Friday, February 28, 2014

1999 Barrelman "Turn Ahead the Clock" Jersey on eBay

Out of all the colorful and occasionally zany uniforms the National League Milwaukee Brewers have worn in the last forty-plus seasons, few seem to have captured the imagination of fans more than the "Turn Ahead the Clock" jerseys worn in 1999.

For a game in Miami, the True Blue Brew Crew wore bold futuristic pull-over jerseys featuring their original logo, the Beer Barrel Man (nice to see he'll make it to the uniforms by 2021).

I'm frequently asked about these jerseys - in the days before ubiquitous internet commerce, when authentic jerseys can be bought before they even see the field, retail versions of this one were very hard to find. They were only available at the clubhouse shop in Brookfield Square and at County Stadium. Now there's one up for sale on eBay.

1999 "Turn Ahead The Clock" Russell Athletic Size 48

This is the genuine authentic Milwaukee Brewers 1999 "Turn Ahead The Clock"Jersey. Size 48 by Russell Athletic. This jersey may have been lightly worn. There are no snags, pulls, holes, tears or stains. The main color is royal blue with the barrelman graphic and gold short sleeves. Russell Athletic Authentic Diamond Collection 48 tag is sewn on the front lower left. Made in USA.

One of the most popular of the TATC jerseys with the 1947 Milwaukee Brewer swinging barrelman. No number on the reverse, a great fan jersey!!!

Don't see these come up too often. I already have one in my Brewer collection, perhaps you can add one to yours now. Happy bidding!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

From Ebbets Field Flannels - 1933 Brewers T-shirt

Our friends at Ebbets Field Flannels have added a new Brewers t-shirt to their offerings.
Milwaukee Brewers (AA) 1933 T-Shirt



The American Association Brewers started play in 1903, with the colorfully-named Jiggs Donahue leading the league in hitting. The club maintained a rabid fan base for half a century, until they were supplanted by the Boston Braves, who became the first MLB franchise in modern history to relocate. The Brewers name was revived in 1970 when the bankrupt Seattle Pilots moved to the Cream City.
  • American Association 
  • •Made in USA
$29.00 $21.00
It was actually 1902, but who's counting? And in any case, the shirt is very cool.

This might seem something of a wasted opportunity, using imagery from before the introduction of Owgust, the team's mascot logo. And while I still think ol' Owgust would look great on a reproduction jacket, these seemingly simple graphics have a history all their own.

Sharp-eyed readers will recognize the distinctive type: the shirt's graphics come from the team's 1933 score cards:

We looked at this card about a year and a half ago; the Brews' score cards were just about to move from a horizontal design to the magazine-style vertical one we expect to see today.

Ebbets has taken the various elements from the top of the 1933 card and re-arranged them to favor a t-shirt's more vertical design, without losing any of the original's hand-drawn charm.

(As an aside, I don't know if the good people in Seattle are readers of this blog, or if they came across the score card from another avenue, but just in case they're listening, I'm serious about that Owgust jacket!)

This 1933 Milwaukee Brewers t-shirt is on sale for $21.00. Check it out now; I've already ordered mine.

Friday, February 14, 2014

1915 Postcard?

This gorgeous postcard just sold on eBay. Postmarked April 2, 1915, it is listed as featuring our Milwaukee Brewers.

The front picture is amazing - never seen those sweaters with the white bands across the front.

The back of the postcard, however, casts some doubt.

It is labeled "The Kodak Shop, Owensboro, KY", although that seems to be a stamp more than publisher's mark (look at the way it overlaps "CORRESPONDENCE HERE"). Still, an odd notation for a Milwaukee Brewers postcard. The postmark is also Owensboro. Owensboro is about ninety miles west of Louisville, whose Colonels were stalwarts in the American Association. Is it possible that the photo was taken on a road trip?

Of course, it's also possible that the photo isn't of our Brewers at all. Let's take a closer look, see if we can make a determination.

We can start with the uniforms. I don't have a ready picture of the 1915 Brews in their uniforms, but there's no particular reason to believe it would be the 1915 club. The postmark, early in the year, suggests that the photo would have been 1914 or earlier. So let's look at the 1914 club. I do have a photo of that team, from the Milwaukee Sentinel and published in the paper when the Brews secured their second straight pennant.

The uniforms do seem to match, right down to the odd mismatch of wide stripes- and Northwestern-striped (thin/thick/thin) socks.

Also, some of the players appear to be wearing the thicker "M" from 1913, with its distinctive sword-notch down the middle. It had been replaced, at least on the home jerseys, by 1914.

When we compare our postcard to this team photo of the 1913 American Association pennant-winning Brews, we can see the earlier "M" in both photos.

The two monograms are a good match:

Of course, the 1913 home jerseys had simple piping while the postcard uniforms feature pinstipes. I've seen photos of road pinstriped uniforms from 1914, so that would seem to comport.

It's not unheard of to see these uniforms together, as seen in this photo:

1914 Photo courtesy of Rex Hamann
(Hand written names of Berg and Barbeau are reversed)

Home pinstripes and slender "M" (not unlike the one the Braves would adopt forty years later, road pinstripes with squat 1913-style "sword M".

So far so good. Of course, we could nail this down if only we could identify players in the postcard photo. And so we can.

Back row, seventh from the left in the postcard photo and middle row, fourth from the left in our 1913 photo - that's the unmistakeable visage of veteran first baseman Tom Jones.

Jones, who was 36 years old during the 1913 campaign, had been a major leaguer from 1904 through 1910, first for the St. Louis Browns and then the Detroit Tigers, where Brewer owner Charles Havenor had noticed him. Jones came to Milwaukee in 1911 and spent the last five seasons of his career in Brewer blue.

And that man next to him in the 1913 photo? Front row, third from right in the postcard? That looks like manager/third baseman Pep Clark.

So I think we can say at this point that yes, it is a photo of the Milwaukee Brewers. Likely of the 1914 team. And what a beauty it is. We also have an amazing new dugout item to add to our list of team gear, that blue sweater with bold white horizontal stripes.

The Kentucky connection, however, remains a mystery.

If you're the lucky new owner of this postcard, drop me a line. I'd love to talk to you about it.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

1936-37 Red Ball Gum Pennant

This felt pennant is one of the highlights of my collection. Although small in size—measuring just 4¼ by 2½ inches—it features a fantastic graphic and dynamic type treatment.

The pennant is made of soft burgundy felt with the design in cream-colored paint. I love how the name "Brewers" ripples like a flag in the breeze. That's appropriate, as it dates to 1936 or 1937, right about when the Brewers were .

The batter is very cool, leaping out of the box as he finishes his swing.

These pennants aren't particularly rare; every American Association Brewer collector I know has one. But the history of this item is very interesting.

This beauty wasn't sold at Borchert Field's concession stands. In fact, it wasn't available through the Brewers at all. It was manufactured for the Red Ball Sales Company, and packed with sticks of gum.

Robert Edward Auctions

Red Ball, based out of Chicago, came on to the national scene around 1936. The gum was sold by the stick, one penny each, out of boxes of one hundred.

Robert Edward Auctions

There they are, all lined up. The reddish envelopes above were special prizes. In every box of one hundred individually-wrapped sticks of gum, twenty-five were labeled "Lucky Sticks" on the inside of the wrapper, entitling the lucky chewer to a free pennant, as seen on this in-store advertisement:

The pennants themselves were gorgeous, and featured an incredible variety. As you might expect, the major leagues were well represented. There were several variations for each of the big league clubs, some with stock graphics and some team-specific.

Legendary Auctions

There doesn't seem to have been much importance placed on matching team colors, which is why our Brewers were given a burgundy-colored banner. The Brews may or may not have worn maroon in their early years, but by 1936 they were firmly established as a blue-with-red team.

There was one team-specific variation; after the Yankees won the 1936 World Series, a special pennant was issued to celebrate the Bronx Bombers' fifth title.

At the time, though, the majors consisted of sixteen teams in just ten cities. The rest of the country was represented by various levels of minor leagues, and as we can see those minor league clubs were included in Red Ball's promotion. And not just the American Association, but teams from other large junior circuits such as the International League and Southern Association.

Legendary Auctions

Red Ball also offered several series of player-specific pennants. Some had just team and player names, some had stock player graphics and some an autograph-like script:

Legendary Auctions

Red Ball also made pennants for a staggering number of colleges and universities - at least two hundred.

eBay: scoreboardclassics, mattsvintagepennants

That wasn't enough; Red Ball also dabbled in popular culture, immortalizing Hollywood stars and popular musicians:

Hake's Americana & Collectibles

The variety is just astounding, and I'm not sure anything on that scale has been seen since.

The party was unfortunately short-lived. Sometime after 1938, just about two years after they burst on to the scene, Red Ball went out of business. That was a tough year for the American economy, still in the throes of the Great Depression. Unemployment, already 14.3% in 1937, jumped to a stunning 19.0% in 1938. In human terms, that meant nearly twelve million Americans were out of work in 1938, and industrial production dropped sharply to match. It appears that Red Ball was one of the many casualties of its era, leaving behind a legacy of hundreds of miniature felt pennants.

There's one other bit of the Red Ball story worth noting; printed on the folder each mini pennant came in was this intriguing offer:

I have no idea what "reasonable facsimiles" would have referred to at the time, but send in twenty-five wrappers along with fifteen cents for a full-size version of a Red Ball pennant. Amazing. I've seen several major-league versions of these pennants, but I don't know for sure if the offerings ever extended to the minors and our Milwaukee Brewers. It's an amazing thought, that there might be a thirty-inch version of this beauty out there just waiting to be discovered.