Bob Koehler, owner of Bob Koehler Cards and co-author of The American Association Milwaukee Brewers, died April 26 in Brookfield, Wis. He was 67.
Koehler, a long-time participant of the National Sports Collector and SABR conventions, was a well-known baseball historian and a member of the Old Time Ball Players Association and the Milwaukee Braves Historical Society. He was at every National Convention except the first one, and last year, when he was ill, and he still had a table there in Cleveland. For many years he was also a frequent advertiser in the pages of Sports Collectors Digest.
“Baseball was his love,” said Pam, his wife of more than 12 years. “People would call him with questions, particularly about pre-1970.”
He grew up following the (Triple A) Milwaukee Brewers at old Borchert Field. A 1964 graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, he taught English, speech and drama at Milwaukee South Division High School from 1964-79.
“Bob was one of the nicest guys you’d ever meet. He was a fixture at all the early card shows and hobby events,” said Tom Mortenson, former editor of Sports Collectors Digest. “We shared a common interest in baseball history, especially the old Milwaukee Braves teams. I bought a lot of beautiful photographs from him for my collection. My condolences to his family.”
In 2004, Koehler collaborated with Rex Hamman to create The American Association Milwaukee Brewers, a photo book published by Arcadia. The book is a tribute to the history of the team and to all the former players, coaches and managers for the old minor league Brewers between 1902-52. Many of the photos were from Koehler’s personal collection.
“He’ll be missed in the Milwaukee area. I’ve known him for years, and we used to set up at shows together in the mid-1970s,” said show promoter and dealer Mike Rodell. “He was a great guy, and he always helped me out when I needed something.”
Added Rick Giddings, a fellow dealer and longtime friend, “He was one of my big mentors, and he was a baseball historian. No one would outmatch him on Milwaukee Braves stuff.”
Koehler owned a treasure trove of old Milwaukee Braves and American Association Brewers photography. In the early 1990s, he purchased the original file negatives from photographs taken by Milwaukee Journal and Milwaukee Sentinel photographers at Milwaukee County Stadium, which included pictures of Hank Aaron, Warren Spahn and Eddie Mathews.
– Tom Mortenson contributed to this article