Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Out of Left Field - the Orchard's Ads

Looking at that photo from Borchert Field's last-ever game got me thinking. I was wondering how the outfield ads changed over time, specifically those in the left field corner, since it's featured in our 1952 photo.

We don't have many photos showing the left-field corner, but we have a couple. We can compare them and see how that's changed over time.

First off, there's the giant ad for Snirkles in the left-field corner:


Same basic ad in this photo circa 1948, but all the details are different. Somewhere along the line it seems to have lost its tagline "A really good caramal bar".


And even if the basic advertiser was the same, the ads to its left, along the 8th Street wall, were all different between 1948 and 1952.

On the other hand, we can see to the right pieces of ads for WEMP, John Schroeder lumber yards, and the Miller Brewing Company, all of which feature in this rare color photo of the ballpark.


Going back in time a little bit, that fence was a lot lower in this early 1940s shot:


You can see that the wall was really built up during that decade.


So we know the Snirkles ad came about in the mid-to-late-1940s and remained until the ballpark's final year. And that just about everything around it was in a constant state of change, which may be expected.

There isn't a ton of photographic reference of the old wooden ballpark, but I'll take any opportunity to piece together its history. Hope we get more of this.

Friday, February 15, 2019

"It's All Over Now!", 1952

We've seen this photo before—it was one of the first pictures I ever posted, a decade ago when this site was new—but never quite like this.

It's all over now! Eddie Kretlow, ground keeper at Borchert field took a final look at the deserte field late Sunday afternoon after the champion Brewers had lost to second place Kansas City in the seventh and final game of the American association play-offs, 8-7. The victory qualified the Blues for the little world series against the winner of the International league play-off still in progress.
—Journal Staff
I had certainly seen this picture before, but always devoid of any context. Now we know that it was taken after the final game at Borchert field, with the Brewers scheduled to move into the almost-ready County Stadium the following spring.

Back in 2009, I wrote of this photo:
This photo is one of the more commonly-reproduced Borchert Field pictures. There's something very melancholy about it, with the usher (in his peaked cap and team coveralls!) looking away from us, past all those empty stands towards the field. I guess that's fitting, for a departed ballpark.

You can see the unique angled dugout, and that most of the "good seats" were metal folding chairs. Yikes.

I don't have any context for the photo. The "Brewers" script seems to indicate the 1940s, as they were using a Braves-inspired wordmark by the 1950s. I hope someday we learn when it was taken, and the name of the lonely figure all alone in the Orchard.
I was right about the feeling of melancholy, although I mistook the groundskeeper for an usher. It's interesting to me that they were still using the 1940s logo several years after it had been replaced on the uniforms. Then again, Edward Kretlow had been the Orchard's groundskeeper since at least the 1930s (we previously saw him oiling turnstyles before the 1947 opener), so it's possible he'd been wearing it all that time. And understanding the long connection he had with the ballpark, a sense of melancholy at its final game seems more than reasonable.

So much to love about this picture. And so glad we finally know more about it.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Happy, Happy Day!

Today we celebrate a decade of BorchertField.com. I don't really know how to introduce this particular announcement, so I'm just going to leave this tweet here.

Humbled by the honor. Thank you, Mr. Mayor. Thank you all.

And yes, this is indeed the 10th Anniversary of this here website thingy. It was ten years ago today that I posted my very first entry.

My name is Chance Michaels. I am a baseball historian who has been interested in obsessed with the old minor league Brewers ever since I discovered the Wauwatosa Public Library's microfiche machine and their stash of old Journal and Sentinel back issues. I was fascinated by the realization that Milwaukee already had a storied baseball history by the time the Braves came to town.

To that end, I am officially launching this online museum to the Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association, 1902-1952. Because Milwaukee's first ballgame wasn't in 1953.

I hope to meet others who are also interested in the previous incarnation of the Milwaukee Brewers. I hope to share my knowledge, and to learn from you in return.

So, please take a look around. It may take us a while to build this museum together, but I am confident that it will be something special when we do.
And it is. It really, really is.

I have met so many good friends writing this site. I have learned so much, and shared so many good times. Thank you for all your support over this past decade, and I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do in decades yet to come.