Thursday, December 27, 2012

Milwaukee Tavern Scorecard - July 22, 1940

Today we present another in our series of Milwaukee tavern cards. This example, dating from July 22, 1940, is different than the others we've seen, conspicuous by the lack of a publisher's credit.

The phone number - Marquette 6857 - is in the same exchange as our Steinel Publishing card from 1932, and the notation "34th Year" lines up with their date, but I can't find the name anywhere.

The graphics aren't as much fun as some of the cards we've looked at, but there's a world of information in this beauty.

We can start by looking at the American Association standings. This late in July, the Brewers were languishing in fifth place, ahead of only Indianapolis.

The Brewers were playing a night game against Toledo, so that day's game missed the print deadline. The space its score would be displayed is filled instead with some intriguing Brewer news from the days before:
Ray Schalk's debut as the new manager of the Brewers yesterday wasn't exactly a howling success neither was it a complete washout thanks to a seventh inning second game homer by Charlie English with two mates aboard to give the Schalkmen an even break for the day in their twin bill with the Columbus Red Birds. The visitors easily won the first game, 11 to 4. The score of the second was 6 to 3.
It is follwed up below by this note:
Schalk, who saw the Brewers lose to the Birds Saturday, assumed management of the club immediately after that game following the resignation of Mickey Heath who will spend his time between Milwaukee and the farm clubs operated by the Brewers.
Ray Schalk was a popular former Brewer of thirty years previous, one of many big-league players who found his entry to the majors via Milwaukee. He came to the Orchard in 1911 and the following season was sold to the White Sox, where he became famous as one of the honest players on the "Black Sox" squad). Thirty years later, he was brought in as a skipper to take over from player/manager Minor "Mickey" Heath, who was about to transition to coaching and broadcasting with the club.

This particular tavern card chronicles an important moment in Milwaukee Brewer history, more than earning it a spot in our Archives.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Happy Holidays from Borchert Field

"Owgust and the entire Borchert Field force wish you and yours a merry, merry Christmas and the best for the new year."
The original festive Owgust is here.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

1976 Borchert Field Postcard

The demolition of Borchert Field was completed on June 11, 1953, but the ballpark lingered longer in the memories of fans.

This "short run color" postcard of a very quiet Borchert Field was printed in 1976. That makes it something of an oddity, produced during the fallow period after the Brewers were dead and buried—indeed, anyone at that time interested in past Milwaukee clubs would probably have stopped at the Braves—but before the retro craze revived mass commercial interest in old clubs and their ballparks.

The photo itself, credited to Harold Esch, is undated, but perhaps we can narrow down the timeframe.

We can start with the light standards. The infield lights are casting a shadow from behind the camera, but are not visible. That helps, because those poles were originally placed on the field in front of the grandstand, and were moved outside the park in early 1942. So we know if it can't be any earlier than that.

The outfield ads along that right field fence might be a better bet. They don't match the ads we know were in place in 1952. So 1952 is too late.

We can go one year earlier; this photo of first baseman George Crowe was taken in 1951.

The three outfield ads right behind him match perfectly. (click for larger)

They are, from left, Hooligan's Super Bar at the corner of Farwell and North Avenues, Burghardt Athletic Goods (which had a long relationship with the Brews, even supplying their uniforms) and finally the Milwaukee Wood Fuel Co..

On the other hand, the billboard to the left doesn't match.

And there's a large billboard over his shoulder that doesn't seem appear on the postcard.

So that would seem to set the last date it could have been taken. Let's see if we can narrow down the earliest.

In 1947, April snow forced the postponement of Opening Day. From the Milwaukee Journal coverage, we get a good look at the right field wall, as team secretary Fredric (Shorty) Mendelson gazes forlornly across the infield.

It's an almost perfect match for the angle of Mr. Esch's postcard photo, allowing us to compare the ads plastered across the right field wall.

Although we can't make out all the ads in our 1947 photo, we can see clearly enough to establish that four visible billboards match our postcard:

Those are the same three from our George Crowe photo, plus Checker Cab Company on the extreme left.

There are, however, two billboards which just as obviously don't match.

I can't quite make out the left one on the postcard but the right is for WTMJ TV. The newspaper photo shows something different. So not 1947.

I don't know how often the ads changed over; I'd expect some minor turnover every winter, but not within the baseball season. It seems reasonable to expect at least some ads to remain the same from year to year. There may be one other clue on that wall, though. Look at the foul line: it runs right over the Milwaukee Wood Fuel Company's ad.

Very unusual; you'd expect the ads to be placed so that the foul line ran between them rather than through one. The original foul line was, in fact, along the right edge of that last billboard. It was moved as part of a general overhaul of the ballpark after the 1946 season, when the Boston Braves bought the team. One of the changes they made was moving home plate, shrinking the outfield but also improving the park's notorious sightlines. Moving the plate also required moving the foul poles, in this case thirteen feet to the north, resulting in the bisected ad.

The trees appear to be in full leaf, indicating that it was taken during the spring or summer. We know that the spring of 1947 was unseasonably cold, and it seems unlikely that the outfield walls would have been repainted so soon after the park was overhauled, so I'll say we're now talking about early 1948 as the earliest possible date.

Our window is now between 1948 and 1950. That's pretty good, but I'll keep looking and see if I can't get it any closer than that.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

"The Enemy is Defeated", 1914

This cartoon was printed on the sporting page of the Milwaukee Sentinel on Monday, September 28, 1914:

The Brewers are depicted as a longhaired character in a spiked pickelhaube scaling the wall of "Fort Pennant". Smoke drifts from the barrel of his baseball-bat cannon behind him as he raises his saber in victory and cries in a thick accent:
Two days before, the Brewers had defeated the St. Paul Saints 11-3 (relying on their "heavy artillery") to clinch their second consecutive American Association pennant over the second-place Louisville Colonels. That's their manager "Scrappy Jack" Hayden playing the corpse above.

The cartoon was by Clarence "Cad" Brand, who had been scribbling for the Sentinel since 1900. Brand created this long-haired character, who was more commonly seen in a baseball uniform and old-fashioned cap, to represent the Brews.

I'm intrigued by the imagery Brand has chosen for this victory cartoon. The World War was only two months old. The cartoon was published exactly three months after the murder of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria on June 28th, and two months to the day after war was declared. I imagine that, at the time, nobody fully appreciated that the conflict was eventually going to spread across the ocean, but even so the military imagery is curious given the war headlines racing across the facing pages of the paper.

Of course, the war would not be contained to Europe, and less than three years later the United States declared war on Germany and began sending her boys "Over There".

To drum up and maintain support for the war, the U.S. government launched an anti-German campaign, using imagery stunningly similar to Brand's. This poster by artist Fred Strothman depicts almost exactly the same scene as Brand's cartoon, but from the other side of the hill. Our lovable "Py Golly!" character is now the bloody Hun, saber, pickelhaube and all.

What a difference a few years can make.

Friday, December 7, 2012

1951 Junior World's Series Ticket

This ticket stub, rescued from a scrapbook, gives us a look into the penultimate day of the Brewers' penultimate season in Milwaukee.

This ticket was good for one Borchert Field grandstand entry to the Junior World's Series game against the Montreal Royals.

The Junior World's Series, also known as the Little World Series (the possessive forms of both names seem to have been used interchangeably), was a best-of-seven played between representatives of two of the largest minor leagues, the American Association and the International League.

Unlike the leagues involved in that other World Series, the American Association didn't automatically send its pennant winner. The champion instead joined the next three teams in a two-round "Shaughnessy playoff" to determine who would go on to the Little Series. In the 1940s, it was a source of great consternation for team president Bill Veeck that his mighty clubs, which took home three pennants in a row, couldn't ever make it to the Series. In 1951, however, the Brewers were both the Association champs and the playoff kings for just the second time in their history.

The Series had opened in Montreal, and by the time the Brewers came back to the Orchard they found themselves down 2-1. A little home cooking was just what the Brews needed, though, and they came back to take the fourth game and tie the series. That's where it stood when this ticket was carried through the turnstyle.

Game 5 was played on October 3rd at Borchert Field. The Brewers rewarded the home fans from the start, scoring on a hard single from first baseman and Rookie of the Year George Crowe in the bottom of the first. They scored another in the third and four in the seventh to put the game away, all while pitcher Ernie Johnson held the Royals scoreless.

It was never close, and when the out was recorded the score was six to nothing in Milwaukee's favor. This game broke the series tie and put the Brewers just one game away from clinching.

The following day, the two clubs returned to Eighth and Chambers to play again. That sixth game didn't start off well for the home team, as the Royals jumped out to a 10-2 lead in the top of the third inning. The Brews wouldn't be stopped, though; they battled back with five runs in the sixth, one in the seventh and three in the eighth. When the dust settled, it was Brewers 13, Royals 10. Game over, series over and Milwaukee was on top of the minor league baseball world.

This was the club's eighth AA pennant, third Little Series championship and fifth overall minor league crown.

The ticket stub itself is a fascinating artifact from the last days of the American Association Brewers. I love that moiré pattern, not to mention any opportunity to see Owgust in action. And compare this ticket with the box set ticket; $2.50 got you into the box seats, but you only needed $1.50 for the grandstand.

Regardless of where you were sitting, grandstand or box, if you were one of the 9,188 people with a ticket like this, it must have been one hell of a game to watch.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

1932 Score Card

This score card was sold at Borchert Field during the 1932 season. Like the 1933 card we've already looked at, this one is printed on heavy cardstock, bi-folded to create four pages, 7 inches tall by 9½ inches wide.

The cover is striking for its large ad for mineral water, "on sale at the ball park."

I'm also intrigued by the decorative detailing. In each corner of the cover, the border is marked by a small swastika.

The swastika, which dates back as far as ten thousand years, was a common good luck symbol in the early part of the 20th century. As such, it was not uncommon to find it in a sporting context, although that would soon come to an end. The Nazis were on the rise in Germany in 1932, winning a plurality of seats in the Reichstag that July. In January of 1933 the Third Reich was formed with the swastika as its emblem, and the ancient symbol would forever be tied to tyranny and horror.

But that was still in the future. On the inside of the program, your Milwaukee Brewers:

Wearing lucky number 7 is player/manager Frank O'Rourke. Note that he's listed as sharing hot corner duties with "Pip" Koehler. Other Brewers of note include diamond clown "Cuckoo" Christensen, pitchers Garland Braxton, Earl "Teach" Caldwell and Rollie Stiles (you may remember we examined his jersey earlier), catcher Russ Young, and Ted Gullic, who was in his first full season at Borchert Field. Gullic would go on to become one of the most popular Brewers ever, playing eleven seasons in Milwaukee.

And what a sign of the times that was, with two different cigarette ads proudly proclaiming their product is gentle on the throat.

The Indianapolis Indians were visiting the Orchard that day.

So the Brewers sourced their hot dog buns from a local bakery. Interesting. Between that and the mineral water, we're getting a better sense of Borchert Field's concessions.

The Milwaukee Herold, in the bottom right corner, was a German-language newspaper that had been publishing since 1861. At one time Milwaukee had several German papers, with circulation exceeding that of their English competitors. Those days were past, and the Herold closed its doors at the end of September 1932.

The back cover brings us another "lucky number" contests, and an ad buying tickets from a local vendor. Hugo "Sluggy" Walters' tavern was a longtime fixture around the corner from the Orchard. Walters opened his doors in 1902, the same year the Brewers took up residence in his neighborhood's ballpark, and Sluggy never missed a home opener.

The scorecard is probably most notable for what it doesn't include.

No beer ads.

Although today it seems impossible to separate baseball from beer, Milwaukee's most famous product, and the inspiration for the club's nickname, was not legal at the time this card was sold to fans. 1933 saw Prohibition in its dying throes; President Roosevelt signed the Cullen–Harrison Act, allowing the manufacture of low-alcohol beer, in March, and Prohibition was repealed by the end of the year. The Brewers' score cards in 1933 would prominently carry ads for Miller High Life on its back cover.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Brewer Sportraits - Bill Norman

This is the latest in our series of "Brewer Sportraits", informative biography/cartoons by Lou Grant (the Sentinel's cartoonist, not the television character later named after him).

The single panel depicts Brewer outfielder Bill Norman. The veteran "flyhawk" (why shouldn't the outfield position have a catchy nickname?) came to Milwaukee in 1942 from the International League. He had spent parts of 1931 and 1932 at Comiskey Park with the White Sox, but other than that sojourn into the Bigs he was a minor league lifer. A hard-traveling one at that; when he signed his Brewer contract, Norman had already taken the field for fifteen different minor-league clubs in thirteen seasons.

The journeyman found an instant home in Milwaukee. He hit 24 home runs that season, more than anyone else in the American Association, and was part of a lineup that led the league in virtually every offensive category: runs, hits, doubles, RBI, batting average, total bases and slugging percentage (they missed the team home run title by six and triples by only three).

That was good, but the second-place finish wasn't good enough for team President Bill Veeck. Sport Shirt Bill spent the 1942 offseason wheeling and dealing; he sold some of the best players to major league clubs, and sent the others wherever he could. Of that 1942 squad, he kept only four men. His new hard-hitting outfielder was one of them.

Veeck surrounded Norbert's spot in the lineup with other strong bats, bringing in Ted Norbert and Merv Connors, who had just won the home run crowns in the Pacific Coast League and Texas League, respectively.

Norman was also known something of a good luck charm for his roomates. Three of them were sold to major league clubs; Eddie Stankey, to the New York Giants, Tony York, soon to be a Chicago Cub, and Hal Peck, known also as Bill Veeck's good luck charm, who was soon calling Brooklyn's Ebbets Field home.

After the Brewers signed Nick Cullop as manager in late 1944, Norman was promoted to player/coach. He already had, as the cartoon indicates, designs on being a manager himself someday, preferably within the Brewers' farm system.

It was not to be. On July 4, just a few weeks after this Sportrait was published, Norman was sold to the Toronto Maple Leafs (the original baseball team, not the famous hockey club named after it).

Norman was reportedly devastated by the sale, and devastated to have to leave Milwaukee. He told the Milwaukee Journal:
"I just won't be the same away from the Brewers. I had a good following out there in the center field bleachers. It too a few years to win them over. I followed the most popular Brewer of my time—Ted Gullic—and his cronies in the bleachers made it hot for me but I finally got them on my side."
After a brief contract holdout, Norman reported to Toronto.

At the end of the season, the Maple Leafs offered him the same player/coach role as he had in Milwaukee, and Norman came to see an opportunity within that organization as enticing as he had with the Brews. The Maple Leafs' owners had a notoriously short leash when it came to managers and in December, following only half a season with the club, Norman told friends at a minor-league convention "I'll be managing Toronto before next July 4."

He was off by four weeks. On June 5, Leafs player/manager Harry Davis was fired, and Ole Will Norman had his first shot as a skipper. Toronto, a notorious graveyard for managers, let him go at the end of the season after the team crawled to an overall 71-82 record.

Once Norman had traded the field for the dugout, however, he never looked back. He went to the Wilkes-Barre Barons, the Cleveland Indians' club in the Eastern League, where he managed for five years and won consecutive pennants in 1950-51. That was good enough to earn him a job as a coach with the St. Louis Browns, where he spent the next two years. In 1954, the Browns moved to Baltimore, and Norman moved to the Detroit Tigers organization. He coached in their system, including a stint managing their top club in Charleston.

Bill Norman's managerial star continued to rise in Charleston, and his next job was in the major leagues. The Tigers stumbled to a 21-28 start in 1958, and when the Detroit brass wanted a change, they looked no further than their AAA farm club.

Norman came to Detroit and led them to an eventual .500 finish, 77-77. That was good enough to bring him back in '59, but it was short lived; a 2-17 start led to his own early ouster.

Bill Norman then turned to his old Chicago White Sox, joining the club as a scout. He filled in as a pilot for their PCL club in San Diego during the last part of 1961 before returning to scouting.

On April 21, 1962, he was visiting Milwaukee in that capacity, in town to scout the Braves. He started having difficulty breathing and checked himself in to St. Luke's Hospital. Shortly after being diagnosed with "a heart difficulty", Norman suffered a cardiac arrest and died. He passed away at the age of 51, in the city that so loved to watch him play the outfield twenty years before.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

"Our Meat Eating Brewers"

Although taken in the springtime, this photo seems appropriate for Thanksgiving Day; on the eve of the 1942 baseball season, the Milwaukee Journal's camera caught a pair of brand-new Brewers enjoying the team's annual season-opening celebration at the Elks Club.

'Bring 'Em On!' Demand Our Meat Eating Brewers

Odell Hale (left), Brewer second baseman, and Red Howell, outfielder, gnaw steak bones ferociously at the Elks club baseball dinner Wednesday night to show what they expect Milwaukee to do to St. Paul in the opening game Thursday.
The "baseball dinner" was a traditional event held the night before the home opener; it was at one of these dinners that team president and ballpark namesake Otto Borchert suffered his fatal heart attack in 1927. The 1942 affair was fortunately devoid of such tragedy, and the Brewers appeared ready to start the season. After a nice steak, of course.

Second-sacker Odell Hale was a new Brewer who came to Milwaukee from the New York Giants. He had been in the big leagues (with two quick dips into the minors) since 1931. He struggled with injuries in 1942, seeing action in only 60 games. That was enough for the veteran, and after his one season Hale informed the Brews that he was retiring from baseball, preferring to stay on his Arkansas farm.

Murray "Red" Howell had an even shorter tenure with the Brewers. His contract was purchased from the International League's Baltimore Orioles just three weeks before the baseball dinner. Big things were expected from the outfielder, described by the Milwaukee Sentinel this way:
Few players have had a more distinguished minor league career than Howell, who has hit .300 or better in 13 of his 14 professional campaigns and has averaged 93 runs batted in each year during that time. In 1929 and '30, early in his career, he led the Sally league with percentages of .372 and .341, and won the International league crown in 1940 with a mark of .359. Red also pounded in 122 tallies for Baltimore.
With a resume like that, it's no wonder that team president Bill Veeck was eager to add him to the Brewer lineup.

It must have been doubly disappointing when Howell started accumulating injuries in Spring Training; first a pulled muscle, then a cracked rib. Howell's career at Borchert Field never got started and he returned to the International League, sold to the Jersey City Giants in mid-season having played only one game in a Milwaukee uniform. In that one game, he went 0-for-2 with a walk and a run.

Neither of these men would make their mark on Milwaukee baseball, but at that baseball dinner at the Elks in the spring of 1942, all things must have seemed possible.

Friday, November 16, 2012

1950 Pocket Schedule

This pocket schedule comes from the 1950 season. The natty flat-topped gentleman doffing his cap on the cover was also featured in a Miller High Life ad in that season's score cards.

I'm not a huge fan of this "Brewers" wordmark, a skewed version of the script the Brews had worn on their flannels since 1942. I've only ever seen this version on printed materials; they certainly never put it on a jersey.

The schedule is on the interior. Home dates in red, and all holidays and Sundays are double-headers!

Brought to you, as always, by Miller High Life, "the Champagne of Bottle Beer."

On the back, Mickey Heath invites you to listen to his play-by-play. Heath, the voice of the Brewers for a decade, was in his last season with the club. In 1951, he would be followed by Earl Gillespie.

$1.65 for box seats sounds pretty good to me.

Monday, November 12, 2012

21 skidoo!

Here's another good look at Milwaukee's original "Team Streak", the 1926 club which won 21 games in a row.

The Milwaukee baseball team which is leading the American Association has set a record with 21 consecutive wins. They are left to right, standing: Coggin, Clyde Beck, Al Reitz, Sylvester Simon, Frank Luce, Roy Saunders, Harry Strohm, and Fred Schulte. Left to right, seated, Lloyd Flippin, Joe Eddelman, Jack Lelivelt, manager, Otto Borchert, president, Bunny Brief, Denny Gearin, and Ivy Griffin. In the foreground, left to right, Russ Young, Ossie Orwoll, Lance Richbourg, Ed Stauffer and Bob McMenem.
Marvelous Borchert Field wall ad for Boston Store. And it's always good to see a picture of Otto Borchert, who would pass away less than a year later, on the eve of the 1927 season.

The Brewers got their 21st win at Borchert Field on June 14th against the Toledo Mud Hens, under future Milwaukee skipper Casey Stengel. The Brews came out strong, scoring six runs in the bottom of the first inning on their way to a 9-0 rout.

The Milwaukee Journal offered this photo of the big inning:

Schulte's March

The start of the avalanche of runs which gave those galloping Brewers promise of making it 21 straight out at Athletic Park Tuesday afternoon is depicted in the picture above, caught by The Journal's long-range cameraman during the first inning. It shows Schulte crossing the plate after lifting a home run over the left field fence, scoring Richbourg ahead of him. Griffin is seen looking on, bat in hand, with Heving, Toledo catcher, and Umpire Connolly among the other nearby spectators.
The rest of the season wasn't as successful for the Brews, as nearly a quarter of their wins came during the remarkable streak. They finished 1926 at 93-71, a respectable record well short of the American Association pace, putting them in third behind the Louisville Colonels (105-62) and Indianapolis Indians (94-71).

Friday, November 9, 2012

Bill Brenzel, "Handling that Funny Stuff"

Following the 1935 season, the Brewers released combative catcher George Susce, whose talent for getting into fights had finally eclipsed his talent for handling notoriously-wild Brewer knucleballer Forrest "Tot" Pressnell. To fill Susce's role, they purchased Bill Brenzel from the Cleveland Indians.

Asked about his prospects for catching Pressnell, Brenzel had this to say:
"Pressnell is the knuckle ball pitcher? I don't mind handling that funny stuff because I was initiated into that society long ago. Walter Kinney had a knuckler that was the most baffling I've ever seen. In fact, the knuckle ball he threw did so many tricks I used to wear a mask when I warmed him up."
Brenzel worked out with Pressnell in the off-season, and when the 1936 season opened he was behind the plate.

It was a good pickup for the Brews; with Brenzel backing him up, Pressnell went 19-9 in 1936, leading the Brewers to the American Association pennant.

The Brews then steamrolled through the playoffs, leaning heavily on the knuckler and his backstop. They swept the Kansas City Blues in the first round of the playoffs, then toppled the Indianapolis Indians, four games to one, winning the right to represent the American Association in the Little World Series. There, they dispatched the Buffalo Bisons in five to claim the minor league crown for Milwaukee and put a cap on a magical season.

After the Series, Brewer manager Al Sothoron complimented Brenzel for his work down the stretch:
That fellow really crowded a whole season's work into the last two weeks of play. Bill went to town in the two play-off series and against Buffalo in the little world series.

In the games he caught Brenzel worked against the International leaguers; he convinced me he is a capable handler of pitchers. Why, in that last game in Buffalo, Bill was perfect — he did not call one bad ball from Pressnell. Tot, you'll recall, gave only two hits until he lost his stuff in the sixth.
As much as the Brews valued Brenzel's handling of the knuckleballer, he had more to offer his new club. Sothoron would often rely upon the catcher, who came up through the Pacific Coast League, for scouting information on West Coast players. In early May of 1936, the Brewers were considering acquiring center fielder "Frenchy" Uhalt from the Yankees organization. Sothoron sought out Brenzel's opinion of the California native, whom he had played against in the Pacific Coast League. Brenzel gave Frenchy a strong recommendation, and the Brews completed the deal. Uhalt came through that season, hitting .322 and establishing Brenzel as an excellent evaluator in the eyes of Milwaukee brass.

After the 1937 season, Pressnell was sold to the Brooklyn Dodgers. His savvy with the knuckleball no longer needed at Borchert Field, Brenzel was sent back to the PCL, this time the Hollywood Stars.

When Brenzel finally hung up his mask in 1944, the Milwaukee Journal delivered this eulogy for his career:
Brenzel was one of the best mechanical catchers in the minors. Always a weak hitter, he managed to stay in double A leagues for the last decade because of his ability to handle pitchers.
Brenzel took his other great ability and moved into scouting, first with the Cardinals from 1947-50 and then with the Dodgers from 1951 through his death in 1979.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

1943 Opening Day Ticket - printer's proof

This printer's proof from the collection gives us a good look at the Opening Day tickets for 1943.

Tickets to Borchert Field were often fairly simple, but special events like season openers were

The running Owgust icon was a staple of the Brews in the early 1940s, appearing everywhere from programs to letterhead to players' jackets to the side of the ballpark itself.

This proof was never printed with seat information. That we can see on our 1945 opener ticket stub, showing that the Brews kept the same basic ticket layout for at least a couple years.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

"Brewer News" 1944, Vol. 2, No. 4

Today's installment in our ongoing look at Brewer News, the club newsletter published throughout the year to keep fans appraised of the latest news and upcoming events, was published in September 1944.

We start, under the traditional masthead of Owgusts pitching and catching, with a gorgeous photo of a play at the plate.

That's Jim Pruett catching for the Brews. He was purchased by team president Bill Veeck from the South Atlantic League's Savannah Indians in February of 1943. Like many of Veeck's acquisitions, he played well enough for the Brews to draw major league interest.

Also of note on the cover are a schedule of upcoming games, a note about the impending playoffs and a notice for Ladies' Night and morning games. The morning games were a particular invention of Veeck's, an opportunity for third shift war workers to catch a game at the Orchard.

The next page gives us a good photo of Arky Biggs, purchased from the Kansas City Blues just weeks earlier. Biggs had been awakened by an early-morning phone call to inform him as Kansas City's general manager Roy Hamey asked him "How would you like to join a pennant-winning club?"

The purchase was facilitated by the sale of other Brewers to big-league clubs. Such sales were the lifeblood of the independent Brewers, providing Veeck the ability to stock his club with up-and-coming talent without the patronage of a major league club's pocketbook.

Certain former Brewers are listed as having been sold to the bigs: Bill Nagel, Hal Peck, "Bingo" Binks, Dick Cutler, Tommy Nelson, Frank Secory, Charlie Gassaway and Herschel Martin. Jim Pruett would be added to this list within weeks, sold to the Philadelphia Athletics, the ninth Brewer to be shipped up since mid-August.

If morning games weren't your speed, the Brewers had many double-headers on offer for their fans.

Of interest on this page is a reference to "Miller High Life Sports Announcer" and Brewer VP Mickey Heath in a list of past American Association highlights. I was also surprised to read that season box seats would be good for the playoffs as well - what a fantastic incentive to buy a box seat for 1945, now on sale!

The final page of our four-page newsletter features two colorful characters in Brewer history, longtime coach Red Smith and manager Casey Stengel.

Smith had recently left the Brewers to join the New York Football Giants as a coach. He would of course return to Borchert Field the following spring.

Of course, no profile of Casey Stengel would be complete without a humorous anecdote, not even a brief profile such as this, so we're treated to a story of the Perfessor when he played for McGraw's Giants in the early 1920s.

These "Popular Brewer Leaders" were a couple of characters worthy of any good ball club's history. Amazing to have them both in uniform at the same time.

The 1944 Brewers closed out the season in fine form (102-51, seven games ahead of second place Toledo) , bringing home the Association pennant but falling to the Louisville Colonels in the first round of the playoffs.

Friday, October 26, 2012

More on Fatima, Athletic Park’s Most Famous Goat

by Dennis Pajot

As a follow-up to the articles on the Brewers' mascot goat, Fatima, I would like to supply some information on her last(?) season with the Brewers. And some details on a competitor.

(For the original stories on Fatima at, please see: "The Heroes and Their Goat" August 23, 2011; "The Brewers' Goat Had a Name" November 4, 2001; and "All Heroes, No Goats", March 6, 2011)

After the 1914 season Brewer pitcher Ralph Cutting decided to retire. The little lefty spitballer, who had been with the Brewers since 1910, winning 64 games in that span, including 21 in 1913, said he would go into the diary business with a brother at his home in Concord, New Hampshire. Cutting had been sick during the 1914 season, and did not feel up to playing baseball any more. He was quoted in the Milwaukee Sentinel: "My salary whip can work twelve months out of twelve milking cows and it has baseball beaten by a mile. There is nothing to worry about except the milk inspector, and the water supply is plentiful."

One early question after Cutting's retirement was what would become of Fatima, Cutting's pet goat and Brewer mascot. Fatima had been purchased in 1913 by Larry Chappell and Ralph Cutting and immediately became the Brewer mascot. After Chappell left the Brewers in July 1913 she became sole property of Cutting. It was now decided the goat would be allowed to roam Athletic Park under the supervision of the groundskeeper. When the 1915 season opened it was reported Fatima, "fatter and sleeker than ever, was on the job, eating beer labels and peanuts with as much gusto as ever".

Eight thousand Milwaukeeans attended a game at Athletic Park against the Cleveland Spiders on May 23, 1915, not so much to see Brewer pitcher Cy Slapnicka on the mound, but to see Mlle. Bridget Pumpernickel, auditioning for the job of the Brewers new mascot. The bear cub had been captured in the wilds near Rhinelander and Brewer president A. F. Timme purchased the animal from Dave Bell "Toodles" Perk, the "Farwell avenue Hagenbeck". Pitcher Tom Dougherty assumed the right to act as nurse to the newcomer and the big right hander showed his bear training ability by teaching the cub how to execute an artistic somersault. It was reported Mlle. Pumpernickel's debut was a huge success. However, manager Harry Clark, a superstitious man, believed that Fatima was the cause of the team's success. So for the time being, at least, Pumpernickel would have to warm the bench.

It was not exactly clear who (what) was the Brewer mascot at this point in the season. But on occasion the bear was still referred to, so she was at least at the park, as was Fatima. During the first game of the Brewers/Saints double header on June 20, 1915, Fatima made her presence known. The Sentinel reported the game had to be halted for a minute or two as Brewer pitcher Red Shackelford chased the "browser" off the base lines. However, only the day before the Sentinel referred to the bear cub as the mascot. The city had undergone another rainstorm that day and Athletic Park was very soggy. The morning newspaper wrote: "At the suggestion of Tom Dougherty, Mme. Pumpernickel the latest Brewer mascot, is to be canned and a finnan haddie installed in her place. There will be plenty of room in Athletic Park for the fish to enjoy himself." We also find that Mille. Pumpernickel was still with the team on the Fourth of July. The Sentinel told it readers she was out in the center garden, and "grows bigger each week."

Pumpernickel was officially released as the Brewer co-mascot on July 30. Brewer President Timme said he had turned the bear cub to Milwaukee's Washington Park Zoo (the current Zoo wouldn't open until 1958). The Sentinel later reported the bear cub—now called Tim by the newspaper—had started to show evidences of an artistic temperament, and President Timme believed there was enough temperament among his regular baseball players.

There was no record of how Fatima felt about this. We only know that Fatima was still living at the ballpark. Earlier in the month it had been reported she was in the stands with one of the ballplayers' wives while the bear cub paraded in front of the stands for the fans between games of a doubleheader.

The last we hear of Fatima this season was on August 24, when it was said she had a seat in the bleachers during the game with Columbus, a win by the way.

In my research of the 1916 season I do not come across Fatima at all, so I assume she was gone from Athletic Park.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

1944 Score Card

Today's Brewer score card is this near-mint gem from 1944:

The cover image is a wonderfully dynamic shot of Owgust climbing the ladder to make a spectacular catch. Pitching, catching, running the bases and playing the field; is there anything our barrel-chested friend can't do?

If the cover graphic looks familiar, it should; it's the same as the pocket schedule we looked at earlier. It would appear that the Brewers adopted a unified design for the 1944 season.

The inside front cover features a full-page ad for Mickey Heath's daily Brewer radio broadcasts.

The Brewers didn't have a contract to broadcast their games live in 1944, but the Brewers found many ways for their fans to follow the club:
  • "Radio flashes" on WEMP announcing the game score every fifteen minutes or between radio programs;
  • A 15-minute highlight program on WISN, Mondays through Saturdays at 5:30;
  • Resconstructed play-by-play of each day's game at 10:00pm that night on WEMP; and
  • Live broadcasts of selected games, or parts of selected games.
Note also the example of Brewers letterhead in the corner, with the running Owgust.

The next page starts to fill in our picture of game day at Borchert Field. Now we know that in 1944, Armour and Company's "Star Frankfurters" were the only hot dogs sold at the Orchard.

And on the right, under a delightful masthead of Owgusts pitching and catching, a message from the club: "Shorty" Mendelson is happy to assist you with season tickets; a pitch for baseball as an integral part of the war effort; and an announcement that morning games, introduced the previous year by team president Bill Veeck to accomodate swing shift factory workers, would come back for another season.

The ads are as fun as always.

Here we come to the real baseball content; ground rules, ballpark measurements and ticket information.

The Orchard had unusual fences, caused by the limitations of its single-block lot: 262 down the left-field fence, 424 to deep left, 395 to straightaway center, 426 to deep right, and 265 to right down the line.

Box seats were $1.40, grandstand tickets .95 and bleachers .50. Kids under 12 (those interested in a better view than the knothole gang provided) could pick up box seats or bleachers for .75 and .30, respectively.

Dick Culler and Tommy Nelson, seen above, were the Brewers' shortstop and second baseman, respectively, and two-thirds of a dynamic double-play combination.

The center page gives us the day's lineups. Note the ad for "Hal Peck Night" on August 9. In a pregame ceremony, Veeck's "good luck charm" was honored with presents (including a baby bath and high chair for his expectant wife) and $330 in war bonds.

There's longtime coach Red Smith, wearing his customary #31. And manager Casey Stengel is wearing former skipper Charlie Grimm's #30. It would appear that Casey did more than merely step into Jolly Cholly's shoes when he took over the club partway through the season, The Perfessor also slid into his jersey.

It's also interesting to see the concession prices; popcorn or Gold Bond coffee for a dime, Snirkles caramel bars for a nickel, cigars for $.11 and .15, and cigarettes for 20 cents.

The next page introduces us to the Steller's Inc. Jewelers "Player of the Week", pitcher Charlie Sproull: young Brewer right hander who has compliled a record of 11 wins against 3 losses, wins this week's award by the Steller's Jewelers as the PLAYER OF THE WEEK. Charlie really "arrived" this year and his great pitching will no doubt be attracting the attention of Major league scouts.
Indeed, Sproull was picked up by the Phillies following the season for a cup of coffee in the majors.

Next up we have two action shots from the basepaths, with Herschel Martin sliding safely into home and big Bill Nagel getting back to first on a pickoff attempt.

The photo of Nagel is a rare look at the number style the Brewers were wearing in 1944. Most of the photos from the period are posed shots or team photos, shot from the front. We don't often get a good look at the back of a uniform.

As we continue, we're greeted with another game shot and another look at the numbers—catcher Jimmy Pruett tagging out a Miller at home plate—and an ad for streamlining ice delivery.

What would a program be without a Lucky Number contest?

Mickey Heath has a strong presence in these programs; here we have a quarter-page ad for his 15-minute game highlight programs over the Brewers' home schedule.

Of the 76 home games, I count seven doubleheaders (all Sunday and holiday games) and six morning games.

The inside back cover is a full-page ad for the Moor Mud Baths of Waukesha, where the Brewers held their Spring Training during the travel-restricted war years. That's Charlie Grimm and Mickey Heath enjoying a quick dip.

Which brings us to the back page, an ad for Miller High Life:

Ah, arguing with the umps. A touchstone of baseball iconography.