Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Today in 1913 - "This Great Gathering of Fans"

One hundred years ago today, on the second of October, 1913, the party continued for our American Association champion Milwaukee Brewers. To the victors go the spoils, and boy oh boy was Milwaukee spoiling them.

The day after they were feted at the Majestic Theatre, manager Harry "Pep" Clark and his players were the guests of honor at a banquet organized by the Milwaukee Traffic Club and Milwaukee Press club, held right around the corner from the Majestic at the Schlitz Hotel.

The Schlitz was an ornately-furnished building in the grand tradition. Suitable for such an occasion.

The hotel was famous far and wide for its elaborate bar and massive interior beer garden, festooned with plam trees. Very suitable for such an occasion.

The baseball heroes were to be celebrated before local dignitaries. Governor Francis McGovern was to join Mayor Gerhard Adolph Bading on the dias, along with civic leaders such as Alderman Cornelius Corcoran (who would go on to represent the Third Ward in the Common Council for over forty years), Reverend William Thompson Dorward, pastor of the Baptist Tabernacle, (county) Judge John Colonel "Ikey" Karel and Judge Joseph G. Donnelly (chief justice of the Milwaukee civil courts and a former General Consul to Mexico).

In addition, figures from Milwaukee's baseball history were invited. Among the old-time players in attendance were Otto Schomberg, Zachariah Clayton and Tony Falch, all of whom played for Milwaukee's entry in the short-lived major league Union Association. That was, I believe, the first team to use the name "Brewers". Another old-time team, the amateur Milwaukee Maple Leaves (city champions in 1883) was represented by its former third baseman, Colonel Frank Parker.

All in all, a magnificent celebration. It certainly made quite an impression on Cad Brand's "Py Golly" character, seen in the Milwaukee Sentinel:

Not to worry, Py. They'll love you no matter what you do next year.

The phrase pinned to his jacket—"Oh You Brewers"—was commonly associated with the team in 1913.

When the evening came, six hundred baseball "bugs" filled the palm garden to join the celebration.

Looks like it must have been quite a party.

Judge Karel served as the evening's master of ceremonies, introducing each speaker in turn. First up was Governor McGovern, who said:
"In winning the American association pennant the Milwaukee club not only brings honor and glory to Milwaukee, but to the whole state of Wisconsin, and I want to congratulate Harry Clark and his great team on their triumph in bringing a championship to Milwaukee, the metropolis of this great state. Baseball is our cleanest and greatest sport, a game in which the best man wins, and I hope that the team will continue its splendid work and bring further honors to Milwaukee and Wisconsin by repeating its triumph a year hence."
Alderman Corcoran,a director of the baseball club, offered his own reflections on the title.
"I have been connected with the Milwaukee baseball team ever since it was organized, but until this year I have never had the satisfaction of being associated with a championship club. Speaking on behalf of the owner of the club, I can assure the fans of Milwaukee that the policy followed by the management of the past will be followed in the future. Money will not stand in the way of giving Milwaukee a pennant winning club, and if money can bring another championship here we will have a pennant in 1914. I wish to thank the fans for their liberal support of the club. Harry Clark has proved a wonderful success as a manager. He has the natural ability of a leader and that wonderful faculty of instilling in his men that grim determination which knows no defeat."
Next up was Rev. Dorward. A native of Scotland who retained his native brogue, Dorward was an accomplished public speaker, "one of Milwaukee's most famed preachers and teachers of elocution."
"Manager Clark, in addition to directing his team, had the plus energy of showing the way, of getting into the game itself, which is not true of most managers.

"The game of life may be compared to the game in which Manager Clark and his men succeed. But life is more than a three mile heat. It is more than a brief nine innings. Get into the game at close range. It is easy to stand back and criticize and condemn. You don't need brains to do that. Get into the game at close range with sustained effort. It is not enough to play well for a little while and then give up. How many fail and fail in life's endeavors by playing well only for a short while.

"Get into the game at short range with sustained effort until the end of the last innings."
In case anyone thought Dorward's speech relied too heavily on life lessons for the room, he also sprinkled a bit of his famous wit throughout. In referring to one of the speakers yet to take the podium, he said:
"When Judge Donnelly speaks you may get the impression that there is more Scotch in him than there is in me."
That brought the house down with peals of laughter, not the least from the judge himself.

A tough act to follow, but if anyone was up for the task it was Mayor Bading, "batting cleanup". Well known for his love of the sport, His Honor also gave a nod to the team's future while toasting its recent past.
"Too much praise can not be given Harry Clark and his men for their gallant and game fight in the American association race. Handicapped by injuries at the start of the season and during several trying periods of the race the team never gave up for a minute. They fought all the harder when they had to and were rewarded by bringing home the pennant. As chief executive of this city I congratulate Harry Clark and his team on behalf of the citizens of Milwaukee. May they repeat their victory in 1914."
Pep Clark was invited to the stage and presented with "an immense pennant, the gift of the Traffic club." Manning Vaughan reported in the Sentinel that Clark "looked as though he would rather have lost the pennant" than make another speech. Choking back emotion, Clark thanked his hosts:
"Naturally I am elated over winning a pennant in my first year as manager, but the credit is due to the boys and not me. They fought a great fight and won by outgaming their opponents. We will be out there fighting again next year and with the same club, bolstered in a few places. I hope to win another pennant. Milwaukee has certainly treated us in fine style and I wish to thank this great gathering of fans for the honor they have done us here tonight."
The evening concluded with those same fans giving three cheers for every man on the team. "Yes," wrote Manning, "it's great to be a 'champeen'."

What a "great gathering," indeed. Milwaukee Journal cartoonist Fred Bernau best summed up the evening:

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