Friday, January 28, 2011

The Writing's on the Wall

While reading Paul Tenpenny's wonderful 1945 season review, one detail jumped out at me.

This exerpt from the Milwaukee Journal describes Bill Veeck's return to Milwaukee after being released from a naval hospital. His first stop, after getting off the train, was the corner of 8th & Chambers:
Bill got out of the car at the park and hobbled over the icy sidewalk to the ticket sellers' corner, where the beer barrel man, Awgoost, looks down from the outside wall and cutout letters stand up from the roof's edge to tell everyone that this is the "Milwaukee Brewers." Bill leaned on his cane, standing in the snow, and looked up at the place.

"Boy oh Boy!" he said. "Boy oh Boy!"
I'd never heard that description of the ballpark before. This photo, from about that time, shows the "cutout letters" on the roof as seen from Chambers Street:

From a 1998 issue of Lead Off, the Milwaukee Brewers official magazine, comes this rare color photo of the cutout letters:

Milwaukee Brewers archive photo

I don't think I've ever seen a picture of Owgust (or, as he's styled here, "Awgoost") on the side of the ballpark. He might have looked something along the lines of this rendering, from a 1943 program:

collection of Paul Tenpenny

When Bud Selig resurrected the Brewers identity for his Major League club, he brought a similar graphic to Milwaukee County Stadium. Seen here in 1976, the stadium's facade features a sign proudly proclaiming County Stadium as (finally) "Home of the BREWERS". On either side, the club's Beer Barrel Man logo swings for the fences:

Beneath the sign, a troupe of lederhosen-clad Beer Barrel Men play all the positions:

This echos the iconography used by the Brews in the 1940s, when team publications showcased Owgust and friends playing the game, including the masthead of Brewer News, the team's newsletter.

All part of the legacy of the American Assocation Milwaukee Brewers.

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