By Andy Tarnoff Publisher Published Apr 20, 2004 at 6:01 AM

{image1} When fans packed into Miller Park for Opening Day 2004, something looked a little different this year. Instead of a sea of shirts and hats with the familiar script "M" logo that has defined the team since 2000, many people took a more "old school" approach, sporting the ball and glove logo that the Brewers wore from 1978-1993.

From rapper 50 Cent to the bleacher bum wearing the free, new Miller Lite old-logo t-shirt, the ball and the glove is regaining popularity. What most people don't know is how one of the most clever logos in professional sports came to be.

Back in fall 1977, Tom Meindel was an art education major at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He says he heard about a contest to design a new Brewers logo in the newspaper.

"I was a cash poor student, struggling to get by," says Meindel, who now works designing signs in Eugene, Ore. "So I started sketching out ideas, but nothing seemed to work."

Finally, Meindel struck blue and gold.

"I took a lower-case 'm' and put it on a lower-case 'b'," says Meindel, who was 29 at the time. "I used (the fonts) Cooper and Souvenir, and it reminded me of a baseball glove."

"(When I saw it), I went 'wow,' something rang true. It had a double connotation."

The original design actually more closely resembled the fonts he used, says Meindel. "Someone has scrunched it up a little bit."

For the logo's color scheme, he stuck with the blue the team was already using, but opted for a deeper gold for the second hue.

Meindel sent in his design, and eventually he got a call from the Brewers that winter.

Says Meindel, "They asked if I could fly down to Milwaukee and talk to them."

He did, and at that point the field was narrowed to two designs from more than 2,000 entries. A few days later, his design was selected.

The Brewers held a press conference and a luncheon with then president Bud Selig, and the owners presented Meindel with a $2,000 check.

Believe it or not, he hasn't received a single royalty check since then.

In fact, after college, Meindel worked a printing company in Eau Claire called Creative Designs, which licensed the logo to print Brewers merchandise.

"I was paying a royalty back to the Brewers (to use the logo)," says Meindel.

Meindel says he's created many logos over the years, but the ball and glove design is the one that garners the most attention. But when he moved to Oregon a few years ago, very few people even knew of his work.

Some people even thought his resume was referring to the Orgeon city of Milwaukie, and one prospective employer actually said, "My uncle used to work for a brewery (in Milwaukie), too."

Meindel says he was surprised to hear of the logo's resurgence in Milwaukee.

In fact, when conducted a poll to see if fans would favor a return to the old logo, almost unanimously, people said yes.

For their part, the Brewers continue to offer promotions with their famous former logo, including Friday Miller Beer Pen shirt giveaways, and a retro cap night on June 18. On July 31, the first 15,000 fans at Miller Park will receive a cooler with the old logo.

"We are in an era in which retro is absolutely in, and the Brewers ball-glove logo is Exhibit A," says Laurel Prieb, vice president, corporate affairs. "As the fans look back now, they remember not only the logo but that it symbolizes that golden six-year era when our team had its greatest success."

But, while Prieb recognizes the history and the resurgence of the old logo, switching back is easier said than done.

Says Prieb, "(Meindel) did great work on winning the contest. The process has changed when it comes to team marques, for all major league clubs, since that time period. MLB Properties is a partner with all teams when it comes to the look and the style. Like everything in life, it's a little more complicated."

Bottom line, though, are team officials considering another logo switch?

"We continue to discuss what are possibilities with that marque, but we'll leave it at that," says Prieb.

Meindel says he'd be interested in working with the team again, but hasn't been in touch with the Brewers.

Says Prieb, "He did great work back then. We always welcome everyone being in touch with us on various ideas."

But for Meindel, who seems a little taken aback by this newfound excitement of a 26-year-old logo, the pride is in a piece of artwork that's stood the test of time.

"It's reached so many people and so many people enjoyed it," says Meindel.

Andy is the president, publisher and founder of OnMilwaukee. He returned to Milwaukee in 1996 after living on the East Coast for nine years, where he wrote for The Dallas Morning News Washington Bureau and worked in the White House Office of Communications. He was also Associate Editor of The GW Hatchet, his college newspaper at The George Washington University.

Before launching in 1998 at age 23, he worked in public relations for two Milwaukee firms, most of the time daydreaming about starting his own publication.

Hobbies include running when he finds the time, fixing the rust on his '75 MGB, mowing the lawn at his cottage in the Northwoods, and making an annual pilgrimage to Phoenix for Brewers Spring Training.