Saturday, September 28, 2013

Today in 1913 - "Come and Hear... the Brewers Clinch the Flag"

One hundred years ago today, on Sunday, September 28, 1913, the Brewers stood on the brink of clinching their first American Association pennant.

The Brews had finished a series in Indianapolis, and were en route to Louisville, where they would face the third-place Colonels in a double-header. The Minneapolis Millers, then in second place, were playing their own double-header in Columbus. In fact. every game on the American Association schedule that day was a twin-bill, bringing fluidity and a resulting drama to the standings.

The Brewers had several roads to the pennant in the few remaining games; the Milwaukee Sentinel outlined the various combinations this way:
   If Milwaukee wins the first game and Minneapolis also wins the opener, Milwaukee must win another to cop unless Minneapolis loses the next three.
   If Minneapolis wins a double header on Sunday and Milwaukee loses a double header Milwaukee must win one on Monday unless Minneapolis loses a double header on Monday.
   On the other hand:
   If Milwaukee loses a double header on Sunday and loses a double header on Monday and Minneapolis loses two out of four Milwaukee wins the pennant.
   Or if Milwaukee loses the first three games and Minneapolis wins the first three, and then Milwaukee wins one and Minneapolis loses the fourth, Milwaukee wins the pennant.
   Or, to make it easier, if Milwaukee wins the first game of Sunday's double header and Minneapolis loses the first one the pennant is won for Milwaukee.
Confused yet? Not to worry, the Sentinel followed that up with this analysis:
   You are at liberty to try any combination you like. We can't lose.
Outstanding. You have to love that confidence.

The Sentinel editors weren't the only ones feeling pretty good at the Brewers' chances. The Milwaukee Traffic Club and Milwaukee Press Club scheduled a banquet for the Brewers, to be held at the Schlitz Hotel on October 2 ("whether they win or lose the pennant"). The Brewers were also scheduled to attend a party in their honor at the Majestic Theater on October 1st.

The players themselves were reported to "figure that the pennant is as good as won." Manager "Pep" Clark, on the other hand, "refuses to admit that he has the pennant though of course he admits that he has a pretty slick chance." Clark told the Milwaukee Journal "We'll battle 'em to the last.":
"It's going to be a hard fight, but the Brewers can be relied upon to fight until the last man is out. It's been a hard season but our boys have stood up wonderful under the strain, and they have been aided greatly by the well wishes of the Milwaukee fans. We are in the last round now and are ready and waiting, and may the best team win."
If Clark was hesitant to claim victory, he might have been the only one. Congratulatory letters and telegrams were pouring into the Brewer offices by this point, to the extent where Clark mused that he might need a secretary to answer them all. And from Minneapolis, the second-place Millers seem to have acknowledged their uphill climb to the flag, as seen in this Sentinel report that Minneapolis manager "Pongo Joe" Cantillon (himself a former Brewer skipper) had called to congratulate Pep:

Cream City baseball fans were eating it up. Unfortunately, the potential clinchers were being played 400 miles to the south, too far for most Brewer fans to travel. How could the "bugs" follow the action? Radio was still in its infancy; WHA, the oldest station in the country, wouldn't start its experimental broadcasts until 1914, and actual game broadcasts were still more than a decade in the future. Fortunately, Milwaukee's great morning newspaper had a creative solution:

   Because of the tremendous interest in the Colonel-Brewer double header in Louisville TODAY, The Sentinel has arranged to give the fans every detail of both games the instant they happen.

   A special wire will run from Eclipse park, Louisville, into The Sentinel office, and as soon as the plays flash over the wire they will be announced by a megaphone man in front of The Sentinel building. The first game will start at 1:30 o'clock.

   Every detail of the Minneapolis-Columbus games will also be announced.

   Come and hear whether the Brewers clinch the flag TODAY or not.
"Come and hear"? Who could resist an invitation like that? Certainly not the five thousand Brewer fans who turned up to hear the "megaphone man" relay each play:

Among that crowd were many women who, the Sentinel reported, "prove(d) almost as enthusiastic as the men". The police tried valiantly to keep the street clear for traffic, a task which became progressively harder as the game went on and which was eventually abandoned.

So who won the games? Unlike those 5,000 fans outside the Sentinel building, we'll have to wait just a little longer to discuss that. See you tomorrow....

1 comment:

  1. Glad someone is keeping up with the old Brewers! I'm certainly not doing a very good job at it!