Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Today in 1944 - The Brews Take a Double Header

Editor's Note: This is the latest in an occasional series of day-by-day looks at the Brewers' 1944 season. For a more complete review of the season as a whole, please check out Paul Tenpenny's fantastic overview.

Seventy years ago today, the Brewers played their first double header of 1944, a twin-bill with the Minneapolis Millers. The Brewers won both games; actually, they crushed the Millers, 11-0 and 16-0. The Milwaukee Journal had a cameraman on the scene, and he returned these photos (which were sadly published without a byline):
The Brewers Win Their First Double Header of the Season With a Journal Cameraman on the Job
As always, we'll take a closer look at the individual photos in the series.

One of Milwaukee's 27 runs, with Herschel Martin scoring on Pruett's short fly in the fourth inning, second game, as Catcher Mike Blazo drops the ball.
An excellent action photo. I love the cap flying off Martin's head and the ball bouncing away from the catcher's mitt.

The "grandstand managers" were out, wrapped in a blanket. Left to right are Mrs. Charles Sproull, Mrs. Herschel Martin, Mrs. Jack Farmer, players' wives.
Always good to have family in the park, much more so when you win convincingly.

Charley Sproull's two hit pitching for Milwaukee in the second game (seven innings) got him mobbed by young fans, most of them after his autograph.
Any shutout win presumes good pitching, but the Brewers' hurlers that day were exquisite. In the first game, Julio Acosta held opposing batters to six hits while recording eleven strikeouts, easily enough for the early American Association season best. As the caption notes, Charley Sproull was equally dominant in the second game as the Millers, allowing only two hits while fanning eight.

Third baseman Bill Nagel of the Brewers slides into third on Pruett's single in the sixth inning (first game). The Miller player is Frank Danneker.
That's a good look at the numbers the Brewers wore with their script "Brewers" jerseys. Heavily serifed (top and bottom of the "5"), in red felt outlined with blue.

Of course, the Milwaukee Sentinel had to have a camera there as well, and their shutterbug captured shortstop Dick Culler rounding third after belting the American Association's first home run of the season.

FIRST OF YEAR The Brewers' Manager Charley Grimm is shown shaking Dick Culler's hand as the latter rounds third base on his way home after belting the league's first round-tripper of the season Sunday against Minneapolis at Borchert field. The shortstop pounded out the circuit drive in the first inning of the first game.
Not content to sit in the dugout, Brewer manager Charley Grimm was often seen coaching third base. Here he gives Culler a handshake and slap on the back. Over Charley's shoulder, you can see the houses across 8th Street, marking Borchert Field as a truly neighborhood ballpark.

It was more than just "the first inning of the first game"; Culler was the first Brewer batter of the game, meaning the Brews took the lead from their first opportunity and never looked back.

They got off to an even better start in the second game, plating four runs in their half of the first inning.

First baseman Heinz Becker, recently re-acquired from the Chicago Cubs, drove in six runs, two in the first game and four on the second. Hal Peck batted .750 on the day, with three hits in each game.

The drubbing in that second game could have been worse; the second game was called after seven innings on account of rain. That rain would continue to fall on Milwaukee, forcing the cancellation of the next day's game.

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