1963 Milwaukee Braves
Chapter 15: 1963–The tumult continues…The 1960’s have been called the “Greatest Decade of the Century” by some…The Sixties rollicked on with peace, love and harmony; with war and race riots; with rock and roll and with turbulence, turmoil and human drama. For a young man coming of age, it was mind-expanding with or without chemistry. Some of the experiences were a tactile, tangible cognizance of the realities of man’s continuing inhumanity to man. It was, by turns, joyous; entrancing and startling. It filled up–sometimes choked–the senses…
In 1963 baseball IS America’s pastime…however, a steadily burgeoning band of baby boomers is finding numerous activities, projects and issues vigorously vying for time, energy and resources.
In world news the Russians send the first woman, Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova, into space; Kenya declares its independence; the Soviets get their missiles out of Cuba; but, the troops stay. In Saigon, a Buddhist monk very publicly commits self-immolation to protest against discrimination. South Viet Nam’s President Diem is assassinated during a coup that allegedly involves the CIA. Hurricane Flora kills over 7,000 people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Closer to home…Washington and Moscow establish a “hot line”; we get Zip Codes (Gramma’s was a palindrome); New Hampshire introduces the first state lottery and AT&T unveils the new “touch tone” telephone (dials…?? What are dials…???). At the University of Alabama, Governor George Wallace stood in the doorway to physically block black students from entering. In Jacksonville, Mississippi, civil rights leader, Medgar Evers, was murdered in the driveway of his home. Sadly, it was a prelude of things to come. In August, some 250,000 folks take part in a civil rights march in Washington, D.C.–Dr. Martin Luther King gives his “I have a Dream” speech. On November 22, President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas. On November 24, strip-club owner, Jack Ruby, kills Lee Harvey Oswald, the President’s alleged assassin, on live television. Probably, if you’re old enough, you remember right where you were when you first heard of it. In medical science, Dr. Michael DeBakey uses an artificial heart to sustain blood circulation during surgery…he will go farther. Westinghouse Corporation boasts that they, along with the U.S. Navy and the Atomic Energy Commission, have designed and developed the Polaris Submarine and the Polaris Missile…You Can Be Sure If It’s…
On TV, Ray Walston was “My Favorite Martian”; “Petticoat Junction” had Uncle Joe and the girls in Hooterville and “Bonanza” was Paw and the boys at the Ponderosa. The not-yet-ready-for-prime-time, “Doctor Who”, aired episode #1 on Britain’s BBC-TV. On the radio it was “Blue Velvet” by Bobby Vinton; “He’s So Fine”, by the Chiffons; “Surf City” from Jan and Dean and “Walk Right In” by the Rooftop Singers. The Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand” became their first hit in the U.S.
The movies offered quite a spectrum: Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” to scare you half to death; “Dr. No”, the first James Bond movie in the U.S.; the quasi-historical, “The Great Escape”; the hilarious “Pink Panther”; the lighter-weight “Beach Party” with Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon featuring the wonderfully distinctive Rock and Roll of Dick Dale and the Del-tones. Indicative of the times was the Hollywood adaptation of Jacqueline Susann’s “Valley of the Dolls”. Subsequently, some housewives’ habits and some of their kids’ habits were different only by method of acquisition; by prescription pad…or delivered to your pad…OK…OK…baseball…
The pundits and prognosticators picked 1963’s order of finish to pretty much resemble last year’s outcome; LA and SF duking it out for the pennant again but with LA first this year and SF second. In the middle they picked Cincinnati for 3rd, St.Louis-4th, Pittsburgh-5th, Milwaukee-6th and Philadelphia-7th. On the bottom they had Houston in 8th, the Cubs in 9th and the Mets, who lost 120 games in’62, to repeat as doormat in the National League. As it turned out, there were some very interesting surprises; sadly the Braves were not among the surprises.
It was an unsettling time…it was a time of incredible change. We had new owners–The LaSalle Corporation–that we knew very little about. We had a new manager–Bobby Bragan–that we knew very little (that we liked) about. We had new coaches that, with the exception of Whit Wyatt, we knew nothing about. Part of the change aspect was the aging…the guys we loved and rooted for on all those amazing teams of the ’50’s (Oh yeah, a lot of us were still mired in those memories of the ’50’s…)…there were only five of those ’50’s guys still on the roster: Hank Aaron, Del Crandall, Eddie Mathews, Spahnie and Lou Burdette…five…
January 1963 began with the usual spate of luncheons, dinners and banquets to honor our heroes and provide and opportunity to get together and talk about baseball, the upcoming season and…baseball…!!!
January 20th was the 10th Annual Diamond Dinner. It was a most entertaining evening, John Mullen sang the Star-Spangled Banner; Eddie Peabody played a banjo medley; Mayor Maier presented Bill Bartholomay with a key to the city; there were some humorous skits; Warren Giles and Bobby Bragan made a few remarks; Bragan sang with a barbershop quartet; Lee May sang some songs; Fred Haney, current GM of the LA Angels, gave a speech and every body had a fine, fine time.
Steadily declining attendance since 1957 has been a concern of Braves’ management and even Braves’ fans. Last year’s all-time low has resulted in increased attention to ticket sales. Last year the Braves inaugurated the “Hi Neighbor” tours to various cities and communities, hoping to stir up renewed interest among fans and potential fans. Among the cities and towns they visited this year were Kenosha, Racine, Sheboygan, Manitowoc, Appleton, Oshkosh and Fond du Lac.
In addition to in-person visits, the Braves utilized the U.S. Mail to send out collectible, autographable flyers that said someone from the Braves organization would call you about your ticket needs.
The 60-Plus Club card, while limited to certain games, was a good way to appeal to Seniors and their friends. Seniors usually had money to spend-on food, potables and souvenirs…Senior Dudes…
and Dudettes…Come on down!!!
Even the Spring Training site changed…This was the Braves first year in West Palm Beach in brand-new Municipal Stadium!!!
The West Palm Beach Post made a big deal of the arrival of the Braves. One of the sportswriters for the Post (and for the South Florida Sun Sentinel and the Fort Lauderdale News) was a guy by the name of Ray Boetel. As a kind of literary aside here: I became aware of Ray Boetel through his son, Kyle, who is also a sports collectibles enthusiast. Kyle’s and my relationship got more entwined as I found out his Dad’s hobby was photographing sports figures-including the Braves in Spring Training. A great many of the Spring Training pictures you’ll see in the ’63, ’64 and ’65 chapters will be from Ray Boetel’s camera. I am very grateful to Kyle for making these available to me…Thanks, Kyle!!!
Don Davidson’s office sent memos re information and rules to all players who reported to the spring practice. Bob Allen’s training expertise from his Marquette U. track team days was passed along as an aid to conditioning.
This is an early team photo taken during spring training at the new West Palm Beach stadium. Quite a number of these guys won’t make the trip north…But…they got a shot!!! How cool is that!!!
This Spring Training Guide is given to all the media; print, radio, TV who request it. The roster is compliments of Old Milwaukee Beer…Probably it was in the spring training scorecard…on the reverse is the roster of the opponent of the day. To date I have no solid, in-print evidence of this; however, if you look at scorecards and yearbooks, it appears that during or just after the ’63 season, Miller Brewing Company began to “back away” from previous levels of advertising support of the Braves. It also appears some of the other brewing companies (i.e. Old Milwaukee) stepped up their involvement.
Pitchers and catchers reported to West Palm Beach on February 22 while the remainder of the team showed up to begin workouts on March 1.
Milwaukee Braves fave, Eddie Mathews, urges Braves fans everywhere to hurry and order tickets for opening day. The back is blank. Happily, someone had the presence of mind to get this little jewel autographed…woo hoo…!!!
The Braves continued their in-house news report in 1963 but with less editions. The spring training issue highlights the history-in-the-making Stock Issue Plan (more on that later); Ernie Johnson and Andy Pafko re-joining the team; the addition of Tom Collins and Mike Walden to the Braves’ broadcast team; the “Hi Neighbor” tour; young pitchers in training camp and new members on the Board of Directors. The memo to Mr. Sherman at Pabst Brewing Company has three areas of interest: First; note the new Braves letterhead; second is the fact that these ticket envelopes have always advertised Miller Brewing (stepping back…??); and, third, I’ve never seen a Braves ticket envelope with Pabst advertising…Did the deal go down? Have you seen one? Hmmm??
Let’s change speeds for a minute and look, as we always do, at who is leaving us and who’s joining us. Let’s start with the list of who’s leaving…
Bill Adair has coached and managed in the majors and minors for years. He’ll go back down for awhile but he’ll be back in The Show in Atlanta in ’67…and more beyond that…
Joe Adcock-Joe was traded to Cleveland 11/27/62. He’ll play for the Angels ’64-’66 and will manage both places. Joe’s tremendous strength provided some of our best memories!! We love ya, Joe!!
Ken Aspromonte-Third baseman Aspromonte was traded to the Cubs for third baseman , Jim McKnight. Aspromonte appeared in 20 games in’63; McKnight never played another ML game.
Howie Bedell-Often spoken of as the “fastest man in baseball”, Bedell had some good games including a season-opening eight-game hit streak. After leaving Milwaukee, he went into the administrative side of the game; he has three World Series rings.
Ethan Blackaby-A really decent outfielder, my “neighbor” went to Denver in the PCL for ’63. He had a good year there and will be back up in’64.
Bob Buhl-He’s tough as a rock; ask Hank Aaron: ask anybody who saw him at the last game played in County Stadium in 2000. Psychology didn’t play in his world and he got traded to the Cubs 4/30/62. Thanks for the memories!!!
Cecil Butler-He went 2-0 for the Braves in ’62 and will split ’63 between Toronto (Int’l) and Austin in the Texas League. He’ll be back up again in ’64.
Jack Curtis-Jack appeared in some 30 games, mostly in relief; he was 4-4. He was traded to Cleveland with Joe Adcock.
Jimmy Dykes-A terrific baseball mind, Dykes managed in the ML-mostly in the AL-since 1934. He will go to KC for ’63-’64.
Mike Krsnich-Another Wisconsin guy, Mike was up in ’60 and ’62. He was sent down to Louisville and, subsequently, to Toronto where he apparently had a pretty good year. Somewhere in the interim we’ve lost track of him…
Don McMahon-After five successful years with the Braves, he was traded to Houston in very shaky circumstances…”He lost his fastball”. He went on to play another 13 years in the ML with a lifetime 90-68 record-almost totally in relief-plus a lifetime 2.96 ERA…As noted earlier; his slowball must have been a Doozie!!!
Don Nottebart-Don was traded to Houston on 11/30/62 along with minor leaguers Connie Grob and Jim Bolger for first baseman Norm Larker.
Next up are the new guys…some come to Milwaukee by way of trades; some by way of having had a good ’62 in the minors.
Wade Blasingame-He’s a right-handed pitcher who, you may recall, was signed as a bonus baby in ’61-right out of high school. He split ’62 between Boise (Pioneer) and Austin (Texas) where he went 16-17 (combined) with an ERA around 4.50. He’s getting a shot…
Rico Carty-Rico broke in to organized ball in 1960. He was the All-Star catcher at Yakima (NW) in ’62 where he hit .366 with 17 homers and 79 RBI in 108 games. He’s getting a shot…!!!
Ty Cline-He got his first break in’60 in the Cleveland system. An outfielder, they brought him up and he hit .248 in 118 games in ’62. He comes to us as part of the Joe Adcock trade.
Don Dillard-Another young outfielder from the Indians farm system, Don hit .230 in 95 games in ’62. He also comes here as part of the Adcock deal.
Frank Funk-Funk is a pitcher who’s been on the Cleveland staff since 1960. He’s never had a losing season!! He’s the third player from the Adcock trade.
Len Gabrielson-Gabe is a first baseman/outfielder who was up in 1960. He split ’61 and ’62 between Louisville (AA) and Toronto (Int’l) and hit .282. In the off-season he attends U.S.C.
Ernie Johnson-Ernie (almost) never left. We only sneak him in here because he’s an old fave and he has a new job. His title is Administrative Assistant but his duties are many. Mostly he will be involved in team-fan relations and is already one of the most sought-after luncheon-banquet speakers in Wisconsin.
Norm Larker-We know Norm best as a 1B-OF with the Dodgers. We traded a solid pitcher and a couple of minor leaguers for his .285 lifetime batting average.
Andy Pafko-Handy Andy Pafko from Boyceville, Wisconsin, is another old favorite with a new job….He will be a Special Assignment Scout in Wisconsin for the Braves.
Dave Pursley-We’ve been remiss in failing to introduce Dave who took Tommie Ferguson’s place as equipment manager. He’s also the assistant to trainer Doc Feron.
Ken Silvestri-Coach Silvestri had an eight-year ML career as a catcher in the ’40’s. He’s managed and coached in the minors and coached in the Majors. He will function as the bull-pen catcher.
Dixie Walker-Dixie was a ML outfielder for 18 years; some in both leagues. He was NL batting champ (.357) in ’44. From a baseball family, he’s coached, managed and scouted. He will work with the hitters and coach first base.
JoJo White-JoJo had a nine-year career in the ML. He also has coached, managed and scouted. He has a reputation as a good teacher of fundamentals and was quite fast in his day. He will coach base-running and bunting. His son, Mike plays for the Colt 45’s.
Woody Woodward-Woody was an All-American shortstop at Florida State University. In the summer, at Denver (PCL), he hit .247 in 89 games with 37 RBI. He gets a shot…!!
Spring Training had no stories or issues of note although some of those young pitchers showed us some good arms!! Weather was pretty good to the Grapefruit Leaguers so everyone got a pretty “good look”.
There was another fairly major change fans had to adjust to after Spring Training in 1963: New Uniforms!! Braves, Inc. decided to switch uniform companies; from Wilson to McGregor. The most shocking change was that there was no tomahawk on the front!! The scripted Braves logo was about an inch-and-a-half longer; the piping on the shirt was just black (no red) and there was no piping on the pants. The shirt had buttons instead of a zipper and…the player’s NAME was on the back…
This can be noted in the two team pictures in this chapter…the first one is from spring training and still has the tomahawk. The second one is from County Stadium and has the new look…
On March 18th, the New York Mets purchased Carlton Willey from the Braves for cash. Carlton has a fine arm and is a joy to watch when he pitches
We’ve mentioned the Knothole Club (not gang…) before as part of the Braves’ and the community’s commitment to kids. In 1963 the Braves gave the kids a break on ticket prices for 17 different games. Don’t you wonder who William Schultz was/is and why he got a season pass…??…and a nice little note…?? I do…
In early 1963 (March), the Braves organization got permission form the Securities and Exchange Commission to offer for sale to Wisconsin residents 36% of the common stock of the team. This amounted to about 115,000 shares which would be sold for $11.375 per share. It was hoped that this attempt at making the Braves a “home-town” operation would increase interest, ticket sales and raise some revenue so members of the LaSalle Corporation could pay off debts incurred in buying the franchise from the Perini Corporation. It had the potential to raise $1,308,125…The deadline for purchase of the stock was April 7, 1963.
Stockholders received a very nice letter from Milwaukee Braves, Inc. President, John McHale. Financially, the public stock sale was a dismal failure. At the April 7th deadline, less than 13,000 shares were sold…just over 11% of 115,000. After paying somewhere in the neighborhood of $28,000 in brokerage fees, Braves Inc. netted plus-or-minus $120,000…far short of their $1.3 million goal.
Eight shares of stock were purchased by this person at a cost of $91.00 (8 x $11.375). The sale date would lead one to believe these shares were purchased very soon after they were made available…
The Braves broke camp in West Palm Beach and flew north to Pittsburgh for two season-opening games (April 9-10) versus the Pirates. They lost ’em both…
On April 11th, a modest Home Opening Day crowd of 26,120 showed up in County Stadium to witness ageless veteran, Warren Spahn, pitch the Braves to a 6-1 win over the Mets. It was the first game of a seven-in-a-row win streak with Spahn, Burdette and Claude Raymond each getting two of the wins…Hendley got the other one. That set the stage for a four-game losing streak with Spahn, Burdette and Raymond each getting one of the losses…Funk got the other one. While 26,000-plus came for opening day, a mere 5,067 showed up the next day.
On April 11th, Braves pitcher, Jim Constable was claimed on waivers by the San Francisco Giants.
From April 11th through April 26, Eddie Mathews hit safely in 16 consecutive games.
On April 13th, Len Gabrielson hit his first Major League home run which helped Lou Burdette beat the Mets that day, 5-2.
April 16th was a big day for both Spahnie and Eddie-Eddie joined an elite group of sluggers by hitting career homer #400. It helped Spahnie, the leader of another elite group, to career win #329. At the end of April the Braves were 12-9, 2 1/2 games out of first.
During the first two weeks of May, the Braves were sorta kinda pitiful, winning three while losing 10; six of them consecutively. The second half they went six and seven thus ending the month of May 9-17 and 21-26 so far this season.
On May 4th, the Braves bought Wycliffe Nathaniel “Bubba” Morton, outfielder, from the Tigers for cash. Bubba has a .271 BA in 167 games.
It’s been duly noted already that personnel decisions at Braves, Inc. leave something to be desired. On May 8th, Lou Johnson and cash were traded to the Tigers for shortstop Chico Fernandez. That same day Fernandez was traded to the Mets for pitcher Larry Foss, who was assigned to Denver (PCL) and never played at the ML level. Lou Johnson, on the other hand, was a speedy outfielder who played another five years in the majors and is, to this day, an integral part of the Dodgers organization.
On May 14th, obviously based on criteria the average fan couldn’t comprehend, Braves, Inc. tore up Bobby Bragan’s one-year contract and signed him to a new deal, good (?) through 1964.
On May 18th, in a televised game in Chicago which the Braves (and Bob Shaw) won, 10-6; Hank Aaron hit a grand slam home run…one of nine round-trippers he’ll hit during the merry month of May.
On May 21st, Jim Maloney of the Reds tied the modern day record by striking out eight consecutive Braves’ batters. Oddly, that record was set by the Braves’ Max Surkont in 1953 (later tied by Johnny Podres-’62). Maloney finished with 16 SO’s; the Reds won, 2-0. Bobby Hendley pitched good…just not quite good enough…
Dave Jolly, following a storied career in both the minors and majors, came to Milwaukee with the Braves in 1953. He pitched mostly as a spot starter and in relief through the ’57 season. His best year was 1954 when he went 11-6 with a 2.43 ERA. On May 27th, 1963, Dave Jolly died of complications from a brain tumor; he was 39.
In spite of a rather ineffective won-loss record in the month of May…Spahnie was 7-3…and Hank had a rather prodigious 16 home runs already!!
On June the 3rd, sandwiched in between road games in Houston and New York, the Braves played in the Annual Jimmy Fund exhibition game in Boston vs. their old pals, the Red Sox. It looks like RSox manager, Johnny Pesky, is telling Spahnie he could really use him this year.
Both the Braves and the Perini Corporation contributed to the establishment of the Jimmy Fund in 1948. Contributions were utilized largely in the battle against children’s cancer. There was a “Jimmy” whose real name was kept hidden for some 50 years. The Jimmy Fund has raised over $600 Million for cancer research and cancer care particularly as it affects children.
During the first half of June the Braves were 8-5 thanks to a nice little three-game winning streak against the Mets and Phillies.
June 15th was part shocker, part heart-breaker; the Braves traded fan fave and World Series hero, Lou Burdette, to the Cardinals for veteran catcher/first baseman, Gene Oliver and minor league right-handed pitcher, Bob Sadowski. At the time of the trade, Lou was 6-5…the only other Braves’ pitchers with winning records were Claude Raymond and Spahn.
A seemingly parenthetical aside (but really not…): On June 18, 1963, minor league managerial phenom, Ben Geraghty, died. He was 48. Geraghty understood teaching and how to get a player to play up to his ability. In 17 years of managing, his teams only finished lower than second four times. Mathews, Aaron, Covington and others came up through his tutelage. When the Braves were looking for a “difference-maker” they could bring up at the end of the ’57 season, it was Ben Geraghty who told them, “Get Hazle, he’s your guy”!!
With one more win and one more loss in the second half, 9-6; the Braves were 17-11 for the month and 38-37 (over .500…) for the year and 6 1/2 games out of first. On June 28th, the inveterate Spahn threw a three-hitter to beat the Dodgers (and Don Drysdale), 1-0 in Dodger Stadium. A FIRST…this marked the first time Spahn had beaten the Dodgers at home since August 1948…and they had beaten him 14 straight times at their stadium in that same time frame…ELATION in Milwaukee!!! At the end of June Spahn was 11-3 and Hank had 22 HR’s.
July opens on a Monday just at the end of a visit to LA. Young rookie, Bob Sadowski, 25, pitches very well but loses, 2-1. Tuesday is at SF with the 42-year-old Spahn (11-3) going against the 27-year-old Marichal (12-3). It turns into a pitcher’s duel for the ages…It’s not a no-hitter-there’s lots of hits: Eight by the Braves; nine by the Giants; but…no runs!! After nine innings-no runs…after 10-11-12-13-14-15 innings…no runs!! In the 16th the Braves go four up, three down…no runs!! In the bottom of the 16th, Harvey Kuenn flies out to center. Willie Mays comes up to bat for the seventh time and hits Spahn’s 201st pitch for a home run, 1-0, Braves lose. The time of the game was four hours, 10 minutes. Bragan took a fair a fair amount of flak for leaving the old veteran in for 16 innings. Spahn won his next scheduled outing-two days prior to the All-Star break-but missed his next three starts because of a sore elbow. That’s when the second-guessing and dire pronouncements against Bragan ratcheted up!! In spite of never being a fan of Bragan-the-manager…How’d you like to be the one trying to get that feisty, fiercely competitive gladiator to sit down while he’s throwing a shut-out…? Against the Giants…?? Against Marichal…??? Be Real…!!!
In the week prior to the All-Star break, the Braves were 5-3…on the season to date, Spahn was 12-4. In the standings LA was leading SF by three, the Cubs (?) were back 3 1/2 tied with St. Louis, the Reds were back 6, the Braves-7, Pittsburgh-9 out, Phils-10 1/2, Houston-19 and the Mets were 21 1/2 games out of first place in the NL.
Dell Publishing issued really cool NL and AL All-Star posters to commemorate the event. Major League Baseball may have finally heard the fans and, finally, went back to having only one All-Star game per year. Cleveland’s massive (73,811 seat) Municipal Stadium was 1963’s site. The National League showed good speed, especially on the base paths and won, 5-3. Aaron played the entire game in right field and scored a run on a hit by Mays who was the hero of the day. Three of the NL’s top pitchers saw no action: Spahn, Koufax and Marichal…Joe Torre also rode the pine. A reasonably decent crowd (44,160) rattled around in the humongous ball park. The event netted $250,384.59; 95% of which went to the ML Players’ Pension Fund. The game was covered by NBC Radio and TV and sponsored by the Gillette Safety Razor Company and The Chrysler Corporation. Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola handled the TV play-by-play while George Bryson and Bob Neal did the same on radio.
While the All-Star Game itself was memorable; what followed was indelible!!! Apparently numerous meetings, between team-owners and/or their representatives and groups who represented cities who wanted a major league franchise, took place during the All-Star festivities. A multiplicity of rumors were in the wind…and they spread like wildfire!! Most of the hearsay involved franchise shifts: Cleveland…Kansas City…Milwaukee…!!? Eventually some factual information came out: Charley Finley and his Kansas City team wooed many cities; strung some along, jilted some and were looking for the best money-deal to be found. Cities, including San Diego, Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Toronto and Seattle, were meeting with whichever teams they thought might be looking to move. They pitched their city; making offers and promises. Any team that had an old stadium or disgruntled ownership or had experienced a loss in attendance might be looking to move. A con- tingent of movers and shakers from Atlanta including Governor Carl Sanders, Mayor Ivan Allen, Jr., and members of the Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium Authority met separately with AL Prexy, Joe Cronin and members of the LaSalle Corporation promising a new stadium and a variety of attendant perks. The fat, as they say, is in the fire…and the rumors are ubiquitous and unchecked…partly truth and partly fiction…
Although the Braves only went 11-13 in July after the A-S break, there were a couple of bright moments. Hank Fischer had a perfect July winning all four of his starts…he beat the Cubs twice plus the Reds and Cards.
Also…Tony Cloninger and Bob Sadowski teamed up to beat league-leading Los Angeles in a Sunday double-header on July 21st.
Warren Spahn is a great fan favorite in Milwaukee. Hordes of fans seek out the affable (off the field) left-hander. Spahn lost to Burdette in his first outing back after the elbow healed, but won again on the 29th against Cincinnati. So…the Braves closed out the month 16-16 (54-53 on the season); 10 1/2 games out of first. Spahn was 13-5; Hank had 30 dingers.
Despite a stop-and-go first half of the month, the Braves got hot in August. Spahn had only one outing in that one-step-forward-two-steps-back half of the month…but it was a biggie!! He set the all-time record for strikeouts by a left-hander: 2,382…so far!! Kids of all ages want autographs…!!! Bob Hendley got a couple wins, Bob Sadowski continued to pitch well, but with a paucity of run production, no wins. Hank had a grand slam off Drysdale on the 14th.
On August 5th, on the way to Pittsburgh, the Braves played the Boston Red Sox in Cooperstown at the Annual Hall of Fame Game.
On August 8th, in yet another seemingly lackluster, gratuitous personnel transaction, Norm Larker was sold to the San Francisco Giants.
The “heat” began when Houston came in for a three-game series on August 16th…and the Braves swept them. Then on the road to second-place SF where Sadowski and Hendley won two of three. next, in LA, Spahn and Lemaster got another two of three. On to Houston with Piche, Spahn and Cloninger pitching in for another sweep. In New York the 30th and 31st; Lemaster and Spahn mastered the Metsies. The second half of August was nearly perfect with only two losses to SF and LA to mar it…12-2…pretty doggoned good…add in the 7-7 and they’re 19-9 for the month…7 1/2 out of first which is how we have to play to win it all.
Somehow the Braves Boosters managed to plan their annual excursion to coincide with the Braves’ hot streak. It’s pretty amazing in this day and age to realize the Boosters were able to participate in this jam-packed, fun-filled list of activities for only $300 a person…Pretty Cool…!!!
On August 23, 1963, Warren Spahn made an appearance-as a German officer-on ABC’s long-running show “COMBAT”. The show starred Rick Jason and Vic Morrow and depicted an especially realistic view of WW II in the European war theater. It was filmed at MGM Studios in Hollywood. When shooting was concluded that day, Spahn pitched the Braves to a 6-1 victory at Dodger Stadium. Many saw this second-in-a-row win as a sign that the Dodgers’ home-park jinx on Spahn was over.
It was during the month of August that the Cardinals had a surge, winning 19 of 20 into September and making a very serious run at first place. They did get within one game of first before they faded. At the end of August Spahn was 18-5 and Aaron had 35 homers.
The Braves, as a team, had a fade of their own in September but neither Spahn nor Aaron were part of it…and it was a weird swoon…they lost the first three games of the month; then they won seven in a row. Spahn won two of the seven as did Sadowski. The evanescence quickened as they lost the last two of a four-game series at Cincinnati…and the four more at St. Louis…and two more at SF before winning the third of three. Then they lost the rest with exception of three final wins by Spahn.
In the midst of all this; in fact, right at the end of the eight-game losing streak (September 17th, 1963), the Braves and the good folk of Milwaukee and fans far and wide held a gala Spahnie Night Celebration.
Fans were encouraged to buy and wear their Spahnie buttons…all monies realized from button sales will go a Spahn Scholarship Fund. During the planning stages, Spahn insisted that there be a minimal amount of gifts to him or his family and that all monetary gifts go to the Scholarship Fund.
The festivities actually got underway at a 12:30 P.M. kick-off luncheon at the Wisconsin Club on Wednesday the 16th.
Among the notables at the luncheon were Fred Haney, Bob Feller and Lefty Grove. Not pictured: Al Dark, Harvey Kuenn and Spahn’s catcher from his army days, Roy Reimann. Spahn admitted to being “a little choked up” and gave credit to his teammates as “the real guys who are responsible for me being up here”.
The largest crowd of this year-33,676-turned out to pay tribute to one of their long-time heroes. Most of them remembered to wear their Spahnie buttons. The program started late due to multiple traffic jams on the Freeway.
Every one who was there-from Lefty Grove, Johnny Sain, Carl Hubbell and Gabby Hartnett to the ardent fan in the stands to the media people to the fans who couldn’t attend-had their own special memories of Warren Spahn. Some got to voice them, some just had them in their hearts. A well-known baseball fan, President John F. Kennedy sent a letter that said in part: “Dear Warren…You are one the few men in the history of baseball who has the distinction of establishing new records of achievement and new historic landmarks in each game in which you play. Your…years of success…have been a testimony to your strength and character, competitive zeal and physical stamina. Few athletes in our time have won the universal admiration which you have in your many years as a player”. The crowd was in whole-hearted agreement. There was a sign in the stands that read “Wisconsin nominates Warren Spahn for President”.
Each National League Club sent a player-in uniform-to make that team’s presentation. Frank Bolling was selected as the Braves team representative at the celebration. The team gave Spahn wood-working machinery for his wood-shop at home in Hartshorne, OK. Lorene Spahn and son, Greg also received gifts.
When the already-legendary left-hander finally came up to speak, the crowd gave him a two-minute standing ovation. When things quieted down a bit, he said, “I’m sure there have been more fortunate people but, I’m the luckiest guy in baseball. I’m sure these guys would agree (pointing to the Giants team-that night’s opponent-everyone laughed). My sincere thanks from the bottom of my heart for making this occasion and this Scholarship Foundation possible. God bless you.”
The whole atmosphere of the evening was celebratory with the Stadium decorated in bunting plus a fireworks display. Organizers announced that they had already received $30,000 toward the scholarship fund and estimated they’d probably be getting another $40-$45,000. The festivities concluded with the singing of the national anthem led by Marvin Moran and accompanied by organist, Jane Jarvis.
September was not wanting for excitement…it was just that not all of it was joyous and fun. The rumors regarding the exit of the Braves teemed in profusion and confusion. Even in defeat there were moments of excitement on the field. The clear heroes for the year were the indefatigable Spahn and the perpetually dependable Aaron. Spahn concluded the season at 23-7, a 2,60 ERA and 22 complete games. He was fourth in winning percentage-.758; third in wins and second in shut-outs (7). He was the only pitcher on the team with a winning record. Hendley was 9-9 with a 3.93 ERA; Sadowski, who rarely got good run support, was 5-7 with a fine 2.62 ERA. Shaw ended up 7-11 with 13 saves and a 2.66 ERA. When Lou Burdette was traded he was 6-5. Hank Aaron led the league in home runs (tied w/Willie McCovey)-44; slugging average-.586; total bases-370; runs scored-121 and RBI-130. He was fourth in Batting Average-.319; second in stolen bases-31 and home run percentage-7.0 and third in bases on balls-78 (Eddie Mathews led the league in bases on balls with 124). It was Eddie’s lowest number of HRs since he’s been in the majors-23; his BA was .263. Joe Torre hit at a .293 clip. The team BA was their lowest ever-.244. The Braves ended in 6th place-the first, last and only time they finished in the second division. They were 84-78 for a .519 winning percentage. Their won-loss record at home 45-36 (.556) and on the road 39-42 (.481). They finished 15 games out of first; two games behind Cincinnati; two games up on the Cubs.
The rumors regarding a franchise shift were incessant and persistent. On September 22, John McHale, through the Braves publicity department, issued a memo in response.
The following morning’s Milwaukee Sentinel’s front page story was one of relief…The speculation was over…The Braves had decided to stay in Milwaukee. The Sentinel story went on to describe in some detail who really had been suitors and reiterated the assurances of the Board of Directors of Braves, Inc. that the Braves were staying in Milwaukee. There were those in Braves’ fandom who were comforted by these words; there were those who were not…there were those who thought they noted perhaps a nanosecond hesitation in the rumor mill.
In the 1963 World Series, The Los Angeles Dodgers were victorious over the New York Yankees in four straight games. It was the first time in forever the Yanks had been shut out in the Fall Classic.
In yet another Special Draft on October 10th, designed to help the brand new Colt 45s and the Mets to attain some level of parity in the National League; the Colt 45s were permitted to purchase the contract of Claude Raymond for $30,000.
On October 15th, the New York Mets purchased the contract of Amado Samuel for cash.
In a side note of fond reminiscence: On October 18th, the Pittsburgh Pirates released Milwaukee fan favorite, Johnny Logan, who would play the ’64 season for the Nankai Hawks in Japan.
The rumors of desertion and concomitant denials continued. The LaSalle Corporation’s (some now referred to them as ‘the Rover Boys’) issues with Milwaukee were mainly, two-fold: Attendance and Radio and TV rights. Attendance in 1963 was 773,018; a mere 6,097 increase over 1962…and a far cry from the 2 million plus of the good old days. Under the current Radio and TV contract the Braves were only bringing in $525,000 per year. By comparison, LA was making $1 Million; the Mets made $1.2 Million; San Francisco made $900.000; even Philadelphia made $650,000. Only the Cubs and Pirates made less than the Braves…but, their attendance wasn’t down. What it all boiled down to was money…and since Plan A-the sale of the common stock-was a bust (called by some a vote of no-confidence), there were serious fiscal issues afoot…at hand…extant…!!!
Milwaukee responded to the very real threat of other, outside wooers, enticers of the Braves. One of the committees formed to work out plans and strategies to keep the team in town was the “Go to Bat for the Braves” committee headed by civic leader, Ed Fitzgerald. He was Chairman and CEO of Cutler-Hammer, Inc. in Milwaukee.
“Go to Bat for the Braves” was players, businessmen-large and small-and fans who helped in any way they could to sell tickets for the upcoming season. Yes, that is Johnny Logan and the guy you may not recognize is Ed Fitzgerald.
Robert Uihlein is the President and CEO of The Schlitz Brewing Company. Schlitz and the Uihlein family have been staunch supporters of sports in Milwaukee-particularly the Braves. With “stepping back” of Miller Brewing, Schlitz will take on a greater role in 1964’s advertising campaign.
In a meager effort to maintain perspective; on November 22, 1963, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th President of the United States of America, was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. This picture, with Milwaukee Braves shortstop, Johnny Logan, is from early 1960 when then-Senator Kennedy was in Milwaukee to announce his Presidential candidacy.
In spite of lesser successes on the ball field, the popularity of the players and the demand for public appearances was still high.
On December 2nd, the Mets purchased the contract of 1957 bonus baby, Hawk Taylor (catcher-outfielder) from the Braves. He will play another six years with the Mets, the Angels and the KCA’s. Somebody needs to write a book on him…!!!
On December 3rd, the Braves traded Del Crandall, Bob Shaw and Bob Hendley to the Giants for OF/1B Felipe Alou, C Ed Bailey, P Billy Hoeft (originally from Oshkosh, WI) and IF Ernie Bowman (who never made the Milwaukee roster).
The trade was front-page news in “Giants Jottings” the San Francisco equivalent to the Braves’ “Smoke Signals”.
In the off-season most of the Braves still had jobs; some went to school; some used the time to fulfill military service obligations. Joe Torre did his stint for the Air National Guard at General Billy Mitchell Field in Milwaukee.
On December 14th, at the annual stockholders’ meeting, Braves, Inc. announced a $43,379 deficit for the fiscal year ending October 31, 1963. They had reported a loss of $64,579 in fiscal year 1962. No money…not good…
It was an unusual year; new owners, new manager, new coaches, new faces, attendance and revenues down…There seems to be a lack of confidence and leadership. From the perspective of a fan there are new challenges like cheering for an almost totally new team; learning to cope with the realistic ebb and flow of the movement from “championships” to “rebuilding”; not to mention the added uncertainty of maybe losing “your/my team” to some other city. It was a time of real testing…some would pass…would it be enough…??
Maybe it’s just me…1963 has/had a ton of collectible stuff floating around out there…so much that we’ll probably limit it here…
The Big League Player’s Guide has some similarity to the NL Green Book and the AL Red Book combined in one book. It is edited by Norman Paulson and acknowledges and thanks both the AL and NL Publicity Directors for their help. Although it isn’t mentioned on the cover, at the very back, it contains an alphabetical list of all players, managers, coaches and scouts for each team.
At some point in the mid-fifties, the Braves began sending out lists of souvenirs that could be ordered by mail. Collectors find it helpful to note things they have or have not yet found. This one notes that there are two different sets of Picture Packs (think 5 X 7-like Jay’s…) available…#1 and #2.
These are the only two placemats I’ve seen for ’63. Note the similarity between these Blatz figures and the Blatz three-dimensional statue that is also available to collect. The Al Cissa-Legionnaire placemat is cool as it dates from during that early-season winning streak when the Braves were in first place (no matter how briefly…).
This FORD sponsored Instructional booklet for young ball players is also an introduction of the new manager and coaches. It also has a list of the current scouting staff and their geographical territories on the back cover.
Unfortunately I’m in over my head on these 7/8″ team pins/buttons from Crane’s Potato Chips and Guy’s Potato Chips. Crane’s was from Decatur, IL and Guy’s was from Kansas City, MO. To the best of my knowledge, Crane’s chips came in bags; Guy’s chips came in tins-the pins were inside the packaging. The pin backs might be blank; they might have a date/year, they might allude to a Baseball Contest or, more than one of those. In this picture, the Crane’s are to the right of the dates; the Guy’s (all three of them ) are to the left. Notice that the ’63 Crane’s and the ’65 Guy’s are practically identical. Google yielded some, but not enough, information…anything you can add would be appreciated…
This is just a great Ray Boetel photo of three Milwaukee Braves outfielders from 1963 Spring Training!!
These are the usual season passes…as always , I wonder what they did to get free baseball all summer…plus, our old friend, Usher Walter Pelsek.
Probably you recall that the Senators were an expansion team in 1961. Bill Eberley was pretty well-known around the leagues as he had spent prior years with the Dodger organization.
This is another effort by the Milwaukee Sentinel to increase circulation and provide a nice little reward to the faithful paper carriers for doing their part. We had a similar one of these in an earlier chapter.
Just some organizational checks…probably for food from the market; for Spahnie’s Scholarship Fund (autographed on the front) and probably travel per diem for Mr. Bartholomay.
As you likely remember, Max Margolis from Columbia Clothiers was a tremendous fan of the Braves…he instituted the “Brave of the Week” awards…plus this generated incalculable amounts of practically free advertising for his stores. This memo may have referred to a Spahnie Night presentation.
To date I have not been able to ascertain that this new Rockford radio station ever happened. However, an earlier memo from Bob Allen did suggest the Rockford ticket outlet noted herein.
The 1963 Topps cards had very nice color…plus they featured both a color picture and a smaller B & W picture on the fronts. In addition to the usual stats on the back, there was a little cartoon. I’ve seen some of the original art for these cartoons but have never purchased any…it would be another neat thing to collect…
The Topps Peel-Offs were inserts in packs of 1963 cards…these are still fairly easy to find. Aaron and Spahn were the only Braves in the set. The only Braves in the ’63 Bazooka set were also Aaron and Spahn…I thought I had both but somehow managed to buy a ’64 thinking it was a ’63…duuhhh…!
The ’63 Salada-Junket set was smaller (63) and called an All-Star set. They were metal instead of plastic and the NL rims were red while the AL rims were blue.
Because of a lawsuit by Topps, Fleer was only able to release a very small set (66) in ’63. Whether it was part of the lawsuit or not, cards were packaged with a cookie instead of bubble-gum. I have never seen the checklist that goes with this set but am told it’s out there. The Adcock is also more difficult to find but shows up on ebay from time to time.
The Paris Belt Company issued a 28 page Advertising-cum-pondering pamphlet/booklet, “View From The Mound”, featuring Warren Spahn holding forth on pitching, hitters, the game and fashion, in particular, belts…Paris Belts. It’s good, it’s funny, it’s Spahnie!!!
The 1963 Post Cereal set had 10 Braves. The Post logo does not appear anywhere on these cards. They have such variation as you might expect since they were cut off various Post Cereal boxes.
The 1963 Jell-O set is practically identical to the Post set…same guys, same numbers, no logo, same sorta kinda differences re cut from different boxes…
The Collector’s Album for the Post and Jell-O cards is a tad bit scarce…they show up once in a blue moon (every 11.472 months). The store display for the album is much scarcer.
For those of you still into playing this game (and I understand there are a lot of you), here is the ’63 version of the APBA Baseball game with the cards and the envelope.
The 1963 scorecard/scorebook cover is practically identical to the cover of the ’62 Yearbook. Unsure as to why…maybe not enough time to get a creative team together…maybe cost-cutting…maybe…
The 1963 Yearbook cover is practically identical to the cover of last year’s scorecard…see comments above…see prior chapter re original art…
Undoubtedly in response to wild rumors regarding the possible loss of the Braves, Gimbel’s and Schuster’s Department Store published a very nice booklet of Milwaukee’s history, economy, schools and parks, industry and modernity…a complimentary compilation of the high points of the city and…a terrific ad for Gimbel’s and Schuster’s.
Picture Pal Inc. was from Newark, NJ. They used images of the players for commercial gain and, in return, paid them a small fee for the usage of that image. To date I have been unable to ascertain exactly who utilized the Picture Pal images…help…
The Statement of Club Ownership and Affiliations was made annually by each team to the Commissioner’s office. It cited minor league affiliations and ownership, contracts for services, who the team owes money and who owes them. It most often noted trades and changes in minor league affiliations.
This card is from a set of 84, 67 of which are baseball related and 17 are not. It is referred to variously as FCBG, Fun Cards By Gad or Gad Fun Cards. The only card in the set that has to do with the Braves is #58 which is about nicknames of the team in past years.
As in past years, banks continue to lead the schedule parade. Even today they are an easy handout at the counter or at cashier’s windows. Zingen and Braun (orange, guy sliding…) are an insurance and real estate office.
The hanging Sporting News schedule was likely sold or given away at shops or newsstands that carried the SN…the AL sched is on the reverse. This is not the first of these over-sized Gran’pa Graf’s schedules we’ve seen…it certainly has eye-catching color!! Very Cool!!!
This is the only one of these I’ve ever seen…probably we could have included it with the earlier Spring Training stuff. Here, also, the bright pink cane-pencil adds nice color!!
From 1953 on, The Miller Brewing Company put out an annual film of that year’s Braves’ highlights. They also did annual Packers’ films, golf tournament films, auto racing films and more. This is their 1963 catalog. All films were made available to civic and religious groups and organizations at no cost.
I’ve never seen a pair of Official Milwaukee Braves Baseball Jeans but I’d wear ’em if I had ’em!!! How cool would that be?!!!
This little booklet is to advertise tourism in Wiscons