By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Apr 10, 2005 at 5:16 AM

Many of us are intimately acquainted with the Major League Milwaukee Brewers, which have called Brew City home since 1970.

But few of us, especially the younger folks among us, know much about the American Association Brewers that played at Borchert Field for 51 seasons from 1902-'52; longer than the Brewers' and the Braves' combined tenure here.

Luckily Rex Hamann, editor and publisher of the American Association Almanac, based in Andover, Minn., and Bob Koehler collaborated to create "The American Association Milwaukee Brewers," a photo book published by Arcadia.

The 128-page, softcover volume is packed full of great photos of Brewers like Lin Storti (pictured above) and "Pud" McChesney. There are also some really fabulous snapshots taken inside and outside Borchert Field.

We talked to Hamann about the book.

OMC: Are you a life-long Brewers fan? How did you become interested in the American Association Brewers?

RH: Yes, I'm pretty much a life-long Brewers fan. I recall being in the basement where we lived, piddling around in my dad's woodshop, in Madison where I grew up, hearing over the radio that a new team for Milwaukee had been obtained and that they were thinking about calling them the Brewers. I instantly grew excited because I was an ardent beer can collector at the time (age 12) and thought it would be awesome if the team were named the Brewers. Went to a few games as a kid, but then moved to Milwaukee in 1984 and became season ticket holders about six years later, riding my bicycle down to County Stadium to go to various games throughout the '80s. I left Milwaukee in 1999 but have remained an ardent Brewers fan.

I became interested in the old Milwaukee Brewers after purchasing a sign from a neighbor who was moving and clearing out his basement while living on North Dousman Street. The sign was an old tavern scoreboard sign that had "Brewers" printed in a blank line score for charting the score in chalk. It was an old Schlitz beer ad, which is still the pride of my collection. Then I started going to sports collectibles shows and met Bob Koehler who sold old Brewers photos. Because I lived less than a mile from where old Borchert Field was located, it was interesting to me to have a connection with the old Borchert Field neighborhood like that. Knowing the place was long gone and that it was where the freeway ran through made me want to know as much as I could about it.

OMC: Obviously Bob Koehler's collection is a treasure trove of photos. Can you tell us a little about him and his collection?

RH: Bob's photo collection is indeed a treasure trove. As a youngster he had the blessed advantage in life of being able to go to old Brewers games at Borchert Field. He started collecting old Brewers items as a young man, so his collection of photos has been in his care for nearly 50 years. Some of the photos -- actual snapshots -- are from before 1920. They are extremely rare, of high quality and the best window on old Milwaukee baseball that is obtainable, publicly or privately.

OMC: Which are your favorite pictures in the book?

RH: I have one favorite photo in the book. On page 122-123 there is a shot of the grounds at Borchert Field on the last Opening Day - (although) they didn't know it then -- at the park, which was built in 1888. The grounds crew is sprucing up the grounds and there's an old pickup truck sitting on the infield dirt; I'm infatuated with old pickups. I also love the cover photo of a few of the old ballplayers yucking it up at Borchert Field. There are many photos I'd love to have blown up to wall size and then wallpapered on my walls!

OMC: Are you working on another book?

RH: I am not working on any other books right now, but I am continuously involved with the history of the old American Association on a daily basis as my work as editor / publisher of the American Association Almanac, a baseball history journal I started about three years ago, inspired by my love of the old Brewers.

OMC: Can you tell me a little bit about your plan for getting the books to school kids in the Milwaukee area?

RH: I am planning on marketing the Brewers book to the various high schools and middle schools in Milwaukee. My feeling is that students deserve to have the opportunity to know about the history of baseball in Milwaukee, and what better way of doing that than offering them the chance to see these awesome photographs of the players from long ago. These kinds of books allow kids access to their local history in a unique way; most local history is written, not photo-oriented. With the format of this book, I hope that the librarians in Milwaukee's schools will appreciate this fact as I do. As a former teacher in Milwaukee for 15 years, I'm aware of the need to have high-interest materials in the library for kids to explore and write about.

"The American Association Milwaukee Brewers" is available at bookshops throughout the Milwaukee area.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.