Presenter Information

Michael Lomax, University of Iowa

Location

Panel 18: Kearney 323

Start Date

27-10-2012 10:15 AM

End Date

27-10-2012 11:45 AM

Description

In 1953, the Boston Braves relocated to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, marking the first time a major league franchise moved in fifty years. The Braves’ relocation ushered in major league baseball’s first phase of expansion – the relocation phase. By May 20, the Braves matched its entire 1952 attendance (281,000) and finished the season with an impressive 1.8 million. In 1954, the Braves topped two million en route to becoming one of the prominent franchises in the 1950s.

This paper analyzes the forces that led to the Boston Braves relocating to Milwaukee, ushering in major league baseball’s relocation phase. The following questions will serve to guide the narrative. How did the PCL’s efforts to become a third major league influence major league baseball’s expansion process? What were the forces, both internal and external, that impacted upon the construction of Milwaukee County Stadium? The paper will also trace the Boston Braves move to Milwaukee and analyze the importance civic leaders and local businessmen placed on obtaining “major league” status to acquire national identity in the 1950s.

At the forefront were the major league owners’ attempts to either maintain their existing monopoly or control the expansion process. In 1948 and 1949, major league attendance reached an all-time high, undoubtedly leading some owners into believing that they would reap the benefits of postwar prosperity. But at the same time, baseball’s consumer market was altered by the changes in demography, in technology, and the postwar economy. These changes led the PCL owners to push for major league status, but the major league magnates were reluctant to expand to the West Coast. Major League owners made concerted efforts to position themselves to control the expansion process. A determining factor for the PCL’s elevation to a major league was the size of their ballparks and adequate parking. Thus the stadium became a critical factor that dramatically influenced the expansion process.

Concurrently, civic leaders in Milwaukee undertook a project to build a municipal stadium. The original intent of the project was to erect a memorial to honor the soldiers who died in World War I. Later, the stadium project served to lure a major league franchise to their growing city. In 1952, at the major league owners’ winter meeting, the magnates revised their bylaws to make it easier for a struggling a franchise to relocate to greener pastures, resulting in the Braves’ move to Milwaukee. Milwaukee County Stadium represented one of the first baseball facilities that were built at taxpayers’ expense. In essence, the city of Milwaukee entered into a business agreement with a major league franchise. City fathers sought the prestige and national identity major league baseball brought to their growing city, while magnates, like Perini, attempted to reap the benefits of this growing consumer market.

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Oct 27th, 10:15 AM Oct 27th, 11:45 AM

A Reshuffling Market: The Pacific Coast League’s Efforts to Become a Third Major League and How the Braves Made Milwaukee Famous

Panel 18: Kearney 323

In 1953, the Boston Braves relocated to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, marking the first time a major league franchise moved in fifty years. The Braves’ relocation ushered in major league baseball’s first phase of expansion – the relocation phase. By May 20, the Braves matched its entire 1952 attendance (281,000) and finished the season with an impressive 1.8 million. In 1954, the Braves topped two million en route to becoming one of the prominent franchises in the 1950s.

This paper analyzes the forces that led to the Boston Braves relocating to Milwaukee, ushering in major league baseball’s relocation phase. The following questions will serve to guide the narrative. How did the PCL’s efforts to become a third major league influence major league baseball’s expansion process? What were the forces, both internal and external, that impacted upon the construction of Milwaukee County Stadium? The paper will also trace the Boston Braves move to Milwaukee and analyze the importance civic leaders and local businessmen placed on obtaining “major league” status to acquire national identity in the 1950s.

At the forefront were the major league owners’ attempts to either maintain their existing monopoly or control the expansion process. In 1948 and 1949, major league attendance reached an all-time high, undoubtedly leading some owners into believing that they would reap the benefits of postwar prosperity. But at the same time, baseball’s consumer market was altered by the changes in demography, in technology, and the postwar economy. These changes led the PCL owners to push for major league status, but the major league magnates were reluctant to expand to the West Coast. Major League owners made concerted efforts to position themselves to control the expansion process. A determining factor for the PCL’s elevation to a major league was the size of their ballparks and adequate parking. Thus the stadium became a critical factor that dramatically influenced the expansion process.

Concurrently, civic leaders in Milwaukee undertook a project to build a municipal stadium. The original intent of the project was to erect a memorial to honor the soldiers who died in World War I. Later, the stadium project served to lure a major league franchise to their growing city. In 1952, at the major league owners’ winter meeting, the magnates revised their bylaws to make it easier for a struggling a franchise to relocate to greener pastures, resulting in the Braves’ move to Milwaukee. Milwaukee County Stadium represented one of the first baseball facilities that were built at taxpayers’ expense. In essence, the city of Milwaukee entered into a business agreement with a major league franchise. City fathers sought the prestige and national identity major league baseball brought to their growing city, while magnates, like Perini, attempted to reap the benefits of this growing consumer market.