Tag Archives: Milwaukee

Remembering the Milwaukee Brewers post-World Series parade of 1982

It probably was an omen. Over the weekend, I found in our garage an old cassette tape. Onto the cassette was dubbed a recording I made for The Associated Press radio network after the 1982 World Series, in which the Brewers lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games.

This year, the Brewers lost to the Cards in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series. There will be no welcome-home parade for the Brewers.

Back in ’82, I recorded the audio report — a “voicer,” as we called it in the AP — in downtown Milwaukee as the Brewers rolled along Wisconsin Avenue in antique cars. It was either one or two days after the series ended on Oct. 20.

Here’s a link to the audio, in which I do a fairly good job of disguising how teeth-chatteringly cold it was, probably in the low 40s.

I recorded this report while standing in the street, ¬†microphone in hand and tape recorder slung over my shoulder. In the 30 seconds or so leading up to the cut, I have the “natural sound” of the crowd cheering. Just before this recording, you can hear a couple of people yell “Vuke” for pitcher Pete Vukovich.

At the end of the recording, there are two sign-offs: a generic one for use by radio stations, and an “AP Network News” version for use by the network.

After I made the recording, I headed back to the AP bureau to send it over a telephone line to AP’s radio network in Washington. I unscrewed the mouthpiece of the telephone and using alligator clips attached a line from the recorder into a couple of metal prongs in the handset. That was the analog way of doing things back then.

The kicker to the story is that after work, either I picked up my brother-in-law or he picked up me. I can’t remember which – but I do remember we had WBBM from Chicago on the car radio.

As the sportscast came on, to my delight and to my brother-in-law’s surprise, the announcer reported that there were World Series parades in Milwaukee and St. Louis that day — and then they played my audio.

That’s one of the high points of my career.

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In which I erect a shrine to the Milwaukee Brewers in my backyard prior to Game 6 of the NLCS

All the neighbors thought Ray Kinsella crazy when he plowed down a couple of acres of prime corn land and built a baseball field for Shoeless Joe Jackson in Iowa. If they could see through the cypress trees, my neighbors would undoubtedly think the same today as I erected a backyard shrine to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Rich in symbolism, the shrine has deep significance as I observe 24 hours’ devotion¬†prior to the first pitch tomorrow of Game 6 of the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

I picked up the batting helmet at a Brewers game at Milwaukee County Stadium years ago. Same for the bucket hat atop the 12 pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon, reverently purchased this afternoon for my purification-by-hops ritual. In my grad school days at Marquette University, I lived in an apartment complex on Frederick Pabst’s old hops farm on the west edge of the city.

The blue ribbons adorning the bills of the batting helmet and the modern Brewers cap, purchased a few years ago at Miller Park, are authentic ribbons from old Pabst bottles that my wife found for me at an antique store in Milwaukee.

Will this shrine make a difference? Will the Brewers win Game 6 and play on to win in a dramatic Game 7 to advance to the World Series? I think that’s worth contemplating over another beer.

Brewers vs. Phillies, and bratwurst vs. cheesesteaks

The long shadows of October baseball

The long shadows of October baseball

Of the division matchups in the baseball playoffs this year, the only one I can illustrate with a pair of caps I own is the Brewers-Phillies series.

I’m already on record in expressing my devotion to the Brew Crew. Their place in the playoffs this year takes me right back to their last appearance, when they lost to the Cardinals in seven games in 1982. Somewhere in a shoe box I have photos I took out the window of our flat of the Goodyear blimp flying along the Lake Michigan shore en route to Milwaukee County Stadium. I am also on record, if only semi-seriously, as wanting to be buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Milwaukee, hard by the ballpark and not far from my grad school apartment.

I have a soft spot for the Phillies, too. Some of that has to do with having worked briefly in the Philly market at Trenton, N.J. Part of it is rooting for a team that gets only sporadic cracks at the big time.

The Milwaukee-Philadelphia matchup can also be played out in food terms. Milwaukee is the center of the bratwurst universe, and Philadelphia is the capital of cheesesteak nation. I love them both. So although I’m fully pulling for the Brewers, I’m open to the Phils advancing. Does that make me a weenie?

A Labor Day salute to the American Rust Belt

As a tribute to working men and women this Labor Day weekend, I offer this tableau featuring a lunch pail and a U.S. Steel cap. The cap was a gift from my daughter, an engineer with the big Pittsburgh-based steelmaker.

This post is also a salute to the Rust Belt, that swath of mostly Midwestern cities that through much of the 20th Century belched toxic fumes into the air and dumped foul sludge into the the region’s rivers and the Great Lakes.

To me, Rust Belt roots are a badge of honor. These are not the “little soft cities” that Carl Sandburg mocked in his famous poem about Chicago, city of broad shoulders. These are hard-working urban cores: Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Erie, Akron, Toledo, Cincinnati, Detroit, Flint, Gary, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago and Joliet.

The Rust Belt’s capital city? My hometown, Cleveland, Ohio, the Mistake on the Lake, the place favorably compared with the Titanic only by virtue of its orchestra.

As tough and proud as all those other cities are, none had a river (the Cuyahoga) so polluted that it burst into flames. None had a mayor (Ralph J. Perk) who turned down dinner at the White House because it was his wife’s bowling night. None, as far as I know, defaulted on its loans.

Most Rust Belt cities declined precipitously in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Some — Cleveland, Indy and Pittsburgh — have clawed their way back to respectability. That didn’t happen without the hard work we recognize and honor on Labor Day weekend.

Wisconsin Badgers throwback cap

College football season kicks off Saturday, and to celebrate the annual rites of fall I present this late 1970s banded mesh-back cap. In the late 70s and early 1980s, this was the predominant college cap style.

In fact, I’m hard pressed to remember any college caps from that era that didn’t look like this one. As a graduate student at Marquette University in Milwaukee, I had a Warriors cap in yellow and white. I picked up this red and white beauty on the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison in 1979.

My girlfriend and I drove over to Camp Randall stadium on a Saturday to watch the Badgers play Indiana. Becky (now my wife of 28 years) took this picture before the game, and I got photos of her wearing a Wisconsin cowboy hat and Badger mittens.

The game was a snoozer — a 6-0 Wisconsin victory — and most of the action was in the stands. This was the “Mad City” era of the Portage Plumber and the Pail & Shovel Party, the guys in student government who wanted to replace the parking meters on campus with bubble gum machines. The student section of the stands was big on “body passing,” a sort of movable mosh pit where students were hoisted on the upraised arms of others and passed up or down row after row.

UW Athletic Director Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch had recently banned the activity, and the ushers were quick to squelch any attempt. At one point, the message crawler on the scoreboard said, “Elroy thanks you … for not doing … you know what.”

I absolutely loved this hat. I kept wearing it for years, even when the plastic insert in the brim had cracked into a hundred pieces. I can’t remember in what closet purge I reluctantly tossed the hat out. If I had it today, I’d tip it to Bucky and the Badgers.