08/15/2002 2:53 pm ET
Chat: '82 Brewers Money, Romero
Current minor league managers reminisce
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- Don Money and Ed Romero, two members of the 1982 Brewers team that won the American League Championship who now manage in the club's minor league system, took time out before their games Monday to chat.
Jump to Romero
Primarily a designated hitter in 1982, Money batted .284 with 16 HR and 55 RBIs for the AL champs and played for Milwaukee from 1973-83, appearing in four All-Star games as a Brewer. He currently manages the Brewer' lase two No. 1 draft picks, Prince Fielder and Mike Jones, for the Single-A Beloit Snappers.
Question: Don, Can you tell me when you realized that the '82 team
was World Series bound?
Don Money: Well, I think the '82 team started out 22-24. We were in Seattle and we just weren't playing good baseball. They made a change and named Harvey Kuenn manager and from then on we went on to win the division. We had the talent, we just weren't playing as a team. Harvey took over and let guys play their game. Harvey let us have fun, and we ended up making it to the playoffs.
Question: Who were the team leaders from '82? Which guys were quiet?
Don Money: The team leaders on the players side, it was Ted Simmons. He had been in a few playoffs and World Series before and brought this leadership ability over. Rollie Fingers, when he was picked up in the trade in '80, solidified the young pitchers.
Pete Vuckovich was one of those silent leaders. We didn't have a lot of rah-rah guys, we had people who would quietly go about their business, we would go get a beer afterward and go talk about it then. Cecil Cooper was a great hitter, but he wasn't too outspoken. Robin Yount was the same way, and so was I. We had guys who would make subtle hints and the guys would go out and play the game. We had the talent, so we just had to go out there and play and let the chips fall where they may.
Question: Did you guys really tailgate with fans after games?
Don Money: Well, it wasn't after the game. Most of the time it was before the game. I would stop when I was coming down the hill there, and it was when tailgating was really big. When we would have a one o'clock game people would be out there at nine in the morning with their grills, cooking their hamburgers and brats and maybe having some suds. Some players after the game would go out, and whether we had won or lost we would go shoot the breeze and maybe have a beer or two with them.
That was Milwaukee at the time. It was a blue-collar town. We had some players who looked like coal miners, and Milwaukee loved them. Gorman Thomas was one of them. It was not every day, but we did make an appearance.
It was a lot of fun for the fans. It was fun for the players too. Especially in '82, when we drew two million people. It was a love-love relationship in the late 70s, early 80s and we had a great team,
just lacking that one ingredient, which was a closer. And we went on to prove it. We got to a playoff in '81 and then made it to the series in '82.
Question: Don, what was your favorite moment from the '82 season?
Don Money: In the '82 season I was a DH. I think I was very happy we made the playoffs. We lost the first two games against the Angels out there and then came to Milwaukee and won the next three to get to the World Series.
The thing I remember is my son, Don. Jr., got to be a batboy in the first two games of the World Series. I joke to him that it took me 14 years to get there and he made it right away. He was always around baseball. Larry Hisle's son, too. That's something that a lot of kids see other kids on TV doing it. Usually the batboys are supplied for the other teams so I had to ask Robert Sullivan, our clubbie, if he could do it. It was a big thrill for him. He even got his face done up on that picture of the faces they did. Remember that? We've got that hung up in the house here. It was just a big thrill. I would have liked to win the World Series, but we never got quite that far.
Question: What was it like playing in Japan?
Don Money: I went over there in the '84 season and I only stayed three months. That was really a big shock. Things over there at that time weren't run like they were here. There were different philosophies on the field, getting to the ballpark. I'm sure it's changed by now. That's one of the reasons I left early; there were a lot of problems off the field that we were having. I just went cold turkey, and it's hard to go in there every day and say 'we need this' or 'we need that.'
So I decided to retire a few months into the season. It wasn't because I was doing bad, I was leading the lead in home runs and RBIs. But I decided to retire. It's a nice place to visit for a week though. But if you're not used to it it's a completely different place than it is here.
Question: After five years of managing in A-ball do you want to move up? Or are you happier coaching young guys?
Don Money: I would think everybody's aspirations are to get to the big leagues. But I've always been an organizational man, even as a player. When they signed Sal Bando I moved to second base so I could play. I like it here in the Midwest. It's not a bad travel league. Every year you start with 25 new faces and you try to mold those young men into guys who can help the organization in five years. ]
It's a lot of hard work, everybody knows that. You've got to get your early work done and go through some things you're not doing well. Would I like to see Double-A? Yeah, I would. And if the big leagues came up, sure I've love to get there. But if they think I can best help the organization here I'll stay here.
Question: Who is the better pro prospect: Mike Jones or Prince Fielder?
Don Money: Oh boy. That's a tough one. They're two different positions. If you put Prince Fielder on the mound I don't think he would be a good pitcher. And if you put Mike Jones at first base he couldn't hit.
I think barring injuries Jonsie is going to be in Milwaukee. He's only 19 years old and if he shows as much improvement in the next year as he has in the second half this year learning to pitch he'll be there. He has to learn consistency. And he has to continue his improvement. I would think he'll be in High Desert next year. I was talking to Wendy Selig-Prieb and told her, Beloit is 70 miles away from Milwaukee but it takes three or four years to get there.
And Prince Fielder, he's only been here for about 10 games. We sent Brad Nelson to High Desert, and I can't really make a judgment based on 10 games. He's done some things well, and other things not so well. The good thing is that he's only 18 years old. Last year he was facing high school pitchers and now he's in the Midwest League. He's struggling a little bit but adversity works wonders. You know what you have to do and you know you have to out the hard work in. If you continue to do that sooner or later you take it to the field and -- boom -- you're doing what you're supposed to be doing. Is he going to make it to Miller Park? Yes. But it's three or four years down the line. He's not the most agile guy around, but he's got a lot of power. He needs to show he can pull the ball a little more, we haven't seen that.
Is he going to be better than Jonsie? That's hard to say. Jones is going to be a good Major League player as soon as he matures a little bit. Prince is very mature as well. I talk to his father a lot about that, and he knows what it takes to be successful, so that's a good thing.
Question: Don, how does your coaching job relate to being a former player? Do you use a lot of Kuenn's tactics?
Don Money: I'm an old-school player, and I try to teach these guys under the old-school format. I notice they do a lot of things different, like spending more time in the weight room. But I try to tell them how we got to the big leagues and stayed there for 10 or 15 years. It's a very young group this year so you try to keep harping on it.
Harvey was the kind of guy you had to go to for help. He wouldn't jump on you every time you had a bad game or bad at bat. I try to do the same thing. We have a meeting every day about what was done well and what wasn't. We use names, but I say 'this goes for everybody.' It's the
same with infielders, outfielders, everybody. Hopefully they'll pick it up because they don't want their names to be used.
You want to have some fun, to do the small things and to stay within their game. It's a long season, and we have 20 games left but we've played 120 games already. These guys are getting tired, so I say they should bust their butts for the last 20 games and then enjoy a few months off. We just want to have some fun.
Moderator: Ed Romero is online from Indianapolis and ready to start answering your questions.
Romero had three stints with the Brewers, playing with Milwaukee in 1977, from 1980-1985 and in 1989. In 1982, Romero provided the Brewers with solid backup help in the middle infield, batting .250 with 1 HR and 7 RBIs. Romero is the current manager of the Indianapolis Indians, the Brewers' Triple-A affiliate.
Question: Ed, you spent a lot of time playing for Milwaukee. What made the '82 team so special?
Ed Romero: I think what made us special was that we had a bunch of good guys on the team with talent. They were good people and we had good relationships among the players and staff. Everybody had the same objective. That was to win.
I think probably expectations were high at the beginning and the people who were playing every day were not meeting their production. I think once Harvey took over all that came out and we started winning. When that happened those guys were a lot more productive. You know how it goes, when you start winning five, six days in a row you start to get the feeling that, ' yeah, we can do this.' I think that is exactly what happened.
Question: Did Mike Caldwell really eat packets of ketchup when he was on the mound?
Ed Romero: Caldy? I don't know about that. I know that he used to carry a briefcase and he had a bottle of ketchup in there. He was kind of a messy guy. He still is.
Question: What's the biggest difference between the guys you played with and today's players?
Ed Romero: I tell you, for me I think when we played we really had a passion for the game. We took it as fun, and went to the ballpark and really concentrated on what we had to do. We took a lot of pride in what we were doing.
I don't want to be misunderstood, but today I don't see the desire in some of the people. You have to talk about some of the things over and over and I don't think they concentrate on retaining a lot of the things you talk about. Some of the guys are a little bit selfish about some
things. It's just a different time, that's all.
Question: Were you disappointed to not get an appearance in the '82 playoffs?
Ed Romero: Sure. I was a little disappointed. I would have loved to, and I can tell you there maybe was an opportunity in Game 6. But it wasn't my call. That's why you have a manager; he makes those calls. I was active on the team, but I didn't get in. I think a pitcher didn't get in either.
But I had a blast, I had a great time and I loved playing in Milwaukee. I was just glad we had a chance to go to a World Series.
Question: What were the main differences playing for Buck Rodgers and Harvey Kuehn?
Ed Romero: I think they were both very good managers. Buck did a good job, so did Harvey. Maybe Harvey was a little more laid back, and I think maybe once in a while a change is good.
When that change happened we just took off. I can't pinpoint exactly the difference because they
were very good managers. With Harvey the team got very hot and we started getting hot and we played well. That was the big difference.
I think it has to do with the talent we had. When Harvey took over I remember that meeting we had. he said we have great personnel and we're going to do what we have to do. We're going to swing the bats, bunt when we need to, and do everything it takes to win. He just got out of the way and let the boys play.
Question: Ed, why didn't the '83 team make a return?
Ed Romero: I can tell you... I don't know. I know we had a lot of the same guys. I can't tell you exactly.
Question: Was Gorman Thomas as tough off the field as he appeared to be on?
Ed Romero: Off the field, I don't think so. Gorman was a nice guy. We had a bunch of good guys on that team, guys who would go out to the same place after a game together. Fifteen or 20 guys out having a few beers talking about baseball. And we got on each other's cases, not in a way that would make you mad, but in a way that would help. I tell you what, that kind of stuff will motivate you.
Question: What was your favorite clubhouse prank?
Ed Romero: There was a bunch of stuff going on. Rollie Fingers putting firecrackers under people's seats -- that stands out. They'll cut off your socks or your pants or whatever.
At least here in the minor leagues I haven't seen that anymore. I don't know about the Major League level. I think the game today is more business than it used to be.
Question: I've heard a lot of player talk about missing the competition more than anything after they retire. How do you fill that void?
Ed Romero: Definitely so. That's the whole key. Once you've played for a certain amount of time, especially on good teams, competition is what you miss. You miss being around the guys. Managing is how I filled that. I always thought at the end of my career that this is what I wanted to do. I always wanted to stay involved, and luckily I've had the chance to do it.
Question: Is there anyway the Brewers would have lost if Rollie Fingers had been healthy in '82?
Ed Romero: I don't know exactly if we would have won the series or not, but I know our chances would have been better, Losing Rollie was something that I would say put us in a bad position. Any time you lose that type of player, your closer, and a guy with that kind of experience, definitely your team is going to suffer.
Question: Ed, do you see yourself coaching in the majors any time soon?
Ed Romero: I sure hope so. I've been managing and being a roving infield instructor in the minor league for I think 11 or 12 years. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to coach in the big leagues
and hopefully it will be soon. We just have to wait and see what happens.
All we can do with the staff down here -- [hitting coach] Skeeter Barnes, [pitching coach] Dwight Bernard and me -- is get our guys ready to play. We have no control of what happens in Milwaukee. It's up to the people in Milwaukee to decide what to do. We do the best job that we can and hopefully somebody in Milwaukee will like that. It's all a matter of opportunity.
Question: Ed, Tell me about Billy Hall...is he ready for the majors?
Ed Romero: I think Bill has made some good strides here, especially in the second half of the season. In don't know if he is ready for the Major League level next year. We have to wait and find out if he goes and plays winter ball, and then see what happens in Spring Training next year.
He's a good athlete that probably needs some more seasoning now. He has the tools to be a good major league player someday, but he has to continue to learn and make some adjustments in a few areas.
Question: Does Izzy Alcantara have a chance to start in the big leagues?
Ed Romero: Izzy is an offensive player. He's put up numbers whenever he's played. He has power, he's been able to hit for average at least in the minor leagues. I think he's a guy who has to be pushed in order to get production out of him. I think he needs to work defensively, especially in the outfield. A guy who has the type of bat that he has always has the chance to
play. It's up to him. If he gets better defensively at the Major League level I think he has a chance to play. If those defensive skills don't get better I think he will be a guy that will be coming off the bench.
Question: What do the Brewers need most to return to contention?
Ed Romero: I think they probably need to be more consistent overall. Pitching-wise and offensively they have a good core of players. They need to get Geoff Jenkins back in the lineup to be more consistent.
That's the key, not only at the Major League level, but any level. You have to have consistent pitching and defense. That's what wins you ballgames.
Question: What was it like playing in Milwaukee in '82? Was the city out of control?
Ed Romero: Yeah, definitely so. We had a great time and we loved the people in Milwaukee. They're very friendly people, they know their baseball and they've always very supportive of baseball. Everywhere we went people knew the players and we were always treated so well, not only in Milwaukee but throughout the state of Wisconsin.
You ask any guy from that team and I think they'll tell you how much we enjoyed playing there.
Question: How's Nick Neugebauer looking in his rehab stints?
Ed Romero: He came here and the first one was respectable. We all expected him to e off a little bit and that was the case. Control and command wasn't really there but velocity-wise he was good. Second time around he was so much better. The breaking ball was good, and his velocity was better. He was supposed to pitch this last time and he came up with some soreness in his lower back. We didn't want to take a chance with that. He threw (in the bullpen) yesterday, felt good, and he's scheduled to go Saturday here.
Question: Which Indians (AAA) will we see in Milwaukee when September call-ups are announced?
Ed Romero: I haven't talked to the people in Milwaukee, to Dean Taylor or David Wilder. I think we know Bill Hall is probably one of the guys. Probably Brian Mallette. A guy we got in the trade for Tyler Houston -- Shane Nance -- a left-hander who has done a good job, for me should be one of the guys. And maybe Jim Rushford.
It all depends on what the guys on Milwaukee decide to do. For me, those are the guys who deserve a chance to be called up.
Thanks to Ed Romero and Don Money for their time and memories. And don't forget, the 1982 Brewers are reuniting at Miller Park on Tuesday, August 20 before the Brewers' game against the
Phillies to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the team's American League Championship. Tickets are still available at www.milwaukeebrewers.com for the 7:05 p.m. CT game.
Come early, because a special on-field ceremony begins at 6:30 p.m. CT and will culminate with an '82 championship pennant being raised. The first 15,000 fans will receive a replica pennant commemorating the 1982 championship team.