Monday, March 25, 2013

1951 Souvenir Visor

This cardboard souvenir visor dates to 1951, as the American Association and the Brewers were both celebrating their golden anniversaries.

The graphics are fun; the American Association's Golden Anniversary logo, Owgusts pitching and catching (taken from the masthead of Brewer News, the team's newsletter) and facsimile autographs.

A lot of facsimile autographs.

The whole team, in fact. Plus three coaches. From left to right (more or less):
  • Jim Basso
  • Paul Burris
  • Mark Christman
  • Buzz Clarkson
  • George Crowe
  • Art Fowler
  • Charlie Gorin
  • Joe Just
  • Dick Hoover
  • Robert Jaderlund
  • Virgil Jester
  • Ernie Johnson
  • Billy Klaus
  • Emil Kush
  • Charlie Grimm
  • Johnny Logan
  • Robert Montag
  • Billy Reed
  • Ted Sepkowski
  • Bert Thiel
  • Bob Thorpe
  • Al Unser
  • Murray Wall
There are many notable names on this list. Charlie Grimm was, of course, a towering figure in Milwaukee baseball history. In 1951 Jolly Cholly was in his second stint as Milwaukee skipper, and would be promoted to lead the Boston Braves partway through the following season.

Buzz Clarkson and George Crowe, respectively, were the second and third African-American players to wear Brewer uniforms. The first, Leonard Pearson, had come to the club in July of 1950 but was sent down to the Braves' farm club in Hartford, Connecticut on May 1st of '51. Clarkson had a brief callup with the Braves in early 1952 but returned to the Brewers in time to play the bulk of the team's final season in Milwaukee. Crowe had the best career of the three, earning the American Association's Rookie of the Year in 1951. He went up to the Boston Braves in 1952 and came back to Milwaukee as a major-leaguer with the rest of the club in 1953.

Johnny Logan, who later became a household name with those same Milwaukee Braves, also has his autograph here. He was considered an important prospect as he began his fourth season with the Brewers, and the scrappy shortstop was called up to Boston on July 5.

The presence of outfielder Ted Sepkowski can help us date the visor. His contract was purchased from the Chicago Cubs and he came from their farm team in Springfield, Massachusetts on May 28. According to, Sepkowski only played in seven games for the Brews before being sent to the Braves' Southern Association club in Atlanta on June 23rd.

One name from the 1951 roster is notable for its absence. Third baseman Eddie Mathews played part of the season in Milwaukee after securing his discharge from the Navy on July 8. The popular third baseman saw action in a Brewer uniform for only 12 games before being optioned in early August, also to the Atlanta Crackers. Mathews, who had played for the Crackers before entering the service, was sent south by the Braves largely to boost that club's sluggish ticket sales, another brief stop on his way to the majors.

The visor itself, labeled "Fibo-Vizor", was made by the Badger Carton Company of Milwaukee. It's a fairly simple but ingenious design; the scored tab curves when folded over, and an elastic band holds it in place.

I don't know if this item was given out to fans, or sold at the concession stands, but it remains a unique artifact of Milwaukee's baseball history.

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