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A Bronx Tale Or Two With the Brew Crew

Jun. 23, 2011
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Frank: I'll bet the Brewers were especially glad to see Miller Park again after experiencing the two oldest, smallest visitors' clubhouses in baseball.

To say nothing of experiencing a 2-5 record at Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, and giving up 34 runs in the last three losses.

Fortunately for them, the Cardinals lost four more in a row after getting swept at Miller Park and didn't regain much ground. And now they'll be without Albert Pujols for at least a few weeks.

The Crew returned with the worst road record in the league but the best home record in the majors. That second part better continue against the Rays and Twins; then it's back on the road next week in New York and Minnesota.

Their visit to the Bronx will be their first since 1997, when they were still American Leaguers. That got me thinking about the Brewer games I covered for the Journal at the old Yankee Stadium—17 of them from 1989-'92, with the Brewers going 9-8. None of them had pennant implications, but I remember some that were compelling and even downright weird. Our readers might enjoy recalling some of them.

Just seeing some of the old names should be fun.

Here they are, including some excerpts from my stories...

The Phantom Run

July 1, 1989—When the game ended the scoreboard read, "Yankees 4, Brewers 1." But in the clubhouse manager Tom Trebelhorn said, “Did they let you know the score was really 5-1?”

In the bottom of the eighth, with men on first and third with one out, Wayne Tolleson popped up a bunt as both runners broke. Brewers right-hander Jay Aldrich caught it and threw to first to double up Bob Geren. No big deal, right?

Except that under the obscure Rule No. 7.10(d), because the play wasn't a “consecutive force play” and Mike Pagliarulo crossed the plate before Aldrich's throw reached first, the run counted. Trebelhorn, who knew the rule, explained that technically there were two “appeal plays” involved, and it was up to the Brewers to choose the one that benefited them the most. If they had proceeded to appeal for the “fourth out,” they would have gotten it, but they didn't. Umpire Larry Barnett said he signaled the fifth run to the press box, but the official scorer said he saw no signal.

My follow-up story had this lead: “Talk about bad luck: Jay Aldrich picked up an earned run sitting in his hotel room.” A friend called him and he saw it on TV.

Holy cow! I thought only Jeff Suppan could give up a run without being in the ballpark.

Mr. 2,500

Sunday, July 2, 1989—“For Robin Yount, it was another milestone, another shrug.” In the Brewers' 10-2 victory Yount's bouncing single to left gave him 2,500 career hits.

As usual, Yount downplayed his performance: “When I've retired I'll look back and the numbers will mean more to me. But that's not why I go out there. The reason I play is because it's fun and the competition is great.”

The Kid, the greatest Brewer of them all. It was hard to imagine a Hall of Fame career after his first two teenage seasons, batting .260 and with 63 errors at shortstop.

Closer Encounters

Aug. 25, 1990—Greg Brock hit a two-out, three-run homer off Yankees closer Dave Righetti in the ninth to give Milwaukee a 5-3 win. Trebelhorn let Brock hit against the lefty Righetti because he was 2 for 6 against him.

Payback to Mr. Righetti for beating the Crew twice as a 22-year-old in the 1981 Division Series.

Before the game the next day, Brewers closer Dan Plesac sympathized with Righetti's misfortune: “Nobody else knows what it feels like. It just totally takes the wind out of yourself and the ball club.” About five hours later it was his turn; he gave up a two-run homer to Jesse Barfield in the eighth inning and a game-winning single to Steve Sax in the 11th.

An Unhappy Lad

June 1, 1991—The Brewers won, 6-3, with Willie Randolph going 4 for 4 and Paul Molitor 3 for 5. But the big news was before the game, when Gary Sheffield put on a show of sulking because he wasn't in the lineup.

He had a wrist injury and had DH'd the night before. On this day he thought he should play third, but Trebelhorn decided not to start him. He didn't stretch with the team and in BP he took halfhearted swings that resulted in mostly dribblers. When I approached him in the dugout, my story reported, “He was in no mood to talk with a reporter, as he made very clear in one short sentence."

I can just imagine that sentence. Yes sir, the master Sheff, who created a four-star casserole of career statistics with his two favorite ingredients, “the clear” and “the cream.”

Alas, Poor Teddy

June 2, 1991—The previous winter the Brewers broke the bank to re-sign left-hander Teddy Higuera for four years and $13 million. That gamble didn't pay off, and neither did Trebelhorn's on this Sunday. Higuera was pitching with a bad shoulder, and in the fifth he had a 4-3 lead with two out and two on. Trying to get Higuera the “W,” Trebelhorn let him face righty slugger Jesse Barfield, who hit a two-run double. The Yankees won 7-4.

By July Higuera was shut down for shoulder surgery. He missed all of 1992 and made just 25 appearances for Milwaukee after that.

The Wizard of Boz

Sept. 17, 1991—Righty Chris Bosio threw a complete game in only 82 pitches and won 2-0. He even took a line drive off the chest in the fifth and got the out.

First baseman George Canale hit a homer into the upper deck in right field off Pasqual Perez.

Note to prospective bidders for Prince Fielder. Bosio, age 29, left for Seattle via free agency after the '92 season in which he went 16-6 with a 3.62 ERA. He pitched four seasons for the Mariners and went 27-31 with a 4.43 ERA while earning more than $15 million.

Weird, Wild Stuff

May 22, 1992—Greg Vaughn's homer off the left-field foul pole in the 14th inning gave the Brewers a 10-9 victory. Vaughn didn't try to wave the ball fair, a la Carlton Fisk in the 1975 World Series. “But I was blowing a lot harder than Fisk did,” he said.

The Yankees led 9-3 in the sixth inning, but the Brewers rallied with contributions from Dave Nilsson, Franklin Stubbs, Kevin Seitzer and Tim McIntosh.

Yankees lefty Steve Howe helped by turning wild in two directions. In the eighth he gave up a bases-loaded single to Nilsson and a sacrifice fly to Scott Fletcher. The Yankees thought Dante Bichette left third base early and appealed. But Howe threw past third and into the stands, a two-base error that moved Nilsson to third. And Howe got him home with a wild pitch.

Jeez Louise, a contribution from Franklin Stubbs? That IS a game to remember. I remember his nickname was “Cadillac” but he performed more like a Yugo.

Series-ly Zany

May 25, 1992—The Yankees won, 13-10, to split a four-game series in which no lead was safe for either team. The Brewers had made up a six-run deficit in the opener, and the Yanks had rallied from six down to win Game 3, but this game was the topper.

The Yankees led 4-0, Milwaukee rallied for a 7-4 lead and then the Yankees scored nine times in the eighth, highlighted by Danny Tartabull's grand slam off Jesse Orosco.

Brewers skipper Phil Garner told reporters, “I'm going to ask you guys the questions today. What the hell is going on?”

Molitor's last year as a Brewer was '92, when the team won 92 games and finished just four behind Toronto. He played six more seasons for the Blue Jays and Twins, averaging 173 hits, while the Brewers' DH spot was filled by such luminaries as Kevin Reimer, Brian Harper, Kevin Seitzer and the aging Julio Franco. What a world!

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