Is it Time to Bring Back the Marquette Law School Baseball Team?

Vintage BaseballEvery now and then the debate over whether or not Marquette should re-establish its varsity football team gets revived. Once a respected participant in the highest level of college football, Marquette unceremoniously dropped football in 1960. (See also here.)

In spite of its long tradition in sports law, it is a not well known fact that our law school once had its own baseball team. In his The Rise of Milwaukee Baseball: The Cream City from Midwestern Outpost to the Major Leagues, 1859-1901 (p. 324), Milwaukee historian Dennis Pajot notes that in 1895, a team called The Milwaukee Law Class competed with the city’s other amateur teams.

The Milwaukee Law Class, organized by the city’s law students in 1892, was Milwaukee’s first law school. In the mid-1890’s, its name was changed to the Milwaukee Law School, and in 1908, it was acquired by Marquette University. This is why the law school celebrated its centennial in 1992. (A second centennial celebration in 2008 marked the 100th anniversary of Marquette’s acquisition of the Milwaukee Law Class/School.)

Unfortunately, we do not know very much about the 1895 team, except that the scores of some of its games were listed in Milwaukee newspapers that year. It is, of course, possible that the team began play before 1895, but with a lower profile. If it did originate before 1895, it seems likely that one of the founders and original players on the Law Class team would have been Walter Schinz.

Schinz (born 1874) was one of the founders of the Law Class in 1892 and later a prominent 20th century Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge. He was also was an avid baseball player during his youth and an enthusiastic fan of the national pastime until his death in 1957. Schinz’ Milwaukee Sentinel obituary devoted much of its content to the judge’s life-long love of baseball that began as a sandlot player in Milwaukee in the 1880’s.

There is no reason to believe that the Milwaukee Law Class baseball team was an exceptionally powerful club. At that point, the school probably had somewhere between 20 and 40 students, some of whom were probably fairly athletic but many of whom were probably not. The fact that there is no record of the team after 1895, suggests that its success was probably limited.

In contrast, the Milwaukee Medical College baseball team, which played from at least 1894 into the early 20th century, appears to have been a more powerful club. (The Milwaukee Medical College was an independent medical school which opened in 1894 and was taken over by Marquette University in 1907.)

In 1901, the Medical College team was a solid enough amateur club to have played the American League’s Milwaukee Brewers in an exhibition game just before the opening of the 1901 major league season. (The Brewers apparently won the game in a convincing fashion.)

The 1901 season was the first year that the American League played as a major league, and the Brewers were one of its original eight teams. Unfortunately, a disappointing last place finish (48-89) and a league low attendance record led to the team being transferred to St. Louis in 1902, where the Brewers became the ill-fated St. Louis Browns (who are now the Baltimore Orioles).

After the 1908 acquisition of the Milwaukee Law School by Marquette University law students were eligible to play on the Marquette varsity team, and a number, including future sports lawyer and Congressman Ray Cannon, apparently did.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. sean samis

    They should call them the Seagulls, blue uniforms with spatters of white.

    sean s.

  2. Richard Noonan

    Walter Schinz is my great-grandpa. I really like this. I’ve heard stories of his passion for baseball. All the way to the end–I was told–as Walter passed away in 1957, on the very day the Milwaukee Braves beat the NY Yankees in the World Series. I have been told that not only was Walter Schinz one a great ball player, but he was a master of routine and practice–from law to baseball to being a great man. Thank You for continuously praising the Schinz boys, as I have been told they have made a impact on Marquette. My father Robert “Bobby” Noonan, aka “Bones”, enjoyed Marquette as well on the fields of play.

  3. C. Virginia Finn

    Greetings: –A Law School baseball or softball team would be a great thing for School Spirit. The team has to be co-ed, of course. Equal number of women and men, or at least a balance of women and men on each team. Law students need the exercise. Too much sitting and reading is not good for the circulation – as some of us have since learned!

  4. Spiros Stavros Nicolet

    I am also the great grandson of Walter Schinz and like my cousin Richard Noonan was moved by the references to him in this article. If you look at the front page of the Milwaukee Journal the morning after the Milwaukee World Series victory over the Yankees in 1957 he shares the headlines as his passing was also front page news. He is the reason I went to law school and became an immigration attorney and avid baseball fan! At the time of his death, his 36 years on the bench was a record tenure.
    Spiros Stavros Nicolet, Marquette Law class of 1991.

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