Friday’s ad is for Rheingold, from 1947. In the 1940s and 1950s, Rheingold recruited a number of prominent celebrities to do ads for them, all using the tagline: “My beer is Rheingold — the Dry beer!” This ad features American professional baseball player and professional golfer Sam Byrd. In this ad, Byrd compares baseball and golf, and says you need to stay calm playing either one, but it’s best to just think of something else and not worry about. And to that purpose, he suggests Rheingold Extra Dry.
Today is the 84th birthday of Bob Uecker, who is an “American former Major League Baseball player and current sportscaster, comedian, and actor. Facetiously dubbed ‘Mr. Baseball’ by TV talk show host Johnny Carson, Uecker has served as a play-by-play announcer for Milwaukee Brewers radio broadcasts since 1971. He was honored by the National Baseball Hall of Fame with its 2003 Ford C. Frick Award in recognition of his broadcasting career.” But he is best-remembered, beerwise, for his humorous commercials in the 1980s for Miller Lite beer.
This is his biography, from his Wikipedia page:
Though he has sometimes joked that he was born on an oleo run to Illinois, Uecker was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He grew up watching the minor-league Milwaukee Brewers at Borchert Field. He signed a professional contract with his hometown Milwaukee Braves in 1956 and made his Major League Baseball debut as a catcher with the club in 1962. A below-average hitter, he finished with a career batting average of .200. He was generally considered to be a sound defensive player and committed very few errors in his Major League career as a catcher, completing his career with a fielding percentage of .981. However, in 1967, despite playing only 59 games, he led the league in passed balls and is still on the top 10 list for most passed balls in a season. At least a partial explanation is that he spent a good deal of the season catching knuckleballer Phil Niekro. He often joked that the best way to catch a knuckleball was to wait until it stopped rolling and pick it up. Uecker also played for the St. Louis Cardinals (and was a member of the 1964 World Champion club) and Philadelphia Phillies before returning to the Braves, who had by then moved to Atlanta. His six-year Major League career concluded in 1967.
Perhaps the biggest highlight of Uecker’s career was when he hit a home run off future Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax, after which Uecker joked that he always thought that home run would keep Koufax from getting into the Hall of Fame.
After retiring as a player, Uecker returned to Milwaukee. In 1971, he began calling play-by-play for the Milwaukee Brewers’ radio broadcasts, a position he holds to this day. During his tenure, he has mentored Pat Hughes, Jim Powell, Cory Provus and Joe Block, all of whom became primary radio announcers for other MLB teams. For several years he also served as a color commentator for network television broadcasts of Major League Baseball, helping call games for ABC in the 1970s and NBC (teaming with Bob Costas and Joe Morgan) in the 1990s. During that time, he was a commentator for several League Championship Series and World Series.
As of 2016, Uecker teams with Jeff Levering to call games on WTMJ in Milwaukee and the Brewers Radio Network throughout Wisconsin, save for some road trips which he skips; for those games Lane Grindle substitutes for Uecker on the radio broadcasts. Uecker is well known for saying his catchphrase “Get up! Get up! Get outta here! Gone!” when a Brewers player hits a home run.
Known for his humor, particularly about his undistinguished playing career, Uecker actually became much better known after he retired from playing. He made some 100 guest appearances on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. During one Tonight Show appearance Carson asked him what the biggest thrill of his professional baseball career was and with his typical dry wit Uecker replied, “Watching a fan fall out of the upper deck in Philadelphia; the crowd booed.” Most of his wisecracks poked fun at himself. He once joked that after he hit a grand slam off pitcher Ron Herbel, “When his manager came out to get him, he was bringing Herbel’s suitcase.” On another occasion, he quipped, “Sporting goods companies would pay me not to endorse their products.” On his later acting career, he commented, “Even when I played baseball, I was acting.”
Uecker also appeared in a number of humorous commercials, most notably for Miller Lite beer, as one of the “Miller Lite All-Stars”
Here’s a selection of some of Uecker’s commercials for Miller Lite:
Another one from 1988, promoting the Olympics:
Today is the birthday of Jacob Ruppert, Jr. (August 5, 1867–January 13, 1939). He was the son of Jacob Ruppert, who founded the Jacob Ruppert Brewing Company in 1867. Jacon Jr., who went by Jake “was an American brewer, businessman, National Guard colonel and United States Congressman who served for four terms representing New York from 1899 to 1907. He also owned the New York Yankees of Major League Baseball from 1915 until his death in 1939.
Starting out in the family brewing business, Ruppert entered the United States National Guard in 1886 at the age of 19, eventually reaching the rank of colonel. While he was the owner of the Yankees, he purchased the contract of Babe Ruth and built Yankee Stadium, reversing the franchise’s fortunes and establishing it as the premier club in the major leagues. Ruppert was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in July 2013.”
Ruppert was born in New York City, the son of brewer Jacob Ruppert, Sr. (1842–1915) and his wife, the former Anna Gillig (1842–1924). He was the second oldest of six children, along with Cornelia Ruppert-Franko (1865–96), Anna Schalk (born 1870), Frank (born 1872), George (1875–1948) and Amanda Elizabeth “Lizzie” Ruppert-Silleck (1878–1952). His grandfather Franz (1811–83), a brewer from Bavaria, had emigrated to the United States in 1836 or 1842. His mother was also of German ethnicity, and was herself the daughter of prominent brewer George Gillig. Although he was a second-generation American, to the day he died he spoke with a noticeable German accent.
He grew up in the Jacob Ruppert, Sr. House on Fifth Avenue. Jacob Jr. attended the Columbia Grammar School. He was accepted into Columbia College, but instead began working in the brewing business with his father in 1887. He started as a barrel washer, working 12-hour days for $10 a week ($267 in current dollar terms), and eventually became vice president and general manager of the brewery.
Ruppert enlisted in the Seventh Regiment, National Guard of New York, serving in the rank of private from 1886 through 1889. In 1890, he was promoted to colonel and appointed to serve on the staff of David B. Hill, the Governor of New York, serving as aide-de-camp. He became a senior aide on the staff of Roswell P. Flower, Hill’s successor as governor, until 1895.
Ruppert was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1898 as a member of the Democratic Party to the Fifty-sixth United States Congress, defeating incumbent Philip B. Low of the Republican Party in New York’s 15th congressional district. He was supported in his election by Richard Croker, the political boss of Tammany Hall. Ruppert won reelection over Alderman Elias Goodman in 1900. Ruppert was renominated for Congress, this time running in New York’s 16th congressional district, in 1902. Ruppert was not a candidate for reelection in 1906, and he left office in 1907.
Ruppert was also president of the Astoria Silk Works and the United States Brewers Association from 1911 through 1914. In January 1914, he bought J&M Haffen Brewing Company for $700,000 ($16,737,209 in current dollar terms), intending to close the brewery down and develop the property, which was located near The Hub in The Bronx. Upon his father’s death in 1915, Ruppert inherited the Jacob Ruppert Brewing Company and became the company’s president. Ruppert also owned real estate, including Pass-a-Grille Key in Florida.
Ruppert, interested in baseball since his childhood, began to pursue ownership of a Major League Baseball team, and attempted to purchase the New York Giants on numerous occasions. In 1912 he was offered an opportunity to purchase the Chicago Cubs, but decided that Chicago was too far away from New York for his tastes. However, Frank J. Farrell and William S. Devery, owners of the New York Yankees, were looking to sell their franchise. Ruppert and Tillinghast L’Hommedieu Huston, a former United States Army engineer and captain, purchased the Yankees from Farrell and Devery before the 1915 season for $480,000 ($11,363,684 in current dollar terms). The Yankees were, at that time, a perennial also-ran in the American League (AL), posting winning records in only 4 of their 12 seasons – and only once since 1906 – since relocating to New York prior to the 1903 season from Baltimore, where the team had played as the Orioles during the AL’s first two years of operation, 1901 and 1902.
After the 1917 season, Ban Johnson, president of the AL, suggested that Ruppert hire St. Louis Cardinals manager Miller Huggins to take over the same position with the Yankees. Huston, who was in Europe at the time that Ruppert was considering the appointment, disliked Huggins and wanted to hire the manager of the National League’s crosstown Brooklyn Robins, Wilbert Robinson, his drinking buddy. However, Ruppert interviewed Huggins on Johnson’s recommendation, and agreed that Huggins would be an excellent choice Ruppert offered the job to Huggins, who accepted and signed a two-year contract. The hiring of Huggins drove a wedge between the two co-owners that culminated in Huston selling his shares of the team to Ruppert in 1922.
Ruppert and Huston purchased pitcher Carl Mays from the Boston Red Sox in 1918, in direct opposition of an order issued by Johnson. The matter was taken to court, where Ruppert and Huston prevailed over Johnson. The case led to the dissolution of the National Commission, which governed baseball, and helped lead to the creation of the Commissioner of Baseball. Ruppert eventually organized opposition to Johnson among other AL owners.
The Yankees purchased star pitcher-outfielder Babe Ruth from the Red Sox in 1919, which made the Yankees a profitable franchise. The Yankees began to outdraw the Giants, with whom they shared the Polo Grounds. In 1921 the Yankees won the AL pennant for the first time, but lost to the Giants in the World Series. As a result of the Yankees’ increased popularity, Charles Stoneham, owner of the Giants and the Polo Grounds, raised the rent for Ruppert and Huston for the 1922 season. The Yankee owners responded by purchasing land in The Bronx, across the Harlem River from the Polo Grounds, from the estate of William Waldorf Astor for $675,000 ($9,658,002 in current dollar terms), breaking ground on a new stadium in May 1922. That year, the Giants once again defeated the Yankees in the World Series. Yankee Stadium opened on April 18, 1923,[the first ballpark with three tiers of seating for fans, and the first referred to as a “stadium”. Ruppert and Huston financed the project with $2.5 million of their own money ($35,770,378 in current dollar terms).
In 1923, Ruppert bought out Huston for $1.5 million ($21,084,961 in current dollar terms), and he became the sole owner. Later that year, the Yankees finally beat the Giants to win their first World Series title. The Yankees went on to dominate baseball throughout most of the 1920s and 1930s, winning three more pennants from 1926 through 1928, including the Murderers’ Row team which won the 1927 World Series and repeated as champions the following year. They returned to the top with the 1932 World Series title, and then began their strongest period yet with the Bronx Bombers teams of the late 1930s, becoming the first team to win three consecutive World Series titles in 1936, 1937 and 1938. In 1937, the Yankees became the first team to win six World Series titles, and in 1938 they surpassed the Philadelphia Athletics to become the first team to win ten AL championships, with only the Giants winning more pennants in the 20th century.
In 1929, Ruppert added numbers to the Yankees’ uniforms, which became a feature of every team. He said, “Many fans do not attend games on a regular basis and cannot easily pick out the players they have come to see.”
in 1931 Ruppert bought the Newark Bears who played at Ruppert Stadium in Newark, New Jersey, and begin building the farm system for the Yankees. Ruppert’s 24 years as a Yankee owner saw him build the team from near-moribund to a baseball powerhouse. His own strength as a baseball executive – including his willingness to wheel and deal – was aided by the business skills of general manager Ed Barrow and the forceful field managing of Miller Huggins, until his sudden death at age 50 late in the 1929 season, and Joe McCarthy, beginning in 1931. By the time of Ruppert’s death, the team was well on its way to becoming the most successful in the history of Major League Baseball, and eventually in North American professional sports.
Ruppert and Ruth had public disagreements about Ruth’s contracts. Nevertheless, they were personal friends; according to Ruth, Ruppert called him “Babe” only once, and that was the night before he died. Usually, Ruppert called him “Root” (as “Ruth” sounded in his German-accented voice); he always called everyone, even close friends, by their last name. Ruth was one of the last persons to see Ruppert alive.
Ruppert suffered from phlebitis in April 1938, and was confined to his Fifth Avenue apartment for most of the year. He was too sick to follow the Yankees to the 1938 World Series, what would be their seventh world title under his stewardship; he listened on the radio. In November 1938, he checked into Lenox Hill Hospital, where he died on January 13, 1939.
Ruppert’s father, Jacob, Sr., left behind an estate of $6,382,758 ($111,618,204 in current dollar terms) when he died in 1915, which Ruppert increased to $40 million by the time of his death in 1939. This was managed by his heirs. His brother George, who served as the Yankees’ vice president, declined to take over the team presidency, and instead recommended that general manager Ed Barrow be given control of the club. Under Barrow’s leadership, the Yankees won a fourth consecutive World Series in 1939, and captured three more AL titles and two World Series from 1941 to 1943 as the nation entered World War II. After mismanaging Ruppert’s brewery, the heirs sold the Yankees to Dan Topping, Del Webb and Larry MacPhail in 1945. The brewery sold its flagship beer, Knickerbocker beer, to Rheingold, and went out of business in 1965.
On April 16, 1940, the Yankees dedicated a plaque in Ruppert’s memory, to hang on the center field wall of Yankee Stadium, near the flagpole and the monument that had been dedicated to former manager Miller Huggins. The plaque called Ruppert “Gentleman, American, sportsman, through whose vision and courage this imposing edifice, destined to become the home of champions, was erected and dedicated to the American game of baseball.” The plaque now rests in Monument Park at New Yankee Stadium.
An apocryphal story says that Ruppert is responsible for the Yankees’ famous pinstriped uniforms; according to this account, Ruppert chose pinstripes in order to make the often-portly Ruth appear less obese, but the uniform was in fact introduced in 1912.
A beer was named after Ruppert, as were Ruppert Stadium in Newark, New Jersey. Ruppert Park in Manhattan, is part of the Ruppert Yorkville Towers housing complex was built on the site the brewery in Yorkville, Manhattan.
Tuesday’s ad is for Carling’s Red Cap Ale, from 1951. In this ad, part of another series featuring well-known celebrities of the day and the tagline “x person, too, has graduated to Carling’s — the LIGHT-HEARTED ale!,” it features “American baseball player and manager” Frankie Frisch wearing an Oxford cap, or mortarboard, with a small red cap on top of it while holding up a glass of Red Cap Ale. He was “nicknamed The Fordham Flash or The Old Flash, was a German-American Major League Baseball player and manager of the first half of the twentieth century. Frisch was a switch-hitting second baseman who threw right-handed. He played for the New York Giants (1919–1926) and St. Louis Cardinals (1927–1937). He managed the Cardinals (1933–1938), Pittsburgh Pirates (1940–1946) and Chicago Cubs (1949–1951). He is a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum.
I confess I completely forgot about the baseball season starting tomorrow. I’d set up the annual Brookston Hitting Derby, but promptly forgot about it again. We used to call it a Home Run Derby because to keep things simpler, we only counted those, but more recently I monkeyed with the scoring (because I generally can’t keep well enough alone) so while it’s still simpler than being in a full-blown fantasy baseball league, there are now more ways to get points. Still, we do it just for fun, and there are twenty spaces available if you want to play along, although we only need four to draft (two more now). But hurry up, the league will draft late tonight since the season starts tomorrow, so sign up today if you want to join.
In order to join the league, follow this link, and I think that’s all you have to do, other then follow the on-screen instructions. If that’s not right, or you’re having trouble, leave a comment below and a way to reach you. Otherwise, see you on the diamond.
Thursday’s ad is for Pabst Blue Ribbon, from 1949. In the later 1940s, Pabst embarked on a series of ads with celebrity endorsements, photographing star actors, athletes, musicians and other famous people in their homes, enjoying Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. This one features Mr. and Mrs. Larry Doby. He “was an American professional baseball player in the Negro leagues and Major League Baseball (MLB) who was the second black player to break baseball’s color barrier. A native of Camden, South Carolina and three-sport all-state athlete while in high school in Paterson, New Jersey, Doby accepted a basketball scholarship from Long Island University. At 17 years of age, he began his professional baseball career with the Newark Eagles as the team’s second baseman. Doby joined the United States Navy during World War II. His military service complete, Doby returned to baseball in 1946, and along with teammate Monte Irvin, helped the Eagles win the Negro League World Series.”
In July 1947, three months after Jackie Robinson, Doby broke the MLB color barrier in the American League when he signed a contract to play with Bill Veeck’s Cleveland Indians. Doby was the first player to go directly to the majors from the Negro leagues. A seven-time All-Star center fielder, Doby and teammate Satchel Paige were the first African-American players to win a World Series championship when the Indians won in 1948. He helped the Indians win a franchise-record 111 games and the AL pennant in 1954, finished second in the AL Most Valuable Player (MVP) award voting and was the AL’s RBI leader and home run champion. He went on to play for the Chicago White Sox, Detroit Tigers, and Chunichi Dragons before his retirement as a player in 1962.
Doby later served as the second black manager in the majors with the Chicago White Sox, and in 1995 was appointed to a position in the AL’s executive office. He also served as a director with the New Jersey Nets of the National Basketball Association (NBA). He was selected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1998 by the Hall’s Veterans Committee and died in 2003 at the age of 79.
In the ad, Doby is in his home, sharing a beer with, presumably, a friend, while holding a baseball trophy in his hands. I feel like at some point he’s going to have to put that down, or he won’t be able to drink an of his beer.
Wednesday’s ad is for Pabst Blue Ribbon, from 1950. In the later 1940s, Pabst embarked on a series of ads with celebrity endorsements, photographing star actors, athletes, musicians and other famous people in their homes, enjoying Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. This one features Tommy Henrich. He “was an American professional baseball player, nicknamed ‘The Clutch’ and ‘Old Reliable.’ He played his entire Major League Baseball career as a right fielder and first baseman for the New York Yankees (1937–1942 and 1946–1950). Henrich led the American League in triples twice and in runs scored once, also hitting 20 or more home runs four times. He is best remembered for his numerous exploits in the World Series; he was involved in one of the most memorable plays in Series history in 1941, was the hitting star of the 1947 Series with a .323 batting average, and hit the first walk-off home run in Series history in the first game of the 1949 World Series.”
In the ad, Henrich is showing off his “World-Series home run baseball” in what looks to be his study. I think they’re referring to the 1949 World Series, the year before, when “he gave New York a 1-0 victory in Game 1 when he homered against Don Newcombe on a 2-0 pitch to lead off the ninth inning, the first walk-off home run ever in the World Series.” Shortly before the ad ran, on January 19, 1950, he was awarded “Athlete of the Year,” although I don’t really know who gave him the accolade.
Wednesday’s ad is for Budweiser, from 1984. In this ad, a poster really, it shows Wrigley Field and congratulates the Chicago Cubs for being the National League Eastern Division Champs. Tonight the Cubs won their first World Series in a very long time. When I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer, they were up 4-1, and when I work up this morning in Belgium, it looks like I missed a barnburner of a finish.
Saturday’s ad is for Schlitz, from 1940. In this ad, entitled “Something On The Ball,” there are several sports using balls highlighted — golf, football, bowling and tennis, but baseball is the most prominent one, and since this ad ran five years before the last time the Chicago Cubs appeared in a World Series, I figured it was appropriate for today’s ad with them finally making it to the series this year. The ad finally comes around to tying it into Schlitz, by saying while the sports have “something on the ba;;,” Schlitz is so good it has “everything on the ball.”