50 years later, Logan still a sparkplug for Braves
When you read or hear about the 1957 Milwaukee Braves, you understandably will hear the names of Hall of Famers like Warren Spahn, Henry Aaron and Eddie Mathews.
But, another Braves player has remained in Milwaukee and serves as the catalyst for keeping the Braves' legacy alive.
Johnny Logan, a scrappy shortstop on that '57 Braves team, has stayed in town, run a couple times for sheriff, scouted for the Brewers in the state and continues to be a fixture around the ballpark.
Logan, once was known for partying as hard as he played, will help host to a big party in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Braves winning the World Series.
"Henry Aaron, (Wes) Covington, Del Crandall, most of the living Braves will be there," the 80-year-old Logan said earlier this summer. "We'll miss some of the guys who are gone and can't be there -- Warren Spahn, (Lew) Burdette, (Joe) Adcock, my man, Eddie Mathews and others."
The $300-a-plate affair slated for Thursday night at the Potawatomi Casino has been sold out for months. It's a tribute to what kind of impact the Braves had on Milwaukee, and Logan's persistence in keeping the legacy alive.
Logan aggressively sells tickets to all the Milwaukee Braves Historical Society events. He, along with journalists Bud Lea and Bob Buege and others have built that group into a great organization that often works with the Ken Keltner Chapter of SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) and other groups on baseball projects.
The Baseball Library Web site describes Logan as a player: Logan never backed down from a fight and never lost one. His quick hands compensated for an average arm at shortstop and were an asset when, outraged by beanballs, he took on opponents as big as Don Drysdale. In Milwaukee, he was a minor-league star for four years and a major league standout when he moved there with the Braves in 1953. He was the shortstop for the 1957 and 1958 NL pennant winners; in '57, he led the league with 37 doubles and reached career highs with 83 RBI and a .297 batting average.
"I never worried about fights because I had Eddie Mathews playing next to me and he would end them in a hurry," Logan recalls. "We played and fought together as a team, on and off the field."
When you listen to Logan talk, you can't help but feel the passion he still has for the game. He also loves to tell stories about it.
For example, his recent tale about Lew Burdette, the hero of the 1957 World Series, and Spahn: "They were roommates. Whatever Spahnie did, Burdette had to do better. If Spahn drank 10 beers, Burdette had to have 15. If Spahn played a practical joke, Burdette had to do two.
"He came up the hard way, from coal country and was traded by the Yankees just as his career was starting. Then, he came to the Braves and fell in love with Warren Spahn and Milwaukee.
"He was a tiger," Logan recalls about Burdette in the seventh game. "This was his dream. It didn't matter that he had only two days rest. His adrenalin was flowing. He loved to compete. And, this was the Yankees, the team that had traded him. He pitched with emotion. He wanted and got revenge."
Those quotes will be part of a World Series program story on Burdette this fall. Logan also waxes about how great a baseball town Milwaukee was in the 1950s and is becoming so again.
"There was no better place to play," Logan says. "Anywhere you went in town, people recognized you and treated you like a king. We loved playing here, loved the fans.
"The fans are turning out again now. These kids on the Brewers have them excited. You can see it building."
Logan has been in demand as a speaker this season. He appeared at Northwoods League games in La Crosse, Madison and elsewhere. He also was a speaker when the Wisconsin World Series exhibit opened at the Wisconsin Historical Museum in Madison.
"I want people to remember the Braves, and know the stories of that time," Logan says. "I love Milwaukee and Wisconsin and its people. I like getting around to talk with them."
While the dinner on Thursday is sold out, there will be a ceremony at the Braves' historical marker near Helfaer Field outside Miller Park. The public is invited to that event, which will take place at 4:30 p.m., but autographs will not be permitted.
Our family lived in Milwaukee in the 50's and my Dad was a big Braves fan. I remember going to games with him and my brother, or with my cousins and my Aunt Helen. Those guys were trulymy heros. Standing on the wheels of buses, leaning through the windows to get autographs. Going with the YMCA knot-hole gang. Would not change a minute of it! Thank you Johnny Logan - and all of the Milwaukee Braves for the enjoyment you provided us!
I still remember the day Johhny turned 23 and played with the old Brewers and I have never forgetten him or every will. The Buick ,gray and white, is stuck in my mind forever as is meeting him for the first. Go Yatcha!!!Where did those years go. great grandma fan who thanks you
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