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.

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