Sign in | Register now Like us on FacebookLike Us | Follow us on TwitterFollow Us

Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2014

Tue
Hi: 72
Lo: 53
Wed
Hi: 70
Lo: 55
Thu
Hi: 70
Lo: 53
Advertise on OnMilwaukee.com

Borchert was Brewers first home


Anticipating the arrival of Miller Park had Brewers fans scurrying for tickets, and the dismantled County Stadium had fans scavenging the ruins for a memento. Lost between the departure and arrival were memories of the Brewers first home -- Borchert Field.

From 1902-'52, Athletic Park, better known as Borchert Field, was home to the American Assosciation Milwaukee Brewers. The minor league team and ballpark was the home field for the young men who established Milwaukee as a Major League Baseball city.

The ballpark, which occupied just one city block, was built in 1888 at a fraction of today's costs -- $40,000. It was located in a residential district between W. Chambers St. and Burleigh St. and N. 7th and 8th Streets; the site is now covered by Interstate 43.

The most unique feature of Borchert Field was its rectangular shape. The right and left field fences were just 266 ft. from home plate, while straight-away center was 395. This meant the power alleys in right and left were deeper than straight away centerfield. Many of the current Brewers' sluggers, who look forward to the transition to shorter alleys at Miller Park, would have balked at these dimensions.

In 1901, Milwaukee was first introduced to the Brewers when the American League granted the city a major league franchise. But the Brewers lasted only one season here and the team moved during the off-season to become the St. Louis Browns.

The following season, Milwaukee received a AA franchise and named it after its departed major league team. The AA Brewers began their tenure at Borchert Field in 1902 and for a half a century the ballpark was home to several of baseball's pioneer executives, managers and players.

In 1919, Milwaukee native Otto Borchert bought the Brewers franchise and owned it until his death in 1927. The ballpark was officially re-named Borchert Field in his honor. Although Borchert never won a pennant, he's credited with sending several of his players to the big leagues.

Two of Milwaukee's greatest baseball players, Joe "Unser Choe" Hauser and Aloysius Semanski (Al Simmons) played at the park during Borchert's reign. Both received attention from Philadelphia Athletics manager Connie Mack. Mack knew Borchert from his days as the manager of the Milwaukee Creams. (The Creams played at Borchert Field prior to the Brewers.)

At Borchert's recommendation, Mack fortuitously signed both players to major league contracts. In 1924, Hauser was runner-up to Babe Ruth in home runs, while also setting a then-AL record of 14 total bases in one game. When Hauser's major league career was cut short by a knee injury, he went on to a successful career in the minors and became the first professional baseball player to hit 60 or more homers in consecutive seasons.

Simmons was known throughout Milwaukee's south side as the "Duke of Mitchell Street." He led the Athletics to two consecutive World Championships in 1929-'30. Regarded as one of the greatest players ever, Simmons hit over .380 four times. He was inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame in 1953.

Bill Veeck, son of a former Chicago Cubs owner, bought the rights to the Brewers during the 1941 season. Veeck began his executive career as the "PT Barnum of Baseball" at Borchert Field, where his first objectives were to improve the sagging structure of the ballpark and increase attendance. He accomplished both, building the Brewers into champions.

Veeck introduced Milwaukee and baseball to his innovative marketing schemes and promotions, which included morning games for third-shift workers and giveaways of items like butter, step ladders, vegetables and livestock.

Page 1 of 2 (view all on one page)

Next >>



Talkbacks

6181912 | July 24, 2009 at 12:12 a.m. (report)

I have a 1935 all star game program from Borchert Field. Mostly all of the pictures in the book are signed. I got it from my father who was at the game when he was a little boy. I don't want to sell it,just want to know it's worth. thanks

Rate this:
  • Average rating: 0.0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

daddysgirl | Nov. 26, 2007 at 1:53 p.m. (report)

After looking at many ways to find information on Borchert Field, I came across this article & was very much interested in knowing if anyone has any information on the 1930's Milwaukee Brewers. They were a AA team at that time, but I have been trying to find a picture of "Tot Pressnell" who was a pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers in the'30's. My father has told me about a picture he claims was taken with himself & Tot Pressnell. He is still not clear on the year, but we are thinking it has to be either 1934 or 1935. I have looked at the micro film of the Milwaukee Sentienl & Journal for those years, but I'm not finding anything. My dad thought it was in the Milwaukee Sentienl but it takes forever to get the film sent to the library & then find the time to sit and scroll through all the film. If anyone knows how or where I could possibly find this picture, I would be very much appreciative. You see I have been looking for the last 2 years & I would really like to get this pic for my dad for his 83rd birthday.

Rate this:
  • Average rating: 0.0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

bikeboy1 | Dec. 1, 2006 at 10:38 a.m. (report)

My dad & I sat along the 1st base side as far toward the outfield as we could get. I caught a foul ball during batting practice. We marveled at the short foul lines. I think I saw Johnny Logan play, but I'm not positive. In 1995 I took my daughter to her first minor league game in Chillicothe, Ohio. I spoke with a woman whose husband once played for the Brewers and eventually Brooklyn, now was the pitching coach for the visting team, Lanchaster of the Frontier League, but I can't recall his name. Even my young daughter was touched in a small way by Borchert Field in Milwaukee. I never returned to old Borchert. The next time I went to Milwaukee for baseball I saw the Braves play my Cubs.

Rate this:
  • Average rating: 0.0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

OMCreader | April 12, 2006 at 7:52 a.m. (report)

Fredrick Keller said: When I was a boy, I went with my father to baseball games at Borchert Field. I remember being quite awed at the tall (to a boy) green wooden fence which surrounded the park. One of the events I particularly remember was a game with a team from the "House of David". I think this team came from a Jewish seminary in MIchigan. I don't recall who they played. What was memorable was that they all wore beards!

Rate this:
  • Average rating: 0.0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
4 comments about this article.
Post a comment / write a review.

Facebook Comments

Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.