The Milwaukee Braves left for Atlanta after the 1965 season. Milwaukee lacked a professional baseball team until the Brewers moved into town in 1970. How and why did Milwaukee get a second chance?
In 1969, the Seattle Pilots were added to the American League as an expansion team. The franchise did so well in Seattle that the market wasn’t seen as viable after only one year, and the team moved east to Wisconsin. Who were these guys and how did they end up in Milwaukee?
Why did the Pilots move?
The 1969 Seattle Pilots finished well under .500, but they still managed to draw over 600,000 fans in their inaugural season. 600,000 fans in 1969 wasn’t terrible. What lead the Pilots out of Seattle was actually their concession service provider, SportService.
The Pilots wanted to move into the brand new Seattle KingDome. SportService gave the Pilots $2 million contingent that they would become the concession service at the new stadium. Local law prevented a stadium from opening without bids submitted for service contracts. The team went into bankruptcy, and was eventually sold to Bud Selig for $10 million.
Milwaukee’s County Stadium didn’t have any restrictions on concessions, so SportService became the concessions provider, Milwaukee got a new team, and the owners in Seattle made a tidy profit on a $5.3 million investment.
How did the 1970 season go for the Milwaukee Brewers
Believe it or not, but the sale of the Seattle Pilots wasn’t finalized until a few days before Opening Day.
The team went 65-97 and finished fourth in the AL West with a roster that was comprised of a lot of former Seattle Pilots.
Third baseman Tommy Harper was by far the best hitter on the team. Harper slashed .296/.377/.522 in 154 games. Harper bashed 31 homers, stole 38 bases in 54 attempts, scored 104 times, and drove in 82 runs. He made the only All-Star Game appearance of his career, and finished sixth in the American League MVP voting.
Left fielder Danny Walton blasted 17 homers and posted a .790 OPS in his age-22 season for the 1970 Brewers, but would only hit eight more before calling it a career in 1980.
Marty Pattin was the de facto ace of the 1970 Milwaukee Brewers. In 29 starts and eight relief appearances, Pattin managed a 14-12 record with a 3.39 ERA. He worked 233 1/3 innings in 1970, and he struck out 161, walked 71, and got tagged for 20 homers.
The 1970 Milwaukee Brewers were an unbelievably forgettable team. Harper was never able to match the success that he saw in 1970 and ended up getting traded after the 1971 season. Pattin went with Harper in the same deal.
The 1970 Brewers brought baseball back to Milwaukee and that’s hugely important in and of itself after a four year absence. However, the team wasn’t memorable for much that occurred on the field.