Saturday, January 5, 2013

1943 Score Card

This score card was sold at Borchert Field during the last home stand of the 1943 season. It marks a return to saddle-stitched books after at least a decade of bi-fold cards.

On the cover, Owgust stands huge over the Orchard, swinging for the fences. This was his second season as the Brews' mascot, making his cover debut the previous year.

This score card is printed in green and red on newsprint. The first pages feature memories of the season from Brewer management (under a banner of Owgusts pitching and catching).

The management of the Brewers wish to take this opportunity of thanking the fans of Milwaukee for their loyal support throughout the season. It proved what has always been our contention – that Milwaukee fans are the most loyal in the country. This loyal support has made possible our efforts to supply you with a winning ball club and has renewed our determination to continue to do our utmost to provide you with clean, healthful entertainment whenever you attend the games at Borchert Field.
Great stuff.

In the following pages, we're introduced to some members of the team.

Pitcher "Jittery Joe" Berry (an ironic nickname in the "Little John" mold) was the anchor of the Brewers' rotation. Heinz Becker was the Brews' first baseman. Becker was born in Germany, raised in Dallas and brought to Milwaukee by team president Bill Veeck, where he quickly became a fan favorite.

There's a little space under each biography for autographs, but the owner of this copy never collected any.

I especially love the Roundy's cartoon in the upper-right corner.

Note also the list of Milwaukee Brewers serving in the armed forces. Within a few months, they would be joined by Veeck himself.

We also see how the Orchard was laid out in 1943: 395 feet to straight center, 262 down the left field line, 265 down the right, and 424 / 426 to the respective corners. This is very similar to those we've seen before. The subsequent pages give us even more information on the ballpark, this time the seating area.

I'm surprised at the number of womens' facilities available in 1943, but maybe I shouldn't be. The Brewers had a long history of female owners, who might have been responsible for accommodating female patrons. Even if they weren't behind it, I'd expect Veeck was.

Then there's the "Lucky Number" contest, as constant as anything in the club's history.

Hidden in amongst the ads we find the "Steller Jewelry Company's Player of the Week". This week it was hard-slugging outfielder Hal Peck, certainly worthy of the award.

This takes us to the newsprint score cards in the middle of the book. On this day, the Brews were facing the Kansas City Blues.

A cocktail bar in Milwaukee named "Molitor's"? I'll meet you there.

On the next page, of course, we have the hometown heroes.

Lots of talent in that lineup; 1943 was a very good year for Milwaukee baseball.

The next several pages are full of wonderful ads. "After the game, join the crowd"! What I wouldn't give to be able to visit some of these spots.

Another lucky number contest?

The next pages give us much to digest.

Based on the schedule presented here, we can tell that this score card was sold at the Orchard on either the 17th, 18th or 19th of September (that last one a double-header). It also indicates that the American Association playoffs would begin just days later, on the 21st, as the four "first division" clubs faced each other to determine who would represent the Association against the International League in the Junior World Series.

The phrase "first division" has fallen out of use in baseball circles, but in 1943 "first division" and "second division" would have referred to a team's position in the standings; top half was first, bottom half was second. The term fell into disuse when the two Major Leagues expanded and organized their teams into smaller units called "divisions" in 1969.

It seems very strange to us today that a team could win their pennant and not move on to the deciding postseason series, but that's exactly what happened in the American Association. In this particular season, the Brewers finished 90-61, five ½ games ahead of second-place Indianapolis, but were bounced out of the playoffs by the Columbus Red Birds. This was a particular bane of Bill Veeck during his time in Milwaukee, as he was able to assemble clubs that dominated his league during the regular season (winning three pennants in a row) but washed out of the playoffs.

We also touch base with Mickey Heath. A player/manager for the Brewers in the late 1930s, he moved on to radio and coaching in 1940.

On the inside back cover, Heath and manager Charlie Grimm relax in a mud bath.

Wartime travel restrictions had forced the Brewers to move Spring Training to Waukesha, but these fellows look like they've made the best of it.

And, of course, we have to finish with a full-page back-cover ad for Miller High Life.

What could be more "Milwaukee" than that?

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