brewers baseball and things

home of the braves

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Say Boston in a crowded room and Red Sox typically come to mind, but not in Milwaukee. We think of the Boston Braves. We have no choice.

The Boston Braves relocated to Milwaukee and played their games at County Stadium. And a few years down the road, that’s where we learned about drunk brawls and kissing couples under the bleachers and grew to love the Milwaukee Brewers.

There are more bars in Milwaukee per square mile than maybe anywhere in the world. This includes home owners who construct replica watering holes in basements. I remember mirrors with Braves emblems lining make shift rails and wondering.

spain and sainI remember hearing that strange refrain, “Spahn and Sain and pray for rain…“

And I remember when County Stadium was demolished on February 21, 2001 and the ghostly ruins I apparently swallowed because I`ve never lost my appetite for Braves.

The Braves are considered the oldest ongoing franchise in all North American professional sports having played in the first ever National League game in 1876 as the Boston Red Caps. Shortly thereafter, they became the Boston Beaneaters.

The team suffered in 1901 with the arrival of the American League and the crosstown  Boston Red Sox. The Beaneaters changed their name to the Doves, then the Rustlers, and finally the Braves in 1912. Two years later they won the World Series.

But the Braves suffered 15 consecutive losing seasons between 1917 and 1931. Season attendance consistently hovered under the 500,000 mark, but relocation was out of the question. Between 1901 and 1952, there were always 16 teams in the same 12 cities

Then Lou Perini happened. He became the Boston Braves owner in 1941. The team earned a trip to the 1948 World Series and attendance totals topped the one million mark for three consecutive years (1947-1950).

But Perini had other visions up his sleeve; Braves New World visions and when attendance dipped to 280,00 in 1951, he put the wheels in motion and moved baseball`s oldest ongoing franchise from Boston to Milwaukee.

county stadium 1953

Milwaukee had been on baseball`s radar as a major league destination since the 1940’s. The city was hungry and began construction of County Stadium in 1950 with absolutely no guarantees. The risk was unprecedented.

Milwaukee had enjoyed uninterrupted minor league baseball all the way back to the 1880’s as affiliates to a half dozen major league teams. They were always known as the Brewers whether as an A, AA, or AAA team. In 1946, the Brewers became the top farm team for the Boston Braves.

Plans were to have the minor league Brewers move into County Stadium, but then Perini happened.

The Braves move to Milwaukee, for better or worse, ignited a forest fire. The St. Louis Browns moved to Baltimore and became the Orioles. The Philadelphia Athletics relocated to Kansas City, and then the impossible happened. In 1958, the lovable Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles and the New York Giants followed to San Francisco. New York had been gutted of two major institutions.

If there were lucrative lands to exploit, owners now rolled the dice and moved teams where markets were believed to be better.

Milwaukee embraced the Braves like no other baseball city had ever done before or since. In the 1952 season, it took a mere 20 home dates to top the previous year’s season attendance totals in Boston.

The following year Milwaukee became the first national league city to reach the 2 million mark. It was the first of four consecutive seasons with 2 million or more fans.

And on the field, the team did an about-face, wining 92 games or 28 more than the previous season and the most since the 1914 team. The Braves won the World Series in 1957 and lost to the Yankees in 58.

The Braves never suffered a losing season in Milwaukee. For 13 consecutive years Milwaukee enjoyed a winner. But when attendance dipped blow one million in 1962, Perini sold the Braves to Chicago investors.

There were markets to exploit, radio and tv contracts to consider. Atlanta was the gateway to the south and the last untapped US baseball market. The Braves began play in Atlanta to begin the 1966 season.

How does that Neil Young so go? “The same thing that makes you live will kill you in the end.“ Milwaukee had a bad case of the relocation blues, but it didn`t last long.

Thank you Seattle!

In the spring of 1970, equipment trucks heading north to start the baseball season stopped in Provo, Utah and waited word from Seattle. The one year expansion Seattle Pilots had gone bankrupt and a group  led by Bud Selig made an offer.

The trucks went east instead of west and County Stadium became home to the Milwaukee Brewers.

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Author: Steve Myers

I grew up in Milwaukee and have been a Milwaukee Brewers baseball fan for as long as I can remember.

16 thoughts on “home of the braves

  1. EXCELLENT!

    Man, you can flat out WRITE!

    Glen

    • Thanks Glen. Much appreciated. Here’s that Neil Young song; from Hank to Hendrix and Jimi was born in Seattle too! God bless him. I dig this album of Neil Young. I think it was from the early 1990’s. It seems to touch both rock and roll and country. I never get tired of that slide guitar.

  2. I was unaware that the Braves never had a losing season while playing in Milwaukee. That’s quite a record. Excellent piece of writing.
    -Bill

    • Thanks Bill. All those wins, but attendance kept falling. Milwaukee fans lack the loyalty of Cub’s fans, but the diehards did file an injunction against the new owners and it awarded Brave’s fans one more season in Milwaukee-1965.

      They intentionally filed it in state court rather than the Supreme Court because of the Feds long standing exemption to baseball with regards to the Sherman anti-trust law. The vicious anti-monopoly dialogues in that Wisconsin court room must have made their way out the window and into Marvin Miller’s ears.

      That 1965 musta been a dismal and depressing season in Milwaukee with just over 550,000 fans. I wasn’t even born, but thought a lot about it in 2004 while suffering beside hard core Expos fans during their team’s swan song season.

  3. What is more you make the nuts and bolts that hold the gears of baseball INTERESTING.

    • Geez. I’m rolling in the praise today. Feels good. Thank you. Speaking of nuts and bolts, I’m always reminded with the sound of nuts and bolts about the three crane workers struck by Big Blue crane in July, 1999. They were working on the new home for the Milwaukee Brewers-Miller Park when the wind gusted up a terrible tragedy.

      • Oh how awful! 😦

        By the way, on another note entirely, I learned yesterday that at one time ‘Gentleman’ Jim Reeves signed for the St Louis Cardinals. I never knew that.

        • I had never heard of Jim Reeves and by George, you’re right..signed to a Cardinals contract in 1944 and spent three years as a minor league right handed pitcher before a sciatic nerve got him and then the plane. Thanks for sharing.

  4. THIS is “Gentleman” Jim Reeves, Steve, a great country singer from Texas with a velvet-smooth voicefrom Texas. This was his most well-known hit, “He’ll Have To Go”, one of MANY hits. It got to #1 on the country charts and #2 on the Amercian pop charts. It was a hit in 1960. With Reeves at the helm, he and his manager were killed in an airplane crash outside of Nashville, Tennessee in 1964.

    He wasn’t your typical country singer, really more of a pop crooner than a country singer (after he changed his style during the ’50s), but I liked him just the same.

    Glen

  5. Here’s another “telephone song”, this one by Jerry Reed. It wasn’t a big hit, but it was a lot funnier! Oh, and unlike Jim Reeves, you’ll notice by listening that JERRY had to put a coin in and DIAL, and he doesn’t have quite as easy a time in the phone booth!

    Glen

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