Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Al Rainovic, Journal Cartoonist

This cartoon of Milwaukee Brewers first baseman Heinz Becker was published in the Milwaukee Journal on April 26, 1942.

The German-born Becker, also known as "Bunions" for the problems he had with his feet, was a fan-favorite among the Borchert Field faithful. This cartoon, similar to the Milwaukee Sentinel's "Brewer Sportraits" series, tells his story in a collage of images surrounding one central portrait.

The artist is noteworthy in his own right. In 1942, West Allis native Al Rainovic was a freelance cartoonist and student at the Milwaukee Normal School (now the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee). He joined the Journal staff full-time ten years later, staying through 1969. During that time, he drew an average of four cartoons a week for the paper, creating a body of over 3,700 cartoons in his eighteen years.

Rainovic was with the Journal when the Boston Braves moved to town, and found himself chronicling the day-to-day of a big league team.

He was equally at home with a lighter touch:

and a more elegant, graceful line:

Of course, the Braves left in 1965 and in 1969 Rainovic left the Journal, returning to freelancing. He worked for his alma mater and later as an artist for the American League Milwaukee Brewers:

In that capacity, he painted the covers for the Brewers' media guides from 1978 through 83:

Rainovic was frequently found in County Stadium watching the Brew Crew, often going to games with his friend (and former Milwaukeean) Ken Keltner.

He passed away in 1991, leaving behind a lasting contribution to the Cream City's sports history.

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