By Phil Hecken and Lance Smith
Scroll down for two important messages from Paul
I’m back today, joined by Lance Smith (a/k/a “Squiddie”), whose unofficial UW title has got to be “Life Historian.” He’ll be taking us through a wonderful journey today of the Cream City, vis-Ã -vis the first Major League Baseball franchise to call Milwaukee home, the Braves. Lance weaves a wonderful tale through his incredibly through and painstaking research of the Life archives:
On March 28, 1953, Lou Perini announced that he would be moving his Boston Braves to Milwaukee. The move had been approved 8-0 by the National League and by April 14, Milwaukee was ready for the ceremonial first pitch. (OK, Lance thinks that was the first pitch in 1957 but you get the idea.)
This was the first major league franchise shift in 50 years and the initial enthusiasm by the Milwaukee fans meant it received some attention in Life magazine. If you look through the Life photo archives you can find some choice images from the early days in 1953 and during the teams successes in 1957 and 1958.
So what did the Braves find when the moved to Milwaukee?
• Warren Spahn and his wife got a visit by the Welcome Wagon. Included in their welcome gifts were a book on playing winning baseball and a six pack of Grandpa Graf’s.
• Some protest (A 35 hour work week? Lance guesses they did elect Frank P. Zeidler, a Socialist, as mayor in 1948 and he was still in office in 1953.)
• More sausage. That’s pitcher Max Surkont. Note the back of the dugout jacket in his locker.
But, no matter where they went, there were attentive fans.
The young women of Milwaukee seemed smitten with Eddie Matthews. Even bringing him gifts at the park. Though it was manager Charlie Grimm who got a puppy. Fred Haney, Grimm’s replacement, would receive cheese from a beauty queen. Joe Adcock would also get some attention from royalty.
The Milwaukee Braves could also expect colorful crowds — Often SRO and sometimes sitting room only. Crowds often included members of the clergy and fashionable young ladies. Often more hirsute than average, but with a good appreciation for a fine newspaper like the Milwaukee Journal. Of course, not everyone at the park was most interested in the game.
Thanks, Lance. Always a great trip down memory lane when you delve into the Life archives!
IMPORTANT INFO regarding the Baltimore party: Paul here, with a last-minute change of venue announcement regarding the Baltimore party tomorrow. Due to a mix-up (read: poor advance research on my part), we will NOT be meeting at Hillendale Lanes. Instead, we’ll be meeting at Racers, tomorrow night at 7pm. Kirsten and I will have to head back to NYC at 9:30, so we’ll have a solid two and a half hours of Uni Watch fun, OK? OK.
IMPORTANT INFO about something else: The next round of “Naming Wrongs” shirts is finally ready to go, and I think you’ll agree they look pretty sharp. Check ’em out here (or see the individual pages for the Comiskey, Joe Robbie, Mile High, and Jake shirts). These won’t ship until July 13th, but we’re taking pre-orders now. You know what to do.
The Proctor Chronicles: Yesterday I linked to several photos of the Buffalo Sabres wearing “mismatched” stripes on their sleeves and hems. That prompted sporting goods scholar Terry Proctor to check in with an explanation:
A little background on the Sabres’ original uniform gaffe might help to set things straight. First, the Sabres’ first uniforms in their inaugural year of 1970-71 were made in the style that the Toronto Maple Leafs had just abandoned. Sabres’ Coach/GM George “Punch” Imlach was formerly the head man in Toronto and liked the style of uniform that his Leafs wore in winning the 1967 Stanley Cup.
When he learned that Toronto was changing styles for ’70-’71 Punch decided to make the new Sabres into clones of the Leafs, albeit adding the Gold trim. The late Frank Rowe, who with his wife Vi ran the C-C-M warehouse in Buffalo and supplied all of the skates, pads, gloves and sticks for many NHL and AHL teams (including the Sabres and Rochester Americans), told me this story years ago. Frank Rowe was a regular visitor to NHL & AHL dressing rooms and one of the “good guys” in the sporting goods business. Many times we would send a broken Amerk player’s skate to Buffalo via Trailways bus after a Friday game in Rochester. Frank would pick up the skate after midnight, repair it and the meet the Amerks’ bus as it passed through Exit 50 of the NYS Thruway in Williamsville en route to Cleveland for a Saturday night game. That was the kind of guy Frank Rowe was.
The Sabres’ new uniforms were ordered but were running late, so much so that they played their first couple of exhibition games wearing the Red, White and Blue uniforms of the AHL Buffalo Bisons that they replaced. The Sabres’ first trainer/equipment manager was Frank Christie who had been in the same job with the Bisons since the 1940s. Since the Sabres used the same dressing room as the Bisons all of the Herd’s unis were still there. Frankie just passed out the Bisons’ old gear at the start.
When the Sabres’ uniforms finally arrived from Rawlings it was noticed that the body striping was reversed from the sleeve stripes. With time against them in ordering a new set of White sweaters Imlach in effect said, “Screw it! We’re wearing these!” So what was an innocent manufacturing goof thus became part of Sabres uniform tradition and history. And if you look closely at original Sabres socks you will note that they have the narrow Northwestern-style striping of the Maple Leafs. Somewhere down the line the stripes all became equal.
Also, pictures of Sabres early practice sessions show Gilbert Perreault and others wearing those Bisons’ “Pepsi-bottle cap” sweaters.
Guess The Game From The Scoreboard: It’s impossible to stump you folks. I think. Got a couple here that just may do that. As always, same rules apply — don’t post the answer in the comments, but simply say “I got it” and go to baseball almanac or retrosheet and post the link to the game. Date, location and final score please. See if you can get them both.
Here’s the first one — remember, it’s the game from the STADIUM where the scoreboard is located. Guess The Game
This one might be a little bit harder. Clues are there though. (This pic comes courtesy of Chris Staggs) Guess The Game
Uni Watch Ticker: Reader Melvin Nieves saw the weekend post, A Reversal of
Fortune Color and sent the following note: “Your recent uni-watch article on brand re-coloring reminds me of a set of Padres jersey concepts my partner and I put together for our blog. We find the current Padres jersey set boring, the colors aren’t traditional Padres colors, and they lack a connection to the Friar mascot. The worst part though, is they look just like Milwaukee’s uniforms! We came up with a plan to fix these issues, and I mocked them up in Photoshop (Home and Away). We believe these concepts are unique, attractive, we like the return to traditional brown, and they maintain a connection to the current jerseys. Fans love the sand color, so we think that should stay as well. More info is available here.” … An anonymous friend noticed, with Jerry West as “the NBA logo,” was this photo of Dave Kingman used as the inspiration for Barrelman? Eerie (here they are side by side)… Ben Walsh checks in with another in the myriad number of Worst Uniform Ever articles … “When I heard that the Clippers might move (just a rumor!),” writes Yossi Katz “I started to think what if they came to Saint Louis? What would they be called? Then I (with a little help) made these uniforms. They are the Saint Louis Archers. The white is the home, the gold the road, and the blue the alternate. On the blue, the light blue waves on each side represent the two rivers (Missouri and Mississippi) coming together and continuing down the shorts as one. Note the Arch on the shorts. The main logo is on the home jersey, the alternate on the alternate. What do you think?” — Readers? Thoughts? … The Junior World Championship of American Football is being held at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton later on in June, writes Zac Neubauer. A nice surprise is there doesn’t seem to be any ads. There is a full media gallery on their website. Zac included a shot of Team USA. … Christopher Falvey wasn’t sure if we ever posted this, but apparently Gordie Howe went FNOB back in the day. He found it on this classic video from Chicago: Fast forward to about 1:15 to see a strange animated AL logo too! The whole video is pretty cool. Chris notes, “And, no, I have no idea what the heck is going on with the commercial at 2:30. Ha!” … Although stills from this have been posted, Jason Rypkema found an article with some real neat shots of the some of the AFL throwbacks … Interesting uni tidbit from B. Mitchell from last week’s Italy v New Zealand Friendly warmup match in South Africa, preceeding the Confederation Cup. The New Zealand’s soccer team, is known as “The All-Whites” and they wore a full black kit, like their rugby countrymen. Italy is famously known as the Azzurri (The Blues) and they wore all white kits. … Intersting find from Jason Bernard, who discovered this “Pittsburgh Pirates” cap. He asks, “I wonder if Powers has that one?” … Our penultimate ticker item comes from Casey Wurzbach, who grabbed this shot of Joe Torre bearing gifts on the Tonight Show … Finally, Pablo Souki sent along a few pictures he found in this book, which is about the Asros’ baseball academy in Venezuela: First, pictures of what is supposed to be the first baseball game ever in Venezuela, in 1895. Second, the Caracas road uniform from the 1964-65 season. Not a great picture, but what Pablo loves about it is that it’s Pete Rose crossing home plate. And finally, Tequila Sunrise uniforms in 1990 at the Astros’ academy, as worn by sixteen-year-old Bobby Abreu.