Rumors are swirling that the Milwaukee Brewers may return full time to their “ball-in-glove” logo for the 2020 season.
The logo was used by the club from 1978 to 1993. It followed a cartoonish design that featured a player clothed in a beer barrel.
In 1994, the franchise incorporated the color green in a logo that resembled an industrial stamp.
Since 2000, the Brewers have used barley, a beer ingredient, in their logos, but the “ball-in-glove” incarnation has been used on a part-time basis over the years.
With a couple of slight refinements, the new design would retain the “m” and “b” that combine to form a glove in a logo that was born in Eau Claire more than 40 years ago.
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The Milwaukee Brewers held a logo contest in 1977 that drew the attention of Thomas Meindel, a UW-Eau Claire art student.
“I was a cash-poor student, struggling to get by,” Meindel said in a 2004 OnMilwaukee.com story. “So I started sketching out ideas, but nothing seemed to work.”
Inspiration came while watching a World Series game between the Yankees and Dodgers.
“I went to my drawing room and drew a small ‘m’ on top of a small ‘b,’” Meindel told the Leader-Telegram’s Ron Buckli in 1977. “I kept refining the logo. After about 50 preliminary drawings, it was done, and I entered the contest.”
Meindel’s design was deemed the best out of nearly 2,000 entries. The grand prize: a $2,000 check. At the time, Meindel, an Eau Claire Regis graduate, planned to use the money for a down payment on a house.
Unfortunately, should the Brewers return once again to his work, Meindel will not be able to witness the possible rebirth of his iconic design. He passed away last year in Eugene, Ore., at the age of 71.
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Meindel’s design came at the perfect time for the Brewers. The franchise won 93 games in 1978, 26 more than in the previous year.
“It may be coincidence then that when Meindel’s mitt appeared in 1978, the Brewers started winning,” wrote the Leader-Telegram’s Jerry Poling in 1982, when the Brewers advanced to the World Series. “Or was it?”
Steve Rushin of Sports Illustrated once called the design “one of my favorite logos” and it’s been ranked among the best-ever athletic logos on a few online lists. Its return is not a given at this time but, if it does, the announcement is likely to come soon.
“We’re unsure when the Brewers are expected to make this announcement official, likely shortly after the World Series,” reads a story by SportsLogos.net. “Most major identity changes in baseball are revealed during the month of November.”
Meindel operated out of a printing company in Eau Claire called Creative Designs before relocating out West to continue his work as an artist.
“It captures who we are,” Rick Schlesinger, the Brewers’ president of business operations, said of Meindel’s design in a story by TheAthletic.com. “It’s part of our fabric.”
As far as the $2,000 he received in 1977, Meindel could have done much worse financially. Six years before his creation, a graphic arts student was paid $35 for creating the Nike “swoosh” logo.
— Liam Marlaire, assistant editor