Association aims to keep Braves memories alive
Although many of us are too young to remember the glory days of the Milwaukee Braves -- or the heartbreak of their departure -- this city still harbors a deep-set love for Aaron, Spahn, Logan, Mathews and the rest of the gang.
Now, the legacy of the Braves is guaranteed to live on with the introduction of the Milwaukee Braves Historical Association, a non-profit organization that intends to erect a memorial near Miller Park, honoring the Braves.
According to association vice president Bud Lea, the objective of the association is to "preserve the memory of the only baseball team that has won a world championship in Milwaukee."
For a tax deductible $25 annual fee, members of the association receive newsletters and opportunities to attend special gatherings hosted by former Braves' players and celebrities. The association has 300 memberships from all over the country, Lea said.
From 1953-'65 the Braves were one of the most successful teams in Major League Baseball. In 1953 the Braves broke the National League attendance record, previously held by the 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers -- Jackie Robinson's rookie season. Between 1953-'58 the Braves led the major leagues in attendance, averaging more than 2 million fans a season.
In the team's 13-year tenure it never finished below .500 and brought Milwaukee its only World Series Championship in 1957. Decline in revenue and baseball expansion led to the Braves move to Atlanta following the 1965 season.
Two years ago, as County Stadium's last days ticked away, former Braves all-star shortstop -- and still Milwaukee resident -- Johnny Logan felt it was important that memories of the Braves did not vanish, too. Logan, the association's president, gathered friends and colleagues to launch the association.
Among the board members is former Braves' player Felix Mantilla.
Lea -- a former sports editor for the Milwaukee Sentinel and current columnist for the Journal Sentinel's Packers Plus tabloid -- said he doesn't expect the memorial to be done soon.
"(Although) the Brewers gave us their blessings, it is going to take time and effort to do," he said.
In addition to a membership card, members receive the Tepee Newsletter, the official publication of the Milwaukee Braves Historical Association.
The inaugural March issue includes features on the lives of Braves' Eddie Mathews and Bob Buhl, whom both passed away in February. Also included are features on the memorial and the tribute to Spahn.
The Milwaukee Braves Historical Association isn't baseball's first to honor past teams. Defunct teams like the Washington Senators, St. Louis Browns and Boston Braves have similar non-profit organizations to keep their memories alive.
In September 1996 an historical association was founded to honor the Philadelphia Athletics, major league team from 1901-'54. That group has more than 800 members in 41 states and three foreign countries and has erected monuments in Philadelphia's Shibe Park and Baker Bowl.
The Athletics association has, in turn, helped several organizations get started, including the Milwaukee Braves group.
The Braves Historical Association is headquartered at 7807 W. Burleigh St. Contact Tom Kaminski at (414) 276-2626 or the main office at (414) 466-7200 for more information. Or visit the web site.
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