THE MILWAUKEE BREWERS
AND THE BEER BARREL MAN
Team mascots have long been a part of Major League Baseball. From Mr. Met to the Swinging Friar, they have formed part of the rich heritage of clubs. One of those mascots not currently in use, but beloved by fans, is the Brewers Beer Barrel Man.
The Beer Barrel Man has had a long history with the Milwaukee Brewers. It begins in the 1940s, when the Brewers were the preeminent franchise in the American Association (equivalent to our present-day AAA minor leagues). A figure with a beer barrel chest has been used in various forms since at least the early forties:
The club used enough variations on this logo to field an entire ball club, in forms as diverse as a pitcher, a fielder, a catcher, a base runner and a runner sliding into second. These logos were not exclusive, that is to say the club used more than one at the same time.
The image of the Beer Barrel Man at bat appeared no later than 1947, as seen on this scorecard:
These logos could be found items as diverse as scorecards, schedules, the Brewer News newsletter, and game tickets. There were even seasonal variations, such as this Christmas Beer Barrel Man from 1944:
These logos continued to be used by the club through 1952, what would be the teams final season. In 1953 the club was all set to move into the new Milwaukee County Stadium, when the Boston Braves came to town. This was a natural fit, as the Brewers had been the Braves senior farm team for many years. The Milwaukee Brewers would cease to be, but would not be forgotten by their fans during the thirteen seasons in which the Braves called Milwaukee home.
In 1965, the Braves moved to Atlanta, in search of bigger television dollars. Bud Selig, the largest local shareholder of the Braves, founded an organization to return Major League Baseball to Milwaukee. For the name of this organization, he turned to the team he watched growing up: the Brewers. The Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club lobbied relentlessly for a major league franchise. They also hosted Chicago White Sox home games at County Stadium to feature the stadium, and the city, as a potential home for a new team.
For this Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club, he adopted one of the Beer Barrel Man logos, as seen on this program and and this pin, both of which were sold at the Sox games:
This logo is the first use of the Beer Barrel Man batter enclosed in a circle and surrounded by the name of the team. Note the red and blue colors used in the logothese solidly traditional baseball colors had been worn by the American Association Brewers for decades, and Selig continued this tradition.
Selig was almost successful in buying the Sox themselves and moving them, but to no avail. One of the clubs who played the Sox during the home games in Milwaukee, however, was to feature very heavily in the Brewers future. The Seattle Pilots had one disastrous season in Sick's Stadium, and were in financial trouble. The team was taken into bankruptcy and eventually allowed to be sold by the judge overseeing the bankruptcy proceedings. At 10:15 at night on March 31, 1970, slightly more than one week before Opening Day, Bud Selig got the call that Pilots (soon to be the Brewers) were his.
For his new team, Selig kept the name and logo he had used for the last half a decade. He made one adjustmentthe color. There was no time to order new uniforms, so the Pilots uniforms saw a few minor alterations and made do. The Brewers, by default, inherited the blue and yellow of the Pilots. If there had been more time, or if Selig had been able to secure an expansion franchise for Milwaukee, we well might have seen a return to the colors and uniforms of the minor league team!
The club used the Beer Barrel Man through the end of the 1978 season. Hank Aaron played both his Brewers seasons under this logo, and such important Brewers as Robin Yount, Cecil Cooper and Jim Gantner first played when this logo was in use.
The Beer Barrel Man was to remain in limbo for the next twenty years. In the meantime, the Reds and the Padres both revived their old mascots and added them to the sleeves of their jerseys, the Reds' Running Man in 1999 and the Padres' Swinging Friar in 1997. In addition, the Mets gave their mascot, Mr. Met, greater visibility, and the Orioles revived an "Oriole at the Bat" logo for their jerseys in 2003.
|(Reds sleeve logo)||(Orioles sleeve logo)||(Padres sleeve logo)|
On July 23, 1999, the Brewers and the Florida Marlins played a Turn Ahead the Clock game in Miami. For years, MLB had featured Turn Back the Clock games featuring old uniforms and concession prices. The 1999 season saw a reversal in this format, in which teams hypothesized their own future, with futuristic pullover uniforms (but not, hopefully, future concession prices). For most clubs, the future looked much like the present. The Brewers, however, postulated a future in which the Beer Barrel Man would be returned to a position of prominence:
|(Photo (c)1999 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)|
|A closer look at the jersey and cap|
It is interesting to note that even though the logo saw service for decades, this was the first appearance of the Beer Barrel Man on a Brewers uniform.
The Beer Barrel Man, updated for the 1999 color scheme, also made an appearance on a promotional cap sponsored by Time Warner and given out at County Stadium later that year.
On June 25, 2005, during a time when the new owner was considering rebranding the Club, the first 15,000 fans were given a cap emblazoned with the classic Beer Barrel Man (in his 1970-1977 color scheme). That night, in what should be a hopeful omen for the future, the Brewers beat the Twins 7-6, on the night that Rickie Weeks and Prince Fielder both hit their first major league home runs!
So who knows? Given the trend towards old school uniforms and logos, as well as the respect now being given traditional baseball mascot logos around the majors, we may yet see the return of the Beer Barrel Man, swinging for the fences on the sleeves of our True Blue Brew Crew!
|Could we someday see the Brewers take the field wearing him on their sleeves?|