Wednesday, August 23, 2017

1947 Score Card

Today we're taking a look at a Brewers scorecard. Someone, perhaps the original owner, has helpfully stamped it with the date August 23, 1947. Seventy years ago today.

1947 was an interesting year for the Brewers, the first full year with Lou Perini as owner, meaning the first season that the formerly-independent Brews were part of a baseball chain in the service of a major league club. While that is the standard for baseball today, that was a radical shift for our Brews of the time.

On the cover, Owgust swings for the fences.

I believe this is the first rendering of the logo that would become the first logo of the major league Brewers. Owgust himself dates back to 1942, but this is the version of him at bat that would be picked up by Bud Selig for his big-league club.

On the inside, a full-page ad for Gimbels, at one time Milwaukee's largest department store. The store sponsored radio broadcasts of the Brewer games with Mickey Heath, the team's former first baseman/manager.

On the next page, we get into the real meat of the program.

Milwaukeeans of a certain age will see that Ruby Chevrolet ad and hear the jingle "Ruby, Ruby, Ruby, Ruby, Ruby Chevrolet!" They were in business at least through the late 1980s.

Under a masthead of ballplaying Owgusts (the same as the team's "Brewer News" newsletters) we meet D'Arcy R. "Jake" Flowers, the team's President and General Manager. Flowers had been a coach for the Boston Braves, but was promoted in January of 1947 to run the Brews by new owner Lou Pirini.

The "Lucky Number" contest is a constant in Milwaukee Brewer programs.

We also get a glimpse of ticket prices.

Box seat$1.50
*Child's box seat.90
* Under 12 years

Adjusting for inflation, that's $4.41 for children under twelve and $16.54 for box seats. Pretty good deal.

You could buy them at the Gimbel's Smoke Shop, or at all three Schuster's stores. You could also pick them up at one of the neighborhood watering holes by Borchert Field, Hugo Walters or Steve's Baseball Tavern.

The next page covers the '47 schedule, and our incredible potted history graphic.

Alvin Dark, pictured on the next page in his Boston Braves cap, was a superstar in the making. He skipped the minors and went straight to the big league club in 1946. He only saw action in fifteen games that season, so when the Braves acquired a farm team in Milwaukee, Perini had Dark sent down for a little seasoning. It was a smart choice; Dark thrived when given a regular position at Borchert Field, hitting .303 with 10 home runs and 66 RBI. The following spring, Dark joined the big club in Boston and never saw the minors again. He won the second-ever Rookie of the Year award (at the time awarded for both leagues combined) in 1948 and played thirteen more seasons before transitioning seamlessly into management.

I love the Borchert Field ground rules:
The ball is in play when—
  1. It is overthrown off mound.
  2. It is pitched off the mound and hits backstop.
The Baserunner advances one base when—
  1. Pitched ball bounds on top of screen.
  2. Ball is thrown into stands.
  3. Ball bounds into stands.
It is a 2 Base Hit when—
  1. Ball bounces into bleachers.
  2. Ball bounces over fence.
  3. Ball rolls under fence.
  4. Ball is hit into left or right field corner out of sight of Umpire-in-Chief.
It is a Home Run when—
  1. Ball hits a light pole above white mark.
It is a foul when—
  1. Ball hits a light pole back of 1st or 3rd base on the fly.
Borchert Field's unusual setup, with light poles on the field of play, necessitated some interesting ground rules.

"If you can't be thre in person... listen to the Brewers' games with this Powerful New Philco Portable." I love it.

The next two pages cover the game; looks like the Brewers had a rough day.

And now we're back to the ads.

There's a pitch for the Brewers' radio broadcasts, featuring play-by-play man (and former Brewer himself) Mickey Heath. It also provides a quick lesson in how to score the game, or how to read our scorer's notes.

This one gives us a good look at the uniforms the Brewers introduced this season. They continued to wear this style through 1948, including an exemplar we've looked at before. Those jerseys are the same style as the parent club, with the distinctive blue/red/blue piping.

This resemblance may or may not have been intentional; when the club's new uniforms arrived the day before their first game, the Brewers discovered that they had mistakenly been sent a shipment of Boston Braves jerseys, complete with Indian-head patch on the sleeve. The Brewers had to take the whole load to a local sporting goods shop to be fixed. That was probably Burghardt, which had been supplying the Brewers with uniforms since at least the early 1930s and would have had their chest script on file.

From a technical standpoint, you can see that we've moved from one-color blue printing back to two-color blue and red. Seems strange they don't use more red in these later pages, but perhaps that was intentional so as not to call attention to the cheaper one-color pages in the middle of the score card.

Steve's Baseball Tavern and Sluggy Walters both have ads in the back pages. Equal size too, presumably a most-favored-nations approach for the Brewers' two partners.

On the inside back cover, an opportunity for fans to vote on their favorite player. This ballot wasn't submitted, but others would have cut down on the number of intact score cards floating around today.

There was a ballot box at the Borchert Field exits for fans to make their voices heard, and at the end of each month the player with the most votes was given a $25 gift certificate for Shuster's department store. In a sign of the post-war times, Shuster's proudly advertises their "free storeside parking station is yours to use without time limit, purchase, ticket or red tape of any kind." That increasing focus on automobile culture would soon be reflected in Milwaukee's new ball park, as Borchert Field (surrounded by homes and neighborhood taverns) was replaced by County Stadium (surrounded by parking lots).

The back cover, of course, featured a full-page ad for Miller High Life. Two cartoon ballplayers look forward to a bottle of the Champagne of Beers once they've finished their job on the diamond. And P.S., says the brewer, it's a "Grand idea for you fans too!"

I love these score cards, providing a unique look into a world long since departed.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

1897 Brewers Cabinet Photo

This stunning cabinet photo, showing the 1897 Milwaukee Brewers club, is currently up for auction over at Heritage.

1897 Milwaukee Brewers Base Ball Club Cabinet Photo SGC 20 Fair 1.5 with Connie Mack.

The professional career of Cornelius Alexander McGillicuddy or "Connie" Mack as we all know him by started in 1886 with the Washington Nationals. Who could have guessed this was a lifetime commitment that did not end until 1950 with Mack reigning as manager of the Phil. Athletics for a full half-century. The Milwaukee Brewers were owned by Ban Johnson (who Mack would work for in the future) of the Western League's signed Mack as manager in in 1897. It was his until the turn-of-the century when Philadelphia came calling. Offered is a scarce composite team cabinet photo of Mack and his squad. The 15 wonderful images are surrounded by detailed ribbon and design elements, the caption proudly reads "Milwaukee Base Ball Club." The studio credit reads "H. Hercher." It was in 1901 that Mack accepted an offer to manage the Philadelphia Athletics of the newly formed American League. Tenure usually reserved for Supreme Court judges and professors, Connie Mack ruled the Athletics for 50 years. The image quality is excellent. Obvious creases account for the grade. Graded SGC 20 Fair 1.5 Extremely rare in any condition, there are large lithographed prints of this composite known but this is the first example we have encountered as a cabinet card.
Fascinating, though I'm not sure about their facts there. I've never seen it reported that Ban Johnson owned any piece of the Brewers; he was the enormously powerful president of the Western League, which would eventually re-organize itself into the American League and be the first to successfully compete with the established National League. The club was owned by a group of investors, most notably Milwaukee attorneys Matthew and Henry Killilea. Matthew was the president of the club, and the one most responsible for its operations.

Milwaukee was a stalwart in the Western League, and became the birthplace of the American League when it hosted the series organizational meetings that saw the minor league join the majors. For his part, Matthew Killilea became known as "the godfather of the American League". The club would be less successful in their new major league, moving to St. Louis after only one year. It would first dominate and then be dominated in that city and move to Baltimore in 1954 where it plays today as the Orioles. They would be replaced in the Cream City by a new Brewer team in a new league, the American Association.

This card would be the centerpiece of any collection. Good luck to the bidders.