April 19, 2011
The Brewers are in town this week, taking on the Phils. They started play in Milwaukee in 1970. But the genesis of the team lies out west in Seattle, where in 1969 the franchise played a single disastrous season before being bought by a car dealer in Milwaukee named Bud Selig. Probably the best documentation of that season on the brink comes from Jim Bouton in his controversial best-seller Ball Four.
The team was a disaster not only on the field, where they went 64-98, but in the front office, where the team was a money pit for its owners, especially since they had to play in a minor league park. Attendance was dismal in Sick’s Stadium (link will also entertain you with the Pilots team song), and the team headed into 1970 having no idea where it would play its home games. The owners wanted to sell to Bud Selig in Milwaukee, but the other league owners turned down the $10 million deal. The team reported to spring training with their future completely up in the air. Finally, on April 1st, less than a week before the season started, the courts ruled that the Pilots were bankrupt and could therefore move to Milwaukee. The team equipment, which had been kept in storage in Utah, was finally moved up to Milwaukee. The team had to wear the old Pilot uniforms with the word “Brewers” stitched over the old Pilot logos. They didn’t fare much better in Milwaukee that year, going 65-97.