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.

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