Friday, June 22, 2018

"The Patch, Part II"

A few years ago, contributor Paul Tenpenny chronicled the story of the Brewers' 1942 jacket patch, and how at least one single exemplar survived. Today, we have a sequel of sorts, with another priceless patch from Milwaukee's baseball history.

Or, rather, with two patches.

To begin at the beginning, it's no secret that I've been a bit obsessed by the Milwaukee Chicks/Schnitts for some time. Back in 2013, I pitched the Brewers on my idea for a Turn Back the Clock event honoring the AAGPBL team on its 70th Anniversary. Now, with the 75th Anniversary in sight, I'm doing it again.

The biggest problem with throwback uniforms, however, is that we don't have great reference material on what they actually wore back in 1944. We've been able to re-create their caps, but the uniforms themselves have been trickier to nail down. In every photo I've seen, the Milwaukee city seal-inspired patch was reduced to a black blob with white outlines.

So when I heard that the Milwaukee Historical Society had amassed an exhibit of Milwaukee's complete sporting history, I hoped that we'd get a better photo of the uniforms. We didn't, but we got something much, much better.

Two patches were presented in a display case with a Schnitts program and scrapbook, along with some Brewers and Milwaukee Bears artifacts. One had been roughly removed from a uniform, the other more carefully cut out.

The patches were loaned to the exhibition by the Northern Indiana Historical Society in South Bend, the primary repository of AAGPBL artifacts.

And now so many questions have been answered. The uniform patch was black and red, so it's easy to see how these details could so easily get lost in black and white photographs.

The design is executed in beautiful chainstitch.

Look at that detail. The care they put into making these.

At the heart of the design is the seal of the City of Milwaukee.

Compare the patch with the actual city seal, and you can see that they've done a pretty good job reproducing it in chainstitch.

The iconography is straightforward, if cluttered; we have a railroad engine on top, the old City Hall on the right, and a steamboat and clipper at the bottom. The building on the left is usually identified as "a house", but it's not clear if it was ever intended to represent a specific building. But at the center, the sun rises over the lake, a lighthouse, and its keeper.

The patch manages to capture the basic essense of the four outer lobes, although the lighthouse suffers somewhat in the telling. But on the whole, a pretty faithful representation of the civic seal.

And now that we finally know what the Schnitts wore on their uniform, we can make the case to our Brewers that they should honor these women with a Turn Back the Clock event in 2019, the 75th Anniversary of the Schnitts' first and only season, and the AAGPBL championship they brought home to the Cream City.

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