“Leapin Lena’s & Lefty’s” Legacy

The 1934 Milwaukee Brewers Road Uniform

by Paul F. Tenpenny


Copyright 2008 Tencentzports

Reprinted with permission of the Author

Last summer, a friend of mine tipped me off to a Milwaukee Brewer uniform becoming available. I was excited to hunt down another piece of local history and fortunately, was able to bring it back home.
I am pleased to share it’s story with MEARS readers in this, Chapter 3 of Vintage Brew.

Upon learning of this uniform, I was intrigued as I was with my 1950 jersey (see MEARS Archived News February 19 2008 )and wanted to find out more about the player who wore this uniform, the battle dress of the American Association Brewers.

The uniform offered included a jersey, pants and 2 pairs of socks. According to the sellers, they dated the uniform as late 1930’s to early 1940’s. They suspected one of the pairs of socks were part of the uniform but the other probably wasn’t. The pants were in great shape but the jersey had some damage to the front and back area.
The pants had the name of “Fieber” sewn on them and the jersey had the name “Stiles” sewn on it.
So right off the bat, instead of one, I had two players to investigate with this uniform.

Rolland Mays Stiles (nicknames: Rollie and *Leapin’ Lena) was with the Brewers during the early 1930s. No other player named Stiles played with the team.
He was a pitcher and was born in Ratcliff Arkansas on November 17th, 1907.

*According to Paul Richards, an opposing team’s player:
“When Rollie leapt to catch a batted ball, Richards exclaimed ‘Leapin’ Lena!” And the name stuck.” – Columnist Joan M. Thomas in Senior Circuit (Vol. 18 Issue 8 November 2004)Baseball Almanac

Rollie batted and threw right handed, standing 6′ 3″ and in 1935, with the Kansas City Blues, he weighed 185 lbs. (American Association on Parade 1935 edition) He played with the Milwaukee Brewers twice, first in 1932, and again in 1934. He had a brief career in the majors, pitching for the St. Louis Browns in 1930, 1931 and 1933. Rollie Stiles passed away in 2007.

Rollie Stiles 1934 “Milwaukee” Road Jersey

Close up of Stiles name plate

Stiles 1934 Road Jersey Reverse

Clarence Fieber played with the Milwaukee Brewers during the early 1930s, and he too, was the only person with the name of Fieber having played on the team.

Clarence Thomas Fieber (nickname: Lefty), also a pitcher, was born September 4, 1913 in San Francisco California. He was 6’4″ and weighed 187 lbs. Unlike Stiles, he was a southpaw, batting and throwing from the port side. “Lefty” was with the Brewers in 1934 and had a brief career with the Chicago White Sox in 1932 and 1933.
Clarence Fieber passed away in 1985.

1934 Road Pants belonging to Clarence “Lefty” Fieber

Close up of Fieber name plate and tags

1934 Uniform Socks (color matches with 1934 home uniforms and with road uniform shown in spring of 1935 photograph)

With this photo documentation, I am placing the dating of the uniform to 1934 which coincides with the year that both players were on the team.

1935 Spring Training Publicity Photo showing Milwaukee Brewers sporting the “Milwaukee” road uniform. (from author’s collection)

This photo is important because it not only confirms dating this jersey as “pre” 1935, it also provides a match for the socks and pants as well.
*Note the red patches showing in belt area, matching Fieber’s pants and the distinctive striping on socks.

For the curious, this whimsical photo shows 3 Brewers, Ernie Wingard, Tot Pressnell and Lou Polli seeking words of wisdom from a seer on how 1935 Season will unfold…

1934 Color Team photo showing Rollie Stiles (top row far left) in the Home “M” uniform. Please note the socks in this photo (from author’s collection)

Rolland M. Stiles autographed 3 x 5 from author’s collection

1935 American Association on Parade Bio and “Rollie” autographed 3 x 5.
(author’s collection)

Clarence “Lefty” Fieber postcard and autograph (from the author’s collection)

Both players came to Hot Springs Arkansas for spring training in March 1934 with high hopes for the upcoming season. Lena Stiles, recently obtained from the St. Louis Browns was looked upon as a hopeful regular in the rotation.
Clarence Fieber, a young southpaw obtained from the Chicago White Sox, arrived in good physical shape but was a bit “wild” in his first appearance and needed a lot of work according to Red Thisted of the Milwaukee Sentinel.
Fieber’s time with the Brewers was brief, in 1934 he had a winning record of 2-0 in 13 innings of work, but with a hefty ERA of 9.0.
Stiles had a longer tenure with 209 innings, compiling a record of 10 wins and 12 losses and an ERA of 4.52.

The Brewers finished the 1934 season in 3rd place with a record of 82-70.

Upon further investigation, I learned that this uniform came from the estate of former Milwaukee Brewer General Manager Harry Dalton. I am especially pleased that Mr. Dalton put aside this uniform for posterity and it is a fantastic historical legacy from the former Brewer GM, who transformed the modern day Brewers in the late 1970’s and early 1980s. He was the architect who gave us Bambi’s Bombers and then Harvey’s Wallbangers, culminating in the 1982 American League Championship.

If you want to learn more about the Milwaukee Brewers and the American Association I recommend the following:

The American Association Milwaukee Brewers by Rex Hamann and Bob Koehler

Also of interest is Rex Hamann’s American Association Almanac

The Minor League Milwaukee Brewers 1859-1952 by Brian A. Podoll