Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the 10th Anniversary of the 1982 Brewers
Honoring the 1982 AL Champs has history of its own
This year marks the 35th anniversary of the lone pennant in Brewers history. The team is honoring the ’82 Crew with a number of giveaways, including a bobblehead commemorating Robin Yount’s post-series motorcycle lap around County Stadium, a replica 1982 Paul Molitor bobblehead and a replica 1982 A.L. Champions ring. On July 15, before an evening game against the Phillies, the team will host a special on-field ceremony honoring some of the ’82 team and will wear 1982 throw-back uniforms during the game.
This year also marks the 25th anniversary of the first-ever anniversary celebration of the 1982 team and the fifth time overall that the team will be honored with a anniversary ceremony. With the Brewers now working on the seventh-longest stretch between pennants of all-time, and with many of the other droughts pre-dating the present-day obsession with ballpark giveaways and promotions, it is possible that no non-championship team in baseball history has been honored as often as the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers.
The tenth anniversary of the team was marked in May 1992. Three core members of the club – Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, and Jim Gantner – were still active at the time. Other members of the team, including Mike Caldwell, Don Money, Rollie Fingers and Cecil Cooper, also appeared in action that afternoon in the Upper Deck Heroes of Baseball old-timers game. The retro Brewers (managed by Harvey Kuenn, Jr.) topped an amalgamation of the 1982 Cardinals, Angels and Orioles 4-1, paced by a two-run Don Money double in the first inning. One notable Brewer who did not appear was Gorman Thomas, who was wanted in Wisconsin for jumping bail after failing to report for a 10-day jail sentence for repeat drunk driving in Waukesha County. It was suggested that he would have been placed under arrest had he appeared at the game.
In 1997, the Brewers were able to incorporate interleague play into the celebration, as the Cardinals returned to Milwaukee for the first time since the World Series. The team decorated County Stadium with bunting and both teams wore 1982 throw-back unis. As a part of a pre-game ceremony, Robin Yount recreated his motorcycle lap at the stadium. This time, Stormin’ Gorman – having settled his legal troubles – was allowed to appear.
In 2002, the ceremony shifted to Miller Park. With the Brewers in the midst of their worst season ever – and just a year after opening the facility that was promised to turn them into contenders – the contrast between the present-day squad the heroes of ’82 was never more stark. During the on-field ceremony, a “banner” mural marking the AL Championship was unveiled on the topmost ring of the stadium. Four years later, the team redecorated a pair of its VIP suites at the park, dedicating one to the 1957 Braves world championship and the other to the ’82 Brewers.
For the silver anniversary of the ’82 team in 2007, the Brewers went all-out. During every Friday home game that year, the team donned ’82 throwbacks with 25th anniversary patches on the sleeve. All fans at these games also received special mini-bobbleheads of the team’s star players. During a three-game series with the Cardinals, 28 members of the team appeared in various on-field events. In an effort to prevent their pennant celebration being over-run by fans of the team that beat them, the Brewers offered discounted tickets for the series to fans with a Wisconsin address. Two years later, after the 2008 team broke the playoff drought by clinching the Wild Card, a series of “pennants” were added to Miller Park above the left field wall, marking the 1981 divisional series team, the ’82 club, and the Wild Card team.
The Brewers skipped the 30th anniversary of the pennant in 2012. Fresh off a trip to the NLCS (where they also lost to the moth*****king Cardinals), the franchise finally seemed in a position to open a new era of legend-making. But, as we all know, the Brewers have not been back to the playoff since. If the ongoing rebuild goes according to plan, the 40th anniversary of the ’82 season could similarly occur during an upswing in the team’s fortunes. Hopefully one that finally allows the club to move past Gorman Thomas and company and start celebrating some new anniversaries.