Friday, March 9, 2018

A Modest Proposal for 2019

It has occurred to me that 2019 will be the 75th Anniversary of the Milwaukee Chicks, the Cream's City's entry in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. And so I would like to revive a notion I pitched to the Milwaukee Brewers way back in 2013:
My modest proposal; a "Turn Back the Clock" event at Miller Park honoring the 1944 Milwaukee Chicks.

Anyone who has ever watched A League of Their Own (and if you haven't, go right now and watch it on Hulu) knows the basic story of the AAGPBL; wartime restrictions, male ballplayers in the service, fears the 1943 season might be cancelled, young women recruited for a new Midwestern baseball league. The film is fictionalized on the details (substitute "Philip K. Wrigley" for "Walter Harvey" and "chewing gum" for "candy bar") but gets the overall spirit correct.

The film details the story of women who made up the Rockford Peaches, and the men who support/oppose them, as they take on the Racine Belles, Kenosha Comets, and South Bend Blue Sox. Not to mention the weight of a society that cares more about how they look than how well they can play the game. People who are only familiar with the film are missing some key elements of the league's story, though, including the fact that in its second year they tried expanding into larger markets in Minneapolis and Milwaukee.

Pitcher Sylvia Wronski (l) and 3B Vivian Anderson (r) were hometown heroes for the Chicks
This big-city experiment was doomed to failure, but along the way it brought us an interesting chapter in Borchert Field history; a one-year club that won the AAGPBL championship but couldn't survive in its home city.

We'll be talking about that club over the next couple weeks, and again next year for the anniversary. But in the meantime, I'd like to bring back this modest proposal that I pitched to the Brewers way back in 2013; a TBTC event honoring the Chicks. Now, this is new ground. No Major League Baseball club has ever done such a thing, and I think the reason is pretty obvious; it's the uniform.

"That's a dress!"

"That's half a dress!"

"Excuse me, that's not a baseball uniform."
The objections posed by the women in the film must also loom large in the mind of any baseball executive even considering such a tribute. The very notion of dressing men up in short skirts would open them up to such ridicule.

But that obvious problem has an equally obvious, not to mention elegant, solution. Each team was coached by men, each team had male uniforms, and that's what our Brewers could wear to honor the Chicks. Think Tom Hanks:

In the film, hanks plays Jimmy Dugan, former hard-hitting third baseman whose career ended early due to heavy drinking. He's an important character in the film, learning to respect the women as ballplayers and people, and he wears the men's version of their uniforms.

The Brewers could easily wear the Milwaukee version of this uniform, as modeled by their manager, future Hall of Famer Max Carey.

Supplement this with tributes to the surviving ballplayers, period advertisements and concession specials, maybe even a screening of the film afterwards, and it could be an amazing time at the old ballpark. Not to mention a tremendous opportunity to shed light on a chapter of Milwaukee's history that has largely been forgotten.

If you agree, let the Brewers know. Call them, email, @ them on social media. We can get this done, get these women their due recognition.

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