Tuesday, July 23, 2019

On This Day - "The Tying Run 'Squeezes' Home"

Today, we continue our "On This Day" series in 1944, following the Milwaukee Chicks and their 1944 All-American Girls Professional Ball League championship season as it happened.

From the archives of the Milwaukee Journal comes this amazing action shot. Is there anything more exciting in baseball than a play at the plate?

The tying run "squeezes" home in the fifth inning of Sunday's first game between the Milwaukee and Rockford girls' teams at Borchert field. Thelma (Pigtails) Eisen scores on a bunt by Doris Tetzlaff of the Milwaukee Schnitts as Catcher Dorothy Green of the Peaches takes the throw. Milwaukee lost both games.
—Journal Staff
The composition of the photo is gorgeous. The long stride of Chicks left fielder Thelma Eisen burning past the plate, the Rockford Peaches catcher hunched over behind her. Not for the first time do I wish we could see the original photos rather than just the rough microfiche scans.

Even with this pair of losses, the Chicks were clawing their way back to respectability after a rough start to the season. Unfortunately for them, Milwaukee's other baseball team was dominating its league. Check out the article just to the left of our dynamic action photo:

By this point, the attendance was a serious concern to the league. It's not hard to figure out why the Chicks were struggling at the ticket office. The AAGPBL had matched its ticket prices to those of the long-established (and much-beloved) Brewers, and the Chicks couldn't play the same quality of baseball.

This newspaper provides the perfect example. On this day, the Chicks dropped both halves of a double-header, and fell to the middle of the AAGPBL standings. The Brewers, on the other hand, won both games in their double-header and were pulling away from the pack with a ten-game lead over second-place Columbus. Brewer manager Casey Stengel had his club playing .700 ball(!), with a record at that point of 68-29.

Hard to sell tickets in that environment. We like to think that all our local sports teams are brothers and sisters, fighting together for the glory of our city, but in reality they are competitors for the time, attention, and most of all money of the local fans. And in Milwaukee in 1944, it would have been hard for anyone to compete with the mighty Brewers, much less a brand-new startup in a league still trying to prove itself.

No comments:

Post a Comment