No one saw Crew's drought coming
Wild Card clinch ends Brewers' 26-year absence from playoffs
MILWAUKEE -- When Brewers center fielder Gorman Thomas fanned at a Bruce Sutter pitch to end the 1982 World Series, he never expected a quarter century to pass before the team played its next postseason game.Nobody expected it. Nobody could have. "You didn't even think about that," Thomas said this weekend at Miller Park. "You had just lost the last game of the World Series, and you never thought it would be the last time you were in the World Series. "Now, looking at it 26 years later, it is kind of remarkable that somewhere along the line, the club at least didn't make the playoffs." Until now. The Brewers overcame a dreadful start to September to earn the 2008 National League Wild Card. For the first time since Stormin' Gorman and the Brewers took the St. Louis Cardinals to that decisive World Series Game 7, Milwaukee will play a game in October that means something. In the 26-year interim, the team has changed hands from the longtime ownership group headed by Bud Selig to Mark Attanasio, and has moved across the parking lot, from Milwaukee County Stadium to Miller Park. Four different men have been general manager: Harry Dalton, Sal Bando, Dean Taylor and now Doug Melvin. Ten different managers have sat at the end of the Brewers' bench, from Harvey Kuenn to Rene Lachemann, George Bamberger, Tom Trebelhorn, Phil Garner, Jim Lefebvre, Davey Lopes, Jerry Royster and Ned Yost to Dale Sveum, who took over for Yost with 12 games left in the 2008 regular season. One man has watched it all from the radio booth. He called Thomas' Series-ending strikeout, and was among the many who never expected the Brewers to fall off the postseason map. "You had Hall of Famers on that team, and we went into '83 with expectations," said Hall of Fame Brewers radio voice Bob Uecker. "I used to throw batting practice in those days, and I was around them before and after games, and, shoot, you got around those guys and they had that chemistry about them. "You said to yourself, 'Jeez, we've been waiting here a long time, and here we are. We're a club that's going to be there for the next few years, at least.' I don't think anybody expected what happened the following season." What happened in 1983 was a slow start. The Brewers were 35-36 entering July, in sixth place, and Thomas was traded to Cleveland in June. "So then you said to yourself, 'Good teams get going in July,'" Uecker said. "That year, it just didn't happen." Or, at least it didn't happen at the right time. The Brewers did win 40 of their next 53 games and held a one-half game division lead over the Orioles on Aug. 25. They went 14-22 the rest of the way and finished fourth. "We were so far behind and then we got back to even, but we had nothing left in September," said Robin Yount, one of four future Hall of Fame players on that team (Paul Molitor, Rollie Fingers and Don Sutton were the others). "We were pretty well spent.
1982 Brewers leaders
|Batting average: Robin Yount, .331|
|Home Runs: Gorman Thomas, 39|
|RBIs: Cecil Cooper, 121|
|Stolen bases: Paul Molitor, 41|
|Wins: Pete Vuckovich, 14|
|ERA: Jim Slaton, 3.29|
|Saves: Rollie Fingers, 29|
Brewers postseason history
|World Series vs. St. Louis Cardinals: Lost, 4-3|
|ALCS vs. California Angels: Won, 3-2|
|AL Eastern Division Series vs. N.Y. Yankees: Lost, 3-2|
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.