Jan 13, 2014

20th Anniversary of the Milwaukee Brewers racing sausages

Found this in an old bookmark file tonight, while preparing for my Algonquin College Sports Management class tomorrow.

Here's a press release from the Brewers:

This Thursday, June 27, 2013 marks an anniversary of one of the most historic events in Milwaukee Brewers history. On that day in 1993, the Klement's Famous Racing Sausages came to life, jumping off of the scoreboard and onto the field to complete the first of well over 1,000 "official" races to date. The races became a fixture at Milwaukee County Stadium and the tradition carried on with the move to Miller Park.
The Milwaukee Brewers and Klement's want to invite you to join in celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the occasion on Thursday, June 27. The fun starts at 6 am at NorthPoint Custard, 2272 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive, along the Lake Michigan shores. The first 250 fans will receive a free sausage breakfast sandwich (of course), a coffee, and best of all, an exclusive 20th Anniversary Klement's Famous Racing Sausages Commemorative T-Shirt. Fewer than 500 of the shirts will be made, and the event will be first come, first served.
That afternoon, the Brewers will host a pre-game ceremony to officially mark the anniversary, which will include a race featuring only the "Original Three" Sausages and much more.
A few fun facts on the history of the Klement's Famous Racing Sausages:

  1. The Klement's Famous Racing Sausages began as a scoreboard animation in the early 1990's with three characters running toward Milwaukee County Stadium against the backdrop of the city skyline. They were shown running through the parking lot, arriving at the gates to the outfield, where they merely became dots on the scoreboard and a winner was determined.
  2. In the fall of 1992, the idea to have the Sausages transform from a simple scoreboard dot to arrive on field to complete the race as live Sausages -- was presented by Milwaukee graphic designer Michael Dillon (McDill Design) to Gabe Paul (then VP of Operations for The Milwaukee Brewers). During the off-season, Dillon advanced the idea on his own and hand crafted three larger than life costumes of the lovable characters: a Bratwurst, a Polish, and an Italian sausage. In the spring of 1993, he got the call from Gabe Paul. The sausages could race -- live.
  3. The first race took place at Milwaukee County Stadium on June 27, 1993 and made history by being the first-ever live racing event by mascots at a MLB game.
  4. The original race was scheduled for June 26, 1993 -- a notable date for fans as it was the first series in which former Milwaukee Brewer, Paul Molitor, played in County Stadium, as a Toronto Blue Jay against his former team. However, there was a scoreboard malfunction that day and the race was postponed to Sunday, June 27.
  5. The winner of the first race was the Bratwurst. The original costumed runners were all McDill Design employees -- Michael Dillon as the Bratwurst, Dan Necci as the Italian, and Jeff Paul as the Polish.
  6. According to Dillon, the race was a well-kept secret, which resulted in a mixed reception: the crowd went "berserk" but the officiating umpires (and more than a few players) thought that it "diminished the professional nature" of the game. Coincidentally, the controversy may have been the catalyst the team needed as the Brewers had been scoreless through the sixth inning and rallied with two runs in both the 7th and 8th innings - after the sausage race.
  7. For the remainder of the 1993 season, the Sausage characters raced live only at those games that had particularly high attendance.
  8. In the 1994 season, the live Sausage race resumed on Sunday, May 29 -- the day the Brewers retired Robin Yount's number 19 jersey, and became a fixture at every home game since -- with Klement's as the official sponsor.
  9. The phenomenon of live racing mascots was born in Milwaukee, and was a first for MLB. Entering the 2013 season, nearly half of all MLB teams now have their own version of the iconic race.
  10. A video of the June 27, 1993, first live race can be viewed here.

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