Tuesday, August 27, 2013

George Crowe color photo, 1951

This magnificent photo of Brewer first baseman George Crowe gives us a rare color view of Borchert Field.

George Crowe

In orgnanized baseball only three seasons, the Negro first baseman has been selected as the outstanding rookie in two different leagues in successive years. In 1950, with Hartford, Conn. (Eastern League), Crowe won the individual batting championship with .353 and led in several other departments of play. This year, his first in a tripe A league, he led the Brewers with .339.
Crowe was the third black player signed by the Brews after Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby broke the color barrier in the majors. He came to the club in 1951 and stayed through the first part of the 1952 season before being called up to the parent Boston Braves. When he came back to Milwaukee, it was as a big-leaguer with the rest of the Braves in 1953.

It's a fantastic uniform Crowe is wearing. The style is clearly late in the Brewers' evolution into Boston Braves-style uniforms. The classic 1942 wordmark, featured as late as 1948, is gone. It has been replaced with letters styled after the parent club's (the Greek "E"s are a dead giveaway). That was the home uniform worn by the Brews in both of Crowe's seasons with the club.

Even without checking those statistics, we can date the photo based on the patch on his jersey's left sleeve. The patch commemorated the Golden Jubilee of the American Association. A closer look, from Ebbets Field Flannels' reproduction of a 1951 Minneapolis Millers jersey, is at right.

You can also see the patch clearly on this photo of Crowe and catcher Al Unser as they received American Association honors for 1951 (Crowe as Rookie of the Year, Unser as league MVP):

Crowe and Unser receive their awards
(collection of Paul Tenpenny)

The Brewers didn't often wear sleeve patches, so when they did those details provide important touchstones for chronicling the team's history.

That looks like the same jersey in both photos - note how the script's tail doesn't line up where the zipper bisects it. Unser's jersey appears to align correctly, but Crowe's is distinctive.

This gorgeous photo is a potent reminder that the glory days, now so often experienced in sepia tones or shades of silver, were originally lived in full color.

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