“Roll Out the Barrel
Man ! ”
by Paul F. Tenpenny
Copyright 2009 Tencentzports
Reprinted with permission of the Author
In 1953, like newlyweds, the Milwaukee Braves and their fans celebrated their new relationship, the players were treated like royalty and the nation marveled as Milwaukee set attendance records, a phenomenon heralded as the “Miracle in Milwaukee.”
A strong bond developed between the team and their fans through the early years as the Braves were always competitive and in the thick of the baseball title chase year after year. It culminated in a National League Pennant and World Series Championship in 1957 against the New York Yankees and a near repeat in 1958. Life in 1950’s Milwaukee could be summed up as baseball Heaven on earth.
But as they entered the 1960’s, the team struggled and fell from their familiar position in the first division with seasons now ending with the team in a disappointing 5th or 6th place. Attendance fell off naturally as a result, but what happened next caught Milwaukee fans completely by surprise. Milwaukee soon found themselves in the unbelievable situation of having its team plotting to leave them for someone else. As suspicions grew and the news leaked out, local newspapers were full of recriminations and accusations, denials and threats and it ended badly in a bitter divorce-like battle, ultimately resulting in Milwaukee losing their team in 1966 to Atlanta. This team, mind you, had never finished under .500 in its 13 years of playing in Milwaukee’s County Stadium but they left for the greener pastures of a fast growing southern city.
Led by Milwaukee businessman Allan “Bud” Selig, Milwaukee began working to bring major league baseball back to Milwaukee.
Well aware of the bitter feelings due to the Braves leaving town, Selig looked back in history and to his youth, when he chose a name and insignia for Milwaukee’s “new” team, The Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club Inc.
“We chose the Brewers name and the Barrel Man because of my great and very fond memories of the AAA Milwaukee Brewers. There had been so much antagonism towards Baseball and the Milwaukee Braves because of their unfortunate departure to Atlanta that I wanted to have a name that brought back pleasant memories of Baseball in Milwaukee. I know the Brewers provided many years of great entertainment for Baseball fans and that is why we chose the name-Brewers. “(February 2009)
Baseball returned to Milwaukee County stadium on July 24, 1967 as the Chicago White Sox took on the Minnesota Twins. The program from this game was full of hope and proclamations from the Governor of Wisconsin- Warren Knowles, Henry Maier – Mayor of Milwaukee, County Executive -John Doyne and the Chairman of the County Board of Supervisors-Eugene Grobschmidt.
Baseball returns to Milwaukee-
1967 Milwaukee Brewers Program
Inside it was a “who’s who” of Baseball and the movers and shakers of our community, who were supporting the effort to return baseball to Milwaukee. The program promised:
“THIS COULD BE THE START OF SOMETHING BIG.”
Although only one game,
it promised the fans it was
only the beginning.
It was in fact, just the beginning. More games came in 1968 and 1969 and Milwaukee fans were treated to some great baseball at county stadium. The city showed Major League Baseball that Milwaukee would support a franchise and that they deserved a major league team.
1968 Milwaukee Brewer Program-
1968 full ticket Chicago White Sox vs. New York Yankees
1969 Milwaukee Brewers program-the Barrel Man points the way…
To the right of his swinging bat, the Seattle Pilots Logo
Early Barrel man pin
In 1969 when the Pilots went financially belly up after just one year in Seattle, Milwaukee had its chance at last. On April 7, 1970, 5 years after losing the Braves, The Milwaukee Brewers of the American League played their first game in Milwaukee County Stadium.
Baseball Returns to Milwaukee – April 7th, 1970
Opening Day Ticket Stub & Parking Ticket
Barrel Man in “Rare” form:
Celebrating in “Lederhosen”
1970 Inaugural Season Schedule
1970 Milwaukee Brewer scorecard
Baseball in Milwaukee was here to stay, and so was its mascot, The hard swinging Barrel Man. But where did this popular icon come from? Most fans, including myself had no idea that his history predated the current Milwaukee Brewer team. A closer look back in history shows us where he came from.
1970 Milwaukee Brewer Inaugural Season Schedules
( Author’s Collection)
Milwaukee has always been and probably will always be associated with the brewing industry, even though we are no longer the “Beer Capital of the World”. The influx of German immigrants led to the growth of the Brewing industry in Milwaukee in the mid 1800’s. So it was natural to use the beer connection and to poke some self deprecating humor at the city and its people as can be seen in this whimsical baseball related postcard from nearly 100 years ago. Baseball was becoming a popular sport and its play was spreading across the nation at the same time as the flow of beer.
1913 postmarked Milwaukee Postcard – had us guzzling the suds while playing baseball.
The earliest depiction of the Milwaukee Brewer Barrel Man may surprise you as I have found him first portrayed by the Milwaukee Sentinel’s Cartoonist, Cad Brand as far back as 1901, over 100 years ago! The Brewer team mentioned was affiliated with the American League that year.
1901 Milwaukee Sentinel Cartoon by Cad Brand
Brewer Barrel Man
He shows up in a similar but slightly different form in another 1909 Cad Brand Cartoon as all the league mascots line up for the start of the baseball season. The Milwaukee Brewers mentioned were now part of the newly formed American Association.
Milwaukee Sentinel Cartoon by Cad Brand
American Association Mascots
poised to begin the “marathon” baseball season in 1909.
But as Bud Selig intimated, the Barrel Man he “borrowed” from the AAA Milwaukee Brewers had its roots in the 1940’s. Ironically created by then Milwaukee Brewer General Manager Rudolph (Rudie) Schaffer, the same Rudy Schaffer, Selig worked closely with in 1967 for that July 24th game at County Stadium that ushered baseball back to Milwaukee. Schaffer was the Chicago White Sox Business Manager at the time.
Rudie Schaffer (in 1943 & 1967)
When Bill Veeck, with Charlie Grimm as Manager, took over the Milwaukee Brewers in 1941, he “discovered” Rudolph Schaffer, then the team secretary. A hard working young man that Bill became fond of and trusted implicitly, he soon became General Manager. An integral part of the Management team, many of the positive changes, and antics of Bill’s were aided or executed by this bright young man. He would join Bill Veeck as Veeck moved on to bigger and better things.
1942 brought us into a different and darker world with the attack on Pearl Harbor and our increasing involvement with World War II. It also brought out our first glimpse of “Owgust”, pronounced and sometimes spelled as “Awgoost” the Barrel Man.
Manager Grimm and “Awgoost “confer on the sidelines in 1942
Depicted on the new 1942 Program in his Red White and Blue best, was “Owgust” the Barrel Man. The brainchild of Rudy Schaffer, according to the Milwaukee Journal, his design became the official team insignia and mascot that year.
1942 Milwaukee Brewers Scorecard
“Awgoost’s /Owgust’s” Debut
The colorful scorecard debuts in the Milwaukee Journal
This new mascot also appeared on the team warm-up jackets as can been seen in this photo from 1943.
Team Photo with Charlie Grimm and Bill Veeck
Guess who? – pictured on the Team Jackets
From 1942 until the teams departure after 1952, the Barrel Man image was everywhere the Brewers could use him.
Swinging for the fences at Borchert field on the 1943 program…
1943 Milwaukee Brewers Program
In 1943 he also gets top billing on the new team newsletter called “Brewer News”.
1943 Brewer News
And of course, he gets his own column in the newsletter called
Brewer News “Owgust” Talks
He soars in 1944…
1944 Milwaukee Brewers Program
A perfect slide in 1945…
1945 Milwaukee Brewers Program
He was a Big Hit in 1947…
1947 Milwaukee Brewers Program
Yes, fans, this is our “Modern Day” Barrel man … circa 1947. When comparing the artwork used in 1967 to this version it is easy to see where the Modern day Milwaukee Brewers got their mascot.
“Origin of the Modern Day Barrel man”
1947 meets 1967
– dusting off and re-using, a much loved mascot
Protecting the plate in later years…
1946, 1947, 1949-1950 Milwaukee Brewers Program(s)
A barrel “kid” appeared in 1947 and 1948…
1947 Milwaukee Brewers sketchbook with new Frank Marasco artwork depicting a younger barrel “kid “.
1948 Milwaukee Brewers Program with Marasco artwork
Even with this new look, the familiar Owgust was not far away, still being used inside these programs.
Charlie Grimm returns in 1951 to manage the team and appears as a barrel chested “Owgust” on the cover of the 1951 program, but inside and on the back cover, our hero still resides…
1951 Milwaukee Brewers Program
1951 Milwaukee Brewers Program Reverse
In the playoffs of 1951, he is found “swinging” in the newspaper as his team went on to win it all that year.
1951 Newspaper Illustration
The Milwaukee Brewers were American Association Champions as well as Junior World Series Champs in 1951 and the Barrel Man was there encouraging fans to BACK YOUR BREWERS in 1952.
1952 Milwaukee Brewers Program Reverse
While the 1952 team was one of the best in the history of the team, finishing the season with over 100 victories and on top of the American Association for it‘s second straight year, the Brewer’s season ended with a heartbreaking 2nd round 7th game loss in the playoffs to Kansas City. This was followed by an eviction notice as the team was being displaced by the arrival of their parent team, Milwaukee Braves in the spring of 1953.
The Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association gave us many fine years of baseball memories and a great mascot that is still treasured by present day Milwaukee Brewer Fans.
1952 Final Season Schedule
( Author’s Collection)
Here are some more images of our “modern” day Barrel Man.
“Back The Brewers “- bumper sticker
(Author’s Collection )
1970’s Brewer Pins
1970’s Brewer Pennants
1970’s Brewer Seat Cushion
1970’s Brewer Patches
1975 All Star Game Old Timers Program
(Author’s Collection )
While he graced our pennants, pins, programs and fan patches, he never got his chance to be part of the actual uniform of the team until 1999 during a “Turn Ahead The Clock” promotion. Wearing short sleeved “futuristic” looking designs, the Milwaukee Brewers chose to put their guy front and center on these uniforms. From zero to 99, he zoomed into public view. One of the more popular designs used in major league baseball during that promotion, it was a great debut for the Barrel Man. It was long overdue.
1999 Turn Ahead the Clock Jersey
But he pretty much has remained a background “promotional” piece for the team since then. Caps and other team giveaways, pins and bobble heads.
2009 Cooperstown Classic Brewer Cap
(Author’s Collection )
2008 Barrel Man Bobble Head Stadium Giveaway
I am not alone in my desire to see a more permanent use of our Barrel Man. From Angelfire.com to Miller Park, MLB blogs to Wikipedia, fans are speaking out for their beloved mascot.
He has a much longer, faithful and storied history than the current Bernie Brewer mascot and at the very least, returning a patch of his likeness on the team jackets or elsewhere would be a well deserved acknowledgement for our 67 year old (going on 108) Mascot.
How about it Milwaukee Brewers?
Like the team, he has been ever faithful to the City of Milwaukee and he deserves a more permanent place of honor on the official team uniform.
Stay Tuned for more Vintage Brew…