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How the Brewers Made the Sausage
One man's unorthodox idea became an unmatched phenomenon.

Photo by Dan Zaitz

Alexander Fleming had no idea what he’d created with that whole penicillin thing. Apparently, neither did Michael Dillon with the Racing Sausages.

Yes, the Milwaukee Brewers had been doing their Sausage Races via scoreboard animation scenes since the early 1990s. But it took a eureka moment from Dillon, president of the McDill Design firm, to bring the sausages to life. And the Brewers are the celebrating results at this afternoon’s game against the Cubs, throwing something of a 20th birthday party.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has details on the backstory, too – how Dillon was watching the scoreborard sausage race, turned to a Brewers executive, and said that animations should morph into actual sausages. “I’ll make them,” Dillon declared. “I’ll run in them.”

After some initial incredulity at the idea, Dillon eventually got his wish. So it was that on June 27, 1993, he wore the Bratwurst, business partner Dan Necci wore the Italian, and Jeff Paul – son of that Brewers exec, VP of operations Gabe Paul – donned the Polish. The race started with the animated sausages, but as they entered County Stadium, the real ones appeared from beyond the left-field fence.

The crowd, as they say, went wild.

The Sausages weaved their way toward home plate, where Dillon’s Bratwurst fittingly won the race. Thus, a legend was born.

Today, you hardly even think about the Brewers without thinking about the Sausages. Back in 2010, we put them on the Milwaukee Magazine City Guide cover with a "Sausages Around Town" photo essay. They're the club's cherished ambassadors. They've even got a display in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

All because one simple idea turned into a splendid reality. You can see video of that first race here, and it’s well worth the click.

Because for once, you won’t mind how the sausage is made.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter, where I tweet as howiemag. And listen to me chat sports with Mitch Teich monthly on WUWM's "Lake Effect."

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