The Milwaukee Brewers in the 1982 Playoffs

The 2011 Brewers are the first version of the team since 1982 to win a playoff series. This post takes a look back at a few highlights from those playoffs almost 30 years ago. First, a Miami Herald report on the Brewers winning the ’82 ALCS:

Cecil Cooper’s two-run single in the seventh inning and improbable hero Peter Ladd’s second sterling relief job in three days staked Milwaukee to a 4-3 victory and the first league championship in the 13-year history of the franchise.

The Brewers thus completed a three-game sweep of the California Angels at home and became the first team in the 14- year history of major-league baseball’s best-of-five playoff series to climb from an 0-2 grave to win.

The Brewers will meet the National League champion St. Louis Cardinals in Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday night in Milwaukee . Mike Caldwell, 17-13 during the regular season, will be their probable starter.

But Sunday, the Brewers didn’t care to look ahead as they engaged in a champagne-drinking and spraying celebration.

Most even returned to the field from the locker room to toast the remnants of a raucous crowd of 54,968 who ignored gray skies and chilly, bone-numbing winds to juice up their Brewers .

“The greatest feeling of my life,” said Kuenn, an alleged push-button manager who made all the right moves in Milwaukee ‘s rally from a 3-1 deficit Sunday. “I can’t explain it any better than that.”

As starting pitcher Pete Vuckovich said of Kuenn, “We were 8 1/2 games back when he took over, and here we are today. That says it right there.”

Just eight days ago, the Brewers had to win at Baltimore or go home. They had lost three straight to the surging Orioles to drop into a tie for the Eastern Division lead, but they won when they had to on the last day of the regular season, 10-2, behind Don Sutton.

This time, they had three consecutive win-or-else games, and they won them all. “That just typifies the character of this ball club,” said third baseman Paul Molitor, who stroked two hits off California starter Bruce Kison and scored Milwaukee ‘s first run.

The Most Valuable Player award went to California outfielder Fred Lynn, whose 11 hits tied a playoff-series record set by Chris Chambliss for the Yankees in 1976. But the lone dissenting vote of five was easily justifiable. It went to Ladd.

After pinch-hitter Ron Jackson singled off reliever Bob McClure to start California’s ninth, Kuenn called for the 26- year-old rookie who pitched for Class AAA Vancouver the first half of this season.

Catcher Bob Boone greeted him by moving pinch-runner Rob Wilfong to second with a sacrifice bunt. But Ladd then retired Brian Downing and Rod Carew on routine grounders to secure the World Series invitation. Ladd thus retired all 10 batters he faced in the series.

On deck when Carew grounded to shortstop Robin Yount for the final out was Reggie Jackson — “Mr. October” until this year. He helped win Game 2 with a solo homer but finished the series with only two hits in 18 at-bats. Sunday, he struck out for the seventh time in the five games and grounded into a double play in his last at-bat in the seventh.

California Manager Gene Mauch already is catching heat for sending Tommy John to the mound Saturday and Kison Sunday on only three days’ rest. But Jackson absolved Mauch.

“We can’t fault his managing,” he said. “When you have a Reggie Jackson who goes two for 18 and a Rod Carew who goes three for 17 … who the heck are you going to blame? We lost. Blame the Brewers .”

This series was supposed to be a muscle-flexing contest. The Brewers led the majors with 216 homers; the Angels were second with 186. But the teams, who played to a 6-6 split in their 12 regular-season meetings, pecked away for runs Sunday.

After Downing doubled to lead off the game, Lynn singled him home with the first of his three hits to give the Angels a 1-0 lead. Milwaukee answered in its half of the first as Molitor, who had turned what looked like a soft single into a double with daring base-running, scored on a sacrifice fly by Ted Simmons.

Lynn singled home Boone in the third inning to put the Angels back on top, and California pushed its lead to 3-1 in the fourth when Boone dropped a perfect suicide squeeze bunt to bring home Doug DeCinces, who had doubled.

Ben Oglivie, one for 12 previously in the series and playing despite sore ribs, then drilled the game’s only homer down the right-field line in the fourth to cut California’s lead to 3-2.

To that point, the teams had committed five errors — two by Oglivie in left — to bring the total for the series to a playoff-record 12.

The Angels’ 3-2 margin stood into the seventh, when Milwaukee began its winning rally with the scratchiest of all scratch hits.

With one out, Charlie Moore cue-balled a little hump-backed pop toward second baseman Bobby Grich. It stayed aloft just long enough for Grich, first baseman Carew and shortstop Tim Foli to converge but not long enough for the diving Grich to make the catch.

He thrust his glove skyward with the ball showing in the webbing. Out, ruled first-base umpire Al Clark. But plate ump Don Denkinger and third-base arbiter Bill Kunkel saved Clark from a boo-boo by animatedly signaling Moore safe. Grich had trapped the ball on the short hop.

“It was one of the finest ‘quails’ I’ve ever hit,” Moore joked later. “It’s not even a Texas Leaguer. But it was a thing of beauty.”

Luis Sanchez, who had retired the first four Brewers he faced after replacing Kison to start the sixth, then yielded a clean single up the middle to Jim Gantner, the No. 9 hitter in the order.

After Molitor fouled out to catcher Boone, Yount, the favorite for the AL Most Valuable Player award this year but almost anonymous in this series, worked Sanchez for a walk to load the bases with two out.

Up stepped Cooper. He had been up 19 times previously, and he had only two doubles to show for it. But on a 1-1 delivery, he lined a single to left to score Moore and Gantner and put theBrewers ahead to stay.

“I knew he was a power pitcher, and I was thinking fastball from the start,” said Cooper, who hits from the left side. “The entire at-bat I was thinking of going to left field. Thinking back, I wish I had been going to left field the whole series.”

Mauch then took out Sanchez and brought in Andy Hassler, who struck out Simmons to end the seventh and retired the Brewers in order in the eighth. But the damage had been done.

Kuenn, whose replacement of starter Vuckovich with McClure in the seventh had resulted in a first-pitch double-play grounder by Reggie Jackson, then made another switch that proved brilliant.

Center fielder Gorman Thomas had been playing with a sore knee that was twisted when he was thrown out in a collision at the plate Saturday. Kuenn pulled him and inserted fleet Marshall Edwards for defensive pruposes.

Don Baylor, who already had set a playoff record with 10 runs batted in, drove a McClure offering to the deepest part of left-center with one out. But Edwards raced back, leaped and snared the ball as he crashed against the padded fence at the 392-foot sign.

“Once we had gotten the lead, I figured it was best to get Gorman out of there and go to Marshall for defense,” Kuenn said unassumingly.

The call for Ladd proved Kuenn’s final stroke of genius. For a guy whose instructions supposedly have been limited to “go up there, hit a homer and have some fun,” he looked to be a mastermind.

And, the Brewers followed the ALCS up by winning the first game of the World Series, vs. St. Louis, in a 10-0 rout. UPI reported:

Mike Caldwell and Paul Molitor took the spirit out of St. Louis Tuesday night as the Milwaukee Brewers scored a 10-0 rout in the first game of the World Series.

Caldwell tossed a three-hitter at the Cardinals and was aided by a 17-hit attack that included a record-setting five by Molitor, four by Robin Yount and a solo homer by ex-Cardinal Ted Simmons.

Caldwell allowed only one hit — a second-inning double by Darrell Porter — over the first seven innings before tiring in the eighth and giving up singles to Porter and Ken Oberkfell.

“I’ve pitched games like that during my career but considering the circumstances of it being in the World Series, I have to say it was probably the best game of my life,” said Caldwell.

“Basically, I was getting ahead of the hitters. I was using mostly sinkerballs and I had good success in keeping the ball down. I think the key was in the first inning when I got the first three batters on groundouts. That gave me confidence that I could get them out.”

The 33-year-old lefthander, a disappointment in the Brewers ‘ stretch drive to the American League pennant, was in control from the opening pitch. He set down the Cardinals in order in six of the innings and, after Porter’s second-inning double, he retired 12 batters in a row. The first 11 of those did not get the ball out of the infield.

“That’s as good as you’re going to see Caldwell pitch,” said Simmons. “He was superb and the timing is excellent because, frankly, he’s had trouble getting people out. Tonight he was back to his old self.”

Caldwell, showing pinpoint control in marked contrast to his two previous outings against California in the AL playoffs, walked only one and struck out three in his first appearance in a World Series.

The Brewers made things easy for Caldwell by tagging starter Bob Forsch for 10 hits and six runs in 52/3 innings. Forsch, who blanked the Atlanta Braves in the first game of the NL playoffs, had poor control from the outset; the Brewers reached him for a pair of unearned runs in the first inning to give Caldwell all the support he needed.

Molitor and Yount were the catalysts for the Brewers , just as they’ve been all season.

Molitor, playing in his first World Series, became the first player in Series history to get five hits in a game.

“I was hoping to get another chance to get another hit in the ninth, but I didn’t know it was for the record,” said Molitor. “I was just trying to get the 10th run home. In that situation, you want to keep things going.”

Molitor grounded out in his first at-bat, but went on to break the record of 40 players, the last of whom was Willie Stargell in 1979. Three of the hits were infield singles, one a broken-bat blooper to center, and the other a line drive to left.

“As the Cardinals well know, if you keep the ball in play on the Astroturf, you’re going to come up with some hits. I’ll take five hits however I can get them,” said Molitor.

“There’s a great misunderstanding that the Brewers are a one-surface ballclub. We can adapt to different surfaces. We have speed — we just didn’t need it that much this season. We can change faces.”

Yount singled and scored in the first, singled again in the second, delivered a two-run double in the sixth and singled in the eighth. It marked the first time since 1946 that two players on the same team had at least four hits each in a game.

“We don’t need to hit the ball out to score runs,” said Yount.

Milwaukee’s only homer was Simmons’ solo shot in the fifth. The Brewers also had doubles from Yount and Moore and a triple from Jim Gantner during their four-run ninth inning.

43-year-old Jim Kaat’s appearance made him the second oldest player to appear in a World Series. The oldest was pitcher Jack Quinn, who was 47 when he worked the 1930 World Series for the Philadelphia A’s against the Cardinals.

Finally, this story is a sign of how much Milwaukee was inspired by its Brew Crew. Anticipating the return of World Series baseball to the city for the first time since 1958, the AP reported on October 16, 1982:

There was no World Series game at County Stadium Thursday night, but an estimated 25,000 fans turned out anyway, warming up at a rally to cheer their Milwaukee Brewers to victory.

Blue and gold Brewer pennants waved by the hundreds as shouts of “Go, Brewers , Go.” rang through the parking lot of the stadium, where the city hosts its first World Series game in 24 years tonight.

The 75-minute program featured broadcast highlights of last Sunday’s playoff victory over California that made the Brewers champions of the American League.

The Marquette University band and cheerleaders also entertained the fans, some of whom said they attended to get into the spirit of things after being unable to obtain tickets for series games.

Game Three at the stadium tonight marks the first time Milwaukee has hosted a Series game since the old Milwaukee Braves lost the 1958 World Series to the New York Yankees in seven games. The Brewers and Cardinals are tied with one victory each after two games in St. Louis.

Tickets for Series games here tonight, Saturday and Sunday were reported to be selling on the street for as much as $500 a pair for box seats that originally were priced at $24 each, and lesser amounts for grandstand seating. Prices from ticket scalpers were expected to escalate further as each game is played.

Mark B. Lauwasser, 30, said he spent the day responding to newspaper ads and found sellers wanting as much as $100 per ticket.

Carol Horde said she and her husband could not get any tickets and considered the rally the next best thing. They brought their four-month-old son along, wearing a minature pin- striped Brewers uniform.

“I think this is great,” Mrs. Horde said. ” Milwaukee really needed this.”

Milwaukee County’s top administrator, County Executive William O’Donnell, described the rally as “tremendous.”

“A lot of these people go to the games year round and can’t get World Series tickets,” said O’Donnell, who helped organize the affair. “I just thought there ought to be something for them.”

The official celebration ended at 8:30 p.m., but hundreds of fans stayed, forming a snake dance that twisted through the parking lot.

The lights for the parking lot were doused a half-hour later, but 300 to 400 people remained at 10 p.m., ignoring the pleas from sheriff’s officers that they leave. Before the hangers-on departed, some sped through the parking lot in their autos, honking horns, and others smashed beer bottles.

Sheriff’s deputies said a few scuffles among fans caused minor injuries, but no serious injuries were reported.

Earlier Thursday, officials announced that, win or lose, Milwaukee will give the Brewers a giant celebration, complete with ticker-tape parade through the downtown, after the series.

The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce said the parade would be held the day after the series ends, whether that will be Monday, Wednesday or Thursday.

The parade will feature Brewer players riding in antique autos supplied by a local car dealer, and marching bands also will participate. Afterwards, an Appreciation Day celebration is scheduled at the stadium.

Published in: on October 7, 2011 at 7:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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