Tuesday, November 24, 2015

"Meet Milwaukee's New Mr. Baseball", 1950

This beaming fellow is Bob Coleman, who in early 1950 was introduced to the press as the Brewers' new manager.

The former catcher had been managing in the Braves' system for thirteen years; he started as the skipper of their Class A club in 1937 before taking over their affiliate in Evansville, Indiana the following year. He was given a chance to manage the big club in 1943, but after finishing 68-85, 65-89, and 67-85 in his first three seasons, they shipped him back to the Evansville Braves.

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.

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