Thursday, August 20, 2015

1948 Semi-Pro Tournament Flyer

Today we think of Borchert Field as the home of professional baseball before County Stadium, but it was much more than that; athletes of all levels were known to take the field. Starting in 1939, the Orchard hosted a state-wide semi-professional baseball tournament.

This four-page flyer was sent to raise interest and participation in the tournament. On the cover, the triumphant champions of 1947, the Kenosha Red Sox.

The inside front cover has a great photo of Borchert Field's unusual angled grandstand.

It also tells us about the tournament's structure.
Because of the tremendous growth of the state semi-pro tournament, the commissioner's office has divided the state into ten districts. Last year more than 60 clubs desired to enter that state championship competition but this number of teams could not be accomodated. This year champions will be taken from the various districts and brought to Milwaukee to compete for the state title.
This was part of a larger tournament system sanctioned by the National Baseball Congress. Each state held its own championship, sending a representative to the national tournament, held this year in Wichita, Kansas.

The two action photos on the side were obviously taken elsewhere, but the rest were shot at the Orchard. In the middle, you can see the combination of stadium and folding chairs. On the bottom, one of the Orchard's dugouts. I'm intrigued by the "M" jacket hanging over the bench; although almost certainly belonging to one of the semi-pro teams, that would have looked good for the Brewers.

We can see the majority of these District Commissioners in a photo published in the Milwaukee Sentinel earlier in the year.

MAP SEMI-PRO PLANS—Wisconsin commissioners met yesterday at the Medford Hotel to draw up plans for the State semi-pro district baseball tournaments. District winners wll play in the state finals at Borchert Field July 31-Aug. 3, with the state champ goin to the national tourney at Wichita, Kan. The lower row shows, left to right, Ed Needham, Milwaukee; Jack Rulle, Racine; Dick Falk, state commissioner, and Les Goerlinger, Clintonville. In the top row are, left to right, Earle Kidd, Owen; Jack Voll, Sauk City, and Irv Heus, New Holstein. (Sentinel photo)
Hmm. Between May and July, Earle Kidd was out and Les Winger of Oconomowoc was in. Strange; Oconomowoc and Owen are seven counties apart, practically on opposite sides of the state. I would love to see those district lines, but perhaps residency wasn't the number one requirement.

Looking over the list of District Commissioners and staff members, two names stand out.

Dick Falk was an industrialist and businessman whose family owned the Falk Corporation. He was also a great lover of baseball, who had been Commissioner since 1939. He would go on to co-found and run the Global World Series, an international competition of semi-pro teams held in Milwaukee in its first two seasons, 1955 and 1956.

Elmer Klumpp was a longtime journeyman who, aside from a combined seventeen games with the Senators and Dodgers, spent his career in the minors. And what a career it was! In his fifteen seasons he played for twenty teams in eleven leagues. One of those teams was our very own Brewers; he spent thirteen games in the Borchert Field home dugout in 1930. I don't know how Klumpp ended up in Milwaukee after his career ended, but eight years after he hung up his glove we find him here as a staff member for the Wisconsin State Semi-Pro Baseball Commission. Klumpp passed away in 1996 in Menomonee Falls.

The tournament came down to a title game between the reigning champion Kenosha Red Sox and the New Holstein Baseball Club. New Holstein knocked out the defending champs to take the state flag.

The Wisconsin State Semi-Pro Baseball Championship Tournament would continue to be held at Borchert Field every year until the park was closed following the 1952 season, when it transferred to the shiny new County Stadium.

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