Tuesday, June 27, 2017

1940 Negro League Pass

This amazing Negro League season pass recently came up for auction on eBay.

Good for all American Negro League baseball games at Borchert Field. Outstanding.

At first glance, you may be wondering what this is about. Milwaukee is not today known for its Negro League legacy; we all know about the 1923 Milwaukee Bears, but they were so short-lived that the Brewers may have played more games in Bear throwback uniforms by now than the original Bears ever played.

Milwaukee's history with the Negro Leagues runs deeper than just the one team, though. After the Bears folded, the Chicago American Giants used it as a second home in the 1930s and 1940s, even hosting playoff games in 1939.

Milwaukee also saw many traveling teams come to Borchert Field. It was one of those teams, the Kansas City Monarchs, who brought their $30,000 portable light system to the Orchard in 1930, giving the Cream City its first-ever taste of night baseball. That game was arranged by local promoter Eddie Stumpf, one of the names listed on this pass.

Stumpf was a native Milwaukeean who broke into baseball in 1916 as a catcher for the Brewers. He played briefly for the Brews and the Columbus Senators before going into sports promotion. He brought the best baseball shows to Borchert Field, including exhibition teams led by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

At the age of 47 he returned to the diamond as a player/manager for the Janesville Cubs of the Wisconsin State League. It was there he heard about Cubs' president Philip K. Wrigley's plan for a girls' softball league, which would eventually be known as the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Stumpf was hired as the Wisconsin organizer of the league, overseeing tryouts at Borchert Field.

In 1946, team president Bill Veeck hired Stumpf to oversee the Brewers' farm system, which at the time included four lower-level clubs.

in 1954, as general manager of the Indianapolis Indians, Stumpf was selected "Outstanding Minor League Official" by the Sporting News. His last job in baseball was as a consultant to Bud Selig's American League Brewers from 1970 through 1972.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Veeck Calling, 1943

From the Chicago Tribune archives comes this lovely staged photo of our very own Sport Shirt Bill.

William Veeck Jr., president of the Milwaukee Brewers and former Chicago Cubs official, finds the telephone useful in helping dispose of the association's war time problems in 1943. (Chicago Tribune)
Mugging for the cameras a bit, our Bill. He knew promotions better than anyone, and he also knew that he was part of the product.