The Milwaukee Brewers are a Major League Baseball team based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which plays in the Central Division of the National League. The team is named for the city's association with the brewing industry. They play their home games at Miller Park, which opened in and currently holds 42,200 spectators.
The team originated in Seattle, Washington, as the Seattle Pilots, where they played for one season in before changing names and moving to Milwaukee. The Brewers were part of the American League from their creation as an expansion club in 1969 through the season, after which they moved to the National League Central Division.
In , the team captured its only major league titles. Milwaukee won the American League East Division title and the American League Pennant, earning the team its only World Series appearance in franchise history. In the Series, they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals, four games to three.
In an effort to prevent the relocation of the Milwaukee Braves to a larger television market, the Braves minority owner Bud Selig, a Milwaukee-area car dealer, formed an organization named "Teams Inc." The organization was devoted to promoting local control of the club. He successfully prevented the majority owners of the Braves from moving the club in 1964, but was unable to do more than delay the inevitable. The Braves relocated to Atlanta after the 1965 season, and Teams Inc. turned its focus to returning Major League Baseball to Milwaukee.
Selig doggedly pursued this goal, attending owners meetings in the hopes of securing an expansion franchise. Selig changed the name of his group to "Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club Inc." The "Brewers" name, honoring Milwaukee's beer-brewing tradition, was also historical and named after Milwaukee baseball teams going back into the 19th century. The city had hosted a major league team by that name in 1901, a charter member of the American League, which relocated at the end of that season to become the St. Louis Browns (now the Baltimore Orioles). From 1902 through 1952, a minor league Milwaukee Brewers club in the American Association had been so successful that it lured the Braves from Boston. Selig himself had grown up watching that minor league team at Borchert Field and intended his new franchise to follow in that tradition.
To demonstrate there still was support for big-league ball in Milwaukee, Selig's group contracted with the Chicago White Sox to host nine White Sox home games at Milwaukee County Stadium in 1968. A 1967 exhibition game between the White Sox and Minnesota Twins had attracted more than 51,000 spectators, and Selig was convinced the strong Milwaukee fan base would demonstrate the city would provide a good home for a new club.
The experiment was staggeringly successful—those nine games drew 264,297 fans. In Chicago that season, the Sox drew 539,478 fans to their remaining 58 home games. In just a handful of games, the Milwaukee crowds accounted for nearly one-third of the total attendance at White Sox games. In light of this success, Selig agreed County Stadium would host Sox home games again the next season.
Selig went into the 1968 owners meetings with high hopes, believing this fan support lent legitimacy to his quest for a Milwaukee franchise, but these hopes were dashed when National League franchises were awarded to San Diego (the Padres) and Montreal (the Expos), and American League franchises were awarded to Kansas City (the Royals) and Seattle (the Pilots). That last franchise, however, would figure very prominently in Selig's future.
Having failed to gain a major league franchise for Milwaukee through expansion, Selig turned his efforts to purchasing and relocating an existing club. His search began close to home, with the White Sox themselves. The 1969 White Sox schedule in Milwaukee was expanded to include 11 home games (one against every other franchise in the American League at the time). Although those games were attended by slightly fewer fans (198,211 fans, for an average of 18,019) than in 1968, they represented a greater percentage of the total White Sox attendance than the previous year—over one-third of the fans who went to Sox home games in 1969 did so at County Stadium (in the remaining 59 home dates in Chicago, the Sox drew 391,335 for an average of 6,632 per game). According to Selig, he had a handshake agreement with Chicago owner Arthur Allyn to purchase the White Sox and move them north. The American League, unwilling to surrender Chicago to the National League, vetoed the sale, and Allyn sold the franchise to his brother John.
Frustrated in these efforts, Selig shifted his focus to another American League team, the expansion Seattle Pilots.
Seattle initially had much going for it when it joined the American League in 1969. Seattle had long been a hotbed for minor league baseball and was home to the Seattle Rainiers, one of the pillars of the Pacific Coast League (PCL). The Cleveland Indians had almost moved to Seattle in 1965. Many of the same things that attracted the Indians made Seattle a plum choice for an expansion team. Seattle was the third-biggest metropolitan area on the West Coast (behind Los Angeles and the Bay Area). Also, there was no real competition from other professional teams. While Seattle had just landed the National Basketball Association's SuperSonics, the NBA was not in the same class as baseball was in terms of popularity at the time.
The front man for the franchise was Dewey Soriano, a former Rainiers pitcher and general manager and former president of the PCL. In an ominous sign of things to come, Soriano had to ask William Daley, who had owned the Indians at the time they flirted with Seattle, to furnish much of the expansion fee. In return, Daley bought 47 percent of the stock—the largest stake in the club. He became chairman of the board while Soriano served as president.
However, a couple of factors were beyond the Pilots' control. They were originally not set to start play until 1971, but the date was moved up to 1969 under pressure from Senator Stuart Symington of Missouri. Professional baseball had been played in Kansas City in one form or another from 1883 until the A's left for Oakland after the 1967 season, and Symington would not accept the prospect of Kansas City having to wait three years for baseball to return. Also, the Pilots had to pay the PCL $1 million to compensate for the loss of one of its most successful franchises. After King County voters approved a bond for a domed stadium (what would become the Kingdome) in 1968, the Seattle Pilots were officially born. California Angels executive Marvin Milkes was hired as general manager, and Joe Schultz, coach of the National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals, became manager.
To the surprise of no one outside Seattle (Schultz and Milkes actually thought they could finish third in the newly formed, six-team AL West), the Pilots were terrible. They won their very first game, and then their home opener three days later, but only won five more times in the first month and never recovered. They finished last in the West with a record of 64–98, 33 games out of first.
However, the team's poor play was the least of its troubles. The most obvious problem was Sick's Stadium. The longtime home of the Rainiers, it had once been considered one of the best ballparks in minor league baseball. By the 1960s, however, it was considered far behind the times. While a condition of MLB awarding the Pilots to Seattle was that Sick's had to be expanded to 30,000 seats by the start of the 1969 season, only 17,000 seats were ready because of numerous delays. The scoreboard was not even ready until the night before opening day. While it was expanded to 25,000 by June, the added seats had obstructed views. Water pressure was almost nonexistent after the seventh inning, especially with crowds above 10,000. Attendance was so poor (678,000) that the Pilots were almost out of money by the end of the season. The team's new stadium was slated to be built at the Seattle Center, but a petition by stadium opponents ground the project to a halt.
During the offseason, Soriano crossed paths with Selig. They met in secret for over a month after the end of the season, and during Game 1 of the World Series, Soriano agreed to sell the Pilots to Selig for $10 million to $13 million (depending on the source). Selig would then move the team to Milwaukee and rename it the Brewers. However, the owners turned it down in the face of pressure from Washington's two senators, Warren Magnuson and Henry (Scoop) Jackson, as well as state attorney general Slade Gorton. MLB asked Soriano and Daley to find a local buyer. Local theater chain owner Fred Danz came forward in October 1969 with a $10 million deal, but it fizzled when the Bank of California called in a $4 million loan it had made to Soriano and Daley for startup costs. In January 1970, Westin Hotels owner Eddie Carlson put together a nonprofit group to buy the team. However, the owners rejected the idea almost out of hand since it would have devalued the other clubs' worth. A more traditional deal came one vote short of approval.
After a winter and spring full of court action, the Pilots reported for spring training under new manager Dave Bristol unsure of where they would play. The owners had given tentative approval to the Milwaukee group, but the state of Washington got an injunction on March 17 to stop the deal. Soriano immediately filed for bankruptcy—a move intended to forestall any post-sale legal action. At the bankruptcy hearing a week later, Milkes testified there was not enough money to pay the coaches, players and office staff. Had Milkes been more than 10 days late in paying the players, they would have all become free agents and left Seattle without a team for the 1970 season. With this in mind, Federal Bankruptcy Referee Sidney Volinn declared the Pilots bankrupt on April 1—six days before Opening Day—clearing the way for them to move to Milwaukee. The team's equipment had been sitting in Provo, Utah with the drivers awaiting word on whether to drive toward Seattle or Milwaukee.
Under the circumstances, the Brewers' 1970 season was over before it started, and they finished 65–97 (a one-game improvement over 1969). They would not have a winning season until 1978.
Selig brought back former Milwaukee Braves catcher (and fan favorite) Del Crandall in 1972 to manage the club. Also that year the Brewers moved to the AL East when the Washington Senators moved to Arlington, Texas, became the Texas Rangers and switched divisions with the Brewers.
It was during this period that the Brewers gained its reputation for fun as well as baseball. Then-team vice president Dick Hackett hired Frank Charles to play the Wurlitzer organ during the games, and Hackett introduced team mascots Bernie and Bonnie Brewer.
The Brewers acquired many fan favorites during this time, including Robin Yount, Jim Gantner, Stormin' Gorman Thomas, Don Money, and Cecil Cooper. These players laid the ground work for the Brewers' success in the early 1980s.
On November 2, 1974, the Brewers orchestrated a trade that brought one of the most beloved Braves back to Milwaukee, sending outfielder Dave May and a player to be named later (minor league pitcher Roger Alexander) to the Braves for Hank Aaron. Although not the player he was in his prime, Aaron brought prestige to the young club, and the opportunity to be a designated hitter allowed Aaron to extend his playing career two more seasons.
In 1982, the Brewers won the American League pennant. The team's prolific offensive production that season (they lead the league in runs and home runs) earned them the nickname Harvey's Wallbangers (a play on the drink Harvey Wallbanger and the team's manager Harvey Kuenn). In the 1982 American League Championship Series the Brewers defeated the California Angels three games to two and became the first team to win a five-game playoff series after trailing two games to zero (the Seattle Mariners also accomplished that feat in the 1995 ALDS against the New York Yankees). The Brewers then played the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. The Brewers started out strong, taking the first game of the series 10–0. Mike Caldwell was the winning pitcher. Unfortunately, Hall-of-Famer Rollie Fingers had been injured before the postseason, and relief pitching became a problem for the Brewers. St. Louis eventually triumphed in the series, winning four games to three.
During the 1980s the Brewers produced three league MVPs (Rollie Fingers in 1981 and Robin Yount in 1982 and 1989) and two Cy Young Award winners (Rollie Fingers in 1981 and Pete Vuckovich in 1982). Yount is one of only four players in the history of the game to win the MVP award at two positions (shortstop, then center field).
On that day, Nieves became the first (and so far, only) Brewer and first Puerto Rican-born Major Leaguer to pitch a no-hitter, defeating the Baltimore Orioles 7–0 at Memorial Stadium. The final out came on a climactic diving catch in right-center field by Robin Yount of a line drive hit by Eddie Murray. The game also was the first time the Orioles were no-hit at Memorial Stadium. Yount later recalled at a Brewers banquet that he didn't have to dive to catch the line drive hit by Murray but figured ending the game with a diving catch would be the icing on the cake for Nieves' no-hitter.
In 1988 the team had another strong season, finishing only two games out of first (albeit with a lesser record than the previous year) in a close playoff race with four other clubs. Following this year, the team slipped, posting mediocre records from 1989 through 1991, after which Trebelhorn was fired. In 1992, reminiscent of the resurgence which greeted Trebelhorn's arrival in 1987, the Brewers rallied behind the leadership of rookie manager Phil Garner and posted their best record since their World Series year in 1982, finishing the season 92–70 and in second place, four games behind that year's eventual World Champion Toronto Blue Jays.
Hope of additional pennant races was quickly dashed, however, as the club plummeted to the bottom of the standings the following year, finishing an abysmal 26 games out of first. Since 1992, highlights were few and far between as the franchise failed to produce a winning season, having not fielded a competitive team because of a combination of bad management and financial constraints that limit the team relative to the resources available to other, larger-market clubs. With new management, structural changes in the economics of baseball, and the advent of revenue sharing, the Brewers were able to become competitive once again.
Before the 1998 regular season began, two new teams—the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays—were added by Major League Baseball. This resulted in the American League and National League having fifteen teams. However, in order for MLB officials to continue primarily intraleague play, both leagues would need to carry an even number of teams, so the decision was made to move one club from the AL Central to the NL Central.
This realignment was widely considered to have great financial benefit to the club moving. However, to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, Commissioner (then club owner) Bud Selig decided another team should have the first chance to switch leagues. The choice was offered to the Kansas City Royals, who ultimately decided to stay in the American League. The choice then fell to the Brewers, who, on November 6, 1997 elected to move to the National League. Had the Brewers elected not to move to the National League, the Minnesota Twins would have been offered the opportunity to switch leagues.
Miller Park was opened in 2001, built to replace Milwaukee County Stadium. The stadium was built with $310 million of public funds, drawing some controversy, and is the only sporting facility to have a fan-shaped retractable roof. Miller Park has a seating capacity of seating 41,900 and with standing room 43,000. That is 10,000 fewer seats than County Stadium.
The park was to have opened a year earlier, but an accident during its construction, which resulted in the deaths of three workers, forced a year's delay and $50 million to $75 million in damage. On July 14, 1999, the three men lost their lives when the Lampson "Big Blue" crane, one of the largest in the world, collapsed while trying to lift a 400 ton right field roof panel. A statue commemorating the men now stands between the home plate entrance to Miller Park and Helfaer Field.
The Brewers made renovations to Miller Park before the 2006 campaign, adding both LED scoreboards in left field and on the second-tier of the stadium, as well as a picnic area in right field, shortening the distance of the right-field fence. The picnic area was an immediate hit and sold out for the season before the year began.
In 2005, under Attanasio's ownership, the team finished 81–81 to secure its first non-losing record since 1992. With a solid base of young talent assembled over the past five years, including Prince Fielder, Rickie Weeks, J. J. Hardy, Ryan Braun and Corey Hart, the Brewers showed renewed competitiveness. Further encouraging this sentiment, the Brewers have hired former stars Yount (bench coach; resigned in November 2006) and Dale Sveum (third base coach), both very popular players for the Brewers in the '80s.
At the end of the season, Attanasio stated that he and General Manager Doug Melvin would have to make some decisions about returning players for the 2007 season. With young players waiting in the minor leagues, during the off-season the key additions were starting pitcher and 2006 NLCS MVP Jeff Suppan, starter Claudio Vargas, reliever Greg Aquino, catcher Johnny Estrada, and returning Brewer Craig Counsell. The Brewers parted ways with 2006 starters Doug Davis and Tomo Ohka, as well as fan favorite Jeff Cirillo, who wanted more playing time with another team.
ESPN.com's lead story on August 29 stated: ".... Then there are the Brewers. The strange, impossible-to-figure-out Brewers. They once had the best record in the majors, were 14 games over .500 twice, and led the division by as many as 8½ games on June 23. Since then, and there's no nice way of saying it; they've reeked.". The Brewers cast this negativity to the side, and rebounded in September. Despite poor performances from the usually steady Chris Capuano and more nagging injuries to Ben Sheets, The Crew found themselves in a heated pennant race with Chicago's North Siders. The team's playoff drive took a hit late in the year, however, losing three of four games in a crucial series in Atlanta, dropping The Crew to a season-high 3.5 games out of first. The Brewers won the first two games of their final homestand of the season to pull within two games of the Cubs, but faced a near impossible task with the club's elimination number down to only three and the wild card leading Padres coming to town. The club played well, but the Cubs clinched on the final Friday of the season. On September 29 the Brewers beat Padres 4–3 in extra innings to secure a winning season. The game was tied in the ninth inning by a triple by Tony Gwynn, Jr. in a highlight reel play that was repeated often during the 2007 post season. That win, and the win the next day, by the Brewers kept the Padres from advancing to the playoffs. The irony, of course, being that Gwynn's father was easily the most popular Padre of all-time. Milwaukee finished at a respectable 83–79, only two games behind Chicago, the club's best finish since 1992.
First baseman Prince Fielder made history in 2007, becoming the first Brewer and the youngest player ever to reach the 50 home run mark in a single season. For his effort, he finished third in the 2007 National League Most Valuable Player voting, garnering 284 total points including 5 first place votes. Fielder was also awarded the Hank Aaron Award for reaching the amazing single year record. Third baseman Ryan Braun was also rewarded for his historic season by being named 2007 NL Rookie of the Year.
The Brewers played their first postseason game in 26 years on October 1. Pitcher Yovani Gallardo made his first postseason start and only his second start since coming off the disabled list in late September. The Brewers lost the first game of the NLDS 3–1 on a dominant performance by Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels. Hamels allowed only 2 hits and struck out 9 Brewers batters in 8 shutout innings. The Brewers mounted a comeback in the 9th inning as closer Brad Lidge allowed 2 hits, a walk, and a run to score. However, Brewers right fielder Corey Hart struck out with runners on second and third to end the game. The Brewers lost game 2 of the NLDS due to ace CC Sabathia giving up a grand slam early in the game, leaving after 3.2 innings (his shortest outing as a Brewer). The Brewers hosted their first playoff game in 26 years on Saturday, October 4, and won 4-1. However, the Brewers season would come to an end on Sunday as Jeff Suppan allowed three home runs to lose 6-2, eliminating them from the postseason in four games.
The 2009 season looks questionable for the Brewers, as CC Sabathia, Ben Sheets, Eric Gagne, Guillermo Mota, Gabe Kapler, Mike Cameron, Craig Counsell, Ray Durham, Russell Branyan, Salomon Torres, and Brian Shouse will all be free agents after the 2008 season.
The original Brewers uniforms were "hand-me-downs" from the Seattle Pilots. There was no time before the 1970 season to order new uniforms, so the team simply removed the Seattle markings and sewed "BREWERS" on the front. The uniforms had unique striping on the sleeves left over from the Pilots days. The cap was an updated version of the Milwaukee Braves cap in blue and gold.
The Brewers finally got their own flannel design in 1972. These were essentially the same as the 1970 uniforms but with blue and gold piping on the sleeves and collar.
In 1973, the Brewers entered the doubleknit era with uniforms based upon their flannels—all white with "BREWERS" on the front, blue and gold trim on the sleeves, neck, waistband and down the side of the pants. This is the uniform that Hank Aaron would wear with the club in his final seasons, and that Robin Yount would wear in his first.
During this period, the logo of the club was the Beer Barrel Man, which had been used by the American Association Milwaukee Brewers since at least the 1940s.
The Brewers unveiled new uniforms for the 1978 season—pinstripes with solid blue collar and waistband. The road uniforms continued to be powder blue, but for the first time the city name "MILWAUKEE" graced the chest in an upward slant. In addition, this season saw the introduction of the logo that was to define the club—"M" and "B" in the shape of a baseball glove. The logo was designed by Tom Meindel, an Art History student at the University of Wisconsin—Eau Claire. The home cap was solid blue, and the road cap was blue with a gold front panel. The club would wear these uniforms in their pennant-winning season of 1982.
The road uniform underwent minor changes in 1986: the road cap was eliminated, and gray replaced powder blue as the uniform color. Further modifications were made in 1990—button-up jerseys replaced the pullovers, and a script "Brewers" replaced the block letters.
On January 15, 1994, the Brewers unveiled their first new logo and team colors since the 1978 season in a ceremony at BrewersFest (what was then the winter fan festival). Navy, green and metallic gold replaced the old royal blue and athletic gold, and Germanic lettering replaced the standard block. The caps were navy (home) and navy with green bill (road), and bore an interlocking "MB" logo. This logo was never very popular with the fans, and was frequently derided as "Motre Bame" for its resemblance to the "ND" made famous by Notre Dame in a similar color scheme.
The addition of green was most prominent in the road uniforms, which featured green piping, belt and stockings on a greenish-gray uniform.
In addition, the 1994 re-design included the first alternate jersey in the club's history: a solid navy jersey with the nickname across the chest above the club's primary logo.
1996 saw a minor alteration to the uniform letters and caps. Green was de-emphasized on the road uniform, replaced by blue trim, belt and stockings. On the cap, a single "M" (white on the home caps, gold on the road caps) replaced the "MB". The uniform trim was thickened and made more pronounced, and the lettering across the chest was made uniform in size.
For the 1997 and 1998 season, insignia commemorating the sesquicentennial of Wisconsin's statehood appeared on the sleeve.
The city name was taken off the chest of the road uniforms, replaced by the same script "Brewers" as found on the home uniforms. The city name "Milwaukee" appears on a patch on the left sleeve.
Starting in 2008, the Brewers modified their logo on the left sleeve on their uniforms, showing a gold outline of the state of Wisconsin and the cap logo on top of it.
For the 2006 season, as part of a "Retro Sundays" promotion, the Brewers unveiled a new alternate uniform for Sunday home games, with the return of the "ball and glove" logo, pinstripes, block letters and classic colors (however, the current jerseys are button-front, not pullover as they were in 1982). In 2007 "Retro Sundays" became "Retro Fridays" and a sleeve patch was added to the alternate uniforms honoring the Silver Anniversary of the 1982 pennant-winning season. It has been speculated on some fansites that the Retro Sundays and Retro Fridays promotions are the Brewers management's way of "testing the market" in anticipation to a full time switch back to the classic uniforms.
One game of the 2006 season, July 29, was dubbed "Hispanic Appreciation Night". For this game the Brewers' uniforms replaced the "Brewers" script with a script bearing the word "Cerveceros" Spanish for makers of beer. Since 2006, the Brewers have also participated in games honoring the Negro Leagues, wearing throwback uniforms styled after the one-year Milwaukee Bears. Also, the Brewers, in a series against the Atlanta Braves, will wear the uniforms and caps of the Milwaukee Braves.
Most of the team's television broadcasts are aired on FSN Wisconsin. Brian Anderson, who has worked on The Golf Channel, took over as the Brewers' play-by-play announcer for the 2007 season. He replaced Daron Sutton, who joined the Arizona Diamondbacks in place of Thom Brennaman, now of the Cincinnati Reds. The color commentator is Bill Schroeder, a former major league catcher who played six of his eight seasons for the Brewers. After the 2008 season, Schroeder will have completed his fourteenth season as the Brewers' color commentator.
In February 2007, the Brewers, FSN Wisconsin, and Weigel Broadcasting came to an agreement to air 15 games and one spring training game over-the-air on WMLW (Channel 41) in Milwaukee in the 2007 season, with FSN Wisconsin producing the telecasts and Weigel selling air time for each of those games , with the same agreement in place in 2008. Several additional games were added through the 2007 season because of rain postponements and other factors. Weigel also airs a few broadcasts per year with Spanish language play-by-play on its Telemundo affiliate, WYTU (Channel 63). Before this, the last over-the-air non-Fox broadcast of a Brewers game was on WCGV in the 2004 season. Games also aired on WVTV, WISN and WTMJ in past years; WTMJ was the original TV broadcaster in 1970.
Coach: 2006, 2008
Major League Baseball
Three other Hall of Famers were Brewers at some point in their careers:
|American League Champions|
| Preceded by:|
New York Yankees (1981)
|1982|| Succeeded by :|
Baltimore Orioles (1983)
|American League Eastern Division Champions|
| Preceded by:|
New York Yankees (1981)
|1982|| Succeeded by :|
Baltimore Orioles (1983)
|National League Wild Card Winners|
| Preceded by:|
Colorado Rockies (2007)
|2008|| Succeeded by:|