Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Have a Jolly Cholly Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from everyone at Borchert Field!

The story behind our seasonal photo is here.

Monday, December 9, 2013

"On Him It Looks Good, Too"

This cartoon from Milwaukee Sentinel cartoonist Lou Grant, published seventy years ago last month, shows Brewer president Bill Veeck having recently enlisted in the Marine Corps.
The "sport shirt kid", Bill Veeck has up and joined the Marines... and so it's good-bye for a while to "Leatherneck" Veeck, the guy who put the Brewers on the map...

I particularly like Grant's new lyrics for the "Marines Hymn":
From the walls of Borchert Orchard
To the shores of Old Long Neck,
The Marines have never had a pard'
Who could duplicate Bill Veeck!!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Another Ebbets Field Flannels Sale!

Our friends at Ebbets Field Flannels have a special going on now for "Cyber Monday". From now until Monday, December 9, use this promo code:


to get 20% off your total order.

This is the perfect time to pick up your reproduction 1947 road jersey (seen above), a 1936 road jersey or 1905 Brewers road cap.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

1928 Brewers Pocket Schedule

"1928 Brewers Schedule"
by Paul Tenpenny
Copyright 2013 Tencentzports
Printed with permission of the Author

The 1928 Milwaukee Brews under Jack Lelivelt managed to finish the season in 3rd place with a 90-78 record.

The hard hitting team was led by outfielders Bunny Brief and Bevo LeBourveau with .309 and .399 averages respectively, while infielders Ivy Griffin, Otis Miller, Harry Strohm batted .325, .314 and .323 for the season. Catcher Bob McMenemy anchored the catching corps with a .341 average while pitcher Ernie Wingard hit .331 in 80 appearances along with leading the mound men with a league leading 24 wins.

This recently acquired 1928 schedule is a great find for a number of reasons. Early schedules like these are seldom seen, but one showing a uniform of the day is a research coup for us.

The Library reference just brings a huge smile to my face. Milwaukee is blessed with a wonderful library system. The Milwaukee Public Library has been a huge help in the research done by contributors. They have partnered with us, assisting with microfilm, providing display space for collections and allowing the local SABR chapter to do presentations. Most importantly, they have given us access to collections that normally would not be seen by the general public.

A case in point was allowing me to go through the very brittle 1913 Newspapers for my research on the 1913 jersey in my collection, without which I could not have been so certain of my authentication and the Milwaukee Brewers using its design for this year's Turn Back The Clock game.

Chance Michaels loves this one too because his mother happens to be a retired librarian.

I must agree with Milwaukee Brewer Outfielder Lance Richbourg (1924-26), "There is no friend like a book."

Lance swung a big bat while with the Brews, as his batting averages show us:
1924 .321
1925 .312
1926 .346
The inside panel shows both the Home and Away schedule:

The Outside panel includes a suggested reading list.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Ebbets Field Flannels Promo Code

Our friends at Ebbets Field Flannels have a special going on now through December 2, as part of "Small Business Saturday". This promo code:


will get you 20% off your order.

This is the perfect time to pick up your reproduction 1905 Brewers road cap or a road jersey, either in 1936 or 1947 flavors.

Friday, November 15, 2013

A Fan's Eye View, 1940s

These photos give a fan's eye view of a game at Borchert Field, some time in the 1940s. I don't know exactly when they were taken, but it looks like a slightly overcast day, before a full house. They were taken from the first-base side of the stands.

In the first, a right-handed Brewer better is captured in the middle of a mighty swing. This one is a bit blurry, so it's hard to make out specifics.

The second photo appears to have been taken later in the afternoon, based on the sun in the west. Brewers are gathered around the plate - a celebration? The fan in front of us has turned towards the camera, and he seems pretty pleased.

We can also see men standing on top of the park's roof, among a line of American flags, and bunting has been hung from the rafters. Perhaps this was Opening Day? A Junior World Series game?

The third photo is the best one of all. I saved it for last, although it was obviously taken before the game. The teams are lined up on the basepaths, Brewers along the third base line and the visiting club closer to us along the first base line. A marching band stands on the infield. Photographers kneel on either side of the plate, flanking a large floral arrangement..

This has to be a home opener - I might have thought it the 1944 All-Star Game, but the opposing players are all wearing matching uniforms (and jackets with numbers on the back!)

In the foreground, the visiting pitcher warms up. We get a good feel for the layout of the park in this one, with its bullpen mounds right about where you'd find an on-deck circle in a modern park. Behind the angled dugout in the background is a sign directing patrons to the rest rooms.

A very rare look at an afternoon at Borchert Field, from the perspective of the fans.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Little Bird Tells Me...

Friday, November 8, 2013

"The Patch"

"The Patch"
by Paul Tenpenny
Copyright 2013 Tencentzports
Printed with permission of the Author

A frequently talked about item from the collection of the late Bill Topitzes has surfaced and will be preserved and displayed in the MEARS Museum says its President, Troy Kinunen.

Bill Topitzes pictured on the right

Bill had a long history working with the Brews from the early forties until their departure after the 1952 season. "Greek" and this author often talked about an artifact we called "The Patch," but it was buried in a storage container along with other items while work was being done at his home. His failing health denied me the opportunity to verify its existence. When Bill passed away, I was concerned that it would be lost in the shuffle.

While visiting Troy in South Milwaukee yesterday, I was able to see it for the first time. (MEARS Auctions recently handled Bill's collection for his family.)

"The Patch" of course is an image of Owgust, the mascot of the Milwaukee Brewers.

1942 Milwaukee Brewers Score Card

While this version of Owgust showed up on the 1942 scorecard, partial glimpses of him on a team jacket fueled great interest among Borchert fans for decades.

1943 Milwaukee Brewers - see team jacket far left
(Author's Collection)

This team logo was introduced by president Bill Veeck as part of a uniform overhaul in 1942:

Well, I can report that the "Grail" exists!!!

An awe inspiring day for me to finally meet up with this precious artifact. MEARS was kind enough to provide a nice high-resolution photo for us.

(Courtesy of the Mears Museum)

While both Chance Michaels and I would love to personally own this piece of history, our sincere thanks to Troy Kinunen for sharing him with us and for a museum which will continue to preserve local baseball history for many years to come.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

"To The Brim" - Reproduction 1905 Brewers Cap

A wonderful new surprise from our friends at Ebbets Field Flannels - a reproduction of the Brewers' 1905 cap.
Milwaukee Brewers (AA) 1905 Ballcap



This hat is indeed a rarity: The only time we have seen the lettering go on the visor instead of the crown. Are you listening, current MLB teams? A new trend awaits.
  • American Association 
  • Horse hair buckram crown 
  • Satin taping 
  • Felt emblem 
  • Cotton sweatband 
  • Pillbox 
All Ebbets Field Flannels authentic ballcaps are made in the USA.

Outstanding. I've already ordered mine.

We've talked about this cap before, when looking at a 1905 team photo:

Milwaukee Public Library

1911 Spalding catalogue (Chicago Style top left)
The old-fashioned ringed pillbox cap was known at the time as "Chicago style".

Ebbets Field is right - the little "M" on the bill is very unique.  Keep in mind that this was long before cap logos themselves were commonplace, much less had a proscribed location on the cap. Center-front of the crown seems logical to us, but it took some experimentation before that was really established.

This was a sadly short-lived style for the Brewers, who soon returned to the jockey-style or "New York Style" caps that evolved into today's modern lids. Still, this is an opportunity for you to celebrate that style.

For a limited time, this cap is available for the introductory price of $32.00 - order yours today!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween from Borchert Field!

This jaunty Jack o'Lantern comes from the Milwaukee Brewers' "Brewitched Instagram Contest".

@mckayjm on Instagram

I love this guy. A combination of the modern Barrelman with the Brewers' 1913 uniforms, with the old-style navy cap and proud "M" on his chest.

There are two other excellent Barrelman-themed pumpkins currently up for consideration:

@kbbrew82 on Instagram

@n8winters on Instagram

Great stuff.

You can see other entries here.

Today's the last day the Brewers are accepting contest entries, so you can still create a vegetable tribute to Milwaukee's baseball history.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

1936 Junior World Series Wire Photo - Shaking Hands

As the Red Sox look to close out the World Series against the Cardinals tonight in Boston (a prospect which dismays the Brooklynite in me as much as it thrills my Milwaukeean side), we take another look at Game 1 of the Junior World Series in 1936.

Here are the two managers shaking hands before the game:


The opening game of the 1936 renewal of the "Junior World Series" between the Milwaukee Brewers, champions of the American Association, and the Buffalo Bisons, champs of the International League, was won by the Brewers 7-5. The game was played at night in Milwaukee. The above photo shows the managers, Allan Sothoron of the Brewers, left, and Ray Schalk of the Bisons, shaking hands and looking worried as the series opened.
Boy, the caption tells the story, doesn't it? Neither looks particularly excited about the game.

Quite a pair of gorgeous dugout jackets, though. 

Sothoron was in his third season at the Brewers' helm, and guided the team to its first American Association pennant in twenty years.

Schalk was also a familiar figure to Milwaukee baseball fans; he came up through the Brews in 1911 and was sold to the Chicago White Sox midway through the 1912 season. He was one of the honest players on the Black Sox team that threw the 1919 World Series. 

Just a few years after this photo was taken, the Brewers were looking for a new manager, and Schalk returned to Borchert Field, this time as skipper. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

1936 Junior World Series Wire Photo - Gullic Scores!

In honor of the Fall Classic, which shifts back to Boston tomorrow night, we present this look at a Fall Classic somewhat closer to home.


The opening game of the 1936 renewal of the "Junior World Series" between the Milwaukee Brewers, champions of the American Association, and the Buffalo Bisons, champs of the International League, was won by the Brewers 7 - 5. The game was played at night in Milwaukee. The above photo shows Gullic, Milwaukee right fielder, crossing the plate after hitting a homer in the 5th inning and scoring Wilburn ahead of him.
The Junior World Series (or Little World Series) was contested annually between clubs from the American Association and International League. Not necessarily by the pennant winners; the league champions competed with runner-up clubs in a postseason playoff to determine the Association's representative to the Series. In this case, the Brewers had won both the pennant and the playoff.

I love the uniform Ted Gullic is wearing, block "M" with red and navy piping, topped off with a navy-and-red cap. We've seen color photos of that uniform before.

It's a rare look at the Orchard at night, but unfortunately the limitations of the era's photographic technology and the lights at Borchert Field mean we can't see much beyond the foreground. Looking down the thid base line, I can just make out the bag and the white flannel trousers of the base coach, but that's it.

I'm intrigued by the jerseys. On the front, a blue M with red trim.

That looks like the signature number font of McAuliffe, a uniform manufacturer based in Boston (the Red Sox still use the font today). The belt loops don't match up with Gullic's - could that be the Buffalo ballboy congratulating him?

No game coverage from the Milwaukee papers is available online, but we have a box score from the Rochester Evening Journal and Post Express.

"Bisons Lose!" What a headline.

The Brewers would go on to take the Junior World Series in five games, adding the title "minor league champions" to their American Association pennant for 1936.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

This week in 1913 - "Welcome AA Champions"

And now we have it. We have reached the end of our 1913 chronicles. For this final installment, I'd like to reflect on the city itself, and one way in which Milwaukee honored her champion Brewers.

This week in 1913, Mayor Gerhard Adolph Bading ordered that a tribute to the victorious club be raised on the facade of City Hall, high over downtown.

The Milwaukee Sentinel had this to say:
Manager Harry Clark's Brewers, pennant winners of the American association, this week took precedence over the Wisconsin Medical society, as they also ranked ahead of about everything else in Milwaukee.

Monday morning Secretary Claude Ellis said to Mayor Bading:

"The Wisconsin Medical Society will meet here this week. Shall I order the welcome sign for the organization?"

The mayor gave Ellis a withering look.

"I should say not," he said, with more withering looks. "Don't you follow the events of the day? Don't you know that the Brewers have won the pennant in the American association? See to it that a welcome sign for them blazes forth every night this week."

"But will not a big association like the Wisconsin Medical society feel rather offended because of the slight," protested Ellis.

"You put up the champions sign," said the mayor. "I'll vouch for the medical society. All the members I know are rattling good baseball fans, and they'll appreciate the sign as much as anybody."

So the "champions" sign stll is blazing on the city hall.
Although the welcome sign was taken down decades ago, readers of a certain age will remember the days when messages like that one shone forth from the city hall. One was even immortalized in the opening credits of Laverne & Shirley, beginning in January 1976:

I always presumed that the sign was a much later addition to City Hall's Flemish Renaissance Revival style-facade, perhaps an artifact of the 1950s—it seems appropriate for a time of civic expansion—but it dates back much farther than that. The message system was added in 1906, a little over a decade after the building itself was completed. It was originally installed by then-City Electrician David McKeith, who designed a catwalk built into the back of the sign, allowing city workers to change the letters without requiring any tools which may have been dropped on the street below.

From those early days, the letters proclaimed a series of rotating greetings, from a simple "WELCOME":

To more timely messages, such as this one welcoming the troops home from World War One:

Or this one from the Second World War, encouraging Milwaukeeans to "ENLIST IN THE FAMOUS U.S. MARINES":

Each letter was forty-two inches in height, made of wood painted white to stand out against the building's terra cotta exterior.

The letters were lit with fifteen individual twenty-five watt lamps as seen in this photo from 1947, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Alexander Graham Bell:

The letters were retired by Mayor John O. Norquist and the Historic Preservation Commission in 1988. Citing the increased costs of maintenance (although I can't help but think that aesthetics played a part in the decision), McKeith's framework was dismantled. The letters are now on display at the Milwaukee County Historical Society.

Those illumunated wooden letters shone forth messages across the Milwaukee skyline for eighty-two years, including a note of congratulations to the first pennant-winning Brewer squad.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Today in 1913 - The Victors Return

Welcome to the penultimate edition of our "Today in 1913" series. Like our series, the 1913 campaign was finally winding down.

While the Brews had been playing in the snow at Denver, Milwaukee was buried under its first significant snowfall of the season, as noted in this cartoon from the Milwaukee Journal's Fred Bernau:

One hundred years ago today, the Brewers arrived in Milwaukee via train from Denver. They had won first the American Association pennant, and then the minor league championship, and now they were due to enjoy the spoils.

If anyone was expecting a grand procession at the train station, as Milwaukee saw when the Brews brought the AA pennant home, they were disappointed. Most players had gone directly to their offseason homes (Cy Slapnicka signed a contract to go into vaudeville until baseball started up again), but pitcher Newt Randall and catchers Johnny Hughes and Doc Marshall were on the Milwaukee train. Marshall quickly departed for a winter ball contract in New Jersey, but Randall and Hughes made their winter homes in Milwaukee. Pitcher/coach Tom Dougherty was also a Milwaukee resident, but had left the train as it passed through Chicago. He was expected to come up to the Cream City later that week. Manager/third baseman Harry "Pep" Clark, for his part, had journeyed directly to his home in Ohio to take a well-earned few weeks off before returning to the Athletic Park offices to prepare for 1914. The 1913 Brewers had thus officially disbanded.

The Denver series hadn't been the cash cow that some had predicted, but between the exhibition games at Athletic Park and the swing into Denver, it was reported that each man in a Brewer uniform took home an extra $500. That's nearly $12,000.00, adjusted for inflation, nice spoils for our victors.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Today in 1913 - "Well The Brewers Did It"!

One hundred years ago today, the Brewers were ready to put a bow on an amazing season. 1913 saw them bring Milwaukee their first pennant. Now they were on the cusp of another championship, this time a postseason series with the Denver Grizzlies for bragging rights over all the minor leagues.

The Brewers led the best-of-seven series 3-2, making October 19th's game a potentially decisive one.  If the Brewers prevailed that day, they would be on the next train back to Milwaukee as champions.

The Milwaukee Sentinel set the stage this way:
The day was cold and disagreeable, the stands wet and plied with snow and the tempers of the players and spectators were at boiling point much of the afternoon.
Mere snow can't keep the baseball "bugs" away, and four thousand Coloradans came out to see their team stop the Milwaukeeans' momentum. Those home fans were happy enough in the beginning, as it appeared as though the Grizzlies were going to drive the Brewers to a Game Seven. They jumped out to a 5-0 in the first inning (the home team, as was possible under early 20th century rules, chose to bat first). 

If Grizzly fans allowed themselves to breathe easily, they didn't know the visiting club.  The Brews, led by manager/third baseman Harry "Pep" Clark, hadn't won the American Association pennant by rolling over. As the snow fell, Brewer starter "Cy" Young calmed down and started putting zeroes up in order, and the Brewer sluggers started chipping away at Denver's lead, scoring a run in the first, and then another in each of the third and fourth.

The sixth inning saw the Grizzlies pad their lead with another pair of runs, but the Brewers still weren't done. Down 3-7 when they came up in the seventh, Milwaukee's bats came alive.

First-sacker Tom Jones started off the rally with a single, and left fielder John Beall followed with another. Clark himself drew a walk to load the bases. Second baseman Joe Burg came to bat next, squeezing out an infield hit to score Jones. Next up was backup backstop John Hughes, who swatted a clean single to score Gilbert and Berg. Three runs in, and the Brews had made it a one-run game.

Denver failed to have an answer for the Brewers at the top of the eighth inning, and when the Brewers came up in the bottom half of the frame they picked right up where they left off. Jones came up with two on and belted out a deep triple off the wall. Denver left fielder Rufus Gilbert misplayed the ball, allowing Jones to score, and the Brewers took the lead, 9-7. Denver plated a consolation run in the top of the ninth but couldn't manage another.  The Brewers won the game, 9-8, and the Series, 4 games to 2.

The Milwaukee Journal called it a "grand finish" to the postseason series, noting that
The last two games have been tough battles for the followers of Clark and they have been forced to come from behind, to gather in the two closing games. The determination that took the boys through a hard race and landed them on top in the league race was shown in these last two battles.
The series stats were relatively close in hits and errors (the Brewers had 56/16 to Denver's 52/13), but the difference was in runs. The Brewers drove 33 of their own over the plate, where the Grizzlies could only manage 26.

As the Brewers were on their way home to Wisconsin, Journal cartoonist Fred Bernau offered readers his perspective on the series:

"Well the Brewers Did It", indeed. Milwaukee's champions had a new flag to fly.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Today in 1913 - The Brewers Regain the Lead

Having fallen behind the Denver Grizzlies in their best-of-seven postseason series, the Brewers seemed determined to claw their way back to the minor league crown.

One hundred years ago today, the fifth game of that series was played in Denver. Snow fell on the grounds earlier in the day, but by the time the first pitch was thrown out the skies were clear.

This game belonged to the sluggers, almost from the start. The Brewers took a 3-run lead in the top half of the first inning, as Newt Randall, Lena Blackburne and Tom Jones all singled with no outs (Jones reached first on an error). The Brews followed that with two easy pop flies before player/manager Harry Clark tripled to right, scoring Blackburne and Jones.

Unfortunately, Denver managed two runs in their half of the first, and tied it outright in the fourth. The snow had started falling again, heavily this time, and the game got wild. The Brews tied it up again in the sixth, courtesy of a sacrifice fly from Larry Gilbert. Denver went one up again in the seventh, leaving the Brewers to take the lead again with two runs in the eighth.

Milwaukee's half of the ninth inning began when Randall drew a walk. Blackburne singled, but Randall was forced at second. Blackburne got a good jump off first, advancing to third on Jones's single to center. Johnny Beall then doubled to right, scoring Blackburne and cushioning the Brewers' lead.

They would need that insurance run soon enough. The Grizzlies' first batter of the ninth was Les Channell, who tripled to right. Two batters later, Denver's third baseman Lee Quillen singled to short, scoring Channell and drawing Denver to within one run. The danger was averted when George Block grounded into a double play to end the game. 7-6, Milwaukee.

The Clarksmen now led the series three games to two, with an opportunity to wrap it up on Sunday, October 19th. If the Brewers won that game, they planned to be on a train back to Milwaukee that very night. If not, Game 7 was scheduled for Tuesday, October 21st.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Today in 1913 - The Brews Even the Series

The Brewers had an off day on October 15th, but that isn't too suggest that they were idle. There were preparations to be made; outfielder John Beall, who had previously played for Denver, made it known to his teammates that he was engaged. Beall planned to marry one Miss Jane Edgett, originally of New York but now residing in the Mile High city, before the game on October 16th. Coming on the heels of the marriage of Agnes Havenor to new Brewer president Al Timme, it must have seemed as though Cupid was a baseball fan.

With the newly-married Beall in left field, the Brewers faced the Grizzlies in Game 4 of their best-of-seven series. Cy Slapnicka took the mound for Milwaukee, while Denver sent in Rufus Gilbert, who had pitched Game 1. Gilbert wanted to make up for what he saw as a lackluster showing on his part in that first game, and thought he could pitch the Grizzlies to a commanding lead.

The Brewers let in a run early on a rare error from player/manager Harry "Pep" Clark at third base. They would come back to tie it at one apiece in the top of the fifth inning, and never relinquished the lead. The result was a 5-3 Brewer victory, and a tied series.

The Denver News had high praise for the Brewers' skipper:
Harry Clark, the mananger and captain of the Brewers, handles his team along the lines followed by Connie Mack of the world's champions, the Athletics of Philadelphia. Every man on the team is his personal friend and he depends upon their justness to make them conform to natural baseball rules. Clark has every player taking a personal interest in the way the team is conducted, and listens patiently to every suggestion, generally following the side which wins out in a practical argument. In this way every player takes a general interest in the team and the harmony is so noticeable that the argument in favor of Clark's method of running a ball team has a splendid exponent in the success of the Brewers last season. Clark's method has obviated the appearance of any grouch, and players who have been noted for their sulky dispositions take everything with good nature under Clark. It certainly is a great boost for Milwaukee's general manager, and well deserved.
It was an echo of the kudos given Clark around the baseball world when the Brewers clinched the pennant.

The Brewers' performance in Game 4 stirred some optimism in the Milwaukee Journal's columnist "Brownie", who proclaimed that "it looks as if (the Brewers) are going to pull it off in the same manner in which they won the American association flag."

Only time would tell. Friday, October 17th was another off day, then games were scheduled for both Saturday and Sunday. If Brownie's prediction was to come true, it could happen as soon as then.