Milwaukee Bears

From BR Bullpen

The Milwaukee Bears were members of the Negro National League in 1923.

The team was created along with the Toledo Tigers to fill one of the vacancies created in the NNL after the Cleveland Tate Stars and Pittsburgh Keystones had been dropped from the league after the 1922 season. It drew much of its personnel from the Keystones and from the New Orleans Crescent Stars, an independent southern team, and from an April tryout in Chicago. The most notable player on the team was 42-year old Hall of Famer Pete Hill, a star of the prior decades who was hired by NNL president Rube Foster to be manager and part-time player.

The team had little financial backing and almost no media coverage, and struggled all year long. They played only nine games at home, and became a road team, playing their last 40 games against Negro League competition on the road.

The Bears finished with a 12-41 record in sanctioned league games, with an overall record of 15-51-1 (including extra games versus league teams as well as games against associate teams, though excluding games against white semi-pro teams) before folding in early September. Their winning percentage (.226 for league games, .227 overall) was worse than that of the 1962 Mets. Despite the fact that they ceased playing and sold players to other teams nearly four weeks before the season had officially ended, Milwaukee ownership was still included in the profit sharing in the NNL's winter meeting.

Leading players[edit]

The team mostly consisted of marginal players, either discarded by other teams or signed from lower-level semi-pro teams. Among its better-hitting regulars were outfielders Pete Duncan (.321), Percy Wilson (.314), and Sandy Thompson (.310). The Bears' top pitcher was Fulton Strong, who had four victories and 14 defeats. Manager Hill hit .296 himself playing part-time.

Remembering the Bears[edit]

In 2006, the Milwaukee Brewers wore replicas of the Bears home uniforms during a contest with the Washington Nationals (who wore replica uniforms of the Homestead Grays) for Negro Leagues Tribute Night at Miller Park. Later that year, the Brewers wore replicas of the Bears' road uniforms for a similar game in Kansas City. The 2007 Negro Leagues Tribute promotion was held on June 23 when Brewers hosted the Royals.[1]