Thursday, July 4, 2019

"Stars and Strikes Forever", 1944

From the pen of the Milwaukee Sentinel's cartoonist Lou Grant comes this lovely tribute to the National Pastime on the nation's 168th birthday.

Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee eulogized George Washington as "First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen." A little over a century later, Washington Post writer Charles Dryden would borrow the phrase and apply it to baseball's Senators as "Washington – first in war, first in peace, and last in the American League". Well, our Brewers were first in fielding, first in hitting, first in pitching... and first in the American Association.

That last one heading into the break gave the Brewers the customary honor of hosting the annual All-Star Game at Borchert Field, where they would take on a squad comprised of the best of the rest of the league.

To celebrate our heroes in appropriately patriotic fashion, Grant borrowed the iconography of Archibald Willard's famous painting Yankee Doodle (later known as The Spirit of '76).

The mighty Brewers' lead in the Association held, and the All-Star Game was played at the Orchard on July 26, 1944.

The game program featured a cover by the same splendid Mr. Grant. But although he portrayed our Milwaukee Minutemen as proud Continentals in his cartoon, their performance that day was more like the Battle of Fort Washington than Yorktown; the Brews were outright spanked by the All-Stars, 18-0.

But that is the story for another day. Today, seventy-five years ago, they were wishing America a happy birthday. And so shall we today.

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