


"CATCH 22: Milwaukee Brewer Glenn Myatt"
by Paul Tenpenny
(Tencentz@aol.com)
Copyright 2018 Tencentzports
Printed with permission of the Author


Spring training opened for the Milwaukee Brewers on March 9, 1922 in Caruthersville, Missouri. Hoping to end their poor showings since their back to back American Association championships in 1913 & 1914, they were optimistic that the return of Harry Clark as manager would reverse the team’s residence in the 2nd division.

As players began to arrive, the Brewers were concerned with the absence of pitcher Dennis Gearin whose holdout over salary with owner Otto Borchert wasn’t the only reason for his not showing up. Gearin had to decide whether to wear his baseball uniform in 1922 or don an apron to work at dad’s grocery store. His father’s health had been slipping and it was reported that he might have to retire from baseball to manage the family store in Providence, Rhode Island.

My, how times have changed.

The diminutive Lefty, Denny Gearin pictured in 1921 with teammate Bob Trentman (Author’s Collection)

Milwaukee had a hard-hitting ball club in 1922, battling within the 1st division for most of the year, occupying 2nd place for a time until the long season became too much for the team. In August, injuries and illness to the infield ravaged the team, forcing manager Pep Clark to come off the bench and put himself back in the lineup for the first time since 1916. Despite Harry’s best efforts as a player and manager, the team finished with an 85-83 record, an improvement, but leaving them in 5th place at season’s end.
1922 American Association Final Standings

TeamWins vs Losses
St. Paul Saints107-60
Minneapolis Millers92-75
Kansas City Blues92-76
Indianapolis Indians87-80
Milwaukee Brewers85-83
Louisville Colonels77-91
Toledo Mudhens65-101
Columbus Senators
(renamed the Redbirds in 1931)
63-102
But that wasn’t the only story in 1922. Among the 24 players showing up at spring training that first day for Milwaukee was a young catcher named Glenn Myatt.

1922 Milwaukee Brewers Team Photo (Author’s Collection)

Glenn Myatt is pictured front Row, 2nd from left

Glenn Myatt and outfielder Paul Johnson were both part of a deal that sent hometown favorite “Unser Choe” (Our Joe) Hauser to Philadelphia. A 24-year old Myatt, after two years with Philly, found himself on the Brewer roster with veteran Dick Gossett. Between these two catchers, American Association opponents had their hands full. Gossett batted a whopping .338 for Milwaukee, but Myatt outdid him and then some with his league leading .370. While the team may have faded in late summer, Myatt’s star shined all season long as he became the American Association’s batting champion.
April 30, 1922 “Myatt Homer Not Enough to Win Game”

Jun 19, 1922 “Myatt Clouts 2 Homers in 2nd”

July 31, 1922 “Bigbee Blanks Enemy in Opener and is Aided by Myatt’s Heavy Hitting”

August 9, 1922 “Myatt Stars at Bat as Brewers Wallop Whitted Gang”

August 25, 1922 “Myatt Continues Bat Lead in A.A. With .370 Average”

The “Catch 22” for Milwaukee and Glenn Myatt was that having such a great year meant that 1922 was his only year with the Brewers. Milwaukee definitely noticed him, forgetting the loss of Joe Hauser. The major leagues also noticed as he joined the Cleveland Indians in 1923.

Glenn Calvin Myatt (Author’s Collection)
Bats Left, Throws Right
Born July 9, 1897 in Argenta, Arkansas
Died August 9, 1969

Myatt had a 16-year career as a catcher and sometime outfielder in the majors. Beginning in 1920 with the Philadelphia Athletics, with stops in Cleveland, New York Giants and finishing with the Detroit Tigers in 1937. After being shipped off to Cleveland in 1923 he went on to bat .342 as their starting catcher in 1924 and backed up Luke Sewell for most of 1926-33. He had a lifetime batting average of .270. Myatt also played in the International League for part of 1936 and with Houston of the Texas League in 1937.

1933 Goudey Glenn Myatt (Author’s Collection)

1935 Diamond Stars Glenn Myatt (Author’s Collection)

1935 Autographed 3x5 – Glenn Myatt (Author’s Collection)

A very interesting bat is pictured here. Returned to H&B by Myatt, it shows the original Harry E. Heilmann stamping along with Glenn Myatt’s. As this bat dates no earlier than 1921-22 and exhibits heavy use, it could very well have seen use during Glenn Myatt’s AA league leading season of 1922. You can still see where the mailing label was attached, just left of signatures.

1921-22 Glenn Myatt H&B 40 HH brand side written bat, Heilmann and Myatt Stampings
Mears Authentic #308345 (Author’s Collection)

At some point in time, this bat would have contained side writing which would have designated the players name, size and weight and date the bat was returned. Due to 80+ years of storage, the side writing has been lost to time. Immediately above the center brand is a 3"x10" area that has been prepared for the application at the factory of the side writing. Small amounts of pencil lettering can be seen but the exact message has been obscured. The information contained is no longer visible, but the documented practice of the application of side writing can been seen in the prepped area above the center brand which is consistent with all known documented side written H&B bat examples. Heilmann began his signature contract with the company in October 1920, so this bat must be from 1921 or 1922. This is a hand turned 40HH (Harry Heilmann) signature model bat used and returned by Glenn Myatt. Myatt played for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1922 and led the American Association with a .370 batting average. This bat is another in the line of positively identified #40 model bats with two separate signature stamps on the barrel.

Multiple views of Myatt game used bat (Author’s Collection)


Monday, July 30, 2018

Milwaukee Schnitts Spring Training Photograph, 1944

Photo courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
A black-and-white photograph of a group of twelve Milwaukee Chicks during pre-season training in 1944. One is sitting on a bench getting her hair done while others look on around her.
This photograph comes from the Hall of Fame's collection.

As posed photographs go, this one is slightly silly. The women watching affect an air of rapt attention beyond what you'd expect a little hair-braiding to earn. A shame the photographer chose not to focus on them as ballplayers, but perhaps that is instructive as well.

We do get a good look at their uniforms, regardless. Especially the city-seal badge at the heart of the uniform.


Outstanding. Looks just like our exemplar from the Milwaukee County Historical Society's exhibit.


Pictures of the Milwaukee Schnitts are extremely rare, and we are grateful to the Hall of Fame for sharing this one with us.

Friday, July 27, 2018

New AAGPBL website

The All-American Girls Professional Baseball League Players Association launched its new website this morning, and it's fantastic.


The team pages have been updated, including the one for our very own Milwaukee Schnitts.


Although not quite the same as the uniform patches worn on the diamond, that's the official Milwaukee logo being used by the AAGPBL. You'll start to see it on more merchandise soon.

From the team page, you can scroll through a list of players, as well as the manager and chaparone.


Clicking on any one takes you to an individual player page, such as this one for Milwaukee's own Sylvia Wronski, with biographical information, stats, and photos.


The players of the AAGPBL really deserve this treatment, and I'm so glad that the AAGPBL is doing so much to spread awareness of the league's history.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

1944 AAGPBL Schedule

This tweet recently caught my eye:


"DiamondGirls" is the official account of a "one-act, one-woman show about three Saskatchewan gals in the AAGPBL." And they post amazing AAGPBL-related content. Including this 1944 league schedule. Let's take a closer look at it:


The Milwaukee Schnitts are the second column from the left, just after their expansion sisters, the Minneapolis Orphans.

The first thing that jumps out at me is the large holes in that schedule. The Schnitts had their first series at the end of May, opening their season with three games at Borchert Field against the South Bend Blue Sox. And then they went on the road and didn't return until June 16th. Hard to create local momentum when the Milwaukee fans can't see you. And then again in July, when they went over a month&mdashJuly 5th through August 10th—without a home game. Minneapolis also had large holes in their schedule, leading me to believe that it might have involved sharing their ballparks with American Association club that had preference in booking dates. Perhaps it is not a surprise that the AAGPBL struggled to take off in the larger cities.

Worth also noting that the Minneapolis club lost their home partway through their season, leading that second-half schedule to be played on the road. Which is why the franchise originally called the "Millerettes" is today commonly known as the "Orphans".

The second thing I want to point out is the notation along the bottom: "Week Day Game in all cities are played at night except those marked (D) in Milwaukee, which are played during the day." We know that was due to scheduling conflicts with the Brewers. Of the 48 home dates on this schedule, twelve are listed as double-headers. That leaves 36 single home games, of which fourteen were played during the day (eight of those on weekdays). Permanent lights had been installed at Borchert Field in 1935, so the Brewers were well-equipped for night games.

The Schnitts were forced to play more than half their games in the afternoon. That, coupled with the long stretches without games, show what an uphill battle for fans they were fighting before the season even started.

Monday, July 23, 2018

"Brewers Baseball Boosters Club" pin, 1940

This beautiful Brewers pin was auctioned off by MEARS a couple years ago.


It's relatively small - 1¼ inches in diameter. Blue text on a white background, union made.

But even this deceptively simple pin has a story to tell us. The story unfurls in this nearly-full-page ad for Schuster's department store, published in the Milwaukee Journal on Wednesday, May 22, 1940.


Right there, in the middle, an ad for 'Mickey Heath' Sweat Shirts. They were named after, and bore the likeness of, the Brewers' popular third baseman/manager.


THIS BOOSTER CLUB BUTTON GIVEN WITH EVERY SWEATSHIRT!


This button worn on your Mickey Heath Sweat Shirt will admit you to any Saturday Brewer home game for only 10¢ instead of the usual charge of 25¢!

Boys from 5 through 12 years ONLY are eligible.

"Boys"? That's regrettable. It's not as though Milwaukee didn't have notable female baseball fans. Unless this "Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Boosters Club" was some sort of exclusively-male response to the all-women "Milwaukee Brewers' Boosters" fan club formed two seasons earlier. Which would be even more regrettable. Especially when supported by a local department store.

But fifty-nine cents? For a sweatshirt? That's a whopping $10.56 in April 2018 dollars. Not a bad deal at all. And with it, kids received this very button, and discounts to the ballpark.


The Brewers struggled in 1940, and Heath was fired after getting tossed from a game on July 20th arguing a called third strike. He was replaced as manager by former Brewer (and member of the 1919 "Black Sox" team) Ray Schalk.

I wonder how many of these were worn to Borchert Field that summer. Today, it's a rare artifact from Milwaukee's grand baseball history.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Re-Print: "Milwaukee Journal held a design contest for a new city flag - in 1897"

In light of the Common Council's recent discussion around officially adopting the People's Flag of Milwaukee, the Journal Sentinel has re-printed an article originally published back in 2016. And since they say nice things about BorchertField.com, we'll re-print their re-print here.

Milwaukee Journal held a design contest for a new city flag — in 1897

Chris Foran, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Published 12:14 p.m. CT July 19, 2018 | Updated 12:57 p.m. CT July 19, 2018


Our Back Pages

(Photo: Milwaukee Journal)
Note: This story, slightly re-edited since, was first published in the Journal Sentinel's Green Sheet on May 17, 2016.








No offense to the organizers of the "People's Flag" contest, but the old Milwaukee Journal already selected a winning design — more than 120 years ago.

On Oct. 30, 1897, the Journal announced it was offering cash prizes for the best designs for a new civic flag for Milwaukee.

"The design of such a flag should be emblematic of the city's greatness and of all the features that make it unique among America's most important municipalities," the Journal wrote. "A suggestion of the history of the city, and its resources of art and commerce would also be in order. A civic flag should be dignified and so beautiful in design and harmony of color that it would at once attract the attention and admiration of every beholder."

The Journal offered a cash prize of $15 for the best civic flag design, and $10 for the second-best; deadline for entries was Dec. 1, 1897.

"Sunrise Over the Lake" by Robert Lenz was selected as the city of Milwaukee's new, but still unofficial, flag, after a four-month-long contest in 2016. (Photo: Journal Sentinel files)

The judges for the contest were three high-profile Milwaukeeans: Mayor William G. Rauschenberger; John Johnston, a prominent banker; and Lydia Ely, a painter credited by some as the organizer of Wisconsin's first art exhibit and the driving force behind the funding and installation of Milwaukee's Civil War monument, "The Victorious Charge," on what is now Wisconsin Ave. across from Milwaukee Public Library's Central Library.

Apparently, the judges initially didn't get what they were looking for: On Dec. 7, 1897, the Journal said the flag design competition would remain open until Jan. 7.

"About 50 designs have been submitted, and the judges appointed for the purpose have carefully examined them. Some of the designs were not accompanied by suitable mottoes, as required, and other competitors made the mistake of thinking that a carnival flag, instead of a city flag, was required," the Journal wrote.

On Jan. 10, 1898, the Journal announced it had a winner. Out of about 150 designs submitted, the judges picked John Amberg's design, which had as its focal point a banner reading "Steady Progress."

"The most striking quality of the Cream City as portrayed by Mr. Amberg is its Steady Progress," the Journal wrote. "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 design is simple," Rauschenberger said in the Journal story, "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. ... .It is a good plan, and the Journal has shown considerable enterprise as well as rare judgment in proposing and arranging the competition."

The judges' choice for runner-up — and the $10 second-place prize — went to a design by Fred W. Dickens, with the word "Milwaukee" running diagonally in black letters on a red ribbon. The background was cream-colored on the top half, light blue on the bottom.

In a story in the Journal on Jan. 11, 1898, Ely explained why some of the submissions didn't pass muster. One design, which represented the city's three rivers forming a "perfect cross," was thought "altogether too ecclesiastical in appearance." A "very elegant" design incorporating a fleur-de-lis — likely a shout-out to city father Solomon Juneau — was rejected as "too 'Frenchy.' "

Still others used hop vines in the design, but Ely said "it was not desired to emphasize this industry above others."

In the end, it didn't matter. There is no record of either winning design being adopted for a flag for the city of Milwaukee.

In a story on Milwaukee's history with official flags, Chance Michaels of BorchertField.com — a terrific "online museum" of the minor-league Milwaukee Brewers that is also a first-rate tracker of Milwaukee history and popular culture — noted that momentum for the Journal-sponsored flag design might have lost steam three months later when Rauschenberger, a Republican, wasn't nominated for re-election and Democrat David S. Rose won the race for mayor.

Michaels, who first reported on the Journal's 1897 design contest in January, also traced the numerous attempts to come up with a city flag — even after the city finally adopted one of its own in 1954.

Agreeing with the need for a new city flag, Michaels even submitted five of his own designs in the new "People's Flag of Milwaukee" contest. Unfortunately, none of his designs made the final cut.

About this feature

The Journal Sentinel's photo archives are testament to the idea that the past is never even past. If you dig deeply enough, you can find images from Milwaukee and Wisconsin's recent history that echo today.

Our Back Pages dips into those archives, sharing photos and stories from the past that connect, reflect and sometimes contradict the Milwaukee we know today — or at least give us something to smile about.
Our original article on Milwaukee's flag history, the one that inspired the Journal Sentinel's piece, is here.