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Originally known as the Seattle Pilots (1969).
Post Season Record: 20-25 (.444)
World Series Titles: 0
National League Pennants: 0
American League Pennants: 1 (1982)
Radio Broadcaster: Bob Uecker
The modern Milwaukee Brewers are a team that formed in the expansion of 1969 as the Seattle Pilots. The Pilots went bankrupt after their inaugural season and were purchased in a bankruptcy court by Bud Selig and moved to Milwaukee just before the start of the 1970 season. The name had previously been used by various minor league and major league teams beginning in the 1880s.
Because the move was made just as spring training ended in 1970, the Brewers did not have a full house at County Stadium for the home opener on April 7th. The Brewers were whitewashed 12-0 by the California Angels and Andy Messersmith. Four days later, John O'Donoghue defeated the Chicago White Sox at Comiskey Park, 8-4, for the franchise's first win.
The Brewers had few heroes during their first two seasons in Milwaukee, with such players as Tommy Harper, Lew Krausse Jr., Bill Parsons and the flame-throwing Ken Sanders leading the team to a tie for fourth in the American League Western Division the first year and a last-place finish in 1971.
In 1972, the team switched to the Eastern Division, due to the Washington Senators moving to Arlington, Texas. The team suffered through six straight seasons of finishing no higher than fifth in the very tough AL East, though their 76-86 record in 1974 turned heads. The Brewers drew over a million fans for the first time that season, which saw the debut of the franchise's greatest player, Robin Yount. Jim Colborn became the first of only three Brewers pitchers to win 20 games in a season.
In 1975, Hall of Famer Hank Aaron returned to Milwaukee to finish his baseball career with the Brewers. He hit his 755th and last career home run at County Stadium in 1976 off California's Dick Drago on July 20th in a 6-2 Brewers win.
In 1978, new manager George Bamberger led the team to its first-ever winning record, going 93-69 and finishing third behind the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox in the East. Pitcher Mike Caldwell set the team record for wins with 22. The Brewers finished second to the Baltimore Orioles in 1979, posting a franchise-best 95-66 record. "Bambi's Bombers" featured fan favorite Gorman Thomas, who hit 45 home runs to lead the AL, and Ben Oglivie, who hit 41 home runs the following season to tie Reggie Jackson for the league lead.
Just as the Brewers started Spring Training in Arizona in 1980, Bamberger suffered a mild heart attack, requiring bypass surgery. Bob "Buck" Rodgers was named acting Manager until mid-season. Though the Brewers started off the season with a bang, as Sixto Lezcano hit his second career opening day grand slam home run off Dick Drago on April 10th, the Brewers dropped to third with an 86-76 record. Bamberger retired as manager after the season, and Rodgers was named in his place.
During the off-season, general manager Harry Dalton made the most important trade in franchise history, getting catcher Ted Simmons, pitcher Pete Vuckovich and reliever Rollie Fingers from the St. Louis Cardinals. The move instantly made the Brewers contenders, and the Brewers made their first post-season appearance in the strike-shortened 1981 season, after winning the second-half title. Rollie Fingers won both the MVP Award and the Cy Young Award and pitched the closing inning of the post-season clincher over the Detroit Tigers on October 3rd.
The Brewers took the New York Yankees to a full five games before losing to them in the Divisional Playoff Series. The Brewers won games three and four at Yankee Stadium but couldn't seal the deal in Game 5 as the Yankees won, 7-3.
The Brewers went into the 1982 season with high expectations after their success the previous year, but the club got off to a slow start, going 23-24 with Rodgers at the helm. Dalton fired Rodgers and elevated coach Harvey Kuenn to the position of manager. "Harvey's Wallbangers" went on a tear, going 72-43 under Kuenn and winning 20 of 27 games in June. Robin Yount had his best year, winning the AL MVP Award with 210 hits, a .578 slugging percentage, and 46 doubles. Pete Vuckovich was named AL Cy Young Award winner after going 18-6 on the season.
The team clinched the division title on the final game of the season at Baltimore, where Oglivie made a diving catch in the left-field corner to save the game for the Brew Crew. The team lost the first two games of the AL Championship Series against the Angels, but they rallied to become the first team to win the League Championship Series after being down 0-2. The 3-2 win in Game 5 gave the Brewers their first and only AL pennant.
The Brewers put on an offensive show in Game 1 of the 1982 World Series against St. Louis, scoring 10 runs on 17 hits - with Robin Yount and Paul Molitor combining for nine of those hits and 2 of those runs. The Brewers managed to take a three-two series lead in the last World Series game ever played at County Stadium, beating the Cardinals, 6-4, on two-out singles by Charlie Moore and Jim Gantner off Bruce Sutter. However, the Brewers offense went dormant when they returned to St. Louis, and the Cardinals came back to win the Series in seven games. The Brewers did not return to the post-season until 2008.
After dropping to fifth in 1983, Kuenn resigned as manager and was replaced by Rene Lachemann. The team finished dead last in 1984, marking the first of three straight losing seasons. The tide couldn't be stemmed by a return of Bamberger to the helm in 1985, and he retired for the second time in late 1986 to be replaced by Tom Trebelhorn. Mexican lefty Teddy Higuera recorded the last 20-win season for a Brewers pitcher that year, despite the team's 77-84 record.
The 1987 Brewers were known as "Team Streak" after their record-tying 13-0 start. Juan Nieves pitched the only no-hitter by a Brewer in team history on April 15th in Baltimore, and Paul Molitor set the club record with a 39-game hitting streak, the best AL mark since Joe DiMaggio's 56 straight in 1941. The Brewers, however, finished third behind the Tigers and Blue Jays.
Trebelhorn led the club to four winning seasons during his tenure as manager, the only skipper of the Brewers to hold that distinction. In 1989, Yount won his second MVP award, now as the Brewers' starting center fielder.
The winning season in 1992 saw promise as new manager Phil Garner had the team in the race for the AL East title until the next-to-last day of the season. That year saw Yount get his 3,000th career hit on September 9th against the Cleveland Indians at County Stadium.
The Brewers failed to find much success in the rest of their tenure in the American League, finishing no higher than third in the new AL Central in 1996 and 1997. Despite offensive production from Greg Vaughn, John Jaha and newcomer Jeromy Burnitz, the Brewers failed to post a winning record in each of their last five seasons in the AL.
In 1998 the Brewers were shifted from the American League to the National League when the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays joined the National and American Leagues, respectively, in the 1998 expansion. The Brewers' transfer was the first of its kind. Team management pointed to the city's past history and success in the National League in the days of the Milwaukee Braves as a reason for accepting the move.
The Brewers posted back-to-back 74-win seasons in their NL debut, which led to the firing of Garner, who was replaced by hitting coach Jim Lefebvre in August of 1999. A sudden mid-season slump that year, coinciding with a crane accident at Miller Park that set back construction of the new ballpark by a full year and the injury to Jeromy Burnitz after the All-Star break, led to Garner's dismissal. Former Dodger second baseman Davey Lopes took over for Lefebvre in 2000, which was the swan song for venerable County Stadium.
Hopes were high for the Brewers as they moved into their beautiful new ballpark in 2001, but despite a hot start and a record number of fans coming through the turnstiles, the team posted its worst record in 17 years with only 68 wins. First Baseman Richie Sexson tied Gorman Thomas' franchise record with 45 home runs on October 7th against Arizona. Mostly due to the new park, the team set its all-time attendance record with 2,811,041 fans coming through the turnstiles.
Davey Lopes was fired early in the 2002 season after a horrendous start, and his replacement, Jerry Royster, fared no better. Though Sexson and shortstop Jose Hernandez represented the Brewers at the All-Star Game in Milwaukee, they couldn't keep the Brewers from losing a franchise-record 106 games. With the All-Star game called a tie when both teams ran out of available pitchers, and Bud Selig, now baseball's commissioner, being blamed for ongoing labor troubles in MLB and the disparity between rich and poor teams, the Milwaukee Brewers reached their nadir that season.
During the off-season, former Brewers reserve catcher Ned Yost was named manager of the team. Though the team once again failed to post a winning record, it did post a 10-game winning streak in late August of 2003. Rookie outfielder Scott Podsednik made a mark on the NL, hitting .314, stealing 43 bases and scoring 100 runs. The last run came in dramatic fashion as he hit a home run in his final at-bat of the year.
The Brewers made news before the 2004 season with a blockbuster deal that sent first baseman Richie Sexson and pitcher Shane Nance to the Diamondbacks for Junior Spivey, Lyle Overbay, Chad Moeller, Chris Capuano and Jorge de la Rosa. Moeller made a mark in Brewers history on April 27th, becoming the first Brewer to hit for the cycle at home, doing so against the Cincinnati Reds. Ben Sheets set a club record by striking out 18 batters against the Atlanta Braves on May 16th.
After the season ended, Los Angeles financier Mark Attanasio purchased the Brewers from the Selig family. The sale was approved in mid-January of 2005. Since his purchase of the team, the Brewers have enjoyed a resurgence. In 2005, the team finished with a 81-81 record. It was their first non-losing season since going 92-70 in 1992.
2006 marked a slight setback for the Brewers, as they slipped back to a losing record at 75-87. In 2007, however, the Brewers finally had their first winning season in 15 years with an 83-79 record. They narrowly missed the playoffs by finishing just 2 games behind the NL Central champion Chicago Cubs. The Brewers led the division by as many as 8 1/2 games on June 23rd, but their second-half slide sealed the Cubs' division win. The Brewers' collapse was overshadowed only by the New York Mets' failure to make the playoffs despite leading the NL East by 7 games with 17 to go. In 2007, Prince Fielder became the first Brewer to be voted to start an All-Star Game since Molitor in 1988, and 3B Ryan Braun became the first Brewer to win the Rookie of the Year Award selected by the Baseball Writers' Association of America since Pat Listach in 1992. Braun defeated Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki by just 2 votes.
In 2008, the Brewers were one of the better teams in the National League for much of the season. Ace Ben Sheets was chosen to start the 2008 All-Star Game by NL manager Clint Hurdle of Colorado, and second-year player Ryan Braun - now the team's left fielder - was voted by the fans to be a starting outfielder, edging out Ken Griffey, Jr. late in the voting. The Brewers made a significant trade on July 7th, trading prospect Matt LaPorta and others to the Cleveland Indians for starter C.C. Sabathia. In his first nine starts for the Brewers, Sabathia went 8-0 with a 1.60 ERA and five complete games. His performance became particularly important as Sheets missed much of the second half with an injury, and a number of clutch starts at the end of the year helped push the team into the postseason for the first time since 1982, as the National League Wild Card. The end was not without drama however, as the Brewers fired Ned Yost with 12 games to go, after they had been swept in four games by the Philadelphia Phillies and looked set to once again fall short of the postseason. Coach Dale Sveum took over and led the team to a 7-5 record to squeak into the playoffs, where they were defeated in four games by the Phillies in the NLDS.
After the season, veteran manager Ken Macha was named to lead the team in 2009, with both Sabathia and Sheets about to leave the team as free agents. The team sank back in the standings over the next two seasons, and Macha was replaced by Ron Roenicke. In his first season in 2011, the Brewers won their first-ever NL Central title, behind the hitting of Braun and Fielder. They then defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLDS, but fell in 6 games to the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS. After two middling seasons, the Brewers started red hot in 2014, posting the best record in the majors in the early going and building a large lead in the NL Central; however, it all came crashing down, and the team failed to even secure a wild card berth. 2015 was an even more trying year, as the Brewers started the season stone cold, leading to the firing of Roenicke on May 3rd with the team in last place. The Brewers then cleaned house at the trading deadline, sending away veterans Aramis Ramirez, Gerardo Parra, Mike Fiers and Carlos Gomez in return for prospects, then on August 11th, GM Doug Melvin announced that he was stepping down after 13 seasons on the job.
A new winning cycle started for the Brewers in 2017 when they went 86-76 under manager Craig Counsell. They made a major trade after the season, obtaining OF Christian Yelich from the Miami Marlins in return for prospects, and signing Lorenzo Cain as a free agent. Yelich had a great first season, winning the MVP Award, whicle Cain was an All-Star in center field. With Braun still around, the Brewers had a tremendous outfield, and combined with an outstanding bullpen featuring Josh Hader, Corey Knebel and Jeremy Jeffress, it was enough to keep Milwaukee near the top all season. After 162 games, they were tied with the Cubs, necessitating a one-game playoff to determine which team would finish with the best record in the NL, and which would need to play the Wild Card Game. The Brewers won that game, then swept the Colorado Rockies in the Division Series before ending up on the losing end of a tightly-fought NLCS that went to the wire with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Led by Yelich again, they had another solid year in 2019, but this time lost the Wild Card Game to the Washington Nationals, who would go on to win the World Series. They made it three straight postseasons in 2020, when they managed to claim the final spot in the expanded postseason resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic. They were quickly dispatched by the Dodgers, clearly the best team in the majors that year, in the Wild Card Series, but it was still quite a feat to have made it that far as Yelich had a down year, batting just .205 (although still with good power), Braun was relegated to DH duties and other counted on to fuel the offense, like 2B Keston Hiura and 1B Justin Smoak, were big disappointments, and Cain sat out almost the entire season. In fact, only Yelich and Braun, both playing below their established level, were the only two regulars on the team to post an OPS+ of 100 or better! What saved them was some solid work from bench players, and some great bullpen work from Rookie of the Year Devin Williams, who posted an ERA of 0.33 with unbelievable peripheral stats, to back a decent starting rotation now anchored by Corbin Burnes and Brandon Woodruff.
- Perfect game:
- Unassisted Triple Play:
- Hitting for the Cycle:
|Brewers General Managers|
|Marvin Milkes||(Seattle Pilots) February 21, 1968 to December 17, 1970|
|Frank Lane||January 23, 1971 to October 4, 1972|
|Jim Wilson||October 4, 1972 to September 1, 1974|
|Jim Baumer||September 1, 1974 to November 21, 1977|
|Harry Dalton||September 21, 1977 to October 7, 1991|
|Sal Bando||October 7, 1991 to August 12, 1999|
|Fred Stanley||August 12 to September 21, 1999|
|Dean Taylor||September 21, 1999 to September 25, 2002|
|Doug Melvin||September 25, 2002 to October 6, 2015|
|David Stearns||October 6, 2015 to present|
- Peter Filichia: Green Cathedrals: The Ultimate Celebrations of All 273 Major League and Negro League Ballparks Past and Present, Addison Wesley Publishing Company (March 1993)
- John Thorn: Total Baseball, Total Sports Publishing, 1989, 1995
- Tom Haudricourt: 100 Things Brewers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, Triumph Books, Chicago, IL, 2013. ISBN 978-1-60078-788-1
- Gregory H. Wolf, ed.: From the Braves to the Brewers: Great Games and Exciting History at Milwaukee's County Stadium, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2016. ISBN 978-1-943816-23-1
- Chris Zantow: Building the Brewers: Bud Selig and the Return of Major League Baseball to Milwaukee, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2020. ISBN 978-1-4766-7263-2
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