Tuesday, April 16, 2019

"Hanging Out After a Game", 1944

The AAGPBL posted this amazing photo on Twitter today:
Let's take a better look at that photo.

Beautiful. A great look at the wall between the grandstand and the foul area, not to mention the light standards and ads down the third base line.

Helen Filarski was a young infielder from the east side of Detroit. When she first heard about the league in 1943 from friends who played in her local semi-pro league, she was just eighteen and her parents forbade her to try out. One of those friends was Milwaukee pitcher Connie Wisniewski. Filarski eventually joined the league in 1945 at a tryout in Chicago (a tryout where Wisniewski was pitching to the young recruits) and was assigned to the Rockford Peaches.

Here we have Filarski presumably visiting her friend in Milwaukee. I don't know if she tried to join the league in 1944 (her own account isn't clear on the timeline); perhaps this photo was taken during a tryout session, or just a visit to see a friend.

Wisniewski is wearing her uniform, with its Milwaukee city seal at the center. A bat lies at her feet.

You can also see that the grandstand's lower boxes are filled with wooden folding chairs. The seats in the back, under the roof, are more traditional stadium seating.

Over Wisniewski's shoulder, we get a good look at the outfield wall ads.

You can also see the thick light standards installed just nine years earlier, in the foul territory between the grandstand and the diamond.

Our next closeup provides a look at the roof, flagpole, and the centerfield lights in the distance. And is that a net over the left field fence to catch those short home runs?

Simply magnificent. I can't wait to see what else the AAGPBL has in its archives.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

A Neighborhood Ballpark

This aerial photo of Borchert Field gives us our best sense yet of how the ballpark was integrated into its neighborhood.

There were taverns on the corners, but look at all those houses surrounding it. Block after residential block in every direction. With those short fences to either side, you can bet front windows were broken on 7th and 8th Streets.

I don't know when this photo was taken, except that it was before permanent lights were installed in 1935.

I'm also intrigued by the dirt foul area between the baselines and the grandstand. That's another element that was changed at some point during the ballpark's life.

By the late 1930s there was grass planted there, the vast space filled with bullpens, pitching mounds and catching areas where pitchers would warm up.

Even after the full pitching lanes had been added, there was still plenty of dirt on the warning track between the bullpens and the first row of seats. A huge space where pop flies could go to die. When all that was dirt, I wonder how much was kicked up by an August wind off the lake.

Comparing this photo with a recent Google Maps satellite image, you can see that many of the nearby houses are still standing, even though the site of the ballpark itself was scooped out to make room for the sunken Interstate 43.

Another reminder of how our Brewers were integrated into the community.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Ya Gotta Hand It to Them...

This is the cover art for this year's scorecards at Busch Stadium.

We have a couple of obnoxious Cardinal fans, a-whooping and a-hollering and flat out not caring if they bump into (or spill concessions on) the people around them. Odd thing to be proud of, but you do you, St. Louis.

The art itself is stunning, a luscious retro style. And right there in the front row is our very own Bernie Brewer, literally crying in his beer.

I had no idea Bernie was bald! No wonder he always wears a baseball cap.

And heck, I only wish Bernie still wore lederhosen. Never liked the baseball uniform he's been sporting since Miller Park opened. Ironic that the Cardinals created a better version of Bernie Brewer than the Brewers have used for decades.