Thursday, December 31, 2015
Thanks for joining us on a fantastic voyage through Milwaukee's baseball history this past year.
We have lots of great things coming up in 2016, including the 80th Anniversary of the 1936 American Association pennant. See you then!
Monday, December 21, 2015
This wondefully festive graphic is Owgust, the original Beer Barrel Man, in one of his many guises.
The scan comes from Brewer News, the club newsletter: Volume 3, Number 1, the December '44 issue. Brewer News was a four-page newsletter published throughout the season (and occasionally in the off-season) to keep fans appraised of the latest news and upcoming events. At this particular Christmastime, it was also used to sell season ticket packages for the upcoming 1945 campaign.
The cover page gives us the ticket details ($43.00 bought exclusive rights to a box seat for every home game in 1945) as well as Owgust in his Santa suit. The normally black-and-white newsletter was given a seasonally-appropriate splash of color:
This issue of Brewer News also reveals Borchert Field's street address - 3000 North 8th Street, and the team's telephone number - COncord 3180.
The interior spread introduced the fans to Nick Cullop, the Brews' second new manager in as many years. Cullop was familiar to the Orchard's patrons from his regular visits as the Columbus manager in 1943 and 1944. In those two years, he led his Red Birds to a very respectable 170-134 record. The fans also surely remembered Cullop from the 1944 All-Star Game, played at Borchert Field. In those days, the format was Association All-Stars against the reigning champs, which happened to be the Brewers. Guided by Cullop, the All-Stars cruised to an 18-0 whalloping of the mighty hometown Brewers, their most embarrassing loss of an otherwise sterling championship season.
Cullup replaced Casey Stengel, whose single season in Milwaukee was marked by success on the field and constant conflicts with team administration off it.
The interior spread also includes a preliminary roster for 1945 and a handsome headshot of Marine Private First Class (not to mention Brewer President and owner) Bill Veeck in his dress blues. Veeck was in the Corona Naval Hospital in California, recovering from wounds sustained in action.
The back page introduced two new players to the Brews' upcoming lineup - Bill Burgo and Lew Flick.
The men were acquired from the the Philadelphia A's as part of the deal for Brewer hero Hal Peck. Neither would last long in Milwaukee - Burgo was sent down to the Little Rock Travelers during Spring Training of 1946, and Flick followed him to Arkansas in May, after playing the first 21 games of '46 in Brewer blue.
With the news of wheeling and dealing, a brief look backwards and a great gaze into the team's future, this issue of Brewer News sustained the Cream City hopeful during that 1944/45 Hot Stove league and beyond.
There is a message on the interior pages which is as relevant to us today as it did to those fans who received this issue hot off the presses:
"Owgust and the entire Borchert Field force wish you and yours a merry, merry Christmas and the best for the new year."
Sunday, December 13, 2015
The Milwaukee Brewers have a special holiday present for anyone who buys a 4-pack of tickets to see the Brew Crew at Miller Park next summer.
The 4-Packs are now on sale, and it's a great deal:
Starting at just $60 and featuring tickets to four of the season's most popular games - including Free-Shirt Fridays, All-Fan Sundays and rivalry games against the Cubs, Cardinals and Twins - Brewers Holiday 4-Packs are more attractive than ever before! Choose from four outstanding set plans or build your own 4-Pack with the flexible Fan's Choice Plan. Plus, if you're giving this as a gift, you can even allow your recipient to pick their own games at a later date.a stadium giveaway bobblehead in 2008 and then again as a costumed mascot earlier this year. I happen to prefer the updated version, and not only because the design was mine.
As if that wasn't enough, every pair of 4-Packs also comes with a free Barrelman ornament! Hurry - Holiday 4-packs are only on sale through December 21.
I suppose this is good news in any case, that the mascot is a success, the logo still has resonance and we'll keep seeing more of them in 2016 and beyond.
Brilliant. I have to get one.
The Brewers did dampen my enthusiasm ever-so-slightly with this follow-up tweet:
Just to clarify - It’s a Barrelman ornament that comes with a pair of Holiday 4-Packs. Not the actual Barrelman. https://t.co/nHyo7wCNzl— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) December 11, 2015
Darn it! And I had just made a (very large) hole in my tree's decorations for him!
Here are more details on the ticket plans:
Fans will be able to choose from five great 4-Pack options, including the popular Weekend Plan. If shoppers order by Friday, December 18, their 4-Packs will be delivered in time for Christmas, ready to give to any Brewers fan on the shopping list.
This holiday season, the Brewers are offering a free Barrelman ornament gift-with-purchase to fans with every pair of 4-Packs ordered.
Brewers Holiday 4-Packs include many of the most anticipated games of the 2016 season. Three of the four set plans include at least one Giveaway date. The new Double-Bobble Plan guarantees fans a Vintage Bobble in a 1980s Uniform and a Jimmy Nelson Bobble. Back by popular demand, the Fan’s Choice Plan allows fans to select four games of their choice from an assortment of 38 games.
The Fan’s Choice Plan makes the perfect gift this holiday season. Fans can gift the plan to that special someone and the recipient can pick out four games from a list of 38 possible dates that are most convenient for them. The plan offers several great matchups including the Thursday, June 9 contest against the National League champion New York Mets, multiple games against the division-rival St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs and Interleague contests against the Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Angels. This plan also contains the Craig Counsell Bobble on Sunday, August 14.
Holiday 4-Packs range in price from $60 – $168 and are available in the Field Outfield Box, Club Outfield Box, Loge Infield Box, Loge Outfield Box, Terrace Box, Loge Bleachers and Terrace Reserved seat locations. All tickets are subject to availability while supplies last. Pricing is as follows and includes one ticket to each of four separate games:
Location: 4-Pack Prices: Field Outfield Box $168 Club Outfield Box $168 Loge Infield Box $168 Loge Outfield Box $136 Terrace Box $100 Loge Bleachers $96 Terrace Reserved $60
Standard shipping and handling fees apply. Advance parking packages are also available. To make a purchase, call (414) 902-HITS (4487) or visit Brewers.com/4packs. For information on all other ticket plans, call (414) 902-4090. The schedule for the 2016 Holiday 4-Packs is listed below.
2016 Holiday 4-Packs
|Wednesday, May 4||Los Angeles Angels (I)||12:40 p.m.|
|Thursday, June 30||Los Angeles Dodgers||1:10 p.m.|
|Thursday, July 28||Arizona Diamondbacks||1:10 p.m.|
|Thursday, August 11||Atlanta Braves||1:10 p.m.|
|Friday, April 8||Houston Astros (I)||7:10 p.m.|
|Friday, June 10||New York Mets||7:10 p.m.||Free-Shirt Friday|
|Friday, July 22||Chicago Cubs||7:10 p.m.||Free-Shirt Friday|
|Friday, August 26||Pittsburgh Pirates||7:10 p.m.||Free-Shirt Friday|
|Saturday, May 14||San Diego||6:10 p.m.|
|Sunday, June 26||Washington Nationals||1:10 p.m.||Greg Vaughn in 1990s Uniform Bobble|
|Sunday, July 24||Chicago Cubs||1:10 p.m.|
|Saturday, August 27||Pittsburgh Pirates||6:10 p.m.|
Double Bobble Plan:
|Sunday, April 10||Houston Astros (I)||1:10 p.m.||Vintage Bobble in 1980s Uniform|
|Wednesday, May 18||Chicago Cubs||7:10 p.m.|
|Sunday, July 31||Pittsburgh Pirates||1:10 p.m.||Jimmy Nelson Pitching Bobble|
|Saturday, August 13||Cincinnati Reds||6:10 p.m.|
(I) = Interleague Game
Tuesday, December 8, 2015
"Just like old times," explained Pvt. Bill Veeck, president of the Milwaukee Brewers as he took advantage of a leave to attend the minor league convention in Buffalo. With him is his new manager, Nick Cullop. Veeck is seeking to strengthen his outfield.As the caption notes, Veeck was on a 30-day leave from the Marine Corps, after being severely wounded in action in the South Pacific. He had been released from the naval hospital in Corona, California just a few days before.
From his hospital bed, Cullop had just weeks before been hired away from Columbus. He had been the Red Birds' skipper when they clobbered the Brews 18-0 in the 1944 All-Star Game, and Veeck had long admired the way he handled his players.
For his own part, Cullop was amazed at the speed with which his new boss worked. He told the Sporting News:
"I've never seen a guy do business like Veeck. I'm not used to seeing a club president spend money so freely. I heard a lot about him while I managed at Columbus, but man, you have to be around Veeck to believe what you've heard and read about him. He's a big leaguer in the double-A circuit."This is particularly impressive considering how much trouble he was having even walking. The wounds in his leg had not yet healed, and in fact Veeck would return to Corona on New Year's Eve for further treatment.
Paul Dickson, in his excellent book Bill Veeck: Baseball's Greatest Maverick, tells us about the next stop on Veeck's winter tour:
Veeck next traveled to New York City for the Major League Winter Meetings beginning on December 12 to see and be seen. Writing about him in the New York Times, Arthur Dailey described Veeck as easily the "most striking" figure at the gathering. "Young Bill leaned on his cane, his face lined and drawn, but the usual cheery smile on his lips. Veeck joked that due to a pay glitch, he had only received $40 from the Marines so far, so he took the money and blew it at Toots Shor's.Veeck was indeed able to secure some help for his outfield, laying the foundation for the deal that would eventually send the Buffalo Bisons' power slugger Ed "Shovels" Kobesky to Borchert Field. That deal is a story in itself, a story for another time.
Friday, November 27, 2015
Kicking it off, our friends at Ebbets Field Flannels in Seattle have just introduced a new Milwaukee Brewers shirt for us to add to our wish list.
Milwaukee Brewers Clubhouse ShirtEbbets has used that graphic before, on a royal blue t-shirt (which is still available on their site). The image itself comes from the team's 1933 score cards.
History: One of the most interesting things about the original minor league Brewers was their ballpark. The oddly-configured Borchert Field was built in 1887 and featured left and right field corners of only 266 feet. But the rectangular shape of the outfield made center field home runs nearly impossible. When the legendary Bill Veeck owned the team he installed a motor on the right field fence to move it back when the visiting team was up to bat. A rule was quickly passed outlawing this stunt.
I love the style of this new shirt. These contrasting-raglan sleeves are quintessential baseball.
As for using this graphic again, I don't wish to appear churlish; I do appreciate that Ebbets Field is giving us new Brewers merchandise. But that 1933 graphic is hardly the most uninspiring image in the Brews' history; how much cooler would that Clubhouse Shirt be if they used an Owgust graphic, such as this one from the club's 1950 letterhead?
Maybe if we all continue to support Ebbets Field Flannels, we can see something like that in the future. They certainly deserve our support; they're a great business, run by real baseball fans. We need them to continue to do well to keep this sort of merchandise alive at all. The only way we'll get more Brews merchandise is to show them there's a market for it.
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Four years later, they were ready to give him another promotion, and Boston Braves general manager John Quinn brought Coleman to Milwaukee to take over the top minor league affiliate.
The Milwaukee Journal liked this picture enough to splash it over a half-page on Sunday, February 5, 1950:
It's a nice fit, Bob Coleman finds as he tries on his Brewer uniform for thr first time. The new manager, from Evansville, Ind., is pictured on his first visit to Milwaukee when he met the press and radio. Next month his hopefuls begin training in Texas.Interesting; our copy of the photo is cropped, and you can't see the tail of the "Brewers" script. But what a gorgeous jersey it is.
That's the classic "Brewers" script in red trimmed with navy against the cream-colored flannel. The wordmark was first introduced by Bill Veeck in 1942, the first time the nickname had been featured on the jerseys. They gave him an old jersey for the press conference; by Opening Day these uniforms had been replaced with a wordmark in the same style as the parent club.
Coleman wouldn't be smiling so broadly for long. Under his leadership the Brews stumbled to a .444 finish and 6th place in the American Association. That 68-85 record was the exact same as the Boston Braves his first year in charge there, but Quinn wasn't willing to give Coleman the same three years he had been granted in Boston. "Milwaukee's New Mr. Baseball" was once again sent back to Evansville, where he managed for seven more years before retiring.
To restore Milwaukee's place at the top of minor-league baseball, Quinn brought back former Brewers manager Charlie Grimm as skipper and longtime coach Red Smith as GM. Jolly Cholly and Red immediately turned things around in 1951, finishing with a 94-57 record, a seventh American Association pennant and a Little World Series trophy.
Friday, November 20, 2015
It's a cluttered mess of symbols representing the city's history, culture, industry and architecture. Among other things.
In the upper-left quadrant of the gear, we find an image of a red-skinned Native American wearing a headdress. Officially, that's there as a tribute to the tribes who first settled the region, but many have singled it out as being more a tip of the (baseball) cap to the Milwaukee Braves. There's a certain amount of sense to that, since the flag was designed in 1953 and 1954, when the Cream City was absolutely crazy about her brand-new Braves.
Makes me wonder; if the flag had been designed just a few years earlier, when the Brews were the city's beloved baseball team, might we be seeing a slightly different flag flying today?
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
There is some question as to whether this was the initial 1952 construction or the later second-deck expansion. Here's the photo by itself:
I don't know enough about construction techniques to speak with any authority. It looks as though they are installing the seats, which would solidly place this photo in 1952/early 1953. We do know that by January of 1953 the stadium was almost ready for the Brewers to move in. But is is possible that they are removing the seats to clear the way for a new addition? Did they have to do that, or could they build around them?
Interestingly, that corner of the double-decker grandstand is the same part of County Stadium later chosen for inclusion in the glut of local symbols that is Milwaukee's city flag.
But more on that next week....
UPDATE: Mystery solved:
@BorchertField This picture was taken in the spring of 1954 as additional seating was being built along the 1st base line.— Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) November 17, 2015
Monday, November 16, 2015
Let's take a closer look at the two pictures.
Kloza Safe on Triple—Phil Wishes Al Luck
JACK KLOZA gave the opening day crowd at Borchert Field one of its thrills in the third inning when he pounded out a triple and hit the dirt going into third base. Kreevich is shown trying for the out. The umpire is Johnson.That could be the cap we were wondering about, that Brewer trainer Doc Buckner was wearing in the 1937 photo.
Navy cap, white block "M", white squatchee. Minor mystery solved.
The second photo shows the classic confluence of baseball and politics, as the mayor and governor were both in attendance that day.
The lower picture shows Gov. Phil La Follette, who came in from Madison to pitch the first ball to Mayor Dan Hoan, wishing Manager Al Sothoron a lot of luck. (Journal Staff Photo)Governor La Follette, known simply as "Phil" to many Wisconsinites, was just beginning his second go-around in the Wisconsin Governor's Mansion. He had served in the office from 1931-33. After losing the Republican primary in 1932, he co-founded the Wisconsin Progressive Party with his brother and ran again in the next election. He had been sworn in just three months before heading down to Borchert Field.
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Tonight, Milwaukee is the center of the country's political world—the Republican half of it at least—as the would-be GOP candidates for President gather for a debate at the historic Milwaukee Theatre.
Nearly seventy years ago, on October 14, 1948, the Cream City was visited by another important political figure, as President Harry S. Truman came through on a campaign stop, part of a quick swing through Wisconsin. The Milwaukee Sentinel characterized Truman's trip as a "determined, eleventh-hour bid for the state's 12 electoral votes." The state Democratic Party chose an outdoor venue for his speech: our very own Borchert Field.
When the President and his family arrived at the downtown train station at 7:27 p.m., they were met by a motorcade that drove them to the Orchard. An estimated 75,000 Milwaukeeans lined the streets to watch the First Family drive by, and they were met at the ballpark by a huge political rally with 11,000 cheering fans.
Getting an early start in his political life, partisan James Mondry, 9, of 534 W. Chambers st., marched in front of the crowd at the President Truman rally at Borchert field Thursday night with this homemade sign.The Milwaukee Journal had excellent coverage of the festivities:
This amazing photo was taken inside Borchert Field itself, showing how they set up the platform and chairs in the infield.
Milwaukee was host to President Truman Thursday night and a crowd estimated at more than 11,000 heard him make a major campaign talk at Borchert field. The arrow points to the president on the speakers' stand. Democratic officeholders and candidates occupied most of the seats on the stand. Note how police faced toward the crowd. —All Journal StaffThe second shows the President preparing to leave.
An untold number of flashlight bulbs were shot off by photographers. Some of them are shown near the president's car as it started a swing around the field after the speech.Drove his car around the field? Good thing the Brewers' season was over.
Not to be outdone, the Sentinel's cameras also captured the action:
Their photos haven't been preserved so well in the archives, but you can they're looking at the crowd from a different angle:
That was taken from atop the grandstand roof behind home plate. The police officer is standing in front of the Brewers' dugout, on the third base side.
After finishing his remarks, the President was driven to the Pfister Hotel for a brief reception before boarding a train for Chicago.
Eleventh-hour or otherwise, the swing helped, and Truman carried Wisconsin 50.70% to Thomas Dewey's 46.28% (the Progressive Party candidate received just under 2% and the Socialist just under 1%). This was all part of a come-from-behind victory that still remains the standard for political shockers.
Wednesday, November 4, 2015
To citizens of Milwaukee, this war must have seemed impossibly remote. But the following May, the Cream City found itself facing a small but curious reverberation of that conflict from the other side of the globe.
Setting aside the regrettable dog-whistle language about "polite Chinese", it's a fascinating story. This is the flag that caused their confusion, the flag the Brewers would fly over their downtown office to announce home games:Downtown Building Nearly Involved in Sino-Japanese War
Milwaukee property owners have international complications, as well as high taxes and local troubles, to worry about these days.
Joe Mallon, superintendent of the Plankington Building, Saturday received a protest from Milwaukee Chinese that the building was unduly favoring Japan in the current oriental war.
The Chinese, it seems, believed that the baseball flag, which flies above the building when the Brewers' team is playing at home, is the Japanese flag. The baseball banner has a white field with a red center, similar to Japan's "rising sun" flag. Mallon explained this to the protesters.
The polite Chinese apologized for their mistake.
A little confusion seems reasonable enough.
So how did this flag-flying tradition come about? It started in 1913, although the original "Game Today" flag looked a little different:
The flag was the brainchild of Brewer minority owner/business manager Bill Armour; who in the days leading up to 1913's Opening Day announced that a special flag would be flown over the Majestic Building on Wisconsin Avenue—"a white flag with a blue ball in the center"—on days when the Brewers were to play a home game at Athletic Park. No flag on scheduled game days signified a postponement. For fans a bit closer to Athletic park, he intended to line the grandstand roof with "a dozen or more" smaller pennants on game days.
This may have been a last-minute addition for 1913 (Armour had only taken over baseball operations the previous January); the day before the first scheduled game, the Milwaukee Journal reported that the flag might not be ready to fly.
Arrangements were made this morning by Business Manager Armour to keep the fans informed each day as to whether there is to be a game or not, by displaying a white flag with a blue ball in the center from the flagpole on the Majestic building. There is some question as to whether this flag with be ready for tomorrow, but after that it can be depended upon each day.The Milwaukee Sentinel was especially positive, declaring that Armour's innovation "will prove of great convenience to the fan and will save many a fruitless journey to Athletic park during the season."
|The Majestic Building circa 1910|
We may never know if the flag wasn't ready for the first game, as heavy rains settled in over Milwaukee and pushed the opening back two days. But when the rain stopped, the Brewers were prepared. Armour's blue-and-white flag went up for the first time on Saturday, April 12, 1913, telling fans all over downtown that the first Brewer game of the season was on.
The new flag on the Majestic Building, which will inform the fans when the Brewers are playing, did its first service yesterday.I'm struck by the simplicity of the design, its abstraction.
It reminds me of a maritime flag, a symbol capable of conveying great import to people in the know while being utterly opaque to the uninitiated (like our Chinese-American friends). Had this flag been introduced a few decades later, I would expect the Brewers to have flown a slightly more on-the-nose design:
Then again, if Bill Veeck had been the owner behind it instead of Bill Armour, the flag might have looked more like this:
It's unclear when Armour's "Game Today" flag fell out of favor, but at some point its use was discontinued. That is, until June of 1934, when the Brewers moved their offices out of the Majestic and down the street to the seventh floor of the Plankinton Building.
With the new location came an opportunity to revive an old tradition, and the Brewers brought their flag out of mothballs.
This might also have been the point when the flag switched from a blue dot to red.Baseball Flag Flies Again
The white flag with its big round spot will fly again when the Brewers are at home and a game is to go on. The baseball flag used to fly over the Majestic Building when the club's office was there. Then the custom was abandoned for a time. The picture shows Mercedene Foster and Mavis Strehlow hoisting it on the Plankington Arcade flagpole Friday. (Journal Staff Photo)
Flying a "Game Today" flag is a quaint tradition from an era before mass communication, when fans could look to the skyline to see if their club was playing.
or do the Brewers have a home game today?
Monday, November 2, 2015
Brewers That Were
Milwaukee is well represented on the Kaw this season, as four former Brewers are striving to put Kansas City on the baseball map. Joe Hauser, the mainspring of the Kay See club, is a native of Milwaukee and Eddie Schaack, one of the club's leading pitchers, is also a resident of this city. Ginger Shinault and frank McGowan, the other two stalwarts shown above are also former members of the Milwaukee club. Reading from left to right, they are McGown, Schaack, Hauser, Shinault.
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
It is a rare opportunity to see some early-20th century Brews in action, as the Cream City club had contributed three starting position players to that 1917 White Sox squad:
- Oscar "Happy" Felsch was Chicago's starting center fielder. A local Milwaukee boy, Felsch was a member of the 1913 and 1914 pennant-winning Brewer squads, going to the Sox in 1915. By 1917 he was a true star. He was later banned from baseball for his part in throwing the 1919 World Series, the only one of the infamous "Eight Men Out" who ever wore a Brewer uniform. Felsch came home to live the rest of his life in Milwaukee, where he owned a grocery store and a tavern.
- Catcher Ray Schalk, widely considered the best catcher in the majors, had played for the Brews in 1911 and the first half of 1912 before being sold to the White Sox in late July for $10,000. He played nineteen years in the majors, all but the last with the Sox. Schalk moved into managing and was the skipper of the Buffalo Bisons in 1936, when the Brewers beat them to win the Junior World Series. He would return to Milwaukee for a brief managerial stint with the Brews in 1940, and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955.
- Outfielder Nemo Leibold had a more circuitous route from Milwaukee to Chicago than either of his two teammates. He was a Brewer in 1911 and 1912 before moving to the Cleveland Indians, who traded him to the Sox during the 1915 season. After his playing days were over, he had two managerial stints in the American Association; first with the Columbus Red Birds (1928-32) and the second with the Louisville Colonels (1944-48).
- Backup first baseman Ted Jourdan was a frequent visitor to Athletic Park; he had a solid five-year career with the Minneapolis Millers (1919, 1922-24) after leaving Chicago. In the middle of the 1924 season, he got to see the home dugout when the Millers loaned him to the Brewers for 14 games.
- Lefty Dave Danforth pitched for the Brewers in 1926. He won seventeen games that season, including two during the club's 21-game winning streak. He struggled at the beginning of 1927, and just weeks into the season (and following the sudden death of team owner Otto Borchert) he was shipped off to New Orleans of the Southern Association.