Monday, July 30, 2012

Bringing the Brewers Home, 1912

by Dennis Pajot

For our July installment of "100 Years Ago In Brewer History" we will look at some of the men who brought the Brewers into Milwaukeeans' homes.

Manning Vaughan (right) was the main baseball writer of the Milwaukee Sentinel. His style was colorful and full of panache. While researching the 1912 Brewers I fell in love with his writing style. What follows is what is typical of Vaughan's wonderful way of bringing baseball games to life in people's parlors or at the local drinking establishment. Vaughan was a "homer" when the Brewers were winning, honest when things went bad, and always fair and gracious to the opposing team.

A. J. Schinner took over the baseball beat when Manning Vaughan was not at the game. Almost as colorful, he is also a delight to read.

Typically newspapers at the time did not send reporters on the road with the club. The Brewers were home from July 4 to July 28, 1912, so we get nearly a full month of these two men's writing.

We start with Manning Vaughan.

The 1912 Brewers

The Brewers faced the Kansas City Blues at Athletic Park in a Ladies Day afternoon contest on Friday, July 5. The Brewers lost 4 to 3. In his report Vaughan would say the Duffymen were "hornswoggled in spite of the fact that it was the day the suffragettes see things for nothing." Describing Herman Bahr, a rookie recently acquired from the City League, Vaughan wrote: "the stocky Dutchman from Watertown, knocked down so many fences in the City League last season that [league president] Dick Marcan chased him out of the league to keep the organization out of bankruptcy court."

On a play in the July 6 game Brewer right fielder Newt Randall was on second when Brewer third baseman Harry Clark blazed a single to right. As Randall rounded third and started for home, the Kansas City outfielder threw to the plate: "The peg was wild, however, hitting Newt on the dome, and bounding away to the stand, Clark pedaling to third in the meantime. Of course by this we do not mean to cast any reflections of the stuff concealed in Newt's head."

In the July 8 game the "Looeyville" pitcher Big Floyd Kroh "was pitching like a house afire in spite of his front name, and he matched noses with his opponent all the way. Nine hits were made off the big bending slants he served with his left arm, but they were well distributed and, barring the second, nary a Brewer was permitted to swap chin goods or tobacco with Eddie Lennox at third."

Ralph Cutting faced the "Looeyville ginks" the next day, and Vaughan gave readers his take on the starting pitchers. "Having tasted the codfish ball before and found it bitter as gall, Generalissimo Hayden [Louisville manager Jack Hayden] sent his best pitching bet to wage war with the Dresden doll. This gent's name is Toney, and though he hails from Goat hill in Nashville, he never feazed [sic] the New Hampshire midget, who had the visitors tied in knots all the way. But six hits were poled off the repertoire of the sawed off southpaw."

Cutting, a left handed spit ball pitcher who was apparently somewhere around 5 feet 4 inches tall, was—obviously with great affection—singled out by Vaughan throughout his time with the Brewers for his size. As were catcher Johnny Hughes and outfielder Nemo Leipold. All these players were 5 foot 6 inches or less.

In the first game of the July 10 doubleheader "Lean Loudermilk (whatever kind that is) put the bee on us so hard that the enemy carted off a 7 to 0 win." Three days later the Brewers won a "dazzling victory" over the Indianapolis Indians, 1 to 0. According to Vaughan "it was one of the kind that made contests of the late Mr. Merriwell and other gents of dime novel lure such wonders in the eyes of kidhood. It fairly sparkled with ticklish situations, wonderful plays, impossible stops and catches, double plays which killed the enemy just in the nick of time and kept the big weekend crowd in a riot from barrier to post." The two defensive stars were Phil Lewis, who "knocked down hit after hit, stabbed liners which would have proved fatal had they penetrated the infield and raised hades generally," and Newt Randall, who also made a great play when he "scampered across the green and dragged down a titanic lick from an enemy's bat that prevented a certain triple and a possible homer."

Even such a common practice as a pitching chance brought on Vaughan's writing imagination. When Brewer manager Hugh Duffy decided to take out starting pitcher John Nicholson in favor of Joe Hovlik to face Bill Ludwig of Louisville, Manning wrote: "Duffy immediately hoisted Nick off the rubber and high signed Hovlik to the job. We don't know whether Sir Hugh thinks much of Bill's batting ability or not, but we have a hunch that he does not. At any rate, he thought Nick was out of place when a gink like Bill swats him." [Ludwig would hit only .167 in 32 games with Louisville in 1912.]

In the July 12 victory over Indianapolis our baseball writer started: "Those two miniature Sons of Swat, N. Leibold and J. Hughes, hammered circuit smashes to the suburbs of Athletic Park Friday afternoon, the two licks chasing six runs over and giving us first blood in the set with O'Leary's Indians….There was little to the combat, barring the two masterly shots squirted from the scalping knives of the midget swatsmiths. Hughes' wallop, coming in the second with two dead, lodged on some thrifty burger's lawn on Eighth Street. There were two men on the towpaths when Johnny uncovered the knock and three runs was the result. Nemo's blow was identical in every way, except for the fact that the ball sailed on a line for the scoreboard. It happened in the fourth with two co-laborers on the bases and with two dead, three runs resulting."

Vaughan could even make a rain out seem more than it was—and poke fun at the famous frugality of Milwaukeeans. On July 22 he wrote:
"No gentle reader and others, the Mudhens did not bite us on Saturday. It rained instead, and Mr. Harstel and his aspiring young men beat it for Kansas City at an early hour, after spilling some hectic language for the benefit of the local weather guesser. This alleged humor has been used 1,234,678 times, but it still goes in the bush league, so here it is again. As any one knows, who lives within Milwaukee and its suburbs, the leaking began early in the morning and continued to fall in such large chunks all day long that the ballyard looked like a bird's eye view of Lake Mish. The regular patrons didn't care much as Toledo has been a jinx all season, but the bargain hunters were greatly peeved. Seeing two games for two bits is great stuff with many of our fans, but as there will be two double attractions the next time the Mudhens flutter into town, they can save their money until then."
When the Brewers lost the day after this rain out, Vaughan wrote the team showed "all the snap and dash of an embalmed herring, surrounded by a can." But when the Brewers came back to beat the Columbus Senators two days later, Manning could be just as colorful: "Duff's athletes splashed base hits to all corners of Athletic Park Wednesday afternoon, ran bases like a lot of second story agents, whaled four Columbus pitchers to the queen's taste and toppled the chesty gents from the capital of O-high-O from their lofty first place perch. Madcap pastiming such as staged on Wednesday has not been seen in this part of the universe in a long while. The Brewers simply went nutty and Mr. Friel's able pitchers must have thought they were mixed up in the New York gambler's war before the finish."

Cutting pitched a wonderful game on July 26 against the Kansas City Blues, and Vaughan wrote: "Ralph Cutting, the New Hampshire coon hunter, turned loose all the wile in his good left arm on the Blooz and the Duffy men, showing in eighteen-karat form, galloped home winners in the first of the set 4 to 0. While pouring on the whitewash, the midge boxman displayed the finest line of flinging wares seen in the vicinity of Eighth and Chambers this summer. He was the master at every stage and angle of the game, and so thoroughly did his magical flinging bewilder the enemy that two hits represented the batting efforts of the Carmen for the afternoon."

Vaughan gave credit where credit was due to the opposing team, as seen in his description of a home run by Kansas City's catcher Tony James on July 27. "The laurel for large doings belongs on the head of Sir Anthony, who poled out the longest hit ever made in Athletic yard. With Corriden camping on first in the second, the giant paddist crashed his mace against a ball high and on the outside, and he sent it smoking into the center field bleachers for a homer. It was the first time a ball has ever been landed in the quarter seats and there was such a terrific force back of the blow that the pill landed on the tenth row of seats. Luckily there was a fence in the way or the ball would surely have plugged the stone wall of the thirty arena on the corner of Eighth and Burleigh."

As mentioned above, when Manning Vaughan was not working a Brewer home game, the assignment went to A. J. Schinner. One of the first games he covered this July was against the Kansas City Blues. In the game Hugh Duffy used a number of pinch hitters. As we shall see, writers in 1912 did not come right to the point, but used more words than we ever use in describing such a mundane occurrence: "The Little Corporal, Hughie Duffy, in the frantic endeavor to overtop the tantalizing lead of one or two runs held by the Kaws during most of the first nine stanzas, rushed pinch hitter after pinch hitter into the breach to bat for various twirlers ushered from the crop in deep right, but the efforts of the Brewer strategist were in vain and there was nothing doing."

Schinner had this to say about the Brewer loss on July 14: "After playing the under dog for two days and being forced to eat the dust of our effervescent and seemly rejuvenated athletes, the Indians turned on Duffy's gallants at the Havenor airdome Sunday afternoon and what they did not do to our pastimers could not be found in Webster's unabridged". Schinner then wrote about a recently married Brewer pitcher on July 15. "Don Marion, the eminent duke of Duluth and well known author of 'Married Life the First Year', sunned himself for the Burghers, and let it be said that Don earned his salary with a will. The kid had everything, including his red flannel shirt, the glare of which must have offset the green screen in center field for he had the enemy buffaloed during the total of nine rounds, only five blows being gained off him".

When the Toledo Mud Hens scored two runs in the eleventh inning to beat the Brewers on July 17, Schinner described the inning in detail:
The disaster occurred as follows: After Chapman forced Bronkie, the demon shortstop took second when Jones dropped Dougherty's wild peg to first to catch the aforementioned Ray. Chapman got ambitious along about this stage and had visions of pilfering a sack on our $10,000 beaut back of the log. Ray (this is another one) Schalk had killed the enemy deader than so many coffin nails all through the afternoon. But Chapman daringly attempted to pilfer third. Schalk was on the job, however, and killed the Hen shortstop a yard from the sack. Here is where the villain enters. Eagle Eye Erwin watched the play with his usual astuteness and beat it for third with the throw, but somehow he could not see it the same as the rest of the gang and called Chappie safe.

A council of war followed which would have done Napoleon justice in his prime, but like Caesar, after crossing the Rubicon, Erwin took his stand and would not alter his decision. All's well. Change the seating for the second scene.

Curtain rises! Burns at bat. The bean pole fouls off a half dozen, picks out a nice high inshoot, and biff! Some kid picked the ball off of Eighth Street a moment later and scooted for home. Net total, two runs.
Some of the players in these entertaining paragraphs might be unfamiliar to modern day fans. "The demon shortstop" Chapman was Ray Chapman, who would become one of the premier shortstops of the major leagues with the Cleveland Indians. Unfortunately, he is better known now for being hit in the head by a Carl Mays pitch and dying the next day.

Ray Schalk, the Brewer catcher, would go on to a Hall of Fame career with the Chicago White Sox—not being one of the Eight Men Out in the 1919 World Series.

The day after the above incident Schinner told Sentinel readers that Ralph Cutting's "fog balls, vapor balls, salivary slants and in fact anything and everything which had a watery secretion" could not stop the Mud Hens.

It was the Dead-ball era on the playing field, but a lively era for baseball writers!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Raising the Flag, 1914

This broadside, showing the raising of the 1914 American Association pennant, was displayed in Borchert Field in the 1940s (The photos would of course have been taken in early 1915).

Across the top we have the Minneapolis Millers, in their dark road suits, walking the flag onto the field side-by-side with the Brews. Unfortunately, we get a much better look at the Millers' uniforms than the Brewers'.

We can tell that this particular photo collage was printed well after the fact for its "Borchert Field" reference - the stadium was known as "Athletic Park" until 1929, when it was re-named for the recently-deceased owner.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

King Tut at the Orchard, 1929

By Pete Ehrmann

From the first one on July 27, 1926 to the last one on July 25, 1949, 16 professional boxing promotions were held at Borchert Field. They were headlined by such top local attractions as Joey Sangor, Pinkey Mitchell, Doll Rafferty and Jimmy Sherrer, and future Boxing Hall of Famers Max Schmeling, Benny Bass, Gorilla Jones and Harold Johnson.

But the fact is that despite Milwaukee's reputation as one of the country's best fight centers, unlike New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia and other big cities where ballpark boxing was a popular staple of hot summer nights, thanks to bad matchmaking, bad planning or just plain bad luck the efforts of local promoters to fill the stands on fight nights at 8th and Chambers mostly struck out.

The closest thing to a pugilistic home run there came on a perfect night 83 summers ago when 9,000 fans were lured to the Orchard by the irresistible spell of King Tut.

His real name was Henry Roland Tuttle, and he was born July 2, 1905 in Wonewoc, a village in Juneau County about 50 miles north of Madison. Then as now, Wonewoc was a magnet for mystics, tealeaf readers and dabblers in swamiism who still trek there to get in touch with their pasts and have their futures foretold at the 138-year-old Wonewoc Spiritualist Camp.

When he was 12 years old, a vision of what his life would be like if he stayed in Wonewoc spurred Henry Tuttle to run away from home and not look back. He headed west and over the next decade worked in Wyoming oil fields and cowboyed in Montana.

The most colorful version of how he morphed into King Tut, gloved scourge of the ring, starts on the day Tuttle and some fellow wranglers visited a traveling carnival whose main attraction was a female wrestler offering $10 to any man or woman weighing up to 140-pounds who could last 15 minutes with her on the mat. Tuttle, then 115-pounds, picked up the gauntlet and promptly found himself imprisoned in a scissors hold by the Amazonian rassler. According to his pal Jack Dempsey, the 1920s heavyweight champion, Tuttle "forgot she was a lady…broke the hold, lifted her up and slammed her to the mat. The fall busted her up so much she had to quit the job."

When the carnival pulled up stakes for its next engagement, its new wrestling champ, rechristened "King Tut" by the owner to cash in on the public's fascination with the young pharaoh of ancient Egypt whose tomb was discovered in 1922, went along.

Tuttle as "King Tut"

Tut beat all comers until somewhere in Iowa a challenger twice went the distance with him and won $20. Tut then offered the guy another $5 if he could last four rounds with him with boxing gloves on. He scored a first round KO, and promptly switched sports and careers. Tut headquartered in Minneapolis and later in Milwaukee, and wherever he fought the 5'5", 135-pounder's frenetic style in the ring left opponents and sportswriters alike gasping.

"There is nothing cute in the King's work," wrote Sam Levy in the Milwaukee Journal on October 18, 1928. "He tears across the ring the instant the gong sends him away and doesn't let up a relentless attack until the bell orders him to take his minute's rest."

Wrote Jim Delaney of the Wisconsin News: "The boxer who is fated to fall before Tut is better off if the undertaker is called in a very early round, for Tut starts to wear them down until they finally collapse from sheer weakness and pain, and they are not any good for a long while after."

Nine days after he knocked out Augie Pisano at the Milwaukee Auditorium, Tut went to Philadelphia to fight a relative newcomer from Hartford, Connecticut named Pinkey Kaufman on March 18, 1929. Not quite two years out of high school, Kaufman had only 24 fights, but had knocked out about half his opponents.

When he added Tut to that list by stopping him in the second round, Kaufman's win was called "one of the season's biggest fistic upsets."

King Tut called it a fluke. "It was a good lesson to me and will do me good," he said of the fight. "I walked out against Kaufman saying to myself, 'Another sucker.' I got what was coming to me. But I learned my lesson."

The stars Pinkey Kaufman made Tut see looked like dollar signs to Benjamin Franklin Steinel. One of Milwaukee's leading boxing impresarios in the early 20th century, Steinel had been out of the game for a decade when he jumped back in with both feet in May of '28 by signing a contract with Milwaukee Brewers vice president Louis Nahin to promote boxing at Borchert Field that summer. His first card on June 20 would feature a rematch between Kaufman and the Wisconsin fighter the Milwaukee papers had christened the "Wonewoc Wasp."

The Sentinel's Ed Dunn called it "the best outdoor boxing carnival yet drawn up for consumption by the Milwaukee and Wisconsin public," and the public seemed to agree. Five days before the rematch, reported A.J. Schinner in the Wisconsin News, "(ticket) orders thick, fast and heavy are flowing in on the Milwaukee promoter from all sections of the state," and Morgenroth's bar/restaurant/betting emporium on W. Water St. that was the city's sporting headquarters reported "the heaviest opening day sale in fistic history."

Tickets ranged from $1 for grandstand seating up to $3 for ringside. "The seating capacity of the park is so large, we can afford to limit the prices and still attract a big gate," said promoter Steinel.

"The entire grandstand will be utilized and chairs will be placed in the infield. The ring will be pitched over home plate and none of the seats in the field will run back further than the second and third base. With the arrangement, we can seat 15,000, which will be a record crowd for Milwaukee if there is a sellout."

Since professional boxing was legalized in Wisconsin in 1913, the largest attendance at a fight had been the 8,834 at the Auditorium for the world lightweight title bout between champion Willie Ritchie and ex-champion Ad Wolgast on March 12, 1914.

"Biggest Crowd in History of Game in State Expected to See Card," headlined the Journal sports section on the afternoon of the Tut-Kaufman fight. The story reported that "practically all the top priced ducats have been sold and there is expected to be a great rush for the one buck seats, 4,000 of which were put on sale at the ball yard early this morning."

The Orchard was two-thirds full when ring announcer Rusty Hagen introduced the fighters in the first four-round preliminary bout at 8:30 p.m., but then the turnstiles started whirling, and the next morning George Downer wrote in the Sentinel that "The jam around the gates…must have made Lou Nahin wish he could trade his interest in the Brewers for a fight club."

Milwaukee Journal photo of the Tut-Kaufman fight, taken from the roof of Borchert Field's third base grandstand

The 9,000 fans packed into Borchert Field didn't match Steinel's best-case scenario, but it was still a new paid attendance record for Wisconsin boxing that would stand until the May 9, 1950 fight between ex-middleweight champion Rocky Graziano and Vinnie Cidone drew 12,000-plus to the brand new Milwaukee Arena.

They all came to see the fighter Sam Levy called "a cruel-hearted warrior with murder in his eye," and King Tut didn't disappoint. Two minutes after the opening bell, he knocked Kaufman down for a count of nine. After that, the visitor expended most of his energy on clinching, ducking and running away from Tut, and though Kaufman stuck around till the last bell "his mind was scrambled and his legs were weary," wrote Manning Vaughan in the Journal. The decision for Tut after 10 rounds was a formality.

The futures of the Wonewoc Wasp and ballpark boxing in Milwaukee seemed as gaudy as the full moon hanging over Borchert Field that night. But like that lady rassler in the traveling carnival, both were headed for an unexpected fall.

Tut's fade started after Billy Petrolle knocked him out at New York's Madison Square Garden in 1931. Within a few years he was back in wrestling tights, grunting in front of small crowds at Milwaukee's Bahn Frei Hall.

He'd gotten $5,000 for beating Kaufman, the equivalent of almost $66,000 today. Kaufman got $3,500. When he was done paying everybody off, Ben Steinel made less than a grand on boxing's biggest night at the ballpark. He tried again on July 10, importing middleweight contender Rene DeVos of Belgium for his next main event at the Orchard. About 2,500 fans turned out for that one, and when only 900 showed up for his third ballpark card on August 28, featuring local hotshot prospect Dave Meier, Steinel lamented that "The boxing game isn't what it used to be" and went back into retirement.

But thanks to him and the two-fisted reincarnation of Egypt's Boy King, the curse on boxing at Borchert Field was lifted for one night.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

1948 Team Photo

Ladies and Gentlemen, your 1948 Milwaukee Brewers.

That's manager Nick "Tomato Face" Cullop in the front row.

1948 was the first year of the Milwaukee Braves-style white-M caps, part of the ongoing evolution of the Brewers' uniforms after the Braves bought the team. Notice that the mascot sitting on the ground is still wearing his red-M cap from 1947.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

"Brewer News" 1943, Vol. 3, No. 1

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, takes us to August 16th, 1943. This copy is a bit rough, but it's autographed. I imagine a kid standing along the Borchert Field wall waiting to snag his favorite players' scrawls.

The cover here has been signed by new Brewer slugger Ted Norbert. Norbert came to the Brewers in 1943 from the Pacific Coast League. I'm amazed by that photo - look at all the fans sitting on the warning track!

Must have been a special ceremony, to seat all those fans in fair territory. And speaking of special ceremonies, the next page reports on manager Charlie Grimm's upcoming birthday:

"Big Doings" indeed; the pre-game birthday party turned out to be one to remember. In addition to a war bond, new banjo and other presents, Bill Veeck gave Jolly Cholly a new pitcher; Cuban-born Julio Acosta was wheeled out in a 15-foot cardboard "cake". In the spirit of the day, Grimm started the left-hander in the game just moments later. Acosta lost that game, but he did win his next three decisions to end the season.

The following page highlights some of the press Veeck had been getting around the country, including a fantastic write-up in the Sporting News.

The real treasure is the back cover - a team photo of your 1943 Milwaukee Brewers, signed by 16 members of the organization including Veeck and general manager Rudie Schaffer.