by Kevin Kimmes
Yes, today’s title (well part of it) is taken from the musical “Damn Yankees”.
Already I can hear some of you saying, “A musical? That’s girl stuff!”, but in this case, oh how wrong you would be. See “Damn Yankees” is the story of a devoted Washington Senators fan named Joe Boyd who sells his soul to the devil so that the Senators can acquire a “long ball hitter” and finally beat the “damn Yankees”. It’s a story about unflinching devotion to your team even when you know that the outcomes will probably just break your heart.
Now replace Senators with Brewers, and Yankee’s with Cardinals, and you have a story that most Milwaukee fans can identify with because we, much like Joe, have seen our fair share of suffering over the years. It’s part of what being a small market fan means to me.
It means having the odds stacked against you:
From 1998 to 2012, Milwaukee played in the NL Central, the only division in all of baseball that was composed of 6 teams. So what, you say? Well, due to the fact that the division contained 1 more team than most (2 more than the AL West), Milwaukee’s chances of winning the division in any given year were a meager 16.67%. That’s 3.33% lower than most MLB teams.
It means being thankful for what you have:
When the Braves pulled up stakes and headed south to Atlanta, Milwaukee was left with a gaping hole where baseball had once resided. To their credit, the White Sox did try and remedy this to some extent by playing some games each year at County Stadium, but it just wasn’t the same as having a team to call our own. For this reason alone, I will always respect Bud Selig, not for being commission, but for returning baseball to a city that truly loves the game.
If you need further proof of this point, consider that Milwaukee ranked 11th in overall attendance last year despite being the team with the smallest market.
It means taking the highs with the lows:
My experiences at Miller Park have included being on hand the night that Milwaukee clinched the NL Central title for the first time and the day that they were officially eliminated from the 2012 playoff hunt. You learn to love the highs and accept the lows. It’s all part of loving the game.
It means staying true to your team, even when all hope is lost:
I ended the 2012 season by catching 3 out of the last 4 Brewers home games at Miller Park. Milwaukee was mathematically eliminated from the Wild Card hunt after losing the 1st of the 4 games, but I went to the remaining games anyway. Why? Because, you never know what you might see. In fact, for my troubles I got to see Martin Maldonado hit his first career grand slam, and Kameron Loe and Manny Parra pitch for the last time as Brewers.
Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com and an applicant for the 2013 MLB Fan Cave. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes.
Last Thursday I received a few tweets from Chris Olds, editor of Beckett Baseball, as I was headed out to lunch. Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows that this is not the most uncommon thing as Chris and I exchange messages on nearly a daily basis usually riffing on sports, film and our sports card/memorabilia collections. What the messages contained however, was something completely unexpected.
I had sent a message to Chris a few days earlier with a link to my Fan Cave application (you can watch it here if you haven’t see it) mentioning that we had included my copy of the latest issue of Beckett Baseball in the video. He re-tweeted the link and I figured that was the end of it. Well, that was until Thursday came around.
The messages from Chris stated that he wanted to write an article around my video to help promote Beckett’s upcoming Super Collector issue and to promote the Fan Cave program. He had one question that he needed answered: “What do you think you will bring to the Cave if picked?”
On the surface, it’s a loaded question. I planned on writing a long eloquent response via email, but instead quickly tweeted back my answer: “I think that I’ll bring creativity and a love of the game that isn’t always found in the larger markets.”
The article went live on my way to lunch and can be viewed here: http://www.beckett.com/news/2013/01/will-beckett-baseball-make-it-to-the-mlb-fan-cave-oh-and-show-us-your-fan-caves/
To clarify my answer, I’m going to pull back the curtain a bit and share with you some of my accomplishments from before I became a baseball blogger, things that I’m really proud of and that many people don’t realize that I’ve done.
1) I’ve played bass and guitar since I was 19: As a member of both The Right Ons and Holly and the Non-Italians (now known as Holly and the Nice Lions) I played bass/guitar in the Green Bay area on a regular basis for about 5 years. Here are a few clips of “Baseball” by The Right Ons and “Down to the River” and “Chapter 1” by Holly and the Nice Lions.
2) I have my own IMDB listing: Yes, believe it or not, I am actually listed in the Internet Movie Data Base for a few special effects projects that I assisted with. Additionally, I am an active member of Table 8 Productions (we did the “Avengers on a Budget” video that went viral last summer) and I co-produced the award winning “An Outbreak at Meadowbrook Park” (not safe for work: language).
3) I’m a former pro-wrestling manager: I’ll let the video speak for itself on this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ft1TaiILIbg
So you see, being in front or behind a camera is nothing new for me. Now to add the ultimate feather to my (baseball) cap and become the latest Cave Dweller.
Thanks again to Chris Olds and Beckett for their support. I’ll be back tomorrow to discuss what it means to me to be a small market baseball fan.
Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com and an applicant for the 2013 MLB Fan Cave. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes.
by Kevin Kimmes
Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t posted any new content to the site in the last several day. While this wasn’t my intention, sometimes things get in the way, important things. Over the last several days, my creative output has been channeled into a different pursuit: filming and editing my MLB Fan Cave application.
Well, I am proud to say that it is now completed and you should be seeing me return to my regular output in the next several days. In the meantime, I’ve decided to treat you all to the fruits of my labor. Enjoy
Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com and an applicant for the 2013 MLB Fan Cave. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes.
by Kevin Kimmes
Closers are a strange breed, and frankly, I can’t say I blame them. It takes a certain kind of personality to be able to enter a game at it’s most pivitol moment, knowing that the outcome is squarely on your shoulders. You have only one goal, to shut the door on the opposition, and in most cases there is no margin for error. It’s a tight-rope act being played out in front of a captive audience.
As Brewers fans, we can count ourselves lucky as we have had the opportunity to see some of the best at the position come through our club. From Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers in the 80′s to one-time career saves leader Trevor Hoffman in the late ’00s, and most recently Brewers’ Rookie Saves Leader John Axford, Brewers fans have been treated to some truly memorable innings. Today though, it is Axford that I would like to talk about.
You see, a few days ago, I was made aware of an article regarding a baseball card from 1865 which was recently discovered in Maine. Unless you are a collector like myself, this article would most likely be classified in the “That’s neat, I wonder what’s for lunch? ” category of news, as quickly forgotten as it was read. But for someone with an acute eye for detail, the card contains something interesting.
Here is a picture of the card itself:
I can hear most people saying, “Yeah, so what?” Well, take a look at the man seated on the far left.
Look Familiar? Possibly like a certain current Brewers closer? Possibly like John Axford?
Is it possible that Milwaukee’s current closer is also a time traveler? Has Axford, an admitted film buff, discovered the secret to time travel that Dr. Emmett Brown used to get Back to the Future? Did Axford go back to the game’s source in order to hone his skills as a pitcher, and if so, can he finally answer once and for all who actually created the game, Alexander Cartwright or Abner Doubleday? My curiosity was piqued.
I asked myself, “What do we really know about John Axford?” As a fair and reasonable journalist, I put together a list of facts:
1) Axford is Canadian: According to episodes I’ve seen of “How I Met Your Mother”, Canadians are a polite and jovial people who will apologize to you and give you a doughnut if you bump into them. They may also be afraid of the dark, though this has yet to be scientifically proven.
2) Axford was born on April 1, 1983: April 1st is also known as April Fools Day. Is it possible that the above photo is part of some elaborate joke carried out by a major league reliever with the ability to move through time on a whim, and if so are there other historical “photo bombs” out there which have yet to be discovered?
3) Axford has been known to sport a handlebar mustache: The handlebar mustache was a popular facial accessory in the late 1800′s. The photo was from 1865. I was surely on to something.
4) Axford worked as a bartender in the offseason: A bartender is a mixologist, a barroom alchemist if you will. Is it possible that this is where the secret to time travel was discovered? Could the secret lie in some accidental combination of seemingly benign ingredients such as seltzer, aromatic bitters, and linseed oil? I felt like I was on the verge of something big here, so without hesitation, I mixed up the above ingredients, slammed them back, and headed straight to the bathroom where I spent the remainder of my afternoon making nice with the major porcelain deities. Once the room stopped spinning and I could focus my vision again, I pressed on.
5) Closers normally pitch 1 inning per game: What do they do the rest of the time? While waiting for his call to action, could Axford have discovered a wormhole of some sort which allows him to travel through time unencumbered? Could there be a tear in the time/space continuum inside Miller Park, and if so, why hasn’t it been exploited to win a championship yet? No, seriously, I want to know. I turn 34 on Sunday and would really like to see Milwaukee win a championship in my lifetime. I don’t think this is a lot to ask for.
Cream City Cables made no attempts to reach John Axford for comment, since we assume that time travel is the kind of thing that one keeps close to the vest and doesn’t admit to just anyone.
Kevin Kimmes is a regular contributor to creamcitycables.com, a huge fan of John Axford and an applicant for the 2013 MLB Fan Cave. You can follow him on Twitter at @kevinkimmes.
Welcome back loyal readers to another volume of The Numbers Game, the series in which I look at past Pilots/Brewers players based on their jersey numbers and hopefully impart a little baseball knowledge or trivia in the process. Today, we look at one of the most transient numbers thus far, the number 7. With the exception of 3 players (Don Money, Dale Sveum and J.J. Hardy), no Brewer has worn the number for more than 2 seasons, and in the case of Danny Perez, he took his “cup of coffee” and promptly spilled it in his lap. So, let’s get started shall we?
No player was assigned the number 7 in the Pilots organization in 1969.
Russ Snyder – 1970: Snyder played the final year of his 12 year major league career with the fledgeling Brewers in 1970 as an outfielder. He batted .232/.270/.315 across 124 games with 64 hits and 16 walks.
Danny Walton – 1971: Walton, who had worn number 12 for the Pilots in 1969 and the Brewers in 1970, would change his number to 7 for the 1971 campaign. With his season just underway for Milwaukee, Walton would be traded to the Yankees on June 7th, 1971 for Bobby Mitchell and…
Frank Tepedino – 1971: Received in the trade for Walton from the Yankees, Tepedino would take Waltons former number for the 1971 season. He would play in 53 games for the Brewers recording a sub-Mendoza batting average of .198 with 21 hits and 4 walks in 106 at bats. On March 31, 1972 his services were purchased back from Milwaukee by the Yankees.
Ron Clark – 1972: Ron Clark is one of the shorter tenured player to put on a Brewers uniform. Acquired on June 20th, 1972 from Oakland for Bill Voss, he would bat a paltry .185 across 22 appearances before being traded on July 28th, 1972 to the Angels for Joe Azcue and…
Syd O’Brien – 1972: O’Brien’s 4 year major league career made it’s final stop in Milwaukee where he would bat .207/.230/.293 recording 12 hits and 2 walks across 31 appearances.
Don Money – 1973-83: The transient nature of the number 7 would finally halt as it would stay on the back of Don Money for 11 seasons. A 4 time All-Star selection (1974, 1976-78), Money arrived in Milwaukee due to the Phillies needing to make room for future Hall of Famer, Mike Schmidt.
In his first All-Star campaign in 1974, Money would set career marks in hits (178), doubles (32), and at bats (629). His third All-Star campaign highlighted his ability to hit for power as he set career marks in homeruns (25), RBI (83), slugging (.470), and total bases (268). Finally, his fourth All-Star campaign was about consistency as he set career marks in batting average (.293), OBP (.361), and sacrifice hits (14).
After retiring from active play, Money went on to manage for the Brewers in the minor leagues, first for the Single-A Beloit Snappers from 1998-2004, then for Double-A Huntsville from 2005-08, and finally with Triple-A Nashville from 2009-11. After the 2011 season, Money became Milwaukee’s special instructor of player development.
No player was assigned the number 7 in the Brewers organization in 1984.
Paul Householder – 1985-86: In 2 seasons with Milwaukee, Householder batted .249/.313/.398 with 94 hits and 34 walks in 121 games.
Dale Sveum – 1987-91: Best known to younger Brewers fans as the current coach of the Cubs, and for being accidentally shot in the ear last year by Robin Yount, Sveum wore number 27 in 1986 before switching to number 7 for his five remaining seasons in Milwaukee. He would bat .243/.299/.382 with 413 hits and 137 walks for the Brewers in his 5 seasons on the team.
It should also be noted that he took over as interim skipper after Ned Yost was fired by the Brewers en-route to their 2008 NLDS appearance against the Phillies. As a manager he has a post season record of 1-3, a record which may not change anytime soon as the manager of the Cubs.
No player was assigned the number 7 in the Brewers organization from 1992 to 1995.
Danny Perez – 1996: Perez appeared in 4 games in 1996. In 4 plate appearances he did nothing. Absolutely nothing. Not even a strikeout. Just a statline with a lot of zeroes. Moving on.
Brian Banks – 1996-97: The last player to wear number 7 in the AL for Milwaukee (he would wear 25 in 1998 and 23 in 1999), Banks played in 161 games for the Brewers over the course of his 4 seasons. He would bat .248 with 78 hits and 36 walks before being granted free agency on March 28th 2000.
Dave Nilsson – 1998: One of 4 different number that Nilsson would wear in his 8 years with Milwaukee (he would also wear 11, 13 and 14), Nilsson would don the number 7 en route to batting .269/.339/.437 with 83 hits and 33 walks in 1998.
Sean Berry – 1999-2000: Signed by Milwaukee prior to the 1999 season, Berry would play in 106 games and bat .228/.281/.301 with 59 hits and 17 walks. He would struggle mightily in 2000, batting only .152, leading to his release on June 21st, 2000.
Tony Fernandez – 2001: If Fernandez’s Brewers’ tenure was a headstone, it would read: “Signed 02-08-2001, Released 05-29-2001″. Tony, we hardly knew ya!
Alex Sanchez – 2001: Claimed off of waivers by Milwaukee in 2001, Sanchez played in his first game on June 15th, 2001. Despite a disappointing year offensively in 2001 (he batted .206), Sanchez found himself in the role of starting center fielder, wearing number 22 for the Brewers, in 2002 and 2003. His erratic defensive play and bad attitude would get him traded to Detroit during the 2003 season.
On April 3rd, 2005 Sanchez would acquire the dubious distinction of being the first person suspended under the MLB’s newly adopted drug policy.
Eric Young – 2002-03: In 247 games as a Brewer, Young batted .271/.340/.392 with 244 hits and 87 walks. His 15 homeruns in 2003 were a career best which nearly doubled his previous high of 8.
No player was assigned the number 7 in the Brewers organization in 2004.
J.J. Hardy – 2005-09: A 2007 National League All-Star, Hardy’s career with Milwaukee was marred by injury. In 2004, while still in the minors, Hardy suffered a dislocated shoulder and a torn labrum which cost him his season. Then on May 16th, 2006, Hardy would severely sprain his ankle sliding into Phillies’ catcher Sal Fasano at home, resulting in his placement on the 15 day DL. Upon returning to play, Hardy realized that the tendon kept popping in and out of place resulting in the team shutting him down for the season on July 18th, 2006.
In 2007, Hardy would begin to develop some power in his bat hitting 26 homers in 2007 and 24 in 2008. After signing a 1 year extension prior to the 2009 season, Hardy would suffer a power outage that would see him be sent down to the minors on August 12th, 2009. He would be recalled on September 1st and would finish his 2009 campaign batting .229 with 11 homers.
Chris Dickerson – 2010: Acquired on August 9th, 2010 in a trade with the Reds for Jim Edmonds, Dickerson would bat an unimpressive .208 with 5 RBIs in 25 games. To nobody’s surprise, Dickerson was traded to the Yankees prior to the 2011 season for pitcher Sergio Mitre.
Felipe Lopez – 2011: Lopez’s second stint with Milwaukee, he wore number 3 in 2009, was to be short lived. Acquired on July 28, 2011, for cash considerations from the Tampa Bay Rays, he would be designated for assignment on August 21st, 2011 after hitting .182 in 51 plate appearances for Milwaukee.
Jeremy Reed – 2011: Reed appeared in 7 games for Milwaukee in 2011 recording no hits in 7 at bats while striking out twice.
Norichika Aoki – 2012: In his first of hopefully many MLB seasons, Aoki proved why he was a batting champion in his native Japan. Being able to seemingly deliver clutch hits at will, Aoki batted .288/.355/.433 with 10 home runs, 50 RBIs, 81 runs scored and 30 stolen bases. Not too shabby for a 30 year old rookie!
So there you have it, all of the players who had the fortune (or misfortune) to wear the number 7 for Milwaukee. Come on back tomorrow for part 8.
If you have been reading the site lately, you are well aware that I have started a daily column, The Numbers Game, which looks at past and current players in the Brewers organization based on their jersey numbers, including the 1969 Seattle Pilots, the team that would become the Brewers. That column will return tomorrow. Today I wanted to share something interesting that I discovered while doing my research over the past week: There are no Milwaukee Brewers cards that appear in the 1970 Topps baseball card set, however there are Seattle Pilots cards, cardboard representations of a team that never was.
So how did this happen? It’s a simple timing issue really. Every year Topps releases Series 1 of their baseball product prior to the start of the regular season. It’s an appetizer, if you will, to the upcoming baseball season. Due to the lead time required to get all images approved and printed, any last minute transactions, or in this case changes in name and venue, would not be able to be accounted for, thus cards for a team that never played a single inning. According to Chris Olds, editor of Beckett Baseball, this is one of two incidents like this, the other being in 1974 when some San Diego Padres cards were printed with “Washington Nat’l Lea.” on them.
To give you an idea of how small of a window the change in ownership created, the Pilots were officially declared bankrupt on April 1, 1970. The Brewers would play their first official home game at Milwaukee’s County Stadium on April 7th, 1970, a mere six days later.
Below is a checklist/breakdown of every player that appears in the set in a Pilots uniform and where they actually played in 1970:
# 2 Diego Sequi – Played for Oakland
# 31 Marty Pattin – Played for Milwaukee
# 53 John Kennedy – Played for Milwaukee to begin the year before being sold to Boston on June 26th, 1970.
# 88 Pilots Rookies (Miguel Fuentes & Dick Baney) – Probably the most tragic card of the set, Fuentes not only threw the final pitch for the Pilots in 1969, but was murdered during the off-season in his native Puerto Rico by a bar patron who thought Fuentes was relieving himself on his car. Baney, who also appears on the card, did not play in the majors in 1970.
#111 Mike Hegan – Played for Milwaukee
#134 Danny Walton RC – Played for Milwaukee
#158 Jerry McNertney – Played for Milwaukee
#185 Don Mincher – Played for Oakland
#224 Steve Barber – Played for both Chicago (NL) and Atlanta
#249 Bob Locker – Played for Milwaukee to begin the year before being sold to Oakland on June 15th, 1970.
#271 Greg Goossen – Played for Milwaukee to begin the year before being sold to Washington on July 14th, 1970.
#289 Gene Brabender – Played for Milwaukee
#323 Wayne Comer – Played for Milwaukee to begin the year before being traded to Washington on May 11th, 1970 for Hank Allen and Ron Theobald.
#359 Phil Roof – Played for Milwaukee
#370 Tommy Harper – Played for Milwaukee. Harper is the only player to be named to the 1970 American League All-Star squad from Milwaukee.
#393 John Gelnar – Played for Milwaukee
#418 John Donaldson – Played for Oakland
#441 John O’Donoghue – Played for Milwaukee to begin the year before being traded to Montreal on June 15th, 1970 for Jose Hererra.
#473 Don Bryant – Played for Houston
#499 Skip Lockwood – Played for Milwaukee
#514 Steve Hovley RC – Played for Milwaukee to begin the year before being traded to Oakland for Al Downing and Tito Francona on June 11th, 1970.
#533 Buzz Stephen RC – Did not play in the majors in 1970. MLB experience consists of 2 games with the Twins in 1968 in which he went 1-1 with a 4.76 ERA.
#556 Dave Bristol (MGR) – Managed for Milwaukee
#574 Bobby Bolin – Played for Milwaukee to begin the year before being traded to Boston for Al Yates on September 10th, 1970.
#596 Mike Hershberger – Played for Milwaukee
#613 Dave Baldwin – Played for Milwaukee
#652 Rich Rollins – Played for Milwaukee to begin the year before being released on May 13th, 1970 and signed by Cleveland the same day.
#667 Bob Meyer – Played for Milwaukee
#688 Ted Kubiak – Played for Milwaukee
#713 Pilots Team Card
If you would like to see what the cards look like, high quality scans of both the fronts and backs are available here. I’ll be back tomorrow with Part 7 of The Numbers Game.
Welcome back to The Numbers Game, where each day I look at former Brewers and Pilots who have worn that day’s jersey number. Today’s number was worn by Sal Bando, Billy Spiers and Jeff Cirillo during his second tour of duty. I must be talking about the number 6. Enjoy!
No player was assigned the number 6 in the Pilots organization in 1969.
Mike Hershberger – 1970: Hershberger was .235/.306/.316 in 49 games with the Brewers in their inaugural season, recording 23 hits and 10 walks. Hershberger has the dubious distinction of having lead the American League in sacrifice flies in 1966 with 7.
Ellie Rodriguez – 1971-73: Traded to the Brewers for Carl Taylor prior to the 1971 season, Rodriguez would serve as Milwaukee’s starting catcher. Despite playing in115 games in the ’71 campaign, he would record his second lowest batting average of his career (.210). Undaunted, Rodriguez would have a banner year in ’72 in which he would bat .285 (a career best) and be selected to his second All-Star team.
After splitting time behind the plate with Darrell Porter in ’73, Rodriguez was traded to the California Angels on October 22, 1973 as part of an 9 person trade.
Mike Hegan – 1974-76: You can find information on Hegan in the 4th installment of The Numbers Game.
Sal Bando – 1977-81: A 4 time All-Star selection (’69, ’72-’74) and 3 time World Series champion (’72-’74) while with the Athletics, Bando is best known to Brewers fans not for what he did on the field, but for what he did after he retired. Bando became the Brewers General Manager on October 8th, 1991 leading the team to only 1 winning season (1992) in his 7+ seasons with the team. Many attribute that winning season, in which Milwaukee went 92-70 to the fact that most of the players on the squad were hold overs from previous general manager, Harry Dalton.
A mixture of low payroll, poor drafting and bad free-agent decisions would create a witches brew of disappointment for the franchise as they struggled to compete. To further exacerbate the situation, Paul Molitor was allowed to become a free agent due to a lack of urgency in offering him salary arbitration. Molitor would sign with the Blue Jays and go on to be the 1993 World Series MVP.
Bando’s tenure as GM would come to an end on August 12, 1999 when he was reassigned within the Brewers organization.
No player was assigned the number 6 in the Brewers organization from 1982 through 1988.
Bill Spiers – 1989-91: Spiers would wear number 6 for his first 3 seasons with Milwaukee, then change to number 9 for the next 3 seasons. As mentioned in the 1st installment of The Numbers Game, Spiers was the object of Gary Sheffield’s rage regarding being moved from shortstop to 3rd, claiming that Spiers was given the position because he was white and Sheffield was black.
A strange incident would befall Spiers while playing for the Astros in 1999. During the bottom of the 6th inning on September 24th, 1999, Spiers was attacked on the field by a 23 year old man at Milwaukee’s County Stadium. Spiers lost a contact, received a welt under his left eye, a bloody nose and whiplash from the ordeal. For more details on the incident, click here.
Andy Allanson – 1992: Appearing in only 9 games with Milwaukee in 1992, Allanson would bat a career best .320/.346/.360 with 8 hits and 1 walk. He would also be the last Brewer to wear the number 6 in the American League.
No player was assigned the number 6 in the Brewers organization from 1993 through 2001.
Jorge Fabregas – 2002: The first player to wear the number 6 for Milwaukee in the National League, Fabregas was acquired from the Angels along with Pedro Liriano in exchange for Sal Fasano and Alex Ochoa on July 31st, 2002. In 30 games, Fabregas would post a disappointing .164/.178/.343 with 11 hits and 2 walks in 67 at-bats.
Keith Ginter – 2003-04: After wearing number 1 in 21 appearances in 2002, Ginter would switch to number 6 for his next two seasons in Milwaukee. Acquired from the Astros along with Wayne Franklin for Mark Loretta and cash considerations, Ginter would bat .257/.344/.448 in his 3 seasons with Milwaukee with 211 hits and 89 walks. He would be named National League Player of the Week during the final week of the 2004 regular season in which he batted .407 with three homeruns and a league leading 11 RBIs. He also led the league with 25 total bases and .926 on-base percentage.
Jeff Cirillo – 2005-06: In his second appearance as a Brewer (he donned number 26 from 1994-99), Cirillo found his stroke again hitting for .281 in 2005 and .319 in 2006 after a 3 year power outage that saw his seasonal batting average dip to as low as .205 in 2003.
No player was assigned the number 6 in the Brewers organization from 2007 through 2012.
So, there you have it, the good, the bad and the ugly of the number 6. Come back tomorrow for a look at Don Money, J.J. Hardy and everyone else who has worn the number 7.
Welcome back to another installment of The Numbers Game. Today we’ll be looking at every player who has ever worn the number 5 for the Pilots and Brewers, including the ever colorful George Scott and former slugger Geoff Jenkins. So, let’s get down to business.
Don Mincher – 1969: As mentioned in yesterday’s article, the Pilots had two All-Star selections in 1969: the previously mentioned Mike Hegan and Mincher. The interesting thing here is that Mincher is the only Pilot to have actually played in an All-Star game as Hegan, selected as a reserve, did not see play.
Mincher is also one of five Twins players (including Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva, Rich Rollins, and Zoilo Versalles) to have hit a homerun in the 7th inning of the June 9, 1966 contest against the Kansas City Athletics. The five home runs in a single inning still stand as a Major League record for the most home runs batted in a single inning. The hits were given up by Catfish Hunter and Paul Lindblad.
Phil Roof – 1970-71: A great defensive catcher who was not really known for his bat, Roof recorded a career best 13 home runs for the fledgeling Milwaukee club in 1970. Early in 1971, Roof would suffer a concussion on a ball pitched by Twins pitcher Bert Blyleven. Three months later, he would find himself traded to the Twins where he would catch for Blyleven in just his second appearance for Minnesota.
Paul Ratliff – 1971: The third former/future Twin on today’s list, is Paul Ratliff. A sub-Mendoza Line batter (.171 in ’71 and .071 in ’72), Ratliff was acquired from the Twins for the previously mention Roof in 1971, acquiring his previously worn number 5 (he would switch to 17 in ’72). He was traded to the California Angels on July 28, 1972 and never again appeared in a major league game.
George “Boomer” Scott – 1972-76: The first player on today’s list who didn’t play for the Twins is the one-of-a-kind Scott. George was a 3 time American League All-Star (’66, ’75, ’77) and an 8 time Gold Glove award winner (’67-’68 and ’71-’76). Offensively, Scott hit over 20 homeruns (which he refered to as “taters”) six times in his career, and tied Reggie Jackson for the most in the AL in 1975 with 36, a career-high.
Known for his sense of humor, Scott wore a distinctive necklace which he told a reporter was made of the 2nd baseman’s teeth, and nicknamed his 1st baseman’s glove “Black Beauty”. Scott is also well known for wearing a batting helmet while in the field, something he started doing while with Boston in the 60′s after opposing fans pelted him with objects while playing on the road.
Jamie Quirk – 1977: Quirk played one season with Milwaukee in which he went .217/.251/.330 with 48 hits and 8 walks in 93 games.
Tony Muser – 1978: In his final year in the majors, Muser only appeared in 16 games for Milwaukee where he recorded an underwhelming .133/.212/.233 with 4 hits and three walks in 30 at bats.
No player was assigned the number 5 in the Brewers organization in 1979.
Ned Yost – 1980-83: Used primarily as a backup catcher, Yost spent the first 4 years of his playing career in Milwaukee. He had his best hitting season as a member of “Harvey’s Wallbangers” in 1982 recording a stat line of .276/.324/.429 with 27 hits and 7 walks over the span of 40 games.
Yost would return to Milwaukee as manager in 2003 where he would take the team from perennial losers to championship contenders. He would be fired from the team on September 15, 2008 after the team went into a two week long tailspin en-route to a wildcard playoff appearance.
Doug Loman – 1984-85: In Loman’s only 2 seasons in the majors, he had a career stat line of .246/.325/.366 with 35 hits and 16 walks in 47 games.
No player was assigned the number 5 in the Brewers organization in 1986.
B.J. Surhoff – 1987-95: Drafted 1st overall by the Brewers in the 1985 amateur draft, Surhoff would make a career for himself based on both consistency and versatility. He batted over .280 in 12 of his 19 major league seasons and appeared at every defensive position, other than pitcher, throughout this time. Despite these accomplishments, Surhoff would only be selected to the All-Star game one time (1999). He finished his career with 2,326 hits and 1,153 RBIs.
No player was assigned the number 5 in the Brewers organization in 1996.
Kelly Stinnett – 1997: The final player to wear number 5 for Milwaukee in the AL is Kelly Stinnett. In 44 games for Milwaukee between ’96 (wearing number 11) and ’97, Stinnett was .177/.250/.244 with 11 hits and 5 walks.
Geoff Jenkins – 1998-2007: Playing all but his final season with Milwaukee, Jenkins ranks 3rd on the Brewers all-time home run list behind Hall of Famer Robin Yount and Prince Fielder. To add to this accolade, Geoff hit over .300 in both his 2nd and 3rd seasons in the majors (.313 in ’99 and .303 in ’00), was named team MVP in 2000 and was selected to the National League All-Star team via the All-Star Final Vote contest in 2003.
After declining Jenkins option for 2008 on October 30, 2007, Geoff would go on to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies on December 20, 2007. As a member of the 2008 Phillies, his team would defeat the Brewers in the NLDS en-route to winning the World Series. Jenkins would be released by the Phillies at the end of Spring Training in 2009.
Jenkins would retire from baseball as a Milwaukee Brewer on on July 9th, 2010.
Ray Durham – 2008: Acquired in a trade with the Giants for prospects Steve Hammond and Darren Ford in July of 2008, Durham would finish his major league career as a Brewer. He would bat .280/.369/.477 in 41 games with 30 hits and 15 walks.
No player was assigned the number 5 in the Brewers organization in 2009 and 2010.
Taylor Green – 2011-12: Debuting on August 31st, 2011 as a pinch hitter, Green singled in his first at bat. He would average .270 in 37 at bats for Milwaukee that year. Due to the acquisition of Aramis Ramirez in 2012, Green’s current role is that of utility infielder and pinch hitter.
I’ll be back tomorrow to look at those players who wore number 6.
In the history of the Brewers franchise, only five numbers have ever been retired. They are:
4 – Paul Molitor
19 – Robin Yount
34 – Rollie Fingers
42 – Jackie Robinson
44 – Hank Aaron
Now I know someone is looking at that list and saying, “Wait a minute, Jackie Robinson didn’t play in Milwaukee!” Well, right you are my astute friend, he didn’t, but in 1997 the MLB universally retired Robinson’s number across all teams meaning that the only time you will see anyone wearing number 42 each year is on Jackie Robinson Day which lands on April 15th to commemorate the day Robinson broke the color barrier and debuted with the Dodgers.
Today, however, we are looking at one of the other numbers, 4, the one made famous by the man known as “The Ignitor”, Paul Molitor. Molitor wore jersey number 4 during his entire tenure in Milwaukee which stretched over 15 seasons and included time on three very famous Brewers squads: “Bambi’s Bombers”, “Harvey’s Wallbangers”, and “Team Streak”. As a member of “Team Streak”, Molitor recorded a 39 consecutive game hitting streak which ranks as the fifth-longest in modern-day baseball history, and the longest consecutive game streak since Pete Rose went on a 44 game tear in 1978.
For more info on Molitor, including his hall of fame induction speech, check out his National Baseball Hall of Fame page.
So, who else wore the number 4? Well, let’s take a look.
No player was assigned the number 4 in the Pilots organization in 1969.
No player was assigned the number 4 in the Brewers organization from 1970 through 1972.
Tim Johnson – 1973-76: I mentioned Tim Johnson in the first part of this series on Tuesday. Johnson was the everyday starting shortstop in 1973 before losing the job to “The Kid”, Robin Yount. Loss seems to be a recurring theme for Johnson as he would also lose his jersey number to Mike Hegan prior to the 1977 season. Speaking of…
Mike Hegan – 1977: In his final year in the majors, Hegan wore number 4 having previously worn number 8 (in ’69 as a Pilot and ’70-71 as a Brewer) and 6 (for Milwaukee from ’74-’76). Hegan is famous for hitting the first home run in Seattle Pilots history in his first at-bat of the ’69 season. He was also 1 of 2 Pilots to make the All-Star squad in ’69 (the other was Don Mincher). After retiring from play, Hegan would go on to be the Brewers television color commentator for 12 seasons.
Paul Molitor – 1978-92: See above.
No player was assigned the number 4 in the Brewers organization from 1993 through 1995.
Pat Listach – 1996: Having previously worn number 16 over the course of 4 seasons with Milwaukee, Listach switched to number 4 in 1996. Bad move.
The former AL Rookie of the Year would find himself traded to the Yankees along with Graeme Lloyd, while Milwaukee would receive Gerald Williams and Wisconsin native, Bob Wickman. The deal, which was primarily made so that the Yankees could acquire Lloyd, went south when Listach suffered what was initially thought to be a bruise, but turned out to actually be a broken bone in his foot. Adding insult to injury, literally, The Yankees returned Listach to the Brewers, and took Gabby Martinez in his place.
No player was assigned the number 4 in the Brewers organization from 1997 or 1998. The number was retired by the Brewers in 1999.
Come back tomorrow as we look at those players who wore the number 5.
In my third installment of The Numbers Game, I’ll be looking at those players who have worn the number 3 over the years for The Pilots/Brewers organization. Today’s entry is much shorter than previous installments, primarily due to the fact that no one wore the number 3 on their jersey for 17 consecutive seasons. As if that didn’t bode ominous enough, we also get a look at Yuniesky Betancourt. Scared yet? Let’s get started.
No player was assigned the number 3 in the Pilots organization in 1969.
No player was assigned the number 3 during the 1970 and ’71 seasons.
Joe Lahoud – 1972-73: Our first entrant on today’s list, Lahoud played 2 seasons with Milwaukee in the early 1970s. As Milwaukee’s primary right fielder in 1972, Lahoud was .237/.331/.399 in 111 games. His 1972 campaign ranks as the second best statistical season of his 11 year career.
Deron Johnson – 1974: One of the shortest tenured Brewers, Johnson opened 1974 as an Oakland A before being released on waivers to Milwaukee on June 24, 1974. He would change teams one more time during the season, eventually being sold to the Red Sox on September 7th.
Gorman Thomas – 1975-76: While best known for wearing number 20, “Stormin’ Gorman” did wear number 3 for two years with Milwaukee. It should be noted that Gorman wore a different number in his first two years with Milwaukee, 44. This number was given to some busher named Aaron who the Brewers acquired in 1975 at the twilight of his career. Huh, wonder what ever became of that guy?
Ed “Spanky” Kirkpatrick – 1977: One of the only former Brewers with a shorter tenure than the above mention Deron Johnson, Kirkpatrick played in 29 games for Milwaukee in 1977. Earlier in the season he had also been a Pirate and a Ranger. 1977 would be the final year of Kirkpatrick’s 16 year career, despite hitting .273/.364/.325 in his short tenure with Milwaukee.
No player was assigned the number 3 from 1978 to 1985
Juan Castillo – 1986-89: Castillo played the entirety of his major league career with just one team, The Milwaukee Brewers. Drafted as an amateur free agent in 1979, Castillo was .215 with 3 homeruns and 38 RBI in 4 major league seasons.
No player was assigned the number 3 in 1990 and 1991
Dante Bichette – 1991: An average producer in his two seasons with Milwaukee (he switched to number 8 in 1992), Bichette was traded to the Colorado Rockies for Kevin Reimer. Bichette is best known for hitting the first homerun in Colorado Rockies history off of New York Met Brett Saberhagen on April 7th, 1993. He also holds the distinction of being the last Brewer to wear number 3 in the American League.
No player was assigned the number 3 from 1992 through 2008.
17 seasons is a long time for a number not to be used, especially a single digit which are normally popular with players. Had the number 3 built up a stigma of suffering and woe? Did this time on the shelf cause a bitterness in the digit, like something out of a Stephen King novel? Well, if this wasn’t what actually happened, the number 3 sure was about to make a case for it.
Felipe Lopez – 2009: The first player to wear number 3 for the Brewers in the National League (where they had been since 1998) is Felipe Lopez. Lopez tied for the major league lead in errors by a second baseman in 2009, despite making a promising debut with Milwaukee in which he went 4 for 4.
Lopez would wear uniform number 7 when he made his second stint with the Brewers in 2011. It wouldn’t prove to be lucky for him either as he was designated for assignment on August 21st after hitting .182 in 51 plate appearances.
No player (mercifully) was assigned number 3 in 2010.
Yuniesky Betancourt – 2011: Next to feel the wrath of number 3 was Yuniesky Betancourt. Oh Yuni B, the things I want to say are probably just best summed up in a song. Maestro!
Cesar Izturis – 2012: It’s never a good sign when your starting shortstop goes down to a season ending injury. It’s an even worse sign when his injury is the 4th major injury of a relatively young campaign. Enter Cesar and his amazing .235 batting average. To no ones surprise, he was allowed to clear waivers on August 6, 2012 and became a Washington National.
Yorvit Torrealba – 2012: Yorvit appeared in 5 games for Milwaukee recording 5 plate appearances. The results? No hits, 1 walk, 2 strike outs and a batting average of .000.
So there you have it, the most hard luck number so far, the number 3. With any luck the 2013 squad will not see some unfortunate soul fall under it’s spell. I’ll be back tomorrow to look at our first retired number, 4.