Milwaukee Brewers

1970 – Present

The Brewers appeared on the scene when the expansion Seattle Pilots moved to Milwaukee after just one season, seeking better attendance. The Brewers maintained the Pilot’s dismal level of performance for their first eight seasons (switching to the Eastern Division in 1972), but the hiring of Harry Dalton as GM after the 1977 season produced immediate results. He appointed former Baltimore colleague George Bamberger manager, and Bamberger, a successful pitching coach, made Mike Caldwell into a 20-game winner. First-round 1977 draft pick Paul Molitor made the team in spring training and was TSN AL Rookie of the Year. Larry Hisle was signed as a free agent. Ben Oglivie was acquired in exchange for two mediocre pitchers. Slugging outfielder Gorman Thomas was purchased from the Rangers in February 1978. They all joined a core of Robin Yount, Sixto Lezcano, and Cecil Cooper in propelling the Brewers to their first winning season, a 93-69 mark good for third place. The Brewers contended the next two years, and won the second-half crown in the strike-split 1981 season, but lost to the Yankees in the divisional playoff. The key to this success was a seven-player deal that brought Rollie Fingers, Ted Simmons, and Pete Vuckovich from the Cardinals in December 1980. Fingers won the MVP and Cy Young awards for his 28 saves and 1.04 ERA, and Vuckovich led the league in winning percentage.

The Brewers won the AL pennant in 1982 after Harvey Kuenn took over from Buck Rodgers when the team was 23-24; they went 72-43 the rest of the way. Stretch-drive acquisition Don Sutton beat the Orioles on the final day of the season to win the division title by one game. Yount ran away with the MVP award, Vuckovich was the Cy Young winner, and Molitor led the AL with 136 runs. In the LCS, Milwaukee came back from a 2-0 deficit to sweep the last three games and defeat the Angels. The Brewers took the Cardinals to seven games in the World Series before losing. In subsequent years, they declined, but a bright spot was the outstanding performance of rookie Ted Higuera in 1985.

In 1987 the Brewers got off to a record-tying start when they won their first 13 games of the season. A short while later they had a 12-game losing streak after Paul Molitor went on the DL. His 37-game hitting streak was the highlight of the second half of the season.