Wednesday, September 9, 2009
The Beer that Made Milwaukee Famous
On Brady Street in Milwaukee the above old-fashioned mosaic tile sign is woven into the wall of a restored red brick building. There are a number of variations on the old pun inspired by this classic beer sign. They all go something like this:
Back in the 1950s, Mel Famey of the old Milwaukee Braves was a natural -- a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon whose fast ball blew away the best hitters. His change up made the best hitters in the league cry -- they would swing, drop the bat, and stare incredulously as the ball hit the catcher's mitt. He was indeed awesome!
Why then, you might ask, is he not in baseball's Hall of Fame? Why haven't you ever heard of him? Alas, like many others before him, Mel's downfall was demon alcohol.
Ol' Mel really liked to tilt the glass. His drinking became almost legendary around the country, but he never let it affect his pitching until The Braves and the Yankees were in the World Series! The series was tied at three games apiece, and the Braves were in New York for the seventh and deciding game.
The night before the big event, Mel's thirst got the better of him. He sneaked out of the hotel after curfew, and bought himself a case of beer. As you might imagine, the next morning Mel didn't feel so good.
But being the pro that he was, Mel managed to do just fine -- until the bottom of the ninth inning. With the Braves ahead by one run, two out, and the bases loaded, Mel's revelry the night before finally caught up to him. Eight straight pitches -- eight straight balls. He walked in the tying run and the winning run, thereby, losing the game and the series.
After the game, a reporter went to the jubilant Yankee's clubhouse and spoke to the last two players that faced Mel. "Tell me," he asked, "to what do you attribute this victory over the best pitcher in the major leagues"? In unison they replied:
"It was the beer that made Mel Famey walk us"!