Decades ago when my father worked for the US Postal Service he’d come home and quickly change from one uniform to another: usher for the Milwaukee Braves at the old County Stadium.
In 1965, the final season for the Braves in Milwaukee before moving to Atlanta, Dad would take me to the ballpark and slip me under the turnstile so I could roam the stands and take in a game. No one in authority batted an eye. Everyone knew the Braves were history, so the seats were mostly empty.
I’ve blogged in the past that my father was not the overly emotional type. But on one September 1965 car ride to County Stadium I’ll never forget how dad, without crying, still couldn’t hide his sadness from this young sharp kid. When I asked dad what was wrong as we approached the stadium parking lot, he answered succinctly that the team wasn’t coming back next season. My questioning stopped. Once Hank Aaron left the Atlanta Braves I stopped following and liking that team for life.
Baseball wasn’t totally dead for County Stadium. As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported in 2018:
If you can’t get a team, rent one.
That was the idea in 1968, when Milwaukee, still smarting from the loss of the Braves to Atlanta in 1966, lured the Chicago White Sox to play at County Stadium.
After the 1967 season, White Sox owner Arthur Allyn announced that the team would play 10 games in 1968 — one game against each A.L. team, and a preseason exhibition game against the crosstown Cubs — at County Stadium. The games were “sponsored” by the Brewers, the Milwaukee Sentinel reported on Oct. 31, 1967. The White Sox did play at County Stadium again in 1969 — 11 games, one against each team in the league, which had expanded to 12 teams for the season.
So when the White Sox came calling, Dad’s phone rang, asking if he could usher once more, and he did. And yours truly got to sneak into more games, even if it meant being subjected to, as Dad called them, the “banjo hitting” White Sox.
I checked the online stats, and the old Washington Senators played the White Sox at County Stadium on August 2, 1968, and again on August 6, 1969. In BOTH games, huge powerful slugger for Washington Frank Howard (who later became a coach for the Milwaukee Brewers) blasted a homer in each of those games.
I don’t know which game I attended. Maybe it was both. Just don’t know. But this I do remember, vividly. Watching from the stands with a perfect view from behind home plate I was soon awestruck when the Senator’s imposing first baseman Howard launched an atomic bomb to straightaway center field.
Gone for sure. Just a matter of how far. As the ball soared, kids my age in the outfield bleachers immediately were in retreat, quickly running upwards, one row after another until they ran out of rows. No longer facing the field they now looked over the back wall to the parking lot. No chalet housing Bernie Brewer back then to obstruct Homer’s missile. The ball landed, who knows where, smashing a windshield or any other part of some innocent vehicle.
If there was technology at the time measuring hits over the fences I’m unaware. How far did Howard’s onslaught travel? You got me.
This is all a long prelude to what happened 35 years ago today. That would be reportedly baseball’s longest home run 35 years ago today. And it was belted by a guy who later played for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1988 and 1989.
Read about it here.
Meyer gets credit while he was in the minors. Howard got this wide-eyed kid excited when he was in the big leagues. When I walk down Memory Lane Howard will be there. Meyer will not.