When we last left our heroes, Bonnie had divorced Bernie. Bernie had become a mean old drunk and Bonnie was through with it. Fortunately for Bern, the team that he loved so well, had found amazing success on the diamond. Before long the Brewers were playing in the 1982 World Series. With team success, comes a lot of home runs. Eacn time Bernie plunged into his enormous mug of Miller High-Life, his addiction grew. Will Bernie be able to fight off his demons? Can Bonnie truly live without Bernie? Did the Brewers win the 1982 World Series? We are about to find out. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the thrilling conclusion of the Bernie and Bonnie Saga. (click here to see part 1)
Disclaimer: The following story is based on real events. Well, the dates are based on real events. Please keep in mind that this is only for entertainment value. This article involves adult themes, mostly alcohol abuse. Don’t be mad about it, because there will be redemption at the end.
The Brewers lost the 1982 World Series. Some say that they also lost Bernie. Losing Game 7, in his own backyard was too much for Bernie to take. To say he was drunk in public, would be an understatement. Bernie made David Hasselhoff look like the president of Alcoholics Anonymous. Many members of the Brewers roster voiced concerns, even holding an intervention. Gorman Thomas was involved in the meeting, which may have been the cause of the failed intervention attempt. Bernie still believed that Gorman had an affair with Bonnie several years earlier, and the sheer sight of Thomas sent Bernie into an intense fit of rage. A lot like Godzilla, but with a way better mustache.
After the failed intervention attempt, team owner Bud Selig held a meeting with Bernie. Not much is known about what was said during this meeting. We certainly know what was said after the meeting:
"That man is a mustachist. That’s right, a man who hates anyone with a mustache. He’s trying to say me that I have a booze realted problem. Maybe he just has a problem with my abilities to grow a mustaff. Selig is just a small time business man, who is never gonna be nuffing. Probably end up running an iced creeem shop. You know what else he says? He says that I am the one who got Bonnie fired. Can you believe the nerva that guy? Maybe he should look in a the mirror to see who fired Bonnie. This press conference is donezo. I have to get home and feed the cat."
Of course, now we know that Bernie did not have a cat. The above quote was made outside of Selig’s office that day, clearly under the influence. This was only a few days before the start of the 1983 season. When Bud addressed the media later that day, he informed the media that Bernie had been put on probation. If Bud knew that his warning would go completely unnoticed, things may have gone differently that day.
It did not take long for Bernie to find himself in deep suds. As the season wore on, Bernie began missing games more frequently. Fans feared for his safety. Many nights he could not even wait for a home run before he would take a quick slide into his mug of self-destruction, if he could find it. It all boiled to a head in September of the ’83 season, when Bernie overshot his beer mug and landed in the bleachers. His list of injuries included; concussion, broken wrist, shattered pelvis, two broken legs, burst appendix, bruised ego, and shattered mustache. Due to the severity of these injuries, Bernie was forced into retirement by Brewers management. The negative publicity was more than Selig could handle. He had no other choice. Thus began the darkest days in the life of this living mascot legend.
Meanwhile, Bonnie had taken a new job working as a spokeswoman for a small sausage company in the St. Louis area. Due to the public disgrace she had endured, she was forced to change her name to Suzie Sausage. Having been divorced since 1979, she had begun dating Fredbird the mascot of the St.Louis Cardinals. Although she did not really like Fredbird, she knew that he would never become a mean old drunk, so she stayed in the relationship(alcohol kills birds). Bonnie spent her days handing out free schnitzel and dreaming of her chalet by the lake. It was the hardest time in her life. She missed her house, her backyard, and most of all she missed her Brewers.
As the years passed, Bernie spent his days in alleys and church basements. He would pass the time by taking the Miller Brewery tour, anywhere from 8-12 times per day. It was impossible for him to pass up the free booze. A decade of alcoholism had left Bernie broke, homeless, and the laughing stock of an entire city.
Sadly, the Brewers were in no better shape. A team without a mascot, is hardly a team at all. The team posted a dismal 215-268 record during the first 3 years post-Bernie. Fans were upset and attendance began to dip. In 1987 Paul Molitor got some of the fans back single handedly, when he posted a 39-game hitting streak. After that season, the team sort of hovered around the middle of the division, never placing higher than 3rd. Just when thinks looked their worst, Phil Garner was hired as manager. Garner, who also donned the iconic Brew Crew ‘stache, injected new life into the franchise by leading them to a 92 win season……. in ’92. This new mustache lured droves of fans back into County Stadium, but Bud Selig knew that something was missing, a mascot.
At the end of the 1992 season, Selig put it to a fan vote. “Should we bring back Bernie?” Milwaukee fans answered with a resounding YES!!!!! Now, how do they find him. You see, no one had seen Bernie in over two years and most Milwaukee residents assumed he had died . Bud spared no expense to find Bernie; every media outlet, news station, newspaper, magazine, and bathroom stall was notified of the teams desire to find their once proud mascot.
Bernie passed out in a Greyhound station sometime around 1988. When he came too, he found himself in the quaint town of Shawano, WI. It was there that he met an elderly woman named Evelyn, who took him in and aided him in his quest to become an upstanding member of society again. Bernie battled his alcoholism for years and was finally able to get clean in 1991. It was at that time he took a job at the local post office, where he was content. All of his friends knew him as Berry, no one in the town had any idea that he was in fact, Bernie Brewer. After several months of living in secrecy, a local man saw in the newspaper that there was a manhunt on for a mascot, fitting Berry’s description. The man quickly notified the Missing Mascot unit of the FBI. The team of mascot hunters used excessive force, even though it was in no way necessary. Bernie was finally going home.
When Bernie arrived back in Milwaukee, he had a few demands for his old boss. First, his mug could no longer be filled with beer. Bernie was a recovering alcoholic, remember. Initially Selig put up some resistance, but they reached a compromise. Bernie’s mug would be filled with Sprecher’s Root Beer. Second, Bernie asked that Bonnie be allowed to come back. Selig agreed, but informed Bernie that there was no guarantee that she would agree to come back. Bernie understood, but said that he just wanted her to have the option. She loved the team with all of her heart and he did not want his presence to keep her from the love of her life. Bern had one final request, he did not want to wear lederhosen ever again. This time around, Bernie wanted to be more than just a mascot, he wanted to be a part of the team. Selig agreed and got Bernie a uniform. Big Bern was back!!
Mr. Bernie Brewer lived happily in left field for the next three seasons. In 1996 it was announced that Milwaukee County Stadium would be demolished. A new stadium was to be built by the Miller brewing company, right next door. Bernie was heart broken by this news, even though he was reassured he would be retained in the new building. The chalet was his home, but the team had designed him a brand new state of the art Brewers “dugout”. His new digs would come complete with a brand new twisty yellow slide. That summer he wrote a letter every single day to Bonnie, in the hope that she would come back to see their home one last time. She never replied. Bernie continued to write one letter every single day leading up to the 2000 season, which would be the last in County Stadium.
As September of 2000 rolled around, Bernie stopped writing letters and began to say goodbye to the home he loved. The Brewers were gearing up for the big finale, when news came down that Bonnie had been flown in. Bernie had never been happier. All he wanted was to spend one last game with her, before he moved in to his pad.
On September 18th, Bonnie and Bernie were re-united as part of the nostalgia-heavy final home stand. It was a bitter sweet moment, but one that will live forever in Brewers history. Initially she had planned to make just the one appearance. After spending some time with Bernie, she could see how much time had changed him. She agreed to stay through the final game at County Stadium. That game was held on September the 28th. Bernie and Bonnie danced on their chalet porch for the last time, during the 7th inning stretch.
Fast forward to today. Bernie and Bonnie are now good friends. Bonnie comes out to the ballpark for every Friday home game. The team calls it “Retro Fridays”. During the 7th inning stretch, you can see Bernie and Bonnie dancing to ‘Roll Out the Barrell’. I guess you could say that this story has a happy ending.
What can we learn from Bernie and Bonnie? Why did I weave this ridiculous yarn? Never take the little things for granted. If you are not careful, you can lose the things and people you love the most. And sometimes falling asleep in a bus station can lead you on a sweet adventure.