October 21, 2014

The Milwaukee Brewers Once Famous Mascot

November 11, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

Most ballparks now have mascots. But how many have a real live animal mascot? Perhaps the oddest I came across were the 1902 proposed mascots for the Denver and Colorado Springs teams: a live Grizzly Bear and a live Mountain Lion. Other Western League owners frowned on the idea and the bear remained the pet of a butcher shop and the lion retired to a menagerie. A few years later the American Association Milwaukee Brewers adopted an animal mascot. This mascot got more press than most. Perhaps because as we shall see, the mascot could talk (through a translator), could write (a letter to a newspaper), and caused a good amount of mischief.

I would like to tell you the true story—from contemporary newspaper articles, and the mascot itself—of the Milwaukee Brewer mascot—long before Bernie Brewer.

In May 1913 Brewer pitcher Ralph Cutting and outfielder Larry Chappell went out looking for a goat. The two found a person willing to sell such an animal, and the players bought a goat. It was brought back to Athletic Park, where the Brewers played, as a team mascot.

The goat made its first appearance at the ball yard a few days later, on Sunday, May 25. The Columbus Senators were in town and Cutting was doing the pitching that day. The left handed spitballer was going along like a house afire until the ninth inning, when Bill Jones hit a home run to give the Senators the victory, 2 to 1. The home run resulting in the Brewers’ defeat almost cost the goat its life, as we learn from the Milwaukee Journal:

That night an indignation meeting was held and “Sluggie” Walter [a tavern keeper near the ball park] and a number of players wanted to go to the yard and give the goat the proper treatment that a jinx is supposed to get, but some one told them to lay off. The goat came near seeing some of his brothers in the other world so he settled down to be a real mascot and he has been ever since.

In the goat’s defense the home run might have been a little tainted. Bill Jones’ home run was hit over the fence in the left field corner. James Murray, no doubt the least favorite umpire for Milwaukee fans in the American Association, called it fair and fans attempted to mob the arbiter. Manager Harry Clark kept the fans back until Murray got under the stands and out of harm’s way. The fans still wanted a piece of the umpire and a squad of police was called to break up the crowd. Manning Vaughan, the Milwaukee Sentinel beat writer, thought Jones’ hit a fair ball, but said “it was so close that Murray could have called it either way without hurting his conscience any, presuming, of course, that he has one, which we doubt.”

Ralph Cutting was fond of the goat and understandably proud. He told a Journal reporter: “It’s an educated goat. Look at him follow the ground keeper around and help him to take up the bases. That goat knows what they are for, and he is getting so that he knows when Cutting makes a hit, but then that does not keep him worrying much.”

The goat roaming in the outfield did cause problems here and there. During a Wisconsin-Illinois League game played at Athletic Park in June, Cutting’s mascot furnished the fans with amusement when several of the Milwaukee Mollys and Oshkosh players had a hard time trying to chase the goat off the field. They did not succeed until the eighth inning, when the goat took up its stand near the top of the centerfield bleachers.

The following description of a game between the local amateur Schlitz and Traffic Club teams at Athletic Park gives us some humor on the mascot situation:

In the last half of the fourth inning, Jensch, pitcher for the Schlitz team, decried what he termed “a goat-like angel,” trotting along the roof of the grandstand, perfectly silhouetted against a clear sky. He says he intended to throw an inshoot but the sudden appearance of the Cutting goat jarred him so that he cannot tell what he threw.

At any rate the ball fouled and bounced against the screen in front of the aforesaid Cutting goat, which uttered a loud, belligerent “Ba-Ha-ha-ha.” This was followed by a vicious attempt on the part of the goat to butt a hole in the wire screen.

“Get the goat!” was the cry which found hearty response from the spectators, and a general stampede was made for the stairs leading to the roof, and the poor goat was dragged down by the horns.

Billy was put into the grandstand where he was content to consume paper bags, pasteboard boxes and other delectables [sic] left about by the unappreciative.

His next stunt was to saunter across the field and once more change the course of Mr. Dietrich’s enthusiasm. [Nick Dietrich was a very vocal fan, well known to local baseball fans.] Mr. Dietrich grabbed a bat and, followed by pitcher, catcher and umpire, started after the poor goat and drove him far into center field.

When in the last inning the Traffics put in a sub-pitcher, Bill was seen entertaining the left fielder, who had opened the door leading through the back fence and stood with his glove ready for any emergency.

On July 14, 1913, Larry Chappell was traded to the Chicago White Sox. Tongue in cheek (perhaps) the Journal claimed it did not know if Larry sold his interest in the goat. But as he was not hitting well in the American League, he probably wished he had the goat with him.

The Brewers were in contention all season and finished the season with a four game series in Louisville. Thirty or so fans took a special train to Louisville, even taking the mascot goat with them. A split of the series was enough to give the Brewers their first American Association championship.

Winning a pennant was, of course, enough to bring the goat back as mascot for the 1914 season. And in this season we learn a whole lot about the animal. For a surprise starter, the goat is a female, and has a name—Fatima.

The goat was first named by name in the Milwaukee Sentinel of April 19, 1914, during the newspaper’s description of the previous day’s game against the Minneapolis Millers. The article reads:

In spite of the weather it was also a good afternoon for goats. Fatima, Ralph Cutting’s nanny, jumped out on the field in the sixth inning, and stopped the game while half the Brewer team chased it around the lot. Fatima has all the sly habits of her sex, and she led the athletes a merry chase. A handsome youth finally inveigled her into the grandstand with a bag of peanuts and the pastime proceeded after the bugs had been given a big laugh. Last night the club physician reported that Fatima was suffering from a stomach ache, the many peanuts having been stuffed into said stomach. She was put on a diet of tin cans and old baseball shirts and was resting easily, and is expected to be back on the job this afternoon.

Milwaukee Sentinel columnist A.J. Schinner even wrote a poem about Fatima this day:

Every ball player must obey
And listen to what he doth say.
For the umpire doth rule the play,
But not Fatima.

Most carefully she browsed and fed,
As if it were a clover bed.
And did she list’ to what was said?
Nay, not Fatima.

When, advent’rous, she slipped her anchor,
Her soul was not filled with rancor
Until they tried to catch and spank ‘er,
Our own Fatima.

Then she kicked up one great big fuss,
Evading every spurt and rush
For she was a real clever cuse,
Was our Fatima.

Around she flew like a to a bug
Until she spied Cantillon’s nug*.
And then beneath the stands she dug.
Wise Fatima.

[*Joe Cantillon managed the Minneapolis Millers.]

On May 3, 1914, we learn that Fatima could communicate. The goat was meandering around second base after a Brewer win, explaining “Mah-ah-ah-ah”. Luckily there was a goatologist at the park and translated what the mascot had said. The mascot had said it tickled his chin whiskers to see the Clarkmen [Harry Clark managed the Brewers] win, but he was sorry that they were not hitting home runs as they used to. [It appears the goatologist, although an expert translator, was not very good with determining the sex of the mascot!]

But the most important document to surface was the life history of the mascot, published in the Milwaukee Journal of June 25, 1914, written by none other than Fatima herself.

THE TALE OF A GOAT, OR FROM POVERTY TO LAND OF PLENTY.
Written by A. Goat

I have been a goat all my life and I want the fans to know it. My father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Goat, always objected to my earning a livelihood in a sporting capacity, but through the poverty of my parents, I was forced into my present position. As a lad playing about the city dumps with my goat chums, I created an appetite for an outdoor life. My father had a hard time supplying tin cans for our large family, so one day, packing a few nails and some scrap in a sack, I started out to seek my fortune in the world.

I was quietly nibbling a barbed wire fence at a farmer’s house on the outskirts of Milwaukee, when one of the farm hands sneaked up and made me a prisoner. My main work here was to keep the yard clear of rubbish and as a reward for my work, I was given every Wednesday and Sunday afternoon off. During my rounds of the yard one day I came upon a mess of fresh beer bottle corks, and, feeling extremely hungry, downed about twelve. For weeks I lay at death’s door and every goat specialist in that part of the country had given me up. I lived on nothing but shingle nails for weeks and finally when my strength returned, I was sold to Ralph Cutting, now with the Milwaukee Brewers, and Larry Chappell, now with the Chicago White Sox.

They bought me on a fifty-fifty basis, the front half belonging to Cutting and the rear to Mr. Chappell. I have always been very thankful that they never decided to break up the partnership and each take their share. I was then moved into the Milwaukee ball park, where I have since made my home.

The flood of Monday completely upset me and with my nerves in a shattered condition, I was forced to witness the brawl of Tuesday. I have been given quite an amount of publicity and my parents have learned of my whereabouts and are pleased with my success. My mother’s birthday was last week and I sent her a little remembrance in the way of a two pound box of rusty washers.

I am very happy in my present position but some days I find it rather hard picking for food at the ball yard. The fans seem to take a real interest in me and I would appreciate it very much if they would throw the soda and beer bottle corks out on the field so that I can gobble them up.

In conclusion I will say that I have but one worry; no matter what I do or where I go, I simply can’t get away from it, I’m always the goat.

It was clear some envied the goat in some situations. When the Brewers raised their 1913 pennant flag in June 1914 fans had to sit through the usual speeches. A.J. Schinner gave his thoughts on Mayor Gerhard Bading’s speech at the end of another poem with Fatima in it:

Once only did I envy her—that was early in the day—
She did not have to strain to hear what Bading had to say;
She did not have to fidget or sit silent in the stand,
For Fatima was a goat, and goats do not understand.

In the September 28, 1914, edition of the Milwaukee Sentinel a team photo was published. Sitting on the lap of pitcher Cy Slapnicka is the goat, named Fatima in the accompanying caption.

Ralph Cutting retired after 1914 season to tend to his business affairs. and I sadly say I have not followed Fatima the Goat’s life history after this. Perhaps a story for another day.

Comments

One Response to “The Milwaukee Brewers Once Famous Mascot”
  1. Judi Hunt says:

    Ralph Cutting was my grandfather. Thank you for the fun story about some of his highjinks! He was a wonderful person and was much loved throughout his long life. He never talked much about his exploits, but many articles were written about him over the years.

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