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The Cold Filtered Ramblings of Gene Mueller

No dog days of Owgust: the creation of the Brewers Barrel Man has legendary origins

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He brought baseball the exploding scoreboard, the midget pinch-hitter, Wrigley Field ivy.

He also had a few miscues, like Disco Demolition night and these Chicago White Sox uni's.

He's Bill Veeck and his creations reach beyond Chicago.  The wonky uniform-centric website Uniwatch does an homage to Veeck and his contributions to sports marketing, not the least of which is one you can still sell all over Miller Park.

 

Bill Veeck created Barrel Man when he was calling the shots for Milwaukee's minor league Brewers in the mid-40's. He was known back then as "Owgust".

 

 

 

The minor league club would fade away as the Braves came to Milwaukee in 1953, and Owgust would be mothballed until the Pilots' arrival in '70.  Owner Bud Selig says he chose the name "Brewers" as a salute to the minor league club that used to play here, but it's safe to say the use of Owgust as the new team's logo was part necessity--Selig and his front office didn't have time to commission a new look and a marketing plan as he won control of the franchise literally days before that season's opener.  

Owgust would become Barrel Man to a new generation of fans, and he'd remain until the team rolled out it's ball and glove m-and-b logo.  Other looks came and went but Barrel Man had legs--at least at the cash register where he seems more popular than ever.

Veeck would leave Milwaukee for other towns and bigger notoriety.   He'd stop in Cleveland and then St. Louis where he'd head up an effort to move the struggling Browns to--you guessed it--Milwaukee.  He failed, the Browns would go to Baltimore and Milwaukee would land the Braves.

Veeck would work both sides of Chicago, ending up with the Cubs.  It was a sunsplashed afternoon at Wrigley when this fan would have his brush with the baseball legend.  Veeck was a man of the people and could often be spotted in the bleachers: sometimes shirtless, always with a cigarette (which he'd stamp out on his wooden leg before sparking its replacement).  I had enough Old Styles in me to approach Veeck--I just wanted to shake his hand and thank him for what he did for the game.  He was polite, I kept it short, and the day went on.  I don't know who won, but I have a baseball memory that's alive and well years later.

Just like someone else we know.

 

 

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