Tuesday, August 30, 2011

1950s Child's Ticket Stub

Although Borchert Field is long since gone, artifacts left behind help tell its story.

This ticket stub would have let some lucky child into Borchert Field's grandstand for a Brewer game.

Interestingly enough, the Globe Ticket Company is still around.

Although the stub is undated, we can narrow the timeframe down considerably. At the edge of the tear we can just make out the name of the Brews' General Manager: "Richard P. Smith," known to the dugout and boardroom alike as "Red." Red Smith was a Brewers stalwart who had come as a replacement catcher in 1936, managed in the Brewers' farm system and who coached the team in the late 30s and early 40s under manager Charlie Grimm.

When Grimm moved from the Brewers up to the Chicago Cubs, he took Smith along. And when the Boston Braves, by then owners of the Brewers, hired Grimm back to manage Milwaukee in November of 1950, Red came along for the ride. "Jolly Cholly" took his rightful place in the dugout, and Smith took the reins as the club's general manager. Grimm was called up to the big league club at the end of May

He stayed in this capacity until the invading Braves bumped the Brewers out of Milwaukee, moving with the club to Toledo in the spring of 1953. So that leaves us with two possibilities for this ticket stub: 1951 and 1952.

Looking at the schedules, the thirtieth home game of 1951 (not counting exhibition games with major league clubs) was on Tuesday, June 26th against the Indianapolis Indians, and the corresponding game in 1952 was on Saturday, July 5, as the St. Paul Saints come to Borchert Field. This stub came through the grandstand turnstyles on one of those two days.

This was a good period for the Brewers; they took home the American Association pennant in both years. This was taken in November of 1952, after the team won its second pennant in a row.

AIMING HIGH — General Manager Red Smith is showing Tommy Holmes (center), new Brewer manager, the championship plaque the team won last summer. Looking on at the right is Charlie Grimm, who started the Brews on the right track and then turned over the reins to Bucky Walters.
Sentinel photo
The relationship between Tommy Holmes and Grimm was an interesting one. Holmes had been an outfielder for the Boston Braves from 1942-50 before leaving to manage in their farm system. He returned to Braves Field on June 19, 1951 to take over as player/manager. He lasted almost a year before being fired on May 31, 1951. Charlie Grimm was called up from the top-level farm team in Milwaukee to take over the reins, but the Braves weren't finished with Holmes, as he was after the 1952 season he was assigned to take over Grimm's Brewers starting in 1953.

That plaque the three men are admiring would be the last piece of silverware won by the Brews in Milwaukee. The following spring, it would hang in the offices of Toledo's Swayne Field, and the original owner of this stub could see his new hometown Milwaukee Braves play at County Stadium.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Heroes and Their Goat

by Dennis Pajot

As with most legends, the truth is hard to track down, and there are varying stories. Thus I present what I know of the "Borchert Field Goat". Of course, when this took place the baseball park at 8th and Chambers was still known as Athletic Park.

The Milwaukee Journal of September 14, 1913, gave the goat's story an origin. At the start of that season, on an off-day, pitcher Ralph Cutting (right) and outfielder Larry Chappell went out and found someone who was looking to get rid of a goat. The two found such a person and bought a goat to bring to the ballpark as a mascot.

According to the newspaper the next day was a Sunday with Columbus in town, and "Mr. Goat" made its first appearance at Athletic Park. The Journal tells us: "Cutting was doing the pitching that day and was going along like a house afire until the ninth inning when with two strikes on Mr. Jones, one of the Senators, he sent one right across the dish and Jones gave it a healthy lout that sent it over the left field wall for a homer and Cutting was forced to suffer a defeat".

My research on the 1913 Brewers shows this game was played on Sunday, May 25. The only off days in Milwaukee previous to this game were May 13 and 14, then May 20 and 21, due to rain outs. Immediately prior to the May 25 game the Brewers played a doubleheader against the Indianapolis Hoosiers on Thursday, May 22, and single games against the Columbus Senators on May 23 and 24. Thus the goat was probably bought by Cutting and Chappell on Tuesday, May 20 or Wednesday, May 21.

The Sunday 2 to 1 loss almost cost "Mr. Goat" his life. The Journal reported
That night an indignation meeting was held and "Sluggie" Walter [a tavern keeper near the ball park] and a number of players wanted to go to the yard and give the goat the proper treatment that a jinx is supposed to get, but some one told them to lay off. The goat came near seeing some of his brothers in the other world so he settled down to be a real mascot and he has been ever since.
In the goat's defense the home run might have been a little tainted. Bill Jones' home run was hit over the fence in the left field corner. James Murray, no doubt the least favorite umpire for Milwaukee fans in the American Association, called it fair and fans attempted to mob the arbiter. Manager Harry "Pep" Clark kept the fans back until Murray got under the stands and out of harm's way. The fans still wanted a piece of the umpire and a squad of police was called to break up the crowd. Manning Vaughan, the Milwaukee Sentinel beat writer, thought Jones' hit a fair ball, but said "it was so close that Murray could have called it either way without hurting his conscience any, presuming, of course, that he has one, which we doubt."

Ralph Cutting later told the Journal: "It's an educated goat. Look at him follow the ground keeper around and help him to take up the bases. That goat knows what they are for, and he is getting so that he knows when Cutting makes a hit, but then that does not keep him worrying much."

The goat roaming in the outfield did cause problems here and there. During a Wisconsin-Illinois League game in June, Cutting's mascot furnished the fans with amusement when several of the Milwaukee Mollys' and Oshkosh Indians' players had a hard time trying to chase the goat off the field. They did not succeed until the eighth inning, when he took up his stand near the top of the centerfield bleachers.

On July 14, 1913, Larry Chappell was traded to the Chicago White Sox. Tongue in cheek (perhaps) the Journal claimed it did not know if Larry sold his interest in the goat. But as he was not hitting well in the American League, he probably wished he had the goat with him.

The Brewers were in contention all year and finished the season with a four game stand in Louisville. Thirty or so fans took a special train to Louisville, even taking the mascot goat with them. A split of the series was enough to give the Brewers their first American Association championship.

The pennant-winning 1913 Milwaukee Brewers

Close-up: pitcher Joe Hovlik and the Brewers' "educated" mascot

Although I have not begun my research on the 1914 season, I can say the goat was still at the ballpark. The following description of a game between the local Schlitz and Traffic Club teams at Athletic Park in July gives us some humor on the mascot situation:
In the last half of the fourth inning, Jensch, pitcher for the Schlitz team, decried what he termed "a goat-like angel," trotting along the roof of the grandstand, perfectly silhouetted against a clear sky. He says he intended to throw an inshoot but the sudden appearance of the Cutting goat jarred him so that he cannot tell what he threw.

At any rate the ball fouled and bounced against the screen in front of the aforesaid Cutting goat, which uttered a loud, belligerent "Ba-Ha-ha-ha." This was followed by a vicious attempt on the part of the goat to butt a hole in the wire screen.

"Get the goat!" was the cry which found hearty response from the spectators, and a general stampede was made for the stairs leading to the roof, and the poor goat was dragged down by the horns.

Billy was put into the grandstand where he was content to consume paper bags, pasteboard boxes and other delectables [sic] left about by the unappreciative.

His next stunt was to saunter across the field and once more change the course of Mr. Dietrich's enthusiasm. [Nick Dietrich was a very vocal fan, apparently well known to Borchert Field baseball fans.] Mr. Dietrich grabbed a bat and, followed by pitcher, catcher and umpire, started after the poor goat and drove him far into center field.

When in the last inning the Traffics put in a sub-pitcher Bill was seen entertaining the left fielder, who had opened the door leading through the back fence and stood with his glove ready for any emergency.
The goat stayed at Athletic Park throughout the 1914 season. On October 3, 1914, the Sentinel wrote of an exhibition game between the Brewers and Detroit Tigers, "while (Detroit manager Hughie) Jennings was busy tearing grass, some fan in the stand yelled for him to leave some of it for Cutting's goat".

The Brewers took the pennant again in 1914, finishing with a record of 98-68. After the end of the season, Ralph Cutting retired to tend to his business affairs. As for the Borchert Field Goat, we don't know. He drops out of the newspapers, and may have retired as well. If so, he earned it; two pennants in two years as the Brewers' mascot and assistant groundskeeper.

Editor's Note: Dennis has continued to research the Brewers' grass-chewing mascot, and has learned that "Mr. Goat" was actually a Ms., and she had a name: Fatima.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Thumbs Up!

Early in the 1936 season, the Brewers' two-man catching battery suffered consecutive thumb injuries, knocking them both out of action at once.
Thumbs Up! Brewer Cripples Watch Victory
The sore thumb squad (left to right), George Detore, Sal Hernandez and Bill Brenzel, watched the Brewers' 11-inning victory Monday from the dugout. Detore was hit by Pitcher McGee of Columbus. Brenzel was nicked by a foul tip off one of Pressnell's knucklers. Hernandez has a felon (infected fingertip).
George Detore was the Brews' primary catcher, with Bill Brenzel as his backup. Brenzel was the victim of "Tot" Pressnell's "dipsy-doo" knuckleball. The third injured player, Salvadore Ramos Hernandez, was a utility infielder who hailed from Cuba, where he had been a medical student.

Former Green Bay Packer Red Smith, who had a cup of coffee with the New York (Baseball) Giants in 1927, was brought in to fill the gap.

(T)wo new Brewers who joined the club Monday, Red Smith, catcher (left) and Henry (Dutch) Ulrichm pitcher. Smith, former line coach under Doc Spears at Wisconsin, came from Madison of the State league. Ulrich, a free agent, was with Portland of the Pacific Coast league last season.
Smith got off to a very rough start in Milwaukee; the cellar-dwelling St. Paul Saints stole thirteen bases off him during his first game behind the plate. The Brewers realized that Smith, who celebrated his 38th birthday in a Brewer uniform, wasn't more than a stopgap, and secured the services of George Dickey (younger brother of longtime Yankee and Hall of Famer Bill) on loan from the Red Sox. Smith has a unique position in Wisconsin sport; he had played for the Green Bay Packers in 1927 and 1929 and was a long-time assistant coach under Curly Lambeau before joining the state's most prominent baseball club.

Brenzel was back in action by May 21st, and the Red Sox recalled Dickey on May 25th, after an injury knocked future Hall of Fame catcher Rick Ferrell out of the lineup. Detore returned the first week in June.

The day Brenzel returned to the lineup, the Milwaukee Journal had this to say about Red:
It is possible that the Brewers ought to keep Smith around (after the regular catchers return). Not only has he been the club's good luck charm but he is the first dependable pinch hitter the club has had in years. He tops the individual hitters with .526.
It appears that the Brewers were Journal readers. Although Smith was dropped from the Brewer roster following the June 4th game, he remained a part of the organization. Owner Henry Bendinger sent him to manage the Brewers' farm club at Fieldale, Virginia. Red would remain an important figure in Brewer history right up until the franchise's final days.

This incident proved to be just a bump in the road, as the Brewers went on to win the 1936 Association pennant.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

New Brewer Faces for 1943

This gorgeous full-page photo essay, previewing the 1943 Brewers on the eve of their home opener, was published in the Milwaukee Journal on Sunday, May 2.

This was during the period when wartime travel restrictions forced the Brewers to move Spring Training to Waukesha, so Journal photographer Harris W. Nowell didn't have to travel very far to capture the new Brews in action.

New Brewer Faces

You'll hardly know your Milwaukee Brewers when they open their home season in the American association Wednesday against the Minneapolis Millers. Only four members of last year's second place club are back: Outfielders Bill Norman and Frank Secory, Third Baseman Grey Clarke and Utility Infielder Johnny Hudson. This page presents some of the new faces in Manager Charley Grimm's line-up, a line-up that the experts say is good enough to finish near the top.
1943 was Bill Veeck's second season in charge of the Brews. He had already overhauled the team's uniforms, and following his first full off-season Sport Shirt Bill had made many changes to the team itself.

Let's take a closer look at the individual photos and captions (click any one for larger view):

Grimm leans against the batter's cage as pitcher Verne Godfredsen, up from Winnipeg in the Northern League, serves one up to Tony York, shortstop from Shreveport in the Texas League, in batting practice.
These two men would have very different experiences in 1943. Ten days after Nowell snapped this photo, Vernon Godfredsen was optioned to the Portsmouth (Virginia) Cubs in the Piedmont League, having developed a "sore arm". Charlie Grimm blamed his injury on the cold Waukesha weather, which had forced the Brewers to curtail some of their Spring Training sessions. Tony York stayed with the Brewers all season, and was successful enough in Milwaukee to be sold to the other Cubs, those of Chicago, who moved him to their Pacific Coast farm club in Los Angeles.

The uniforms worn on that day in Waukesha are the classic solid-piping, block "M" uniforms introduced in 1939. The large gap between two-digit numbers actually works on the catcher's back, allowing room right down the middle for his chest protector strap.

Back in 1937, Hank Helf did some catching for the Brewers. Now he's back again from the Nashville team in the Southern Association.
As the Journal notes, Henry "Hank" Helf had been the Brewers' backup catcher six years earlier. While a third-stringer in Cleveland, he took part in a notable publicity stunt, catching balls thrown off the 52-story Terminal Tower to set a world record. The balls were tossed down to Helf from 708 feet up by the Tribe's rookie third baseman Ken Keltner, a Milwaukee native and former Brewer.

Helf's return to Milwaukee in 1943 was marred by an injury in July. After hitting .260 in 1943, Helf was drafted by the St. Louis Browns, but Hank ended up the navy instead.

The home run kings are together. Bill Norman was association champ last year. With him on the Brewers are Outfielder Ted Norbert (left). Pacific coast king while with Portland last year, and First Baseman Mervin Connors, Texas league champion in 1942 with Fort Worth.
Bill Norman, mentioned but not pictured, was one of the four returning Brewers from the 1942 team. He hit 24 homers in that season, good enough for the AA title. To put minor league slugging of the era in context, his fellow league home run champions Ted Norbert's 28 and Mervin "Merv" Connors's 27 were good enough for their respective league titles.

In 1943, Norbert took the Brewers' home run crown with 25, and Bill Norman finished in second with 18. Merv Connors hit only 4, tied for eighth among Milwaukee sluggers.

Connors is an interesting case. After the season, the Brewers filed a complaint against him for misrepresenting his draft status when he came north from Fort Worth. Baseball commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis, who had previously voided the Brewers' contract with eventual New York Yankees star Tommy Henrich, stepped in and ruled that Connors was a free agent.

Royalty in the Brewers — Prince Henry Kauhane Oana of Hawaii is a pitcher converted from an outfielder. The change was made last season and he won 16 and lost five hurling for Fort Worth in the Texas league.
Prince Henry Oana wasn't actually royalty, although he was native Hawai'ian on his father's side. Royal blood wasn't the only good story cooked up by his clubs' publicity departments; he was supposedly discovered by Ty Cobb on a barnstorming trip in Japan.

Oana struggled on the mound in his single year in Milwaukee. He finished 1943 with a 3-5 recird and an ERA of 4.08. When it was his turn to step into the batter's box, he swung the bat like an outfielder. In his 20 games in 1942, the Prince hit .412.

He was only in Milwaukee for a single season, but it was a tumultuous one. The Fort Worth Cats tried to recall him, claiming that a reclassified draft status gave them the right to take Oana back. Judge Bramham, minor league commissioner, ruled that the Brewers had to return Oana's contract to the Texas League club. Veeck protested, and appealed to a higher court. Judge Landis ruled for the Brewers (for once). Oana was ordered to report back to Milwaukee but refused. Veeck tracked him down by phone, convinced him to finish the year in Milwaukee, and sold his Hawai'ian prince to the Buffalo Bisons as soon as the season was over.

Don Johnson's father was a major leaguer and the new Brewer second baseman hopes to get there, too. He was with Tulsa in the Texas League last year. He lives at Laguna Beach, Calif., and is a shipyard worker in the off season.
As we've seen, being with the Brewers was good exposure to major league scouts, and Don "Pep" Johnson would soon follow in his father's footsteps. In September of '43, the Cubs bought him from the Brewers. He spent six good seasons on the North Side.

If the draft gets too tough, Manager Grimm is ready to step into most any position. Grimm was a great first baseman in his playing days. He's a pitcher now, having worked three shutout innings in a recent practice game for a perfect record on the mound. Here he manages to hoist a pop fly. The umpire, by the way, is Roly Poly Red Smith, Brewer coach.
Nice to see "Jolly Cholly" Grimm running out that popup. Good form.

Of the four returning Brewers mentioned, Johnny Hudson was the first to go, being sold to the Jersey City Giants just eleven days after this photo essay was printed. Third baseman Grey Clarke was sold to the White Sox in September, although they allowed Bill Veeck to keep him in Milwaukee through the end of the American Association playoffs. Frank Secory played another year in Milwaukee, but moved up to the Cubs in August of 1944, after three seasons in a Brewer uniform. Bill Norman stayed at Borchert Field longer than the others before being sold to the International League's Toronto Maple Leafs in June of 1945. He took over the managerial reins the following season, and spent the next twelve seasons as a skipper, including two with the Detroit Tigers (1958-59).

As for the 1943 Milwaukee Brewers, it appears that the "experts" were correct. They finished the season 90-61, five games ahead of second-place Indianapolis and bringing the American Association pennant (Veeck's first) to Milwaukee.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Otto Borchert

by Dennis Pajot

Otto Borchert was born in Milwaukee on August 12, 1874. His father, Frederick Borchert, born in Mecklenburg, Germany, was an owner of the F. Borchert & Sons Brewery (which would become the Jung & Borchert Brewery and later be bought out by the Pabst Brewing Company). Otto's mother was the former Barbara Neubauer, of Milwaukee. The family lived at 269 8th Street [North 8th Street between West Kilbourn and State Streets] at the time.

Otto's early education was at the German-English Academy, and then he continued his schooling in the Humboldt Public School at 4th and Galena. His first step as an entrepreneur was as a peanut seller at Milwaukee's baseball park at 11th and Wright Street. The 12-year old lad sold his product in the stands, to the pleasure of the park's concessionaire, who found "more liquid refreshments was required to drown the thirst inspired by the Borchert peanuts." [A report after his death stated he was a bat boy for the team when Clark Griffith was the manager. Griffith played in Milwaukee from July 1888 through the 1890 season, but never managed the team—which ironically played at the newly built Athletic Park at 8th and Chambers.]

At the age of 14 Otto left school and joined the employ of Benjamin Young, a wholesale saddler and hardware distributor on North Water Street, signing a contract for $2 a week for the first year and $5 a week for the second. The young Borchert did well in this business. So well, as a matter of fact, that half way through his second year he was offered $7.50 a week from another firm. Otto later told the story: "I was all set to jump my contract and take the big money, but my father made me stick it out and the advice he game me then has helped me plenty in my dealings with ball players. When a young fellow nowadays tried to run out on a contract, I always tell him about the Goll & Frank offer and how I stuck to my job in spite of the fact that I was losing money."

Borchert did work for Goll & Frank (located at North Water and East Buffafo) for two years, and then three years with the Wisconsin Milling Company. The young Borchert then obtained a job with the Wisconsin Telephone Co. After a brief time as an office boy he was elevated to a bill clerk, then became a lineman. However, his true calling was found when he became a solicitor for the company "and went galloping about the countryside installing plants." It was said he was responsible for putting more "new fangled contrivances" in rural homes than any other salesman.

His record was so imposing that he was hired by Julius Andrae & Sons, a local electronic supply business on Milwaukee's West Water Street [today's Plankinton Avenue] to travel the Midwest. His starting salary was $50 a month—which was soon raised to $75. Otto soon set up a headquarters in Waterloo, Iowa, and over the next 20 years was the Andrae Company's star salesman. However, he never made over $200 a month.

While selling supplies for Andrae & Sons Borchert began taking options on electric light properties, then selling them at "profits equal to peanuts at $100 a bag." After his death a story was told how he picked up a 30-day option on the Waterloo Gas Engine, with no money down. Although at first he had a hard time selling the plant, he finally did sell it to the Deere Plow Company for a reported $2,500,000. Borchert's commission was $250,000 and he received an additional $50,000 from the Deere Company. [A photocopy of a check in the collections of the Milwaukee County Historical Society shows Borchert sold the Waterloo Company on March 14, 1921, for $2,100,000.] Borchert also claimed he sold the Dubuque Light & Traction Company for $3,000,000, the MacGregor Light & Power Company for $360,000, and the Sumner Light & Power Company for $60,000. Borchert did retain the position of vice president of the Peoples Power Company of Westgate, Iowa, into the 1920s.

Already in the 1890s Borchert was prominent enough to be found in the Milwaukee newspaper society columns. On December 24, 1899, Otto Borchert married Miss Idabel Ruby Wilmot, a teacher of stenography and commercial methods. The Borcherts would have one daughter, Florence Mila.

Borchert was something of an athlete in his youth. In 1894 the 19-year old Otto was found catching for the Wisconsin Telephone Company baseball team. He reportedly ran hurdles with exceptional speed, and it was said "he played one of the meanest games of pool in this section of the country." Otto also said he found interest in playing rummy and poker.

Otto Borchert was also involved as a boxing impresario, calling it his second favorite sport, behind baseball. Along with Frank Mulkern he owned controlling interest in the Cream City Athletic Club since 1919, conducting boxing shows at the Auditorium. Mulkern, who was called "one of the shrewdest promoters who ever arranged ring brawls in Milwaukee" by the Milwaukee Journal's Sam Levy, said "Otto was the smartest fellow I ever dealt with." In 1919 Borchert and Mulkern were instrumental in bringing Jimmy Wilde, the world flyweight champion from Wales known as "The Mighty Atom," to Milwaukee. As a promotion Borchert asked all scribes and ringside seat patrons to appear in dinner coats. Even though the Borchert/Mulkern team produced several five figure gates, Borchert said the Athletic Club never made enough money compared to what it cost to run it. Thomas Andrews bought Borchert's interest in the Cream City Athletic Club after his death.

In January 1920 Borchert was involved in the purchase of the Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association from Clarence Rowland and Hugh Brennan for $100,000. At the time it was reported the syndicate that bought the club was headed by Joseph O'Brien, former president of the American Association and at the time secretary of the New York Giants National League club. It was later reported Borchert owned 2/7s of the stock of the club, William H. Park [former owner of the Milwaukee Daily News and Evening Wisconsin] owned another 2/7s and William Kinsella [vice president of the Worden Allen Company] owned the remaining 3/7s.

Otto Borchert was named president of the club. However, the first two years were "no bed of roses" for Otto as the head of the club. Some of his policies on running the club did not meet with the favor of certain minority stockholders, causing constant bickering. It was reported Borchert had made an honest effort to put a winning team on the field in this first two years, but he had been "hampered by internal dissension and grandstand managers." Field manager Jack Egan sided with some of the stockholders not in Borchert's camp, and it cost him his job. The Brewers' records in 1920 and 1921 were 78 and 88, followed by 81 and 86. Borchert put the question to his patrons as to how they felt about a manager for the 1922 season. A vote favored re-hiring Harry Clark, who had managed the Brewers from 1913 to 1916, winning American Association pennants in those first two years. Borchert, living in a city "where majority ruled, did as he was bid and signed Clark". Clark would manage the Brewers for the next four years with lackluster results:
        Wins  Losses  Position
1922 85 83 5th
1923 75 91 5th
1924 83 83 4th
1925 74 94 7th
Harry "Pep" Clark (left) with Borchert

The 1926 team was managed by Jack Lelivelt, finishing in third place with a 93 and 71 record.

In November 1921 Borchert bought out William Parks share of the Brewers. In January 1922 Borchert bought out William Kinsella, and a number of smaller investors who had picked up stock. This move ended the internal feud that had continued within the club ownership. By 1926 Borchert owned the entire ball club and the park the club played in, Athletic Park at 8th and Chambers.

Borchert was rather flamboyant in appearance. He was usually seen walking about swinging a handsome cane, "which seem[ed] to become as famous as Charlie Chaplin's moustache," a derby, spats, diamonds glittering in a horseshoe tiepin, and smoking a cigar—with "ashes spread generously over his vest." While some writers called attention to his silk underwear and other sartorial niceties, he did not call them a habit. As a matter of fact, it appears he loved to buy new clothes, but not always wear them. In one interview with a Milwaukee Journal reporter the Brewer owner was wearing a tweed suit "that could have had the pressing iron without suffering and upon his head was a distinctly disreputable slouch hat." Borchert explained to the reporter: "Look at me. I have just bought six new suits from the best tailor in town and here I am with this on. I have also just bought six new hats—or was it seven—and give a look at this old thing. I am like a fireman. I get dressed in a hurry." Otto also loved the spotlight being a baseball owner put on him—most of all the photographers. It was said he was possibly the most photographed man in the American sport world at the time—doubtful as this could be, when we see how many pictures of Babe Ruth are around. Hung in his office were scores of pictures of himself, all autographed with "Otto Borchert, Pres."

Borchert was a life member of the Athletic Club and of the Midland Club of Chicago, as well as a member of the Elks Club, Eagles Club and the Y.M.C.A. He was also a 32nd degree Mason and belonged to the Association of Commerce.

Borchert had a reputation for being frugal. Some of this he brought upon himself. He once told a Milwaukee Journal reporter: "I can write a check of any size in a poker game, without stopping to think, but good Lord, how I hate to pass out a $10 bill." Borchert was indeed wealthy, his estate valued at $242,589.15 after his death. He owned a home in Milwaukee at 590 Hi-Mount Blvd. and a "palatial summer place" on Lake Nagawicka.

Otto did not know much about running a baseball club when he purchased the club, but had the good sense to hire Louis Nahin, who had worked for earlier Brewer owners, to run the business affairs of the club. In his first year the club netted a $46,000 profit. For the next seven years the Brewers averaged better than $100,000 a year in profit.

As owner of the Brewers, Borchert never attained great popularity with the fans. On Sundays and holidays, when the park was generally jammed, Borchert would walk from the right field scoreboard, where he would sun himself before games, to the infield. The crowd jeered, but Otto flashed his broadest smile, waved his walking stick and enjoyed every step as he walked to the stands. "What do I care if the fans boo me," he said philosophically. "It's their privilege. They've paid to get into my park."

Borchert's way of signing players was interesting. A few years after his death a report in the Milwaukee Journal explained how he went about contract negotiations. A week or two before the close of the season he would have the contracts ready for his players. He would tell the player "I've called you in to praise you for your great work this year. As a reward I'm going to give you a present. Take this check. It'll come in handy during the winter months. Next year if the club has a good season and we make a lot of dough, I'll remember you." A check for $200, $300 or even $500 was a lot of money in those days, and most players signed within five minutes.

But the real side of Borchert was mostly hidden from the public. Upon his death, Brewer business manager Louis M. Nahin said: "His greatest deeds, however, have never been made public. He refused to have the nice things he did revealed. It was not at all uncommon to have many persons call on him during the day and appeal for financial help, and in his own way he always lent a helping hand. 'Keep this secret—I don't want the press or anyone to know about this', he would say".

A story by Sam Levy in the Milwaukee Journal years after Borchert's death illustrated this. "The public never got to know Otto. He was gruff and growled at players when they asked for raises. I was in his office one day when the late Nat Stone of the Boston Store, who headed a committee, asked for funds for a worthy cause. 'Put me down for $5,000,' Borchert told Stone, 'but no publicity must be given.' Then he turned to this reporter and said: 'Remember, that goes for you, too—no publicity on my contribution.' 'Why?' I asked. 'Let the public know of what you've done. You receive enough bad publicity.' 'Never mind, I can take it.' countered Otto. 'And look--don't say a thing.'"

The Milwaukee Journal, on the day after his death, summed it up best:
Otto Borchert was a rough fellow, hard-boiled on the outside. But inside beat a heart warm with sympathy. Only his friends knew of his sterling qualities. "My father once told me, " he said, "Otto, if you can make five friends in your lifetime you will have done well." He not only made five, but 100—true, loyal friends, friends in all that the name implies. They will miss Otto, his keen wit, his sparkling repartee, his caprices, his loyalty. For Otto Borchert was a true friend. He was strong in his convictions, too strong possibly at times, but he had the courage of those convictions, and was willing to battle for them. A more diplomatic policy might have been better, but he drew a line and always tried to stay on it, regardless of what the general public did or thought. But the general public did not know the real Borchert, the fellow who would yell about a dime and in the next breath write a $1,000 check for some worthy charity or some friend in need. He seldom talked of those good deeds, but always made a noise about some minor expenditure that didn't amount to anything. This gave the public a false impression of Otto, poor Otto, who had befriended scores of down and outers, who went on dozens of worthless notes and always had a liberal purse for charity.
All through his ownership of the Brewers Borchert had a soft spot for children. It was told how hundreds of kids would follow him to Athletic Park, asking if he would let them in. He would shake his head, but finally grab some youngster and say: "Well, come on in, but this is the last time." Of course, the children knew better and the show would be repeated the next day.

As the owner of the Brewer baseball club Borchert was many times called lucky. In some ways he was, for example, in the seven years of his ownership it was reported he never had a Sunday game rained out—at home or on the road.

The papers reported he also had "The Borchert Luck" when it came to getting large amounts of cash for players. However, one would have to believe more than just plain luck went into many of his transactions. It was claimed he bought Fred Schulte for $1,500 and sold him to the St. Louis Browns for $75,000 to 100,000 in cash and ball players. Other sales included Jim Cooney to the St. Louis Cardinals for $22,000; Denny Gearin—whom Borchert bought for $750—sold to the Giants for $10,000; Glenn Myatt to Cleveland for $50,000; Oscar Mellilo to the St. Louis Browns for $26,000. The story told by Milwaukee Journal writer Sam Levy is a favorite. One day [around 1921] a lad with a tattered cap walked into his office and asked for [business manager Louis M.] Nahin. "I want to sign with the Brewers," said the visitor. Just then Borchert entered, listened and went into his private office. When the youngster left, he called to Nahin. "Who was that punk?" asked Otto. "Heretoafter when they come into my office, have them take off their caps." "That kid," prophesied Nahin, "will bring you a fortune in a year or two." "Who said so?" "Wait and see," suggested Nahin. In December 1923 the punk, Al Simmons, was sold to the Philadelphia Athletics for $40,000 and three players, plus a fourth player in May of the following year. In 1953 Al Simmons was inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame.

Borchert was one of the leaders in the American Association and well liked by his fellow owners. Later American Association President Thomas Hickey described Borchert's baseball personality:
"Those who did not know Otto called him selfish, but they did not know the true Otto. He was one of the strongest characters in the American Association and took the lead in all his business dealings. He had an excellent business head. In our councils he was always looking out for the interests of the league rather than his own club."
It was also Hickey who probably paid the Brewer owner the greatest compliment:
"His heart and soul were wrapped up in his favorite sport—baseball. He was more than an owner—a fan. I have yet to find another club president who would attend the games of his club and root like the fellow who pays his admission at the gate."
A little known footnote to Borchert Park at 8th and Chambers, is that a year or so before Borchert's death he had a chance to trade Athletic Park to the city for Garfield Park, at 3rd and Chambers [now Clinton Rose Park]. Borchert said: "Garfield Park would be an ideal site for a new ball park, but I'll not undertake such a venture because I'm afraid I won't live too long."

On the evening of April 27,1927—the day before the Brewers home opener—while finishing up an address to a large crowd at the Elks Club in downtown Milwaukee, which was also being broadcast on radio—Otto Borchert suffered a massive heart attack and fell back into his chair. After staggering to his feet he was taken into an anteroom, where he died five minutes later. His final words were fitting to the man: "I always made it a point to be loyal to my employers, and—give them the best I had".

Otto Borchert was buried in Milwaukee's Valhalla Cemetery.

The ball club was now run by Borchert's widow, with the help of Milwaukee lawyer (and former Boston Red Sox owner) Henry J. Killilea and Brewers business manager Louis Nahin. Killilea purchased the club from Mrs. Borchert in January 1928 for $280,000, reported to be the largest amount ever paid for a club in the American Association. (Mrs. Borchert kept control of the ballpark, purchasing it from Timm Realty for $90,000). Upon purchasing the club, Killilea changed the name of Athletic Park to Borchert Field in honor of Otto Borchert.