Dinner with Milwaukee Braves Eddie Mathews: 1957 season re-release and a trip back to the 1950′s with friends Willie, Mickey, Duke,
The DYNASTY League Baseball 1957 season board version card set is being re-released this Summer in the new color format with updated vs. LH and vs. RH batting and pitching splits. The 1957 season Windows version will also be updated with new vs. LH and vs. RH splits.
What would have it been like to sit in the empty chair and have dinner with Eddie Mathews (middle) in what looks like a typical German restaurant in Milwaukee?
First off, you haven’t eaten unless you’ve been to one of Milwaukee’s famous German restaurants the king of which is Karl Rausch’s.
Most of you are like me. We never had the chance to see the great stars of the 1950′s. So here is your chance to learn a bit more`and take in some of the images of what Baseball was like in 1957.
My Grandfather from my father’s side of the family owned an Optical company near Mitchell St. in Milwaukee. In the 1950′s, Mitchell St. was a thriving area and some of the Milwaukee Braves would come in as customers including Eddie Mathews. The unique thing about the Milwaukee Braves and their fans is that it was a mutual love affair. It was more than the Milwaukee attendance records that were set while outdrawing larger markets in Chicago and New York. The fans loved the Braves and the Braves loved the fans.
From the new book “Milwaukee Braves: Heroes and Heartbreak” author William Povletich explains the love affair: “People ask me what the common theme is for all the guys I talked to, and it’s almost like they all have been brainwashed with the same script,” Povletich said. “It’s ‘We loved Milwaukee. When we came here our money was no good. They installed lockers in the dugout and filled it with meat and dairy products and ice cream. When we came home from a game, there’d be cases of beer on our front porch.
Shortly after Pursue the Pennant began in September of 1984, Bob Allen and I took the Amtrak train from Milwaukee to Chicago to meet with the Advertising agency that we were designing the Pursue the Pennant logo and Ad campaign with. Bob was the Milwaukee Braves PR Director for all 13 winning seasons of Milwaukee Braves history from 1953-1965 and was also Hank Aaron’s agent. He actually had the Milwaukee Braves Championship trophy in his house! Bob did not want to have the Braves memorabilia taken to Atlanta when the Braves were hijacked to the deep south.
Bob Allen borrowed his 1957 Official scorebook to me so I could research the Milwaukee Braves vs. LH and vs. RH splits. I sent copies of his scorebook to retrosheet.org to help with the project of finding original scorebooks from past seasons.
Bob Allen appears in the dugout at the start of this incredible video with rare color footage of Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Joe Torre and Eddie Mathews in Milwaukee County Stadium. How lucky is this kid? Best day ever? You bet. When you get right down to it isn’t this really what Baseball is all about?
My parents took me to St. Louis to see the Cardinals play vs. the Atlanta Braves in August of 1973. I became a Cardinals fan in 1967, but had never seen them play in St. Louis. We went to the historic Chase Park Plaza hotel that the Braves were staying at and sure enough here comes Hank Aaron walking through the lobby. Hank was in the midst of his chase of Babe Ruth’s home run record. I went up and told him I was from Milwaukee and Hank signed my baseball.
Later that day we went to Stan Musial’s restaurant and as soon as we walked in there was “Stan the Man”.
Stan was extremely friendly and asked me where I was from and “Can you hit?” I said, “Yeah!” Stan signed the same baseball Hank signed. Best day ever? Certainly right at the top of the list.
This Spring while at the St. Louis Cardinals camp in Jupiter, FL I ran across Peter Gammons and told him about the 1957 Milwaukee Braves winning the DYNASTY League Baseball ESPN.com Greatest Teams bracket style tournament. Peter’s reaction was, “How did that happen?”
Peter would put the 1939 Yankees at the top of his list, but what about the 1957 Milwaukee Braves?
Below are Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract rankings for the Milwaukee Braves:
BILL JAMES POSITIONAL RANKINGS INDEX
Del Crandell, C____________30
Red Schoendienst, 2B_______28
Eddie Mathews, 3B___________3
Johnny Logan, SS___________39
Hank Aaron, RF______________2
Joe Adcock, 1B_____________43
Bobby Thomson, RF__________59
Warren Spahn, P_____________5
The big three of Eddie Mathews (3), Hank Aaron (2) and Warren Spahn (5) may be the highest ranking trio of any greatest team.
By comparison, the 1939 New York Yankees big three had Joe DiMaggio (5), Joe Gordon (16) and Bill Dickey (7) as their highest ranking trio. Below: Joe DiMaggio playing casino on a train trip with teammates. Too bad Joe and the rest of the Yankees didn’t have a copy of the DYNASTY League Baseball board version on the train to have their own tournaments! The 1950′s marked the last decade that players would travel by train. In 1957, the furthest most western team was still Kansas City.
From the Wisconsin Historical Society:
The Milwaukee Braves were already a very good baseball team when Albert “Red” Schoendienst joined them in June of 1957. Featuring future Hall of Famers Warren Spahn, Eddie Matthews and Henry Aaron and a strong supporting cast, the Braves had dueled the Brooklyn Dodgers for the 1956 National League pennant, losing by a single game on the last day of the season.
Schoendienst, a 12-year veteran and 10-time All-Star, was just what the Braves needed. Acquired from the New York Giants, Red brought sharp hitting and excellent fielding to the second base position, along with a wealth of baseball knowledge and understated experience. Many people consider Scheondienst the player who transformed the Braves from a competitive team in 1956 to World Champions in 1957.
Henry Aaron recalled, “I’ll never forget it. Red came in to the clubhouse and put on the Braves’ uniform, and it made us all feel like Superman. We knew he was going to mean so much to our ballclub that wouldn’t show up in the boxscore. He provided the leadership in the clubhouse and on the field. He was never a rah-rah college kind of guy, but he definitely became the leader of that ballclub.”
Above: 1957 World Series hero Lew Burdette and wife celebrate winning the championship in Milwaukee.
What about some of the great stars of the 1950′s that Eddie Mathews and the Braves played against? Let’s take a look:
Above: Pull up a chair. Ted Williams, Stan Musial and Mickey Mantle all part of the new 1957 season DYNASTY League Baseball re-release.
Above: Mickey Mantle had one of his best seasons in 1957. .421 BA with A Power vs. LH and .339 with A Power vs. RH on his DYNASTY League Baseball player card. Where do you think this ball is heading?
Above: Maybe the bleachers in Old Yankee Stadium, one of the parks included in the new ULTIMATE Ball Park charts for the 1957 season.
Above: Before his knee injury, Mickey Mantle could really run and was the fastest player in the AL earning a 10 Baserunning rating on his 1957 DYNASTY League Baseball player card.
Above: Ted Williams hitting in Old Comiskey Park. Williams had one of his best seasons in 1957 hitting .388 with an OBP of .528 and SLG of .731. With RSP, Williams hit .373 with an .800 SLG easily earning him a Clutch hitting rating on his 1957 DYNASTY League Baseball card.
Left: The joy of Willie Mays playing for the New York Giants in Wrigley Field. 1957 was the last year the Giants would play in New York before moving to San Francisco. Has there ever been a better defensive CF (Mays A+/65/-3 defensive player ratings)?
What couldn’t Willie Mays do? Run (10 Baserunning rating),
hit (.333 BA), hit for power (A Power), get on base (.411 OBP), and hit in the Clutch (Clutch hitting rating earned in part by hitting .361 with a .701 SLG in Close and late situations).
You’d be hard pressed to come up with better CF than in the 1950′s with Mantle, Mays and Duke Snider.
Above: Polo Grounds DEEP CF distance of 430 feet for a HR off the DYNASTY League Baseball ball park chart.
Left: Duke Snider hit 40 HR in 1957 (A Power) in the last year the Dogers would play in Brooklyn.
Above: Ebbets Field. Has anyone hit a 395 foot HR into the DeSoto car dealership in RF using the DYNASTY League Baseball Greatest Team Ball Park charts?
Left: Frank Robinson in the Crosley Field clubhouse. The clubhouse is typical of what they looked like in the 1950s’.
I had the chance to meet Frank Robinson while working for the Baltimore Orioles and he is a super guy – friendly and open. On the field he was a tremendous team leader (A Intangible rating) and a fierce competitor who would cut your heart out.
Perhaps one of the most overlooked stars. Somehow he was not elected on the MLB All-Century team even though his 586 HR ranked him 5th on the All-Time HR list. Bill James ranks Frank Robinson as the third best RF of All-time.
Left: Frank Robinson is ripped! Robinson was a tremendous athlete and fierce competitor having played with Celtics Bill Russell on his high school basketball team.
In 1957, Robinson was coming off his previous rookie of the year season with the Reds and hit .322. Robinson was also an outstanding outfielder with the Reds (A+/80/-2).
Above: Ernie Banks playing shortstop. Other shortstops had more range (Banks has B range on his 1957 player card), but how many hit 43 HR?
Above: Mr. Cub. Fans could literally reach out and touch the players at Wrigley Field.
Hope you enjoyed dinner with Eddie Mathews and remember this is the Milwaukee Braves in the 1950′s so remember to pick up the check!