Sunday, August 11, 2019

On This Day - "Red Cross Homer"

On this day seventy-five years ago, the Milwaukee Sentinel published a fascinating photo, a rare look at the Milwaukee Chicks and Milwaukee Brewers baseball clubs sharing the Borchert Field diamond.

Although the two clubs shared a ballpark, they were hardly partners. The All-American league would have been happy to borrow some of the Brewers' credibility in the marketplace (in fact, an early name for the Chicks was "Brewerettes", much as the fledgling NFL borrowed established baseball names to get itself taken more seriously). The Brewers, for their part, seemed fine with renting their ballpark to the upstart women's league but didn't collaborate any further. Given that, this photo is almost shocking.

RED CROSS HOMER—Three Milwaukee Chicks get a batting lesson from Dick Culler, prize minor league shortstop of the year, as they prepare for their big Red Cross "thank you" night Saturday at Borchert field. All Red Cross members, blood donors and contributors will be admitted free to the game which pits the league leading Chicks against the second-place South Bend Blue Sox. Watching the lesson is Mary Beth Korfmann of the Milwaukee Red Cross motor corps. The Chicks, left to right: Infielder Gladys (Terry) Davis, PItcher Jo Kabick and First Baseman Dolores Klosowski.
This photo was taken in the lead-up to a major event for the Chicks, where they welcomed a few thousand Red Cross employees, volunteers, and donors to Borchert Field.

Shortstop Dick Culler, seen here twisting himself in knots with a mighty swing, was a fresh face in the Brewer lineup for 1944. He was purchased from the Chicago White Sox, having appeared in 53 games for the South Siders during 1943. Culler was widely praised for his glove work, but unfortunately for him the Sox had another shortstop; Luke Appling, who won the 1943 American League batting title on his way to the Hall of Fame. Culler was given a chance to start in Milwaukee, leading off the Brewers' batting order. He impressed at the plate and on the field, so much so that the Boston Braves paid Milwaukee handsomely for him after just one season at Borchert Field. To see one of the Brewers' marquee players giving a "batting lesson" to the Chicks is an interesting combination of Milwaukee baseball.

In retrospect, it's a shame that the Brewers and Chicks couldn't collaborate. At the worst, the Brewers would have gotten some additional rental income. At best, they could have helped women's baseball gain a foothold in a major American city, which might have changed history.

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