Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Today in 1913 - A "Big Harvest of Sheckels"

One hundred years ago today, the Brewers were back in Milwaukee. The American Association season was over, the pennant won. And now, it was time to get to work.

The Brewers were scheduled on a train to Denver to face the Western League champion Grizzlies in a forerunner of the Little World Series. There was still baseball to play in the Cream City, however.

Four exhibition games had been scheduled at Athletic Park, two against major league teams (the White Sox and Pirates) and two against local semi-pro clubs. Team owner Agnes Havenor donated use of the ballpark, uniforms, equipment, and uniforms, while Harry "Pep" Clark and his men would keep the box office (minus a cut for the visitors).

As the Journal put it, the Clarksmen were ready to "reap (a) big harvest of sheckels". The Brewers were already victors; now it was time to start receiving their spoils.

Those sheckels had to be divided appropriately. The players voted to give full postseason shares to every man on the 1913 roster save two: Happy Felsch and Dan Marion. Both joined to the Brews late in the season, the hard-hitting Felsch from the Milwaukee (and later Fond du Lac) Mollys of the Wisconsin-Illinois League. Those two were expected to receive a smaller cash settlement for their efforts. In addition, a full share was accorded club secretary Louis Nahin.

The players also set their roster for the Denver series, with all the regulars save three. Pitcher Phil Lewis was out with an injured ankle, while pitcher Buster Braun and infielder Orville Woodruff chose to take themselves off the roster to save traveling expenses (all three would retain their share of the winnings).

First up was an exhibition with Chicago. White Sox manager Jimmy Callahan was determined not to lose to a minor league club, so he brought his full squad north to Milwaukee, including former Brewers Larry Chappell and Ray Schalk. They came on strong, and a pair of throwing errors spotted the Sox to a 2-0 lead by the bottom of the second. The Association champs settled down and countered with a run in the fourth and two in the sixth. They took that run into the top of the ninth, when a dodgy umpiring call let the Sox sneak a tying run in. The two teams went scoreless in the tenth but darkness was setting in over Athletic Park, and the game was called. Callahan's squad hadn't lost to their minor league foes, but neither were they able to defeat them. The Brewers had held their own against an American League club in a game both teams wanted to win. The boys split the money as well as the glory; each team took half of the gate receipts, $2,851 in total. That meant a payday of $80 for each of the Brewers, the equivalent of nearly $1,900 today.

After the game, there was another event. The Brewers were whisked to the Majestic Theatre on Wisconsin Avenue. This time, the Brews got to sit in the audience and watch others perform.

Tom Jones, the "big Welshman", was awarded a trophy from Bunde & Upmeyer, a "silver bat and ball properly engraved", for winning the Brews' batting title. Clark was presented a large bouquet of flowers in the shape of a pennant. Clark gave a brief speech in which he essentially asked to be excused from giving a speech. "We are ball players, not after-dinner speakers." They were also heroes to the sold-out crowd, which whooped and hollered as though they were at Athletic Park.

More dinners and testimonials were on the calendar, but the Brews must have felt as though they already had a pretty full day.

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