When the Braves Came to Wisconsin

It’s winter in Wisconsin. And that means shoveling 15 inches of snow this past weekend. No biggie – we might see green grass by April. Let me tell you, trying to play spring baseball around here is humorous.

braves.jpgAnyway, with some extra time indoors, I cracked open a book on the Milwaukee Braves called Milwaukee Braves: Heroes and Heartbreak by William Povletich. The book is approaching two years old, so I’m a little behind, but so far so good.

As somewhat of a greenhorn to America’s Pastime compared to many of you readers, some of the information I read about is fascinating simply because I have not come across it before although it’s common knowledge to many.

I am especially intrigued with how the Braves comes to Milwaukee in 1953 from Boston. First off, Milwaukee built a Major League-worthy stadium before it even had designs on a Major League team. Try pulling that off today (although in California, they are in fact trying to do that right now). The then-minor league franchise Brewers were going to enjoy the new confines before Boston came into play.

Boston Braves owner Lou Perini was losing money in Boston, with the locales favoring the Red Sox over the Braves. He needed out, Milwaukee needed a team and he was able to secure it from another owner – Bill Veeck – who thought he had an inside track to moving his St. Louis Browns.

What really threw me was how fast this was able to happen. The Braves reported to spring training as the Boston Braves, and before they broke cap, they were headed west to Wisconsin. There are team photos with players wearing both the Boston and Milwaukee versions of the Braves hats because they didn’t pass the new ones around to all of the player before the photo.

Again, think about that. These days it takes years to bring a team to a city, often with the help or hinderence of a public referendum, talk of taxes, refurbishing stadiums and so much more.

And I can only imagine what Milwaukee fans were thinking. One day, a minor league team in town, the next the bigs, with all of the big stars coming to town. I would have been euphoric at such a chance, and from what I read, that was the case. I hope some of you readers can share that excitement when you found out the Braves were coming to Milwaukee.

The Braves came over with a track record of some pretty poor seasons, but that would soon change. With Spahn, Aaron, Mathews and the gang, the World Series came calling in 1957. But that’s a well known story. The stories preceding that were new for me.

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