By Gregg Hoffmann Special to Published Aug 31, 2007 at 5:18 AM

Fifty years later, the Braves still play to a packed house in Milwaukee.

They now look like your dad, or maybe your grandpa. The years have taken their toll, as they have on all of us who have been lucky enough to live somewhat long lives.

Fifty years ago, however, they were young, athletic men, the World Champs of baseball and members of the team that made Milwaukee famous. Most of the surviving members of the 1957 Milwaukee Braves, the team that proved Milwaukee wasn't Bushville, gathered in the town they loved this week to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their great season.

A sellout crowd paid $300 a plate to see them at a dinner put on by the Milwaukee Braves Historical Association Thursday night at the Potwatomi Casino Before that, they gathered at the Braves monument near Helfaer Field, outside Miller Park.

Before that gathering, four of the Braves -- Hank Aaron, Red Schoendienst, Del Crandall and Wes Covington -- met with the media in Miller Park to talk about their fond memories of the greatest season in Milwaukee baseball history.

"Anybody privileged enough to play with the Milwaukee franchise in the 50's was very, very fortunate," said Del Crandall, the catcher for the Braves and a former Brewers manager. "The fans came out in droves and always were supportive and respectful."

Crandall said he still remembers the last out of the seventh game of the World Series. "Mathews, Burdette and myself all came together at the same time and hugged," he said. "That's what I still see."

Aaron said he has always loved Milwaukee and the fans. "They were always supportive," he said. "I don't know if I ever heard a Milwaukee Braves player booed.

"I don't know if I would have made it if I had played in a city like New York," Aaron added. That statement was quickly followed by a shout, "You would have made it anywhere, Henry."

Covington said the Braves had team of strong men. "Fred Haney (the manager) brought us together," he said. "We had great men and great ballplayers. We didn't know how good we could be at first. Each man proved to himself, and to his partner, how could we could be. We came together (under Haney)."

All the Braves said the current Brewers have great potential and should blossom with experience. "September is a hard time to play, especially if you are inexperienced," Schoendienst said. "They're still in it, but are a very young team."

Aaron said he has followed the Brewers and believes they might "be a year away. Once they get experience, they will only get better."

After the press conference, the Braves paraded in golf carts to the Braves monument, where a crowd of a couple hundred people were waiting.

Thursday is not the only day for the 50th anniversary celebration. The Brewers will put Warren Spahn, Eddie Mathews and former Braves GM John Quinn into their Walk of Fame on Friday. The families of the three deceased men will take part in the induction ceremony and be cited before Friday's game.

On Sunday, the Brewers will give away nesting dolls of Spahn, Mathews and Aaron to fans who attend the game against the Pirates.

Anybody interested in more Braves history might want to go to UWM, where an exhibit of sketches by the late Al Rainovic about the '57 Braves is on display for the next several weeks.

Gregg Hoffmann Special to
Gregg Hoffmann is a veteran journalist, author and publisher of Midwest Diamond Report and Old School Collectibles Web sites. Hoffmann, a retired senior lecturer in journalism at UWM, writes The State Sports Buzz and Beyond Milwaukee on a monthly basis for OMC.