Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Vintage Brew: Jack Weisenburger

"Sunday May 14, 1950" Revisited
By Paul F. Tenpenny
Copyright 2008/2016 Tencentzports
Printed with Permission of the Author

Jack Weisenburger's career in baseball was a brief one. He never made it to the "Bigs," but he did play for the American Association Milwaukee Brewers from 1949-1951. In 1950 while playing for Milwaukee, Jack wore uniform #14, significant to me as it was part of my collection. I was curious to learn who he was and at least spell his name correctly.

1950 Program photo of Jack "Weissenburger" (sic)
Baseball Reference sums up his baseball career:
John Weisenburger played part or all of three seasons in AAA.
Weisenburger played for a University of Michigan football team that was ranked first in the nation by the Associated Press by in 1947. He hit .313 and slugged .476 in his pro debut for the 1948 Pawtucket Slaters. He tied for 8th in the New England League with eight triples. In '49, he was with the Denver Bears (.294/?/.475 in 93 G) and Milwaukee Brewers (0 for 2). He was Milwaukee's main third baseman for the 1950 season, hitting .241/.322/.404 with 13 home runs in his only full AAA campaign. Weisenburger split 1951 between Milwaukee (0 for 3) and the Evansville Braves (.277/?/.404 in 60 G). With the '52 Tulsa Oilers, he batted .230/.326/.343 to end his baseball career.
According to the 1950 edition of Who's who in the American Association:

John Edward Weisenburger-Infielder Born at Muskegon, Michigan. Aug.2, 1927. Height 6 feet, 1 inch; weight, 180 pounds. Bats, right; throws, right-handed. Nickname "Jack." Married, Feb.11, 1950, to Sally Carnahan of Mt. Pleasant, Mich. Nationality, German-English descent. Was all-around athlete at Muskegon Heights High School and played four seasons of football and baseball at University of Michigan. Graduated of University of Michigan,1948. Teaches and coaches at Muskegon during the off season. Signed to first professional contract with Pawtucket, R. I., Club of New England League by Marty Purtell, Boston Braves Scout, in 1948. Hobby, all athletics. Calls football favorite spectator sport.
Autographed University of Michigan card
(Author's Collection)
Autographed University of Michigan
1947 National Champions card
(Author's Collection)
Here is a 1950 Scorecard showing Jack at 3rd base wearing home #14 for the Brews.

1950 Milwaukee Brewers Scorecard "Weiss" (sic) 3b #14
(Author's Collection)
I recently came upon a batch of original, albeit yellowed copies of bound Milwaukee Journal newspapers from the 1950's. One of them included an article by sports reporter, Sam Levy, for his "On the First Bounce" column. This is an insightful look at a young player's view of his upcoming season with the Brews.

"On the First Bounce by Sam Levy"
May 14, 1950
Stage Fright Ends

Columbus Ohio-The train carrying the Brewers was streaking along at a high speed.. Most of the boys were playing cards. Sitting alone and reading was Jack Weisenburger, former Michigan Fullback. "Are you over your stage fright?" The reporter asked Weisenburger. "I guess so," He answered with a smile. "I don't feel nervous anymore at bat or in the field. A few base hits can give you some confidence. And I feel at ease at 3rd base. I don't care where I play, but I don't like to be shifted around. Ever since I got into pro ball, I've shuttled between second, short or third, with an occasional start in the outfield. When I was in college I used to tell my coach, Ray Fisher, that I preferred the outfield. He used me in the infield. I guess he knew best. Fisher is a great coach. He's a former big league pitcher; with the Cincy Reds when they won the pennant in 1919."

A few years ago, while a junior at Michigan, Weisenburger played summer ball in the Northern League, a semi pro circuit in Vermont under Fisher's management. "I played under the name of Burger" said Weisenburger, his face beaming. I didn't fool anyone though. Everywhere I played people asked 'when are you going back to play football at Michigan?' I didn't know what they meant. Did I get paid? Well I got expenses, I guess. A fellow has to eat you know."

Faced Robin Roberts
The best pitcher he ever faced in his college days, said Weisenburger was Robin Roberts, currently rated one of the top hurlers in the National League. Roberts who received a $26,000 bonus to sign with the Philly Nationals attended Michigan State while Weisenburger was at Michigan. "Every time he got the chance, Roberts used to spend as much time as he could with Fisher." Weisenburger explained. "Fisher liked Roberts as much as any of his own players and told him quite a lot about pitching. And in the spring, Roberts would beat us without any trouble. Recently I read a magazine story in which Roberts gave Fisher credit for his success as a big league pitcher."

A Lot of Injuries
Three years of college football were less harmful to Weisenburger than his first two seasons in baseball he declared. Last year he missed 50 games with the Denver Western league club because of injuries. In June, 1949, he suffered a fractured ankle and was out for a month. Two weeks after e got back into the line-up he was hit by a pitch and his right thumb was fractured. "I was never hurt much in high school and college football, "added Weisenburger. "Now I would like to get a full season in at 3rd base in Milwaukee.
1951 Brewers: Bert Thiel, Jack Weisenburger, Bill Klaus
23 year old John "Jack" Weisenburger played in 121 games in 1950 for the Milwaukee Brewers. In 386 at bats he had 93 hits for a .241 batting average. He tallied 13 home runs and 43 RBIs.

1950 Jack Weisenburger Brewer Jersey (Front View)
(Author's Collection)
1950 Jack Weisenburger Brewer Jersey (Back View)
(Author's Collection)
Jack Weisenburger and his 1951 Milwaukee Brewer Teammates (3rd from right)

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