Brewers fans head into 1983 with the wonderful ’82 season still fresh in our collective cranium. As Mr. Loomer pointed out in his previous two posts, this is what you do at the end of the year (at least, this is an ’80s trend).
I balked at first, but considering he’s bigger, stronger and faster than I and that he could grind me into cornmeal with his powerful fists, I feel it best to compile the list of the 10 most memorable moments from the ’82 season.
It will be impossible to keep it to 10, but it won’t hurt to try.
1. Cecil Cooper’s two-run single in Game 5 of ALCS
On Oct. 21, 1975, Coop had a front-row seat for history. In the 12th inning of Game 6 of the ’75 World Series between the Cincinnati Reds and Boston Red Sox, Coop watched teammate Carlton Fisk “wave” his 12th inning home run fair.
Seven years later in Game 5 of the American League Championship Series, Cooper — the Crew’s only position player who had played in the postseason — from his exaggerated left-handed crouch, smacked a 1-1 pitch into left field. But did he smack it too hard? Could Angel left fielder Brian Downing reach it for the third out of the inning and kill the Brewers’ bases-loaded rally?
As he worked his way up the first base line, Cooper waved for the ball to get down. It did and as Charlie Moore slid into home with the game-tying third run, Jim Gantner slid in right behind with the game-winning fourth and the two hugged at home plate. County Stadium went bananas. Two innings and six Angels outs later, the Brewers went to the World Series.
2. Robin Yount’s first homer in Baltimore, Oct. 3
Rockin’ Robin cemented his Most Valuable Player status on the final day of the 1982 season with a heroic performance. The Brewers had gagged away the first three games of the series and needed to win or the season was over.
Yount’s first-inning, opposite-field homer was a signal that Game No. 163 (the Crew and the Orioles had played to a weather-suspended tie earlier in the season) would be all right. And it was. Milwaukee trounced Baltimore 10-2 and advanced to the ALCS.
3. Ned Yost’s homer in Boston
This homer from the unlikeliest of sources ended up saving the Brewers’ season.
4. Game 1 World Series
Not only was it the Brewers’ first World Series game, but it was their finest moment of the Fall Classic. From Molly’s record-setting five hits to Mike Caldwell’s three-hitter, Harvey’s Wallbangers didn’t get better than this.
5. Buck Rodgers fired, Harvey Kuenn hired on June 2
Favorites to win the AL East, the Crew was 23-24 on June 1. That wasn’t good enough for Bud Selig and Harry Dalton, who pulled the plug on manager Buck Rodgers. They tabbed Harvey Kuenn and Harvey’s Wallbangers were born. The Crew went 72-43 with Kuenn at the controls.
Harvey Kuenn ran away with the Manager of the Year award… even on his wooden leg.
6. Brewers acquire Don Sutton, Aug. 31
An ace for the stretch run, Sutton went 4-1, including the AL East clincher in Baltimore.
7. Ben Oglivie’s two-out, ninth-inning homer
We now enter the Ben Oglivie portion of the countdown with Benji, who had an average offensive year compared to other Crew members. But as Loomer noted in Pete Vuckovich’s No. 2 pitching performance, Benji hit a humongous two-out solo homer in the ninth inning against the Red Sox on Sept. 20 to send the game into extra innings. The Brewers would win in 11 and keep Boston and Balitmore at bay for another day.
8. Yount-Cooper-Oglivie go back-to-back-to-back
Harvey Kuenn may have been named manager three days earlier, but Harvey’s Wallbangers were born in Oakland on June 5 when Robin and Coop smacked solo shots off Dave Beard and then Benji welcomed Bob Owchinko with a solo dinger of his own. To show they were serious, Ted Simmons and Gorman Thomas went back-to-back in the ninth to seal the 11-3 win.
9. Ben Oglivie’s sliding catch on Oct. 5
While the final score of the Crew’s last game in Baltimore, 10-2, implied a rout, the Crew led 5-2 in the eighth and the Orioles were threatening with two men on and two out. Pinch hitter Joe Nolan sliced a looping fly ball to left field. Benji, shaded toward right for the left-handed Nolan, raced from left center to the tiny corner of Memorial Stadium, slid as if he were stealing second and robbed Nolan of an extra base hit and the Orioles of a sure two runs. The Crew would score five in the ninth to clinch their first AL East title.
10. Brewers’ eight-game winning streak, July 9-18
After the Crew made noise throughout the early summer, they went on an eight-game tear in the middle of July in which all of baseball took notice. The Crew was one game out of the AL East lead when the streak started on July 9 with a 9-6 win over the Royals and had a 1.5-game lead when they beat the White Sox 9-3 on July 18. After that streak, the Crew would be no more than one-half game out of first and took the division lead for good on Aug. 3.