Remembering Borchert Field and the Big River
New books on Wisconsin history by Bob Buege and Dennis McCann
For old timers in Milwaukee, baseball is inseparable from memories of a ballpark called Borchert Field. Baseball historian Bob Buege recalls the place and its time in Borchert Field: Stories from Milwaukee’s Legendary Ballpark.
One thing many younger people never knew: Borchert, like the much larger County Stadium that replaced it, served multiple purposes and played host to the Green Bay Packers. But baseball was Borchert’s main draw as home to the original Milwaukee Brewers and site of epic engagements between them and the Yankees, the Cubs and other clubs. Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson and Ty Cobb played on the oddly configured field at North 8th Street.
“A person lucky enough to live on Milwaukee’s near north side between 1888 and 1952 could experience the world without ever leaving the neighborhood,” Buege writes. Well, at least that person experienced a large slice of the sports world. The author will discuss Borchert Field at 7 p.m., April 5 at Boswell Books, 2559 N. Downer Ave.
Buege’s publisher, the Wisconsin Historical Society Press, has just issued another book of local interest. Longtime Milwaukee Journal travel writer Dennis McCann became interested in the upper Mississippi River when he covered and participated in the sesquicentennial of the “Grand Excursion,” a pre-Civil War flotilla carrying journalists and investors up river into what was for the U.S. a promising, relatively untouched frontier. McCann’s This Storied River: Legends and Lore of the Upper Mississippi is a history and travelogue drawn from pioneer stories along with close looks at the region’s parks and historic architecture. Sadly, McCann admits, the present-day Mississippi is a shipping canal and a sewer, yet romance clings to its shore and its name.