Since I became the head writer, I have wanted to look back at the team that made me fall in love with the Milwaukee Brewers. The time is now. They were not the flashiest team we have ever had, but they certainly were one of the most exciting Brewers teams I can remember. The 1992 Milwaukee Brewers captured my 9 year old heart very quickly, but it started off a little shaky.
On March 26th of that season, the Brewers traded Gary Sheffield. Not one of our finest moments. Would you like to know who we received for him; Rickey Bones, Jose Valentine, and Matt Mieske. Rickey Bones had a few solid years and Valentine was on the roster for a while, but overall, not the ideal way to start a season.
That season, the Brewers brought in a new young coach named Phil Garner. It was easy to like Garner, he was smart, had a mustache, and loved to steal bases. (He also looked like a life-sized Yosemite Sam). Brewers fans really latched on to him, in particular, a nine year old blond kid from Kenosha. In my eyes, there was no other manager that was his equal. Granted he never had another winning season for the Crew after 1992, but that is not the point.
It was that year that my father and grandfather took me to my first game at Old Milwaukee County Stadium. We sat in the old tin/aluminum mezzanine seats on the 3rd base side. They happened to be playing the Texas Rangers that day……..and guess who was on the mound for the Rangers? The Nolan Ryan Express would be pitching against Bill Wegman!!! Are you kidding me?!?!? My tiny 9 year old brain was swimming in a sea of uncharted emotions. First game and favorite player in one shot!! Man, being a kid is awesome.
Believe it or not, this ended up being a battle of aces. Wegman matched Ryan pitch for pitch, which was really hard for me to believe because Bill was not Nolan. At this point in my development I wanted to be a pitcher, not just any pitcher though. I wanted to be Nolan Ryan….in a Brewers uniform. Later in life I would learn that in order to be a pitcher you must have upper body strength, which eludes me to this day. The Rangers eventually won the game in the 9th inning, to my extreme distress, by the score of 6-3. This began a long personal streak for me, I would not see the Brewers win a home game whilst in attendance until the summer of 2006. I went to tons of games all through my childhood, into my teens, then I got my Drivers License, went to college, graduated college, then they finally won a game. I digress.
The lineup that year featured Brewer legends Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, and Jim Gantner. Then they featured future Rookie of the Year Pat Listach, a young Dante Bichette, and the very exciting Darryl Hamilton. In 1992 there weren’t 100 million dollar contracts, so you had to rely on young talent. This ’92 Brewers team saw amazing potential from John Jaha and Cal Eldred, sadly they never reached that potential.
Every starting position player in the lineup had more than 10 steals that season, even the portly Greg Vaughn. What was most unique about this team, was it’s utter lack of power. Vaughn led the team with 23 HR’s that year and Paul Molitor was in second with 12 HR’s. Not a single other Brewer on the roster eclipsed the double digit mark for HR’s. But my favorite stat has to be Jose Valentine’s .000 batting average, with 1 RBI.
With the 2011 season approaching, all eyes will be on the pitching staff. That 1992 staff was pretty impressive, considering the lack off offense they received. Jaime Navarro went 17-11, Chris Bosio was 16-6, but Cal Eldred stole the show by going 11-2 in 14 starts with a 1.79ERA. Now, here is what you may not know, those pitchers were 2-4 in the rotation. Our ace that year was the aforementioned Bill Wegman who went 13-14 with a 3.20 ERA. Now, as I already chronicled above, Wegman was not flashy but he could go head to head with the best in the game. We have that work horse again.
Why am I reminiscing about this team? Maybe it’s because I feel the same way about this team, same as I did at the age of 9. Maybe it’s because I feel like the 2011 edition is so much better offensively that I know they can win more than 92 games(’92 Brewers went 92-70). Maybe it’s because I love my Dad and Grandpa and this is one of my favorite memories with them. All of those are correct. If you are not Lou Olsen, circa 1992, pretending to be Darryl Hamilton in your backyard. Don’t break out the Play-Skool squishy ball and a wiffle bat (Mom was always afraid I would break a window if I used a tennis ball, she would be right in later years). Leave that for the believers. Let’s get excited about what we have to look forward to in 2011. If I could get excited about that team, then there is no excuse for any of you to not be excited.
On an unrelated topic, why can I not stop putting pictures of mustaches on this site? At least the last post had pictures of ladies…….not in mustaches. Well, I might as well embrace it.
Someone look me in the eyes and tell me those mustaches are not related. Cousins perhaps?
Until next time, thanks Dad. Thanks Grandpa. Love you guys. But Dad, I miss your mustache.