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Allan Huber “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…
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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…
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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,…
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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…
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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…
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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…
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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,…
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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…
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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…
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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…
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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…
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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…
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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…
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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…
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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…
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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…
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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…
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Ice Skating

Pictured here in January of 1897, city residents ice skate on the Milwaukee River near Wright Street.
The Milwaukee area has a rich history of ice skating, providing opportunities for speed skating, figure skating, and amateur and public skating. In 1928, the first United States Olympic speed skating time trials were held in Oconomowoc. In 1949, the West Allis Speed Skating Club’s winning reputation earned West Allis the title of “Skating Capital…
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Indoor Recreation

Indoor recreation in Milwaukee traces its roots to German gymnastics. This image, circa 1914, showcases the interior of a Milwaukee gymnastics hall.
Since Milwaukee’s earliest days, organized indoor recreation has promoted fitness, hygiene, entertainment, and civic betterment. While a wide variety of Milwaukeeans participated in these activities, there were noticeable class, gender, and age distinctions that often reflected the deeper social goals at work. The earliest references to indoor recreation in Milwaukee date to the 1850s and…
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Miller Park

Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers National League baseball team.
Miller Park serves as the home of the Milwaukee Brewers and bears the name of its primary sponsor, the MillerCoors brewing company. Located west of downtown, Miller Park features North America’s only fan-shaped retractable roof and houses a retro-style asymmetrical playing field designed to benefit hitters and baserunners. Miller Park was the site of the…
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