Thursday, January 24, 2013

"Milwaukee's Infield", 1937

This wire photo introduced newspaper readers to the men who were expected to anchor Borchert Field's infield during the 1937 season.


Biloxi, Miss., March 23--Manager Al Sothoron will depend a lot on these hands when the Milwaukee, Wis., team starts their season. He intends to send these men out as the starting infield. Left to right: M.W. Heath, first base; Ed Hope, second base; Otto Bluege, short stop; and Ken Keltner, third base.
Several of these players need no introduction here.

Ken Keltner was one of the greatest players ever produced by Milwaukee's sandlots. This was his second season in pro ball, having played one year for the Fieldale (Virginia) Towelers. Keltner made an immediate splash, and didn't even finish the season before being sold to the Cleveland Indians.

First baseman Minor Wilson "Mickey" Heath was newly-signed away from the Montreal Royals. He had spent part of the previous season playing with the Indianapolis Indians, where he first came to the attention of Brewer management. Heath would go on to thrive at Borchert Field, being promoted to player/manager in 1939 upon the firing of Al Sothoron (mentioned in the caption). After his playing career was over he served the Brewers as a coach, executive and longtime radio voice.

Eddie Hope was a second baseman, known for sharp fielding but weak hitting. He was about to start his fourth season in a Milwaukee uniform.

The man with the shortest tenure in Milwaukee was Otto Bluege. Bluege was a longtime minor-league veteran who had played parts of the 1932 and 1933 seasons with the Cincinnati Reds, and who was purchased from Indianapolis, where he had played with Mickey Heath in 1936. Even before the Brewers broke their Biloxi camp, Bluege was in trouble. His fielding was erratic, and he was benched just one week after this photo hit the wires. He played sporadically with the Brews until the end of May, when the club sold him to the International League's Jersey City Giants.

1937 would be a pretty good year for the Brews. Though they fell short of repeating their 1936 American Association pennant, they battled for a very respectable 80-73 record.

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