Aug 2, 2013; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Former Milwaukee Brewer and Hall of Famer Robin Yount waves to fans during a ceremony commemorating 20 years after his retirement prior to the game against the Washington Nationals at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Note: This is the first in a five-part series of the history of Milwaukee Brewers baseball.
One night in late June 1970, a ten-year-old boy kissed his mom and dad goodnight and retired for the evening around nine o’clock. The parents thought it was odd that the boy went to bed so early in the summer, but shrugged it off as the result of a full day during one of the first days of summer vacation.
Little did they know that the boy had an ‘evil’ plan. After he knelt down and said his prayers, he climbed into bed and pulled out his little transistor radio and tuned it to AM 1320, WFHR in Wisconsin Rapids.
The voice of Merle Harmon came through–mixing with bursts of static due a local thunderstorm–calling out the lineups for that night’s game against the California Angels in Anaheim.
And so began that boy’s love affair with the Milwaukee Brewers and it has not waned in the forty-five years since and that boy is now a middle-aged man of fifty-four.
Tommy Harper was one of the Brewers first superstars, joining the 30-30 club for Milwaukee in 1970 with his 31 home runs and 38 steals. Pitcher Marty Pattin had a great season for the 65-97 club, winning 14 games while completing 11 of them, compiling a 3.39 ERA and a WHIP of 1.179.
And so it began.
George Scott made the nickname ‘Boomer’ popular long before Chris Berman arrived on the scene and played a starring role in Milwaukee for five years in the early-to-mid 70s.
He made the All-Star team once and won five Gold Gloves at first base for the Brewers, also leading the league in home runs (‘taters’ in his parlance) with 36 and RBIs with 109 in 1975.
The mid-70s also saw the arrival of phenom shortstop Robin Yount, who made his major league debut in 1974 as an 18-year-old rookie and remains a Milwaukee icon to this day. ‘Rockin’ Robin’ was an average player in the 70s, but would become a superstar in the next decade and beyond.
Milwaukee won 90+ games in 1978-79 and announced themselves as a force in the American League East. Larry Hisle (34) and Gorman Thomas (32) each hit more than 30 taters, while ‘Iron’ Mike Caldwell won 22 games for the Brewers, dirty hat and all.
‘Spike’ Thomas bettered those power numbers in 1979, smashing 45 homers and driving in 123 runs for the Crew.
NEXT: the 1980s