Tuesday, May 28, 2019

On This Day - the Chicks Drop Two

Today, we continue our "On This Day" review of the Milwaukee Chicks' championship year. It was exactly seventy-five years ago, in 1944, when the women had just started the AAGPBL season.

They played their games at Borchert Field, when the Brewers were on the road. They opened the season on May 27, 1944, dropping the first game to the South Bend Blue Sox 5-4 in ten innings. Afterwards, Milwaukee centerfielder referred to a double-header scheduled the next day when she said "Wait until tomorrow, we're going to take both games."

This is how the Milwaukee Journal covered that double-header. In this case, the women got pretty good coverage, with a large photo on the first page of the sports section.

And what a photo it was!

The Schnits gang up for a putout in the ninth inning of Sunday's second game at Borchert field in the All-American Girls' Professional Ball League. Three Milwaukee players are shown participating in a rundown play which caught Charlotte Armstrong, South Bend pitcher, between second and third base. Left to right: Vivian Anderson, third base; Miss Armstrong; Alma Zeigler, second base; Emily Stevenson, catcher. South Bend won both games, 9-3 and 13-0.
That's absolutely stunning. Unfortunately, we have very few first-generation photos of this club, so most of the time we'll have to make do with these microfiche reproductions of newspaper prints. Even twice-filtered, this is an amazing visual composition. The dynamic motion is matched only by the expressions of joy on the players' faces.

Vivian Anderson is notable for being one of only two Milwaukeeans to play for their hometown club, and the only one on the roster at the this point in the season. Alma "Ziggy" Zeigler was a pitcher and infielder who we'll be talking about as the season goes on; she went on to have an eleven-year career with the Chicks, starting with the first year in Milwaukee. Catcher Emily Stevenson wasn't as fortunate; she played only one season in the league, making appearances in thirty-two of the team's 117 games. She had the lucky "13" uniform, in Otis Shepard's bold sans-serif numbers.

In addition to the amazing photo, the Journal gives us box scores for the two games.

In the first game, the Chicks took a 2-0 lead into the fourth inning. They hadn't gotten a hit, but had scrambled their way to that lead thanks to a combination of walks and South Bend errors. And then it all unraveled in the top of the fourth. Pitcher Josephine Kabich got herself in trouble loading the bases with Blue Sox before hurling a wild pitch that brought two of them home. An error charged to shortstop Betty "Whitey" Whiting let two more score, and with the bases loaded again a throwing error from centerfielder Thelma “Tiby” Eisen cleared them all. Eight runs in the fourth for the visitors, all of them unearned. The Chicks would plate another in their half of the inning before surrendering a ninth run in the top of the sixth to end the game 9-3.

The second game was even more embarrassing. The Milwaukeeans managed eleven hits but couldn't bring any of them home, while the South Bend Blue Sox brought 13 runs across the plate, including a home run from their shortstop Dorothy Schroeder. Schroeder was notable for being the only woman to play all twelve years of the All-American League's existence.

Not great results for the Milwaukee women. Three games, three losses. The Chicks' 1944 campaign was getting off to a rough start.

Monday, May 27, 2019

On This Day in 1944: Play Ball!

On this day in 1944, Milwaukee Chicks managerMax Carey opened the 1944 All-American Girls Professional Ball League season at Borchert Field.

Earlier today, we looked at the Milwaukee Sentinel's rather hit-or-miss preview of the season opener, at once taking them seriously and being outright dismissive. Fortunately, the paper's coverage of the game itself was much, much better.

South Bend Tips Local Girls, 5-4


The Milwaukee team of the All-American ball league lost a heartbreaking 10 inning fray to the South Bend Blue Sox, pennant favorites, by 5 to 4, in the season's opener at Borchert field before around 700 fans.

In the early innings it was largely a pitching duel between Connie Wisniewski of Milwaukee and "Sonny" Berger, South Bend ace. Connie was the victim of nine errors, her own two wild throws attempting to pick runners off the bases costing runs on two occasions.

Anderson's infield single and advance to third on Schroeder's wide throw set the stage for the first run in the fifth, Wisniewski dropping a fly single back of second to bring in the tally. The Blue Sox got this back and one more in the sixth. Panos walked and Jochum singled. Attempting to pick Panos off second, Wisniewski tossed wildly and both runners advanced. A passed ball and Gocioch's fly netted the two runs.

With two away in the Milwaukee sixth. Elsen got hold of a fast one and drilled it over the head of Jochum in left field for a home run to even it at 2-all.

The Sox took the lead in the ninth, singles by Baker and Hageman starting the rally. Again Wisniewski threw wildly attempting to pick Baker off second, both runners advancing, Schroeder's hit and Grant's bobble in right field let both runners score.

Milwaukee tied it up in its half, Whiting singling, Schulze walking and Anderson bunting safety to jam the lanes. Wisniewski fouled out to Baker and Grant's single plated Whiting, but Schulze, hesitating after rounding third, was run down. Koslowski singled, but Jochin fielded it in time to hold Anderson at third. Meanwhile Grant ran to that base and was tagged out by Baker.

A walk to Stefani with one away, her advance to third on an infield out and Baker's hit drove home the winning button in the first of the tenth.
We get two field-level photos of the team in action.


Shirley Schulze, comely centerfielder for the Milwaukee team of the All-American Girls' Baseball league, attempted to drag a bunt down the third base line in the second inning of Saturday's game against the Blue Sox from South Bend, Ind., but found catcher Mary Baker alert and was tossed out on a close play, despite the fact that she was away to a flying start. The Sox won, 5 to 1, in 10 innings to spoil the league opening for Milwaukee fans.
Sentinel photo.
The "comely" part isn't strictly necessary, but the caption of the next photo is more gently ribbing fans than the players.


As usual, there was a bald headed row right down front when the Milwaukee Girls' baseball team opened its season. A Sentinel cameraman was on the spot to prove it with a picture.
"As usual"? I need to do more research on this. If the bald-headed men were fixtures at Brewers games, the 1940s equivalent of Front Row Amy, I'd like to learn more about them. And it would be a positive sign for the AAGPBL if they were reaching fans of the Brews.

The Sentinel filled out its coverage with this report on the festivities surrounding the game.

Gals Plus Color

Snappy Plays Feature Opener


Colorful pre-game ceremonies marked the opening of the All-American Girls Professional Ball league in Milwaukee yesterday afternoon at Borchert field in a contest between the Milwaukee team and the South Bend Blue Sox.

Opening the ceremonies, the girls from both teams ran out from their dugouts and with a double criss-cross at home plate and second, came to attention in the form of a "V" at home plate.

Represented at the ceremonies were the Milwaukee County Council of the American Legion, the Spars, Waves, Wacs, and women's marine corps.

*     *     *
Celebrities included Judge Ed Rusts of Kenosha, Capt. H. H. Hankin of the marines, Ken Sells, league president, and Mayor John L. Bohn, who officially welcomed the team to Milwaukee and tossed the first ball to Wave Lt. Russell, who smacked it back to the infielders.
*     *     *
A three-gun salute was fired by the Legion firing squad and the band played the national anthem as the flag was raised.
*     *     *
The girls really did some fancy playing as was attested by the 5-4 Blue Sox victory. It was either team's game all the way.
*     *     *
Many close decisions helped make the game a thriller. Pitcher Connie Wisniewski of Milwaukee, going after a sacrifice bunt, just touched the ball inside the foul line and it went as a hit. Twice runners were caught between the bags and run down. A delayed steal by Shirley Schulze of Milwaukee caused a round of applause and put her in scoring position.
*     *     *
The feature was Left Fielder Thelma (Pigtails) Eisen's home run into left field - the only homer of the game. 'Pigtails' won herself quite a following, not only because of the home run, but because of her distinctive pigtails which stood almost straight out as she tore around the bases to tie the game up in the sixth at 2 all.
*     *     *
Catcher "Mickey" Maguie and Shortstop Betty Whiting turned in excellent performances too, but were more than a little disheartened at dropping the close one.

"Wait until tomorrow," said Schulze, "we're going to take both games." "It's my turn to make a home run tomorrow," shouted Olga Grant, another Milwaukee outfielder.

This afternoon a double header is scheduled, starting at 1:30. Pitchers for Milwaukee will be Josephine Kabick and "Lefty" Thompson, while Charlotte Armstrong and Doris Barr will work for South Bend.
Lieutenant Russell smacked the ceremonial first pitch back to the infielders? I'd like to have seen that!

The "V" formation mentioned here would become associated with the AAGPBL, as seen in this photo from a different game:

Aven today, it is a symbol of the league. Surviving AAGPBL players posed in a Victory formation on the County Stadium infield during a league reunion in 2000:

Today the Players Association continues to make it an important part of their iconography.

Great stuff from the Sentinel.

Finally, it's interesting that the paper had by this time dropped the name "Brewerettes", but had not yet adopted "Chicks". That would come later.

As for Schulze's confident prediction that "we're going to take both games" in the next day's double header, we'll see how that went.

On This Day in 1944 - "Local Girls Debut Today"

On this day in 1944, the players had been assigned, the team assembled, and finally the Milwaukee Chicks opened their inaugural All-American Professional Ball League season at Borchert Field.

The Milwaukee papers, naturally, covered the team's first game. For better, and for worse.

We start with the city's morning paper, the Milwaukee Sentinel.

So there's good and bad here. The picture along the bottom is gorgeous, featuring two of the players in an open workout at the Orchard.


Betty Whiting, left, and Alma Ziegler, the "keystone kids" as the Milwaukee club of the All-American Girls' Baseball league, start a fancy double play in a practice workout at Borchert field Friday afternoon as the final warmup for the league opener Saturday afternoon against the South Bend Blue Sox. This duo featured in several outstanding plays. On the end of the twin killing was Dolores Kiosowski, a left handed first baseman who, with the keystone kids, drew rounds of applause from the fans who gathered to see the first workout.
Sentinel photo
I wish we could see this in its original format.

The Sentinel also published its preview of the opening game.

Local Girls Debut Today


Mgr. Max Carey put his Milwaukee teams of the All-American Girls Professional Ball league through its initial workout yesterday afternoon in preparation for the opening game of the season this afternoon against the South Bend Blue Sox at Borchert field at 2:30.

Mayor John L. Bohn will toss the first ball. Wacs, Waves, Spars, women marines, legionnaires and players of both teams will be on parade. The flag raising and salute will be handled by an American Legion unit.


Guest celebrities will include Ken Sells, league president; Judge Ed Ruetz of Kenosha; Capt. H. H. Rankin of the marine corps; Spart Lt. j. g. Dorothy Davies; Wac Capt. Mary W. Stephenson and Lt. Sally Tucker of the women's marine corps. Dr. Royal L. Mashek, commander of the Milwaukee council of the American Legion, and Carl Zahn will be in charge of the pregame activities on the field.

Over 200 spectators were present yesterday to watch the first local workout. Dolores Klosowski at first base, Alma Ziegler at second base and Betty Whiting clicked beautifully in infield practice.


The two mound probabilities for the opener, Connie Wisniewski and Josephine Kabick, worked out in impressive fashion, but Carey was undecided as to his starter in the league opener.
Excellent. A very reasonable and respectful review of a baseball team.

So that's the good. But all that is undone by the cartoon at the top, by the Sentinel's staff cartoonist Lou Grant.

That is... just not good.

Fortunately, their coverage of the game itself was much, much better. But that's a subject for another post.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Today in 1944 - "Enjoy a Real Sports Thrill!"

On this day seventy-five years ago, Opening Day of the All-American Girls Professional Ball League's 1944 season was about to begin.

Spring Training was over, the rosters assigned and the players moved into their private homes in Milwaukee. Borchert Field was ready to host. And now all they needed was an audience.

To that end, the league placed two ads in the Milwaukee Journal. The first was in what they would have called the "Women's Section", sandwiched between an ad for Lux soap and an ad for a romance magazine.

Gorgeous. That's the unmistakable airbrush art of Otis Shepard, official design guru of the AAGPBL and the outright master of mid-century design.

Note the lack of team nicknames - no "Chicks" or "Schnits" or "Brewerettes" here, only "Milwaukee" and "South Bend". The team hadn't yet settled on a nickname they could use.

I also love the full schedule there.

A smaller version of the ad also appeared in the sports section.

We see more of Shepard's figure, at the expense of the season schedule. And here the women are referred to as "Our Milwaukee Team".

It's obvious that the league was trying to cast a wide net, appealing to sports fans and the women who may never turn to that section of the paper.

One day to go, and the All-American League was ready to "Play Ball!" in Milwaukee.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

On This Day - The Team Assembles

On this day in 1944, the Milwaukee Chicks arrived in the Cream City, fresh from a week-and-a-half Spring Training camp for all All-American Professional Ball League teams in Peru, Illinois.

The Milwaukee Journal was there to introduce the women to their new home town, running this large photo on page 8 of the afternoon paper on Wednesday, May 24, 1944.

We've seen this photo before - cut out of the paper and pressed into a scrapbook, it was on display at the Milwaukee County Historical Society last spring as part of the exhibit "Back Yards to Big Leagues: Milwaukee’s Sports and Recreation History".

The Schnits (sic) (Little Beers), who will play for Milwaukee in the Girls' All-American Professional Ball league, are shown here. Players who had been training at Peru, Ill. were divided among the league's six teams. Manager Max Carey talks to his girls in the picture. They are (left to right): Front row—Vivian Anderson, Emily Stevenson, Josephine Kabick, Olga Grant. Second row—Thelma Eisen, Viola Thompson, Judy Dusanko, Delores Klosowski. Third row—Dorothy Maguire, Shirley Shultze, Betty Whiting, Alma Ziegler. Top row—Lafern Price, Dorothy Hunter (chaperone), Connie Wizniewski. They will work out Friday afternoon at Borchert field (admission free) and will play their first game Saturday. (Journal Staff)

Friday, May 24, 2019

On This Day - "Girls Selected to Play Here"

After the Milwaukee Sentinel, Milwaukee's morning paper, broke the news of the first three All-American Girls Professional Ball League players assigned to the new Milwaukee Chicks team, the afternoon Milwaukee Journal was able to follow up with the full roster.

On this day seventy-five years ago, on Wednesday, May 24, 1944, the city of Milwaukee was introduced to its new ballclub. Or, at the very least, the women who would wear its uniform.

Girls Selected to Play Here

Three Are Canadians

Journal Staff Correspondence

Peru, Ill. – Girls from seven states and three provinces of Canada make up Milwaukee's first all-girl ball team. They were selected here Tuesday night after a week and a half of spring training in the All-American Girls' Professional Ball league.

The girls are: Pitchers Connie Wisniewski, 22, Detroit, Mich.; Lafern Price, 18, Terre Haute, Ind.; Viola Thompson, 22, Greenville, S.C.; and Josephine Kabick, 22, Detroit. Catchers Emily Stevenson, 18, Chapaign, Ill.; and Dorothy Maguire, 25, Cleveland, Ohio. Outfielders Shirley Schulze, 21, Chicago; Thelma Eisen, 22, Los Angeles, Calif.; Olga Grant, 23, Alberta, Canada; Mary Shostal, 19, Winnipeg, Canada. Infielders Judy Dusanico, 22, Regina, Canada; Vivian Anderson, 23, of 2417 N. 68th st., Milwaukee; Doris Tetzlaff, Watertown, Wis.; ALma Ziegler, 22, Los Angeles, Calif.; Dolores Klosowski, 21, Detroit; and Betty Whiting, 18, Ida, MIch.

Vivian Anderson, the only Milwaukee girl on the team, is a graduate of West Division high school. She has been playing ball about 12 years. She is married to Staff Sergt. Dan Anderson, who is with an army unit on maneuvers in Tennessee. Vivian works for the E. F. Schmidt Co.

The chaperone of the Milwaukee team will be Dorothy HUnter of Winnipeg, Canada, a player with the Racine team last year. Max Carey is manager and Eddie Stumpf general manager.

The girls will leave Peru early Thursday and will play their first game in Milwaukee on Saturday. They will live in private homes while in Milwaukee.
I love the focus on Vivian Anderson, as the only native Milwaukeean on the Opening Day roster. We've looked at her career before; she was scouted out of the very popular West Allis League, where she had met her future husband as a coach.

"Andy", as she was known to her teammates in this league of nicknames, lived with her parents during the season. The curious newspaper convention of the day, where people mentioned in articles are identified by their full address, lets us know what her commute would have been like.

By my reckoning, 2417 N. 68th Street is actually in Wauwatosa. But perhaps that wasn't the case in 1944, or it was a distinction not worth noting. Regardless, it's a straight shot from her house to Borchert Field, fourteen minutes by car today.

I wonder if Vivian ever made that fourteen-minute drive to the Orchard to watch the Brewers play?

So now the initial roster was set. The team was coming together, and Opening Day was right around the corner. The Milwaukee Chicks were about to hatch.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

On This Day - "3 Gals Assigned" to the Chicks

On this day in 1944, the Milwaukee Chicks lineup was starting to come together.

After watching the players at the All-American Girls Professional Ball League's Spring Training camp in Peru, Illinois, managerMax Carey had selected his players and sat down with the other five managers (plus league representatives) to hammer out the rosters.

Here's what the Milwaukee Sentinel had to say about it.

Haggling vs. Charm!

3 Gals Assigned to Milwaukee Club

Peru, Inc., May 23—At a late hour here tonight the Milwaukee club of the All-American Girls Baseball league had been assigned three players as the pilots of the six clubs in the league haggled over player rights—all of which will be assigned by the league.

Manager Max Carey of the Milwaukee club was able to announce he had been assigned Delores Kiosowski, a lefthanded first baseman from Detroit; Shirley Schulze, outstanding centerfielder from Chicago, and Vivian Anderson of West Allis, a third sacker who was personally scouted by Jimmy Hamilton, vice president of the league and chief scout, last season.

The Milwaukee pilkot was reported battling for the contract rights to "Bullet" Wisniewski, od Detroit, considered by many critics as the outstanding softball pitcher of America and Canada.

While the pilots were haggling over player rights, seemingly forgetting the lessons in charm and drawing room behavior as taught the girls by a representative of the Ruth Tiffany school, Chicago, the girls themselves were in anxious huddles—some worried whether or not they would be signed to contracts, others concerned if training camp friendships would be disrupted by being assigned to different clubs.

Jewel Sladek, Milwaukee catcher, who was signed for the training camp session, was released today because of a sore arm.

The Milwaukee team will leave here early Thursday morning and will arrive in Milwaukee before noon.
The article doesn't carry a byline, but it certainly appears to be the work of Margot Patterson, who had been covering the AAGPBL training camp for the Sentinel. The emphasis on the players as people, and the striking image of the women huddling together, anxious about their futures, is a dead giveaway.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

On This Day - Who Will "Wear the Red and Grey of Milwaukee"?

On this day in 1944, Milwaukee Chicks managerMax Carey was working with the players of the All-American Girls Professional Ball League at their Spring Training in Peru, Illinois. Carey, along with the skippers of the other seven clubs, were dividing up six score ballplayers between them. And the Milwaukee Sentinel, or at least a Chicago freelancer cashing a Sentinel paycheck, was there to cover it.

The article is by Margot Patterson, who had been covering Spring Training for the Sentinel.


Sentinel Staff Correspondent

LA SALLE, Ill., May 21 – Allowing for the fundamental differences of the game, Max Carey, who is to manage the Milwaukee Girls professional team, said today he would challenge any man pro to face the pitchers in the All-American Girls league.

"There isn't one of our pitchers," he declared enthusiastically, "who doesn't pack a few surprises."

Although rained out of the exhibition games which were to be the deciding factors in the final selection of team members. Carey already has his eye on a few of the players whom he was watched in practice.


For centerfield he has picked Shirley Schulze of Chicago who played last year with the Rheingold industrial team. Miss Schulze, a good looking blonde, has speed and finesse in the field and is a good hitter.

Two Los Angeles girls, Annabelle Lee and Alma Ziegler, look good to Carey for first and second basemen and Betty Whiting of Ida, Mich., a solid all-around player would be his choices for shortstop.

On the mound he would like to have either Audrey Haine of Winnipeg or Connie Wojnewski of Detroit. Haine, who has an amazing delivery, is easily one of the outstanding pitchers in the league.


"For the rest of the team," Carey commented, "I'll have to wait until the games to decide and then choose." The players will be distributed equally to provide a balance of talent to all teams. The final decision will be made by the managers in council with Ken Sells, league president, and Jimmy Hamilton, scout and vice president.

Carey, who is a newcomer to girls' baseball, can barely wait until he knows which of the girls will wear the red and gray of Milwaukee.

"Women," he continued, have taken their place in most of the major sports—swimming and golf, for example. This is the league that will do the same for them in baseball."
I think this might be the first reference in print to the uniforms the Chicks would eventually wear. As anyone who has seen A League of Their Own knows, each team in the AAGPBL would wear identical tunics in a distinctive team color. They wore those same tunics for all games; the league wouldn't introduce different home and road uniforms until 1948. The original teams were Rockford (peach), Racine (gold), Kenosha (green) and South Bend (blue). The tunics were a pale version of the color, while the caps, belts, and socks were a darker shade (red, brown, kelly green and royal blue, respectively.

For the 1944 season, the new kids in the league were also given their own unique shades. For Milwaukee, it was a soft dove gray. A good traditional baseball color, even if one rarely seen on the home team. Even so, it was classic, and fitting for Otis Shepard's classic mid-century design.

You can see the difference between the players' gray tunics and the white flannel uniform worn by Carey himself in this photo:

As for the players that Carey wanted to wear Milwaukee's gray uniforms, the pitcher mis-identified by Ms. Patterson as "Connie Wojnewski" was actually Connie Wisniewski, and Carey was indeed able to land her for the Milwaukee pitching staff. Lucky for him, and very lucky for the fans in Milwaukee; Wisniewski hurled her way to a 23-10 record in her freshman year, and was an integral part of the Chicks' championship.

Wisniewski would go on to win the AAGPBL's inaugural "Player of the Year" award for MVP in 1945, and is pictured here in her Milwaukee grays on the back cover of Whitman's Major League Baseball: Facts and Figures and Official Rules, 1946 edition.

Mother Carey was also able to secure Alma Ziegler for his squad. She went on to a long career with the Chicks, first in Milwaukee and then in Grand Rapids, playing until the league ceased operations following the 1954 season.

Centerfielder Shirley Schulze also made the team but struggled in the AAGPBL, appearing in only fifteen games in one season in the league.

Betty Whiting was a better pickup. She was a utility player for Carey, logging time at first base, the outfield, and catching (though not at short). She too had a long AAGPBL career, playing for seven teams in nine seasons. That journeyman wandering shouldn't be read as poor performance, though; as Patterson notes in her article, the league had a tendency to shuffle good talent as well as bad in an attempt to create parity across the teams. Whiting was one of those, a solid player welcomed wherever she went.

Whiting at Borchert Field

Max wasn't so lucky with his other two targets, though. Both Annabelle Lee and Audrey Haine ended up with the other expansion team in Minneapolis. Ah, well, you can't win 'em all.

Carey wasn't able to get all of his preferred players into "the red and grey of Milwaukee", but he got enough of them to field a great ballclub.

On This Day - "Schnits Open Play Here Saturday"

This is part of an "On This Day" series, reviewing the Milwaukee Chicks of the All-American Girls Professional Ball League, as it was then known, and their 1944 championship season as it happened exactly seventy-five years ago. And this one... is a bit of a cheat.

Today, we're looking at an article that was published in the Milwaukee Journal seventy-five years and one day ago, on Sunday, May 21, 1944. Yesterday we reviewed a pair of articles from the Milwaukee Sentinel, the first one a fascinating look at the players themselves and the other a peek at the upcoming Opening Day ceremonies that also happened to christen the team the "Brewerettes". Today, we see what the Journal had to say on those subjects.

Keep in mind that baseball team nicknames were much less official in those days. They were used by fans and the media, but not always by the clubs themselves. The Brewers were known as the Brewers beginning in 1902, but hadn't actually put that name on their uniforms until 1942. For the first forty years, it was always a simple "M" or "Milwaukee". The AAGPBL followed suit, with city names (and city seals) on their uniform but not official nicknames. But if Milwaukee's team did not have an official nickname, the papers would provide one. The Sentinel had volunteered its choice, and the Journal had its own offer to make.

Schnits Open Play Here Saturday in Girls' Loop

Manager Max Carey to Bring 17 Players Here Friday; Public Invited to Workout

Girls' professional ball will be introduced to Milwaukee next Saturday ay Borchert field, when the Milwaukee Schnits (Little Beers) will play the South Bend Blue Sox at 2:30 p.m. Before the game, Mayor John L. Bohn will welcome the All-American Girls' Professional Ball league to Milwaukee and will throw the first ball; military units, an American Legion color guard and the players will parade for the flag raising.

Manager Max Carey will bring the Milwaukee team into town Friday morning. The girls have been training at Peru, Ill. They will work out at the ball park Friday afternoon and the public will be admitted free. The team will have 17 players and a chaperon. Bert Niehoff manages the South Bend team, which was runnerup in the both the first and second halves of last season.

Eddie Stumpf, general manager, has invited Ken Sells, league president; Judge Ed Ruetz of the Kenosha club; Capt. R. H. Rankin and Lieut. Sally Tucker of the Marines; Lieut (jg) Betty Russell of the SPARS; Lieut (jg) Dorothy Davies of the WAVES; Capt. Mary W. Stephenson of the WAC and Dr. Royal L. Mashek, commander of the county council of the American Legion, to be guests at the opening game.

Milwaukee and South Bend will play a double header Sunday, starting at 1:30.
So there you have it.

I had wondered whether the term was in common usage in Milwaukee at the time; that the Journal felt compelled to define it indicates possibly not. And it's worth noting that they spell it with a single "t". whereas the word in German actually ends in two. And before you know it, the Journal would adopt the German spelling.

It's tempting to read "Schnitt" as "Little Beer" with the same dismissive and kid-sister approach as "Brewerette". And I suppose that's not an unreasonable interpretation. Plus it has a certain unfortunate audio echo in modern English. But it shouldn't have a sexist connotation, only that the club was somewhat lower than the mighty (and established) Brewers themselves. Thirty years earlier, Milwaukee had a team in the Wisconsin-Illinois league that aldo played at Borchert Field, a team that was known sometimes as the "Creams", for the Cream City, and sometimes as the "Schnitts" for their relationship with the Brewers.

Check out this Journal sports page from Thursday, May 1st, 1913, following the Schnitts home opener at then-Athletic Park:

They get pretty good coverage for a low-level minor league, about on par with the just-below-the-majors Brewer club.

Given that history, I'm not inclined to read "Schnitts" as dismissive or derisive. And considering how much more seriously the Journal took the AAGPBL than the Sentinel did, I think they earned the benefit of the doubt.

By the off-season, when it wasn't yet clear if the league would return to Milwaukee for a second season, the AAGPBL made it official, choosing to endorse "Chicks". And it's hard to argue with that. Certainly the modern Brewers are as well, in their 75th Anniversary celebration. But I often find myself thinking of them as the "Schnitts". Which is why I'm tickled they appeared that way on my proclamation; somebody in the Mayor's office agrees with me.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

On This Day - "Bohn to Open Girls' League"

Today, we have a rare two-fer "On This Day" review of the Milwaukee Chicks' championship year. Earlier, we looked at an incredible human-interest story in the Milwaukee Sentinel about players in the All-American Girls Professional Ball League's Spring Training in Peru, Illinois. There was a second piece on that same page, uncredited, that is equally valuable for what it tells us about the Chicks' plan for opening day.

Bohn to Open Girls' League

Milwaukee's first All-American Girls' Professional Ball league season will open in "big league" style Saturday at 2:30 p.m.at Borchert field with Manager Max Carey's "Brewerettes" meeting the South Bend Blue Sox.

Pregame ceremonies include tossing of the first ball by Mayor John L. Bohn; parading of Wacs, Waves, Spars, women marines, legionnaires and players of the two teams, flag raising and the firing of a salute by an American Legion unit.
The first thing we notice is the name. "Brewerettes"?

Like many clubs in the early days of baseball, the All-American league used its nicknames more unofficially than today. Nicknames did not appear on uniforms or on official league materials; the Chicks were referred to almost exclusively as "Milwaukee". Nonetheless, team nicknames are essential, and the league appeared to take a "kid sister" approach to its two new franchises. For the first time, they were in cities with established and beloved men's baseball teams, and sought to borrow a little of that good will by borrowing the names.

The Minneapolis club became known as the "Millerettes" after the American Association club, and the Milwaukee club appeared to be trying out the name "Brewerettes". The Millerettes would acquire another nickname after losing their home and becoming a traveling team: the Orphans. That is the name I prefer for them, but in the official AAGPBL records they remain "Millerettes" to this day. On the other hand, and fortunately for all involved, "Brewerettes" was roundly rejected before the season even started, and the papers would be left to come up with a nickname on their own. Ah, but that is a story for another day.

It's also revealing to see what kind of Opening Day festivities the league had planned for Borchert Field. For those unfamiliar with some of the terms in the article, those refer to women's auxillary units during the war. They're actually acronyms: Women's Army Corps was the Army branch, Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service as you might suspect was for the Navy, SPARS for the Coast Guard (derived from the Coast Guard's Latin motto Semper Paratus, meaning "Always Ready").

The Marines eschewed such nicknames, simply calling their women's branch the "United States Marine Corps Women's Reserve". Or as in this case, "women marines".

I'm intrigued by the association. Natural enough in wartime, I suppose. Patriotic displays were all the rage, and what could be more natural than pairing women in service uniforms with women in baseball uniforms?

But the women's branches of the military did have something in common with the All-American League. They all involved new opportunities for women, opening up jobs that were traditionally reserved for men. And as women were sometimes grudgingly accepted into the service because there just weren't enough men to do the job, Philip K. Wrigley founded the AAGPBL in part out of fear that men's baseball would be forced to shutter during the war. And, of course, when the war was over, both struggled to reconcile those new opportunities with an expected return to traditional roles.