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Allan Huber “Bud” Selig

In 2010, a statue was dedicated outside Miller Park to honor former Brewers' owner and Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig.
Allan Huber “Bud” Selig began serving as Commissioner of Major League Baseball in 1992, but his baseball roots were established in Milwaukee decades earlier. Born in Milwaukee on July 30, 1934, Selig grew up watching the minor league Milwaukee Brewers at Borchert Field. After graduating from UW-Madison and serving in the U.S. Army for two… Read More

Amateur Sports

Group photograph of the Maple Leaf amateur football team, champions of the 1914 Milwaukee League.
Participation in amateur organized sports, played for fun or pride, has long been a staple of both recreation and entertainment in Milwaukee. The first formal organized amateur sports clubs in the city were cricket teams. Then-congressman Abraham Lincoln reportedly watched a Milwaukee cricket team play a Chicago club in 1849. By 1852, newspapers were carrying… Read More

Amusement Parks

The Wonderland park in Shorewood featured a "Shoot the Chutes," an attraction where passengers rode a flat-bottomed boat down a flume into a lagoon.
Amusement parks were important commercial leisure institutions in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Milwaukee. The development of such spaces with thrilling rides, midway games, stunt exhibitions, and other spectacles reflected a growing demand for new forms of American mass cultural amusement. The Americanization of Milwaukee’s large working-class immigrant communities found them enjoying local amusement… Read More

Animal-Human Relations

Photograph of two girls sitting on a fence with a horse, dated 1949. The girl on the left holds a small trophy.
Milwaukee’s past includes an inestimable number of nonhuman animals: germs; animals raised in or transported to the city for slaughter; working and service animals; wild, zoo, and laboratory animals; pets; and stray and abandoned domestic animals. The city’s earliest ordinances, passed by 1856, regulated horses, livestock, and dogs as well as soap factories, tanneries, stables,… Read More

Auto Racing

Several drivers race around the corner of a dirt track in 1923, leaving a cloud of dust in their wake.
Since the advent of the automobile, auto racing has been a constant presence in Milwaukee, reflecting the competition and innovation that makes the sport one of the most popular in the world. The Milwaukee Mile, on grounds of the Wisconsin State Fair Park in West Allis, had been the site of horse racing since 1876… Read More

Basketball

Team photograph of the Marquette University men's basketball squad from 1917.
The game of basketball appeared in Milwaukee shortly after it was first played by students at Springfield College in Massachusetts in 1891. The popularity of the game increased rapidly and, by 1896, Milwaukee was home to five organized teams, including the city’s first high school squad at East Division High School. These clubs competed with… Read More

Beer Gardens and Beer Halls

First opened in 1896, the Schlitz Palm Garden was Milwaukee's most famous beer hall.
Beer gardens and beer halls were key early institutions in the vibrant beer culture that accompanied the development of Milwaukee’s iconic brewing industry. Milwaukeeans and visitors from various ethnic and class backgrounds frequented these establishments located throughout the city to drink beer, listen to music, play games, socialize with friends, neighbors, and family, and partake… Read More

Bicycling

Bicycle racers head down the hill below the Northpoint Water Tower in 1982.
The Milwaukee region has been the epicenter of Wisconsin’s long and complicated love affair with bicycling since the last decades of the nineteenth century. In January 1869, a young man named Joshua G. Towne rode a velocipede—the all wood-and-iron frontrunner to today’s more modern bicycle design—through the city for the first time. Milwaukee residents soon… Read More

BMO Harris Bradley Center

Photograph of the northeast entrance of the BMO Harris Bradley Center in autumn of 2012.
The BMO Harris Bradley Center, located in the heart of DOWNTOWN Milwaukee, hosts sports and entertainment events, including concerts, ICE SKATING shows, and corporate gatherings. Opened as the Bradley Center in 1988, the facility was funded by JANE BRADLEY PETTIT to honor her father, the industrialist Harry Lynde Bradley. In 2012, the Bradley Center sold… Read More

Boating

Photograph featuring an aerial view of boats in the marina on Lake Michigan with Milwaukee in the background.
Since its founding in 1846 at the site where the Milwaukee, the Menomonee, and the Kinnickinnic Rivers join to flow into Lake Michigan, Milwaukee has depended on its waterways for business, industry, and recreation. These waterways were important features of the city and county parks that were created starting in the late nineteenth century. Indeed,… Read More

Borchert Field

Postcard featuring crowds gathered outside Borchert Field, postmarked 1911.
Originally called “Athletic Park,” Borchert Field was the longest lasting professional ballpark in Milwaukee. Built in 1888, the field stood at Burleigh and 8th Streets. The park was home to the major league Milwaukee Brewers (1891), Negro League Milwaukee Bears (1923), All-American Girls Professional Baseball League Milwaukee Chicks (1944), and the minor league American Association… Read More

Bowling

Photograph of bowlers in action at the first tournament hosted by American Bowling Congress, held in Milwaukee in 1905.
The game of tenpins, or bowling as it is more commonly known, has been associated with Milwaukee since German immigrants began arriving in the Midwest before the Civil War. Bowling took many forms before it was popularized as the game of tenpins. It has been said that, during the third and fourth centuries, German Christians… Read More

Boxing

Portrait of Milwaukee boxer Anton Chmurski, known as "Kid Moore," taken in 1920.
Boxing’s historical trajectory in Milwaukee paralleled its rise and fall on the national scene. Local fascination with prizefighting faded in the second half of the twentieth century, although amateur boxing has continued into the twenty-first century. The popularity of boxing grew in Milwaukee during the second half of the nineteenth century. At the time, boxing… Read More

Curling

Photograph of a 19th century curling team from Milwaukee. Seated second from the right is John Johnston, a successful banker, member of the Milwaukee Curling Club, and president of the Grand National Curling Club of American from 1877-1879.
The Milwaukee Curling Club (MCC), established in 1845, is the oldest continuous curling club in the United States. Curling, brought to the area by Scottish immigrants, was initially played on the Milwaukee River. James Murray served as the first president of the organization. Milwaukee curlers joined the Grand National Curling Club of America in 1867… Read More

Football

Photograph of the 1936 Marquette University football team. This competitive team played against Texas Christian University in the Cotton Bowl.
Milwaukee has a rich football history at a variety of levels: amateur, collegiate, high school, and professional. Although the sport had already attracted public interest in the nation and the state, perhaps the first notable game played in Milwaukee came on November 23, 1889, when a team sponsored by the Calumet Club defeated the University… Read More

Gambling

In this photograph from 1942, three slot machines line the wall of the Star Bar and Grill Room in Kenosha County.
As is the case with most matters of vice, gambling has a history in Milwaukee that dates back to the community’s foundations. The area’s earliest gambling dens catered to lead miners from across southeastern Wisconsin. These men, flush with cash and accustomed to a rugged lifestyle, made sure that the village’s earliest card games were… Read More

Golfing

Three women golf on a Milwaukee course in the summer of 1925.
The game of golf is typically seen as a warm weather sport which thrives in sunbelt states, but it is also a vibrant and popular pastime in the Upper Midwest, including Wisconsin and Milwaukee. In 2016, there were over 600 private and public golf courses of different kinds in Wisconsin. In the five-county greater Milwaukee… Read More

Green Bay Packers

Until 1994, the Green Bay Packers brought football to Milwaukee and played three to four games at County Stadium each season.
The Green Bay Packers, founded by Earl (Curly) Lambeau and George Calhoun, joined the American Professional Football Association (later the NFL) in 1921. One of the NFL’s most successful franchises, the Packers have won thirteen national championships, more than any other team in NFL history, and four Super Bowls (following the 1966, 1967, 1996, and… Read More

Henry Aaron

Hank Aaron holds a baseball bat while wearing his Milwaukee Braves uniform in this portrait.
Henry Louis “Hank” Aaron became one of Milwaukee’s first major sports icons when he helped lead the Milwaukee Braves to their only World Series championship in 1957. Born in Mobile, Alabama, on February 5, 1934, Aaron began his baseball career with the Mobile Black Bears, a semi-pro team, at the age of seventeen. After briefly… Read More

Hockey

John Cooper and Hank Kearns of Marquette University practice their hockey skills in the late 1920s.
Hockey in Milwaukee has had a rocky history, although the Admirals are quite beloved in the region. A hockey demonstration sponsored by Schlitz Park Polo Club on the Milwaukee River in 1887 first introduced hockey to Milwaukee, but it was only thirty years later that organized games were consistently played. The Milwaukee Drueckers, named after… Read More
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