A 100 Year Old Brew

1913 - 2013 Brewers Transition

By Phil Hecken

As alluded to yesterday, if you got through the entire article, today I have a very special treat — Uni Watch stalwart Chance Michaels has penned an absolutely fabulous article on the 1913 throwbacks the Milwaukee Brewers will be wearing today (their opponents, the Cardinals, are also throwing back. For reference, here’s what those Cards looked like).

For those of you who read on a regular basis, Chance needs no introduction, and he’s guest authored a number of articles for me before. Few pay such close attention to detail or make sure everything is *just so* as Chance. And when he approached me about a week ago with his pitch for this article, it took me all of about three seconds to say “PLEASE”.

So, without further ado, then — here is that promised article. You’re in for a treat. Here’s Chance:

. . .

An Anniversary on Tap
By Chance Michaels

Today, the Brewers will take the field at Miller Park dressed in 1913 finery. And I’m pleased to be able to say that I had a small role in making it happen.

Uni Watchers may know that I run two blogs, to borrow an old chestnut: one that chronicles the æsthetic history of the Green Bay Packers; and an obscure one. That second blog, BorchertField.com, is dedicated to the Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association, a minor league baseball club that played from 1902-1952. The “Brews” (a nickname sometimes used by fans at the time, and one I now use to distinguish them from the current National League club) won eight league pennants and five postseason minor league championships, the first of each in 1913 with a powerhouse club full of colorful characters (not to mention a goat mascot!). It was that success over fifty-one seasons that paved the way for major league baseball to return to the Cream City, first in the form of the Milwaukee Braves and then with a team that adopted the minor league club’s name.

1913_OhYouBrewers_pennant_frontBack in May of 2012, I was interviewed by Milwaukee-based writer and radio host Doug Russell for OnMilwaukee.com about that blog. I mentioned to him during the course of our conversation that I was approaching the Brewers about a Turn Back the Clock event honoring the Brews. 2013, I told him, was going to be the 100th Anniversary of that club’s first league pennant, and a throwback seemed like a natural way of remembering the old club. I had reached out to the Brewers in past years, beginning in 2002 (the Brews’ centennial), but those entreaties had never come to anything.

The Brewers had held TBTC events for the Brews twice before: once in 1993, where the Brewers wore a uniform roughly “inspired by” the 1920s, and the second time in 1996, where they wore much more accurate 1946-era uniforms.

Armed with Doug’s contacts, I hoped this time I might interest the Brewers in another tribute to the Brews. He agreed, and put me in touch with Tyler Barnes, Vice President of Communications for the team. We first spoke in August.

1993_tbtcUniform_frontTo my delight, Barnes was indeed very interested in commemorating the Brews’ first pennant with a TBTC uniform, bobble head, the works. I suggested that a traditional American Association city might be an appropriate opponent; with matching throwback uniforms for the Kansas City Blues, St. Paul Saints or Minneapolis Millers.

Barnes asked me to supply some reference photos on the 1913 uniform. I told him that I could do one better: I could get him an authentic jersey from that season, from the collection of Paul Tenpenny, one of regular contributors to my blog. The jersey is a real beut, soft white flannel with blue piping and a squat blue block “M” on the breast.

So the jersey was easy. The rest of the uniform, not so much. In particular, we were all concerned about the caps. The Brews wore solid navy caps with no logo for the majority of the 1913 season, but I had material which suggested that they may have adopted a modified uniform near the end of the season as they cruised to the pennant. We wanted to nail that down, if possible. Other teams had worn plain caps for their early-20th Century TBTC events, but nobody in our discussion was keen on being one of them. If we could go in a more interesting direction, we would, and it looked as though we could find historical precedent for it.

And with that, we were off!

1913_teamI gathered contemporary photos and newspaper accounts of the Brews’ uniforms. In September, I sent the Brewers a packet of reference photos, and then heard nothing. For weeks. The process works slowly, and as I told Tyler Barnes, he had to oversee dozens of special events while I was waiting for word on my own pet project.

November came, bringing official notification that the day had been scheduled for May 5th against the Cardinals. The visitors would also wear recreations of their 1913 togs.

Then nothing again for a couple months. In early January the Brewers released a picture of the day’s bobble head giveaway, featuring first baseman Corey Hart. This was my first look at Majestic’s interpretation of the uniform. Although I wish Mr. Hart was showing a little more sock, I think they did a pretty good job.

Interestingly, there was no corresponding announcement that the Brewers would be wearing those uniforms on the field. That meant no mention of the uniforms in Paul’s 2013 baseball preview. I presumed that somebody would put two and two together, and make the connection, but no. I received emails from dozens of my readers commenting on the bobblehead, but nobody asked the question I was anticipating.

2013_CoreyHart_ThrowbackBobbleI was able to confirm the TBTC uniforms on my blog in April, but at that point still hadn’t seen a picture of them. In my original pitch, I had suggested that the Brewers might go numberless, as the Yankees and Red Sox did for Fenway Park’s Centennial game last season, but didn’t think it was a real possibility. Barnes confirmed to me that the club had decided to add numbers to the jersey. He had helped manage the ceremonies for the final game at Tiger Stadium, and as part of that they had center fielder Gabe Kapler wear a number-less jersey as a tribute to Ty Cobb. “It’s a cool feature,” he told me, “but at times we have to take some liberties to allow for the modern conveniences.”. I hadn’t seriously thought the Brewers would go that route, and wasn’t terribly surprised or disappointed in his response.

The jerseys had their official unveiling, as it were, on MLB’s website. The Brewers and Majestic did a remarkable job duplicating the spirit of the original in modern form.

8708909280_55a394526b_cUnfortunately, we weren’t so lucky with the caps. Apparently New Era wasn’t able to match the cream-colored fabric to everyone’s satisfaction, so it was back to navy caps. One additional liberty was taken in the form of a cream “M” to adorn the crown. There is ample historical precedent for that in the Brews’ history, as close as 1912. Replicas of the intended design, white with blue details, will still be on sale at Miller Park.

And now, almost exactly a year to the day after I first suggested this event to Doug Russell, we’ve arrived at the big day. I’ll be at Miller Park today, interviewed by Russell on Newsradio 620 WTMJ about the process, and my collaborator Paul Tenpenny and I are to make an appearance on FOX Sports Wisconsin in the third inning, showing off his vintage 1913 jersey to the audience.

I asked Barnes how much awareness of the old club existed at One Brewers Way, and he responded with this:

People here – fans, front office, players – really enjoy our tributes to past teams, whether it’s the Negro Leagues Tribute Game, 1982 Retro Friday uniforms, or the like. Sure, people know the old Minor League Brewers because they were such a staple of the baseball culture before the arrival of Major League Baseball. We (Brewers) even placed an historical marker at the old location of Borchert Field several years ago, though it’s actually about 200 yards from the true location as the area is now a freeway. We pay close attention to the history of baseball in Milwaukee because what we are doing today will soon be part of that legacy. We don’t want to be left behind by those who succeed us, so we take care to remember those that came before us.

Makes me glad to be a Brewer fan.

I’ve spent a fair amount of my adult life carrying the flag for our old Brews, and it makes me more proud than I can say to have had a small part in bringing them back for one game.

. . .

Thanks Chance! Fantastic article and even better that you could play a role in this! OK, readers — what say you?

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colorize thisColorize This!

Occasionally, I will be featuring wonderful, high-quality black and white photographs that are just begging to be colorized.

Another smallish set today, but as always it’s a good one.

Click on each image to enlarge.

. . .

We begin today with John Turney, with an old Rams pic:

Crazy Legs 1951 - John Turney

Phil–

Crazy Legs circa 1951.

John

. . .

Next up is Pete Woychick with a reader non-request (what?):

37_Trice_J_Ames_1923 - Pete Woychick

Phil

This is for the submitter who researched Jack Trice’s uniform number. I know he didn’t ask for a colorization, but I think his dedication deserves recognition!

Cheers!

—Pete

. . .

Pete also did this next baseball colorization, and as his wont, accompanied it with a nice backstory:

portland_maine_pilots_1947 - Pete Woychick

Hi Phil—

In my corner of the world, there’s Portland, and then there’s Portland, Maine. This squad is from the latter, a member of the on-again, off-again New England League. The 1947 Pilots managed just a 45-80 record (improved from 20-99-1 the previous year!), but in this photo they appear to be in the process of “hanging a crooked number” in the fifth inning. The team was briefly (1948-49) a Class-B Phillies affiliate, but the uniforms I’ve given them here are purely fanciful; I was unable to find any information on their actual colors.

Cheers!
—Pete

. . .

Our final colorization is somewhat fanciful, based on that wonderful old school photo provided by Jerry Reuss yesterday. It’s by Rob Holecko.

Jerry Reuss colorized - Rob Holecko

Phil,

I colorized the Jerry Reuss photo.

Rob

… .. …

That’s it for today. Lets keep those colorizations coming Uni Watchers!

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all sport uni tweaksUni Tweaks Concepts

We have another new set of tweaks, er…concepts today. After discussion with a number of readers, it’s probably more apropos to call most of the reader submissions “concepts” rather than tweaks. So that’s that.

So if you’ve concept for any sport, or just a tweak or wholesale revision, send them my way.

Please do try to keep your descriptions to ~50 words (give or take) per image — if you have three uniform concepts in one image, then obviously, you can go a little over, but no novels, OK? OK!. You guys have usually been good with keeping the descriptions pretty short, and I thank you for that.

Like the colorizations, I’m going to run these as inline pics — click on each one to enlarge.

And so, lets begin:

~~~

We begin today with Michael Romero, with some concepts for Scarlet Knight footall:

RFootball-Home - Michael Romero RFootball-Away - Michael Romero

RFootball-Blackout - Michael Romero

Hi Phil,

I really, really disliked the clown costumes that my alma mater rolled out this past year. We are the birthplace of college football, I think we should embrace the tradition, not run from it. To that end, I came up with a new uniform concept for them.

Description:
A clean, classic look. No extra striping on the jersey, though I did leave the Nikelace. Return to a classic Varsity block font. One nice scarlet stripe on the pants. Also includes a Blackout uni, since scarlet looks good on black without all that extra costume crap.

Thanks,

Michael Romero

. . .

Next up is Scott Russell, who submitted a new logo for the Dolphins:

2013_DolphinsLogoConcept - Scott Russell

Hey Phil!

I submitted this to Paul for his Re-design the Dolphins competition. But it didn’t fare well because it didn’t stray too far away from the original design. However, looking at all of the negative feedback online regarding the new Dolphins logo… maybe that’s a good thing?

I’ve been a lifelong fan, and would have preferred to see some more natural evolution to the design, rather than a complete redesign. To put it lightly, I’m not a big fan of the new look. I would have preferred it if they did something like this…

Hope you’re having a good week!

Cheers!

-Scott

. . .

We close today with Brian Bennett who has some concepts for the Canucks & Wild:

Canucks Jerseys_logos - Brian Bennett

Wild Jerseys_logos - Brian Bennett

Phil,

Sorry, I still like the tweaks idea, in the sense of a uniform that has some deficiencies that can be improved with minor changes to the existing elements.

Vancouver Canucks jerseys. Currently there are two primary issues: lack of color matching between the orca logo and the uniform, and the total lack of any design relationship between the orca and the “VANCOUVER” lettering. Adding the “V” used in the Vancouver Millionaires jersey gives a base for “VANCOUVER” and adds green to better match the jersey. (But like the current jerseys, still looks better without “VANCOUVER.”)

Minnesota Wild third jerseys. Overuse of the wheat/vintage white leaves a jersey with little color and contrast. Adds white, more red and gold in the star. Same motif can work for red and white jerseys.

Brian Bennett

. . .

And that’s it for today. Back with more next time.

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OK folks — that’s a wrap for this fine Sunday.

Big thanks to Chance for that great writeup and also to the colorizers and concepters.

One programming note — we’re going to stop accepting any last minute submissions to the UWFFL design contest (there are still four teams whose submissions we’ve yet to see) this Tuesday — so if you’re working on anything, please make sure to get it in to me ASAP. OK? OK!

Everyone have a great week and I’ll catch you next weekend. Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.

Peace.

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945950_550489358331158_1899728734_n
One For The Road

.. … ..

“Once, while shopping for clothes at Nordstrom’s in downtown Seattle, [Chris Berman] had sales people from all over the store hustling to satisfy his whims. He dropped more than few grand on ties, shirts, belts, etc. I watched the whole spectacle from the high chair at the shoeshine stand realizing this was one of the greatest shows that ESPN would never air!”
–Jerry Reuss

 

43 comments to A 100 Year Old Brew

  • BurghFan | May 5, 2013 at 6:54 am |

    Congratulations, Chance. Getting an event like this to happen is awesome, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

    • DJ | May 5, 2013 at 9:37 am |

      Seconded. You should feel pleased and proud of your contribution to your team’s history.

    • LarryB | May 5, 2013 at 1:57 pm |

      Nicely done Chance. Interesting column today.

      • Connie DC | May 5, 2013 at 4:06 pm |

        Chance’s enthusiasms – and the care and fidelity with which he invests them – are just wonderful. I had known a little about the Packers’ history, but the old-time Brewers are such a happy revelation. Mazel tov.

  • BurghFan | May 5, 2013 at 6:57 am |

    A couple of notes from Pittsburgh this weekend:

    – At Friday’s Penguin game, I made a point of looking, and the local ads were all on the boards on the non-televised side.

    – Yesterday, the Pirates and Nationals both wore colored jerseys. Seeing both teams dressed that way always puts me in mind of spring training.

  • Rob H | May 5, 2013 at 7:28 am |

    Actually, I didn’t actually say I colorized it, but we can go with that. LOL

  • Los Jeff | May 5, 2013 at 7:31 am |

    Kinda odd to do the throwback today, isn’t it? Shouldn’t they be doing the Spanish jersey thing for Cinco de Mayo?

    Still, it’s cool that some of us regular people can actually influence pro teams.

    • DJ | May 5, 2013 at 9:36 am |

      Payaso. Usted utiliza el artículo adecuado y hacer un juego de palabras entre lenguajes humorístico refiriéndose a sí mismo como «El Jefe» para el día. En cambio, sólo muestra su ignorancia.

      • Los Jeff | May 5, 2013 at 10:00 am |

        I’m celebrating NBA style. Surely you’ve seen those jerseys – Los Bulls, Los Heat, etc.

        /Should I have used Los The Jeff? That seemed worse.

        • Mike Engle on iPad | May 5, 2013 at 11:22 am |

          El Heat, so El Jeff works. ;-)

        • Phil Hecken | May 5, 2013 at 11:25 am |

          Shhhhhhhhh!

          Don’t let facts get in the way of LOS’ argument…

  • Steve D | May 5, 2013 at 7:50 am |

    Fantastic Chance…maybe I am not seeing it right, but the original Brews look like they wore navy blue and the bobblehead looks navy, but the throwback to be worn looks like the M is green? Is that the case? You did not mention that in your article. Does that bother you?

    • Los Jeff | May 5, 2013 at 8:04 am |

      I think that’s just the lighting.

  • Pierre | May 5, 2013 at 8:25 am |

    The Dolphins new logo doesn’t bother me…it’s just a modern version of the old one. What does bother me, however, is the dearth of orange trim on the uniform…such as on the helmet. Miami could have modernized their uniforms and still kept the Dolphin’s traditional orange and aqua colors intact. They now remind me a little of Tulane.

  • Jerry | May 5, 2013 at 9:03 am |

    Very well done by Chance Michaels. Terrific tribute to the old Brews. Chance did his part now I hope the players go old school and show some sock.

    • Matt | May 5, 2013 at 9:30 pm |

      I was at the game and the first thing I noticed (probably thanks to this site) was that all the starters for both teams were showing socks… except Jaime Garcia, the Cardinals starting pitcher. I didn’t pay attention (i.e. semi-lost interest in the game due to the score) if the players that came in later were also showing socks.

    • umplou | May 5, 2013 at 9:55 pm |

      Was watching the game with a couple of friends on MLB.tv, and while we all thought both teams looked real sharp, we all agreed that the Brewers should have had Mrs. Williams in the front row wear a 1913 type throwback boostier or something…

      Yes, beer was involved

      And for all those unfamiliar with Milwaukee’s Front Row Amy check this out: http://www.620wtmj.c...

  • Gazzoo | May 5, 2013 at 9:08 am |

    The new Dolphins logo is not a “complete redesign”….except for the tail position, from a distance they look very similar.

    • Los Jeff | May 5, 2013 at 9:18 am |

      Um… they changed everything about it. The dolphin is different, the sunburst is different, even the colors are different. Sure, it’s still “an aqua dolphin in an orange sunburst” but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a complete redesign.

      • Bob Gassel | May 5, 2013 at 9:58 am |

        Yes, up-close it’s quite different, but watching a game on TV in most wide shots I think it’ll be not as drastic a change as it’s being made out.

  • Todd | May 5, 2013 at 10:21 am |

    The colorization of the Portland uniform is cool, however it looks like the new Astros uniforms, which I think are horrendous.

  • M.Princip | May 5, 2013 at 10:25 am |

    Wow, superb colorization from Pete Woychick.

  • Mmwatkin | May 5, 2013 at 10:27 am |

    I can see those brewers caps selling well in Ann Arbor

  • Jerry Reuss | May 5, 2013 at 11:49 am |

    Hi Rob,

    Nice job on the colorization of my high school picture. That’s the right shade of orange exactly where it should be.

    Jerry

    • Rob H. | May 5, 2013 at 12:42 pm |

      Thanks, Jerry!

  • Gusto4044 | May 5, 2013 at 12:09 pm |

    I’m definitely a proponent of increasing awareness for minor league baseball for different cities, those teams and players deserve to be remembered. And those minor league clubs played a role in the eventual landing of a major league club.

    One of the questions for me is always what was the awareness level of the hometown fans before, and what will it be later, even on a local basis? What was the impact of the team at the time, and how much was passed down countless years later? How many fans of the MLB club could have named those players, and will the added recognition make a real difference?

  • Coleman | May 5, 2013 at 12:13 pm |

    My, goodness. Stories like today’s lede make me proud to say I’m part of this group. Chance truly Gets It. (I have no idea how to do a TM sign on my phone)

    Congratulations, Chance!

  • Gazzoo | May 5, 2013 at 12:57 pm |

    Regarding the colorized Portland pic, while the guy on the right is obviously about to give a pat on the back, it looks like he’s doing a high-five.

  • Arr Scott | May 5, 2013 at 1:38 pm |

    Kudos to Chance on making the 1913 throwbacks happen. A shame that the team was so married to ivory uniforms that they couldn’t just switch to white to match the more-authentic cap style. Oh well. But the Brewers appear to be going for a record by charging $270 for an un-numbered authentic throwback jersey:

    http://shop.mlb.com/...

    And $290 for one with Ryan Braun’s number on the back. Holy cow, a $300 polyester shirt?

    • superfly | May 5, 2013 at 3:36 pm |

      The amount they are charging is ridiculous, but someone must be paying.

      I bought a replica of the SF Giants gold letter, World Series commemorative jersey, which cost $95, and sent it back because it was so cheaply and poorly made, I wouldn’t have kept it at half the price, it was a $20 shirt, at best.

      And I think they wanted $225 for the authentic version. Absurd.

  • LarryB | May 5, 2013 at 1:58 pm |

    Thanks as always to the colorizers. Keep them coming.

  • Rob H. | May 5, 2013 at 2:54 pm |

    Screenshots of the Cardinals/Brewers:

    http://throwback-uni...

    Cards are going with a gray cap, but with initials on the cap. According to Dressed to the Nines, cap should be blank.

    • Los Jeff | May 5, 2013 at 3:04 pm |

      Apparently no one likes blank caps. I can’t say I blame them. It’s not historically accurate, but it does look better.

    • Rob H. | May 5, 2013 at 4:22 pm |

      But while the Cardinals have a period cap, but without being blank, yet are using their regular helmets, the Brewers have a reverse color, yet accurate cap, but instead of using their regular helmets, or a using helmet with the period-correct cap logo, they are using a blank helmet.

    • Randy | May 5, 2013 at 5:39 pm |

      Interesting note about the Brewers helmets. All the Brewers batters were wearing blank helmets (no logo), but in the bottom of the 5th, Brewers reliever Alfredo Figaro got an at bat due to the blowout score. Since Figaro doesn’t have his own helmet, he had to borrow Wily Peralta’s helmet. Peralta’s lid still had the regular Brewers “M” logo on it. Figaro got his 1st career hit and RBI, and drove in the only run for the Brewers in the game. Maybe the other guys should have used that helmet too.

  • Rob H. | May 5, 2013 at 3:07 pm |

    Screencaps of Chance’s appearance on FS Wisconsin:

    http://lmsctfy.blogs...

  • Anthony Nuccio | May 5, 2013 at 3:37 pm |

    Brian,

    I like your Canucks concepts, but I can’t say that I like that red concept for the Wild. Good work though!

  • Shea | May 5, 2013 at 5:27 pm |

    Is there a certain program that you guys use for the uniform concepts?

  • Brian Bennett | May 5, 2013 at 8:04 pm |

    I use Adobe Illustrator. Easy to re-use basic uniform templates once created and many logos and graphics available online as vector graphics, which can be used in Illustrator. Anthony, I’m not fond of the red Wild version either (nor of the current Wild red jersey – their primary color should be green in my opinion) but thought I’d include it.

  • Phil Hecken | May 5, 2013 at 8:19 pm |

    Interesting Cinco de Mayo game in San Francisco. Both teams have spanish language jerseys. SF’s say “GIGANTES” while the Dodgers’ say “LOS Angeles”

    • Steve D | May 5, 2013 at 8:50 pm |

      The should have put the LOS in red for today…lest we confuse it with their regular road grays…which they essentially are. They could have then auctioned off the jerseys for charity.

      • Michael Emody | May 5, 2013 at 11:17 pm |

        In Houston, the Astro’s have “Los” added above the Astros lettering on the upper right side of the jersey, in their LOSs to the Tigers, who looked normal.