(1920) - In the United
States, Prohibition was
accomplished by means of the Eighteenth Amendment to the national
(ratified January 16, 1919) and the Volstead Act (passed October 28,
Prohibition began on January 16, 1920, when the Eighteenth Amendment
effect. Federal Prohibition agents (police) were given the task of
the law. This
immediately put brewers
out of business and scrambling for an alternative revenue source.
(1921) - The Governors
of The Brewers Executive
Enterprise Ring (B.E.E.R) came to a historic accord:
would create a new product. "Near
beer". Near beer
was legal because it fell under the
0.5-percent ban, being virtually nonalcoholic.
This would allow the brewers to at least "stay afloat"
prohibition was lifted. Something
unanimously believed would happen within a few years.
2. Needing a venue, or a "launching point" for their new product, B.E.E.R. created their very own baseball league. The plan was simple. Offer people a place to go and see baseball and let them watch the games for free. After a few hours of sitting in the hot sun people could satisfy their thirst with a legal alcoholic beverage. This in turn would build a new customer base away from the ballpark.
building small parks on vacant land would be
relatively easy. Finding
that couldn't make it in
the big leagues were looking for a place to prove their worth. Big league baseball was
still reeling from
the 1919 "Black Sox" scandal.
The country just emerged from the First World War. The time was right. B.E.E.R. was confident
that people would
come. But their goal was simple; to break even or operate at minimal
the shroud of prohibition was lifted.
(1922) - Brewer's
League Baseball was officially
born on January 16, 1922, exactly two years after the Eighteenth
into effect. The
consisted of eight teams in two divisions.
The league decided to go with a 162 game schedule (a
concept later adapted by Major
League Baseball). The
more games they
played, the more 'near beer' they sold.
After the long season the two division winners would play
in a best of
nine to determine the Brewer's League Baseball (BLB) champion.
league looked like this:
Ale Division Lager Division
The rest of the year was spent holding open tryouts, building/acquiring stadiums, scheduling and of course brewing their new product, 'near beer'.
(1923) - On April 15th,
1923 the first game in
BLB history took place. The
Millers defeated the Pawtucket Patriots 3-1 before a crowd of 342
near beer drinking patrons. Attendance
steadily increased as the season went on with the league averaging over
per game in the end. The
Hens became the BLB's first champion defeating the St. Louis Snappers
thrilling nine game series five games to four.
A 'buzz' was brewing as the general public was starting to
product on the field almost as much as the product off of it.
(1924-1932) - Throughout the
rest of the decade sales
of near beer steadied. The
wasn't quite the success B.E.E.R. had hoped for.
However, what did happen was stadiums were
beginning to fill to capacity. By
the league average was over 5,000 per game.
To help supplement their income, B.E.E.R. members began
admission to their games at the start of the 1928 season. Surprisingly, attendance
During this time
MLB viewed BLB as a simple joke. BLB
commissioner J. Allen Wright challenged
the New York Yankees of 1927 to an exhibition series against a BLB
team. He never got
a response. PR
campaigns went unheard as most of the
mainstream print media took the league as seriously as MLB did.
With the arrival
of the 1930’s BLB had reached a plateau.
Some players had shown enough to make the
jump to the Major Leagues for major league money.
Attendance had leveled off as well.
Rumors began gaining momentum that indeed
prohibition would be lifted. Suddenly
BLB seemed to be at a crossroad.
(1933) – At
the end of the 1933 season BLB had some tough
decisions to make. The
Volstead Act was
amended to allow "3.2 beer" (3.2 percent alcohol by volume) by
passage of the Blaine Act earlier that year.
B.E.E.R. responded with a brew of their own to accommodate
slightly more lenient standards.
Interest in the league was strong.
Interest in near beer was not.
The Board of Governors for B.E.E.R. met after the
’33 season to discuss
their options. Many
members wanted to
disband the league itself, as they simply weren’t profitable. They had agreed to meet in
January of 1934 to
vote on various proposals floated by members.
Then everything changed on December 5, 1933.
ratification of the
Twenty-first amendment prohibition was lifted.
B.E.E.R. immediately called an emergency meeting of all
members to vote
on the future of the league. The
majority wanted simply to get out of the baseball business altogether
concentrate on their specialty which was brewing.
There were three owners however that saw an
opportunity and decided to keep their teams and league alive and grow
revenue stream. Team
owners of the St.
Louis Snappers, The Kentucky Colonials, and The Boston Yankees bought
counterparts who were more than happy to wash their hands of the whole
and get back to brewing. A
would later regret.
– The remaining
owners of BLB quickly
utilized their business world connections to gauge interest of
owners. What ensued
was a bidding
war. Men of money
(1935-1941) – BLB
was now up up and away. The
league enjoyed unprecedented
success. Now ten
teams strong and league
attendance hitting the 10,000 mark (due in big part to the Tobs
expansion was on the minds of the owners.
More teams, maybe more playoff games.
What also was changing was how the league was now able to
keep some of
its marquee players by being able to outbid MLB on occasion. Suddenly the league was no
longer a joke with
the print media. Some
teams even began
getting their own beat writers assigned to them.
BLB owners and Commissioner J. Allen Wright
drafted a plan to add two more expansion teams and a third division to
league. This would
also allow them to
expand the postseason. The
goal was to
have everything in place by 1942, the 20th
anniversary of the
everything came to an
changed for the league, the
country, and the world for that matter on December 7, 1941. With the Japanese bombing
of Pearl Harbor
American was instantly at war. All
for BLB were put on indefinite hold.
Many of its very own players were drafted into the service. Because of this the league
ruled to suspend
the 1942 season until further notice.
Rockford Blue Hens having been the one team to consistently lose money
also hit the hardest by the draft.
ownership voluntarily dissolved and became the first franchise to
– BLB only played
one abbreviated season
during the next three years, that was in 1943.
Interest was at an all time low, and some its best players
literally losing their lives in places nobody had ever heard of before. The league was not idle
however. Teams were
now negotiating with cities to get
stadium deals with. The
perfect for clubs to make their moves while there were no games being
Kentucky Colonials relocated
– BLB resumed play
in 1946. New teams,
new divisions, new owners and a
new attitude. The
new layout looked like
(1947-1958) – Over
the next ten years league
attendance was now over the 20,000 mark.
New stadiums were popping up all over the league. Three more expansion teams
entered the fray:
Los Alamos (1949),
(1959-1971) – By
the 1970’s BLB was an unmitigated
success. No longer
the ugly stepsister
to Major league baseball, BLB had everything it’s counterpart
did. TV deals,
licensing deals, sold out
ballparks, top salaried players. The
league had now blown up to 18 teams in two leagues with four divisions
addition of Harford, Hyundai, and
The nation was on the edge of the Watergate scandal in
Harris is found guilty on all counts and
sentenced to 25 years in a federal penitentiary.
All league records, champions, and statistics
are wiped from the record books. Hardest
hit by this is the Los Alamos Mayhem who dominated the decade winning
world championships. Whispers
abound that it always seemed like you were playing against the umps
playing against the Mayhem, but no one could’ve imagined how
were. This meant
they still were left
seeking their first championship.
Attendance had dropped 78% across the board as fans felt betrayed by the league. Sponsorships were almost non-existent. Credibility shot, the league spent the next four years purging itself of its ugly past. Hoping for a new beginning it turned to a new face.
Present) ) – So
here we are today. A
new commissioner has taken over swearing to
do whatever it takes to regain the fans trust.
Two new teams have been added this year,
The plan is
already showing signs as season ticket sales are up
a modest 23% across the league. It’s
fresh start for everybody, but will it be enough?
Everything written has been the past. Only the owners and players of BLB can write the next chapter. They alone determine what will happen next…