Friday, January 17, 2014

Cubs Throw Back to 1937! Will the Brewers Follow Suit?

Just minutes ago, the Cubs unveiled the series of throwback uniforms they will be wearing next season for Wrigley Field's 100th Anniversary.

Here's the jersey they will wear on Sunday, May 18th, against the Milwaukee Brewers:

It's an excellent represenation of their 1937 uniform:

And, not incidentally, superior to their current cluttered mess.

So where would that leave the Brewers? Presuming that they will wear throwbacks of a similar vintage (which was the rumor I heard several months ago), they could be wearing something like this:

I believe those are indeed the road uniforms in the Radio Day promotional photo - contrast the relatively dark flannels with team president Louis Nahin's white shirt top row center.

Information on the Brews' uniform history is spotty, aside from what I've been able to piece together (I know, I'm working on it).

This photo, at right, of local phenom Ken Keltner (from the collection of Paul Tenpenny) was taken in Spring Training of 1937, but reflects what I believe was the 1936 road uniform. It wasn't unusual for the team to receive new uniforms right before Opening Day, presumably so they looked their best for the first home game.

In any case, this could be an exciting time for fans of the Brews. I'll keep my ear to the ground and let you know as soon as I get any new information....

Monday, January 13, 2014

Could the Brews Return in 2014?

The Brewers don't have any plans to hold another Turn Back the Clock event this season to honor the Brews (although 1914 and 1944 were both championship seasons). There is still a chance that our American Association Brewers might still make an appearance on a major league diamond, but if so it'll be a diamond ninety miles south of Borchert Field's old location.

This summer, the Chicago Cubs will be celebrating the 100th birthday of their ballpark, Wrigley Field with a series of special events. One of those events might hold the key to seeing the old Brewers in action (throwback games are scheduled, outfitted and managed by the home team).

This tidbit recently appeared on the Cubs' site, as beat reporter Carrie Muskat fielded questions from Chicago fans:
Will the Cubs ever change their look, even just a little? They need new uniforms. It's time for a change. -- Lisa M.

You will see some new looks this year as part of the Wrigley Field 100th anniversary celebration. The Cubs have partnered with Majestic Athletic to recreate throwback uniforms from significant events at the ballpark during each decade of Wrigley's history. The first is a copy of the 1914 Chicago Federals uniform, which will be worn on the 100th birthday game, April 23 against the D-backs. The remaining uniforms will be worn on a "Throwback Sunday" game for the corresponding decade. Visiting teams also will wear retro uniforms on those games.
Ah-ha. Interesting.

What we don't know is if every Sunday game at Wrigley will be designated a "Throwback Sunday" game, or if it will be limited to select days. But these are the teams scheduled to play in Chicago on Sundays during 2014:
  Sun, 4/6
Sun, 4/20
Sun, 5/4
Sun, 5/18
Sun, 6/8
Sun, 6/22
Sun, 6/29
Sun, 7/13
Sun, 7/27
Sun, 8/10
Sun, 8/24
Sun, 9/7
Sun, 9/21
If the 4/23 game will be the first Turn Back the Clock game, that rules out the Phillies game on April 6th and the Reds game on April 20th. But the Brewers will visit Wrigley less than a month later, indicating that throwbacks might indeed be on the schedule.

So if the Brewers are indeed to be the opponents in a game honoring "each decade of Wrigley's history", what might we expect to see? The odds seem good that they'd reach back into the American Association days. Those Brewers played exhibition games at Wrigley Field in the 1940s—in the days of manager Charlie Grimm and owner Bill Veeck, the two clubs were closely related—so that's a strong possibility.

This is mere speculation on my part, but it's fun to guess. I'll keep following the announcements and will let you know once any such game has been announced.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

"The Brewers Expect to Tango Their Way to 1914 Championship"

We're starting our 1914 season in review a little earlier this year, with a look at a delightful article from the Milwaukee Journal published on January 11, 1914:



While the local Radiator league are batting about eight hundred and umpty umpty, smoking large pipes of Federal "okum," they have overlooked the best bet of all - the new dances. It has been learned on pretty good authority that several of the Brewers, during the winter, have taken to the new steps and just a glance at some of their capers, would lead one to believe that Milwaukee has the pennant won before they start.

In Paulding, Ohio, Harry Clark has gone mad over the Tango. Yes, sir, dippy is the word. Harry says that he has a set of steps that he expects to use around third base that will bewilder the heaviest sticker in the association. Clark is working on what he calles the "Altizer Hesitation," and promises to use only his feet in executing it.

Little Johnny Hughes has rented a barn on the outskirts of the city and while none have been able to see him in action, except his one man orchestra, John expects to charm the umpire with what he calls his "Catch-as-Catch-Can-Can."

Tom Dougherty promises a real surprise. Tom is caretaker over at Slapnicka's Parch Parlor and when not coaxing a beer out of the icebox or mixing up a brown soda, is hard at it, rehearsing his "Snit Snitsky," which he claims will cause the best batters in the league to clout wildly at nothing.


Little or nothing can be learned of Tom Jones, but an unconfirmed rumor has wandered into the office to the effect that Tom has missed several nights of good sleep, struggling with the "Dippy Dip." If properly danced it is said that a runner after making a hit, seeing the dance, stops dead in his tracks as if suddenly hypnotized and becomes an easy out. Here is hoping that Tom dances it properly.

Phil Lewis takes time out, only for meals perfecting what he calls the "Terrible Twitch," and he says that if he can muster it, there will be no stealing on the Brewers next year, as the steps strike terror into any runner that has overcome Jones "Dippy Dip: and reached first. In fact, Phil says that it will take a brave man to even advance to second on a hit.

Randall, who has charge of a herd of pin boys over at the Eagles' Club, is battling with a new one called the "Fly Ball Flip" and states that in a pinch he can take care of the entire outfield as the steps take him all over the lot.

All the other players promise to kick in with some new dances of this winter look like a man with rheumatism and gout in a wooden leg, trying to run a hundred yards in ten seconds.

From a new dance standpoint, next year will be a winner and gossip has it that President Timme of the Milwaukee club combined pleasure with business in his trip abroad, looking for the very latest in fancy steps. If the above reports carry any truth, Secretary Nahin is making arrangements with the fire department to flood the field in the middle of the game, so as to cool it off a bit after a few innings of these dances.

And let's take a look at the graphic that accompanies it:

A little context: the tango had come to the United States the year earlier, becoming all the rage in New York in 1913. Very au courant for the Journal to reference it.

So what can we learn from this article, other than purple prose was alive and well in 1914? I admit that I find it all rather dense, but it's exciting to see interest being churned up months before Spring Training.

Within months, the Brewers would re-assemble to defend their American Association championship. And perhaps work on their dancing at the same time.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Late 1940s Television Broadside

This cardboard broadside was recently sold at auction:

Lot #226: 1947-52 Milwaukee Brewers Gimbels Department Store 17" x 21" Radio/TV Broadside

Offered is a broadside letting fans of the Milwaukee Brewers baseball club, then a minor league affiliate of the Boston Braves in the American Association, know what their options were for catching a game on tv or the radio if they couldn't make it down to Borchert Field in person.

Sign measures 17" x 21" and reads as follows, "Gimbels Brings You Brewers Baseball Play-By-Play on Radio WEMP featuring Mickey Heath and Television WTMJ-TV featuring Larry Clark" over a green diamond with a baseball scene featuring a sliding runner, a middle infielder and an umpire.

Radio voice Mickey Heath played with the Cincinnati Reds in 1931 & 1932 and also served as the Brewers player/manager in 1939 among numerous other minor league stops while TV Man Larry Clark was the first to broadcast play by play of baseball games in the state of Wisconsin. Broadside remains in good to very good overall condition with a few small areas of staining present.
Mickey Heath is well known to our readers. He come to Milwaukee as a first baseman in 1937. In November of 1938, club president Henry Bendinger fired club skipper Alan Sothoron and made Heath a player/manager. Heath did both jobs at the Orchard for a year and a half until he too was relieved of his managerial duties partway through the 1940 season, at which point he quit altogether. He went into radio and was hired back in 1942 as a part-time coach and full-time radio man. He was the voice of the Brewers through 1950.

On the television side, Larry Clark started with the club in 1948, not 1947. In that year, Milwaukee only had an estimated 700 television sets, most of them in taverns. WTMJ was only the eleventh commercial television station in the United States, and Milwaukee was the seventh American city to have its own station. In those early days, Clark was paid $10 a game to sit in a small booth on the Borchert Field roof and call play-by-play to fans gathered around those few hundred sets in bars and appliance store windows. According to reports, there were no Brewer broadcasts in 1951 or 1952, which sets an upper date of 1950.

Visually, it's interesting but not terribly impressive. It's three-color printing with stock graphics (a "B" team versus a "C" team? They couldn't be bothered to airbrush in a Milwaukee "M"?). As a piece of Milwaukee's baseball and media history, on the other hand, it's invaluable.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Our Resolutions for 2014

As we turn the page to 2014, I'd like to begin by apologizing for our light December. Big things happening on our sister site, the Green Bay Packers Uniform Database. We have a total rebranding in the works over there, and it's caused a slowdown in our production for But not to worry - we have lots of exciting things on tap for the New Year.

2014 is the 70th Anniversary of Casey Stengel's time at the Orchard, not to mention the Brews' fifth pennant, and second of what would become three in a row. We'll have full coverage of that amazing season, from the first pitch at the Orchard to the final inning of the playoffs. If you enjoyed our "This time in 1913" series from last summer, there'll be a lot more for you to like.

This is also the 70th Anniversary of Milwaukee's short-lived entry in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, known variously as the "Chicks" or "Schnitts". And yes, I did suggest to the Brewers that they consider a Turn Back the Clock event to honor the team.

In any case, we expect 2014 to be a very big year here at, and we're honored to invite you to join us.