Wednesday, September 7, 2011

"Brewer News" 1944, Vol 2, No. 1

This is the May 1944 issue of Brewer News, the club newsletter. 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.

This issue starts with an introduction to Charles Dillon "Casey" Stengel, who had taken over from manager Charlie Grimm upon the latter's promotion to skipper of the Chicago Cubs. Stengel wasn't considered a terribly hot managerial prospect at the time; owner Bill Veeck reportedly hit the ceiling when he was informed of the hiring.

Veeck's concern was misplaced - although the Brewers had more or less picked Casey off the scrap heap, Grimm knew what he was doing. The Brewers would finish the season with a 102 - 51 record and Veeck's second American Association pennant. Stengel would go on to manage the Oakland Oaks on his way to the New York Yankees and the Hall of Fame.

Page 2 begins with an announcement that a "Miller High Life Night" would be held on Monday, June 12th. These nights were apparently raucous affairs, with entertainment provided by the "Brewer Wildcats", a band made up of players. Outfielder Hershel Martin was the bandleader and played piano. He was backed up by Eddie Scheiwe on the harmonica, pitcher Bob Bowman on the washboard, backstop Jim Pruett on the drums and shortstop Dick Culler playing the bass fiddle. This year, the Brewer Wildcats offered fans a special treat: "Julio Acosta, the Cuban Sinatra, will render a number in the style of Xavier Cugat." Must have been some show.

There's Brewer first baseman George "Bingo" Binks, with his lucky baseball glove. It had been given to him by a scout eight years earlier, and as it broke down Bingo held together with tape and bailing wire. Unfortunately, he would lose the glove just a month after this issue of Brewer News was published, while helping fans evacuate the park after a storm tore part of Borchert Field's roof off.

Page 3 begins with the unfortunate news that, for the first time in eighteen years, the Brewers would not have their games broadcast on the radio. Fortunately, local sponsors stepped up and Brewer fans could listen to announcer Mickey Heath give game reviews and highlights Mondays through Saturdays at 5:30 on WISN (courtesy of the Miller Brewing Company), and ten thirty every evening on WEMP (this time by Gimbels).

We also get a peek at the new ticket prices for 1944: you could have a box seat for $1.40 ($.75 for a children's ticket), while general admission or bleacher tickets would set you back $.95 and $.50, respectively (both $.30 for kids). Ladies' Day tickets were a mere two bits.

The back page brings word from Veeck, then serving "somewhere in the Pacific" with the Marine Corps.

And there's "Owgust", the Brewers' mascot, who would become the Beer Barrel Man, representing the Brewers in the American and then National Leagues. His column brings us a review of the Opening Day ceremonies and lots of little details about the club, including the unfortunate news that the club's tickets-for-blood-donors program of 1943 had not been renewed (blame the Red Cross Headquarters in Washington).

These newsletters are invaluable for helping us understand the American Association Brewers, the fans, and the relationship between them. I hope to be able to scan more for you soon.

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