Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Loving Cup

On April 29th, 1931, BrewerRooters jammed themselves into every square inch of old Borchert Field to watch the Brews open the season against the Toledo Mud Hens. There were 13,113 of them at the ballpark that afternoon, the largest Opening Day crowd in Milwaukee baseball history.

Although the Brewers would lose the game, thanks to the tremendous hometown crowd they did win the 1931 Hickey Cup. Named for Thomas Jefferson Hickey, one of the founders of the American Association and at the time still its reigning president, the Hickey Cup was awarded annually by the American Association to the club with the largest Opening Day attendance.

The victory earned the Brews a mention in The New York Times:

The Cup itself sat in the Brewer offices until Bill Veeck dragged it out in June of 1942. Incensed that his Opening Day crowd of 15,599 was deemed lower than the 12,242 Indianapolis drew to their first game (the American Association calculated attendance on a per capita basis, Milwaukee's 2.6% to Indy's 2.9%). Veeck bought the Brewers a massive trophy and offered the 1931 Cup to the wartime tin drive in a pregame ceremony at Borchert Field.

This was of course only one of Veeck's legendary "gags," and the 1931 Hickey Cup was spared the recycling bin. It survives today in the collection of Paul Tenpenny, a testament to Milwaukeeans' love for their Brewers.

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