The Milwaukee Brewers’ turbulent past few days have taken a portion of the back seat at 3rd St. Market Hall on a Thursday afternoon.
The 1982 American League Championship team, one of the franchise’s most accomplished – and still respected – teams have come together to share some memories of that team ahead of “Celebration Weekend,” which kicks off Friday at American Family Field.
Join Hall of Famers Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, Ted Simmons, Rollie Fingers, Major League Baseball Commissioner Emeritus Bud Selig, and Hall of Fame announcer Bob Uecker at a casual conversation space in downtown Milwaukee’s restaurant and watering hole.
Aside from the ponytail, the 67-year-old Yount is now athletic, everyone looked pretty much the same (except for some gray hair) and were in good spirits as they relived the glory days of the only Brewers ever to advance to the World Championships.
“We all admit, it’s humbling that 40 years have passed,” Molitor said. “I think we can all hope to have another team take our place and come back to the world championships and move on and bring the championship back home to Milwaukee and Wisconsin.”
Of course, the 1982 Brewers finished 95-67, beat the California Angels in the AL Championship Series, and then went on to drop in seven World Championship games against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The franchise has come close to returning twice since then — in 2011 and again in 2018 — losing both times in the National League Series.
And while those teams have featured some incredible talent with the likes of Ryan Brown, Prince Felder, Yovanni Gallardo and Christian Yelich, it can be argued that none of these players have had or will have that kind of connection with the city and the fans. The ’82 group remains to this day.
“This club has captured a city like I’ve never seen before,” Selig said. It was really cool, and it captivated the whole country. And I’ll tell you why – because of them (referring to Yount, Molitor, Simmons and Fingers).
“They were, by and large, the core of Milwaukee. This team used to play like it, work like it, live like it. You don’t see that anymore.”
There have been reunions in 1982 before, but this will be the first Simmons has attended since being selected to join the game’s greats in Cooperstown by the Modern Era Baseball Committee in December of 2019.
The toggle catcher was finally introduced last September.
“The Hall of Fame thing was something very special,” Simmons said. “You think about it all your life, and it eventually happens to you. You really can’t understand it. So, I’m still seen as a novice here. It took a long time.”
The Fingers, the first of the 1982 team to be inducted in 1992, won three World Series championships in 1972-74 as a member of the legendary Oakland A team but put the 1982 Brewers out there in that category.
“Team 82 was one of the best teams I’ve ever played in,” he said. “There were no gaps in that lineup. I’m glad I owned a Brewer’s costume; I’d hate to run into these guys. Being a pitcher, I knew if I made a mistake, these guys were going to score some kicks.”
“It was fun to play with this team.”
As usual, Auker gets his share of laughs with some cute ribbing for Selig as well as his memories of dressing alongside players and throwing batting drills at them – a practice he continued into the ’90s.
The biggest laughs came when Yount told a story about Selig – then team owner – constantly ribbing fingers about his ability to connect against him during batting practice.
“I wanted him to get into the cage so I could hit him over the head,” Fingers remembers.
“We arranged that,” Yunt said, picking up the story from there. “The whole team went out to watch this. He was in his jacket and white shirt – imagine that – pick up a hitting helmet, put it in the back, grab someone’s racket. It was embarrassing.
“He’s in the batter box, and I’ll give Rowley credit – he’s a Hall of Famer for a reason. He throws the pitch and Mr. Selig misses that ball by a mile. He throws another pitch, and he misses the second pitch by a mile. But Rowley sees that both the flips he took were the same the place.
“And I’d be damned if the next pitch he’s throwing isn’t there, and he hits the ball, and smashes the racket and (Selig) runs to first base, second base saying, Tell You can hit you!
(fingers) hit his racket. “
Selig added: “Nice facts. I think I hit the rebound to take a short distance in about 800 jumps.”
Do you see the team owner hitting the nearest team these days?
will not happen.
But this shot was just one of thousands of photos the team produced during a special period for players, coaches, front office staff and fans alike.
“In terms of this team, there really isn’t a day in my life that one of these guys from this team doesn’t end up being a part of my consciousness,” Simmons said. “Some days it’s Molly, some days it’s Vuk (Pete Vukovic), some days it’s Charlie Moore.
“But every single day since ’82, someone pops up in my consciousness. And I think that’s what makes it so cool, and what makes it so cool that we can all gather here and kind of bring it all back together.”
The celebration continues the Friday before the Brewers series opens against the Cincinnati Reds with Moore, Cecil Cooper, Mike Caldwell and Jim Slaton pouring drinks for fans from 5:40-6:15 p.m. at First Base and Third Base Barrel Bars.
After the signing session, the group will participate in a pre-match show on the warning track that begins around 6:45 p.m. with an Anderson-run party following. The first ceremonial pitches will be thrown by Yount, Molitor, Simmons and Fingers.
Then on Saturday, Prince Felder will be enshrined at the Brewers’ Walk of Fame, while Ryan Brown and Jonathan Lockroy will join the Brewers’ Wall of Honor, and Francesco Rodriguez is also expected to have a 2021 recruit on hand after not being able to attend last year.
This quartet will also roll out their first ceremonial pitches around 6 p.m.