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The Milwaukee Brewers finished the 2007 season with their first winning season in 15 years but still finished behind their I-94 rivals in Chicago for the NL Central title. Ryan Braun won the Rookie of the Year Award, and Prince Fielder became the youngest player ever to hit 50 home runs.
In 1969, the Seattle Pilots were born out of an apparent need for a major league franchise in the city, but monetary problems caused the owners to sell the franchise after just one year. During Spring Training of 1970, used car salesman and future MLB Commissioner Bud Selig purchased the team and moved them to Milwaukee, where they remain today.
Long a hotbed for Minor League Baseball, Seattle finally got a Major League Baseball team. Dewey Soriano, a former Seattle Rainiers pitcher and president of the Pacific Coast League, headed the operation, but had to ask William Daley, who was the owner of the Cleveland Indians when the team came close to moving to Seattle in 1965, to help in financing the franchise. Daley became the largest stakeholder in the club at 47 percent and became Chairman of the Board while Soriano became president.
The team would play at Sick's Stadium, home of the Rainiers. In order to compensate for the loss of the Rainiers, the Pilots franchise had to pay the PCL $1 million. This was not the only stipulation that came with fielding a professional team in the area. The team also had to begin work on a domed stadium by the end of the 1970 season, which would eventually become the Kingdome although it was never used by the Pilots.
The Pilots' season was set in motion after King County voters approved of the stadium's plan, and signed Marvin Milkes of the California Angels as general manager and St. Louis Cardinals coach Joe Schultz as the team's first manager.
Seattle's first season went as expected for an expansion team. The Pilots finished with a 64-98 record and last in the newly formed AL West Division.
Problems caused by the expansion of Sick's Stadium almost ran the team out of money by the end of its first season, and opponents of the new stadium forced the project to a standstill.
Soriano began talks with Allan H. "Bud" Selig about selling the team. During the 1969 World Series, the two struck a deal between $10-13 million, but the owners didn't approve of the sale due to pressure from Washington's two senators and the state attorney general.
However, after several local investors failed to acquire the franchise, the owners tentatively approved the sale while the players reported to Spring Training not knowing where they would play. Soriano filed for bankruptcy to stall any legal actions the state could file in protest, and at the bankruptcy hearing, Milkes declared that the team did not have enough money to pay the players and coaches. Had Milkes been 10 days late in paying the players, they would have all become free agents and left Seattle without a team. Federal Bankruptcy Referee Sidney Volinn declared the Pilots bankrupt on April 1, and Selig took over the team, moving it to Milwaukee and renaming it the Brewers after the city's brewing industry. It was the same name that belonged to a major league team that played in the city in 1901 and is now the Baltimore Orioles.
The Beginning of the Brewers
With only six days before the start of the season, new uniforms could not be provided for the team, so the Pilots' logo and namesake were removed and replaced by the Brewers. The original plan was to make the official colors navy and red, but because of the uniform quandary, the Brewers were forced to adopt the Pilots' blue and gold scheme, which is still used by the team.
Former Milwaukee Braves catcher Del Crandall was brought in to manage the team in 1972, and the Brewers orchestrated an historic trade in 1974 that brought Hank Aaron back to Milwaukee and was able to extend his playing career due to the designated hitter rule. Aaron established the new all-time home run record at 755 with a blast off of Angels pitcher Dick Drago on July 20, 1976. His number became the first to be retired by the Brewers, done so in a ceremony at the end of the season.
After Harry Dalton was named general manager in 1977, things for the Brewers finally took off. The addition of first-round draft pick Robin Yount in 1974 set forth a wave of new talent being brought into Milwaukee. Paul Molitor was the Brewers' first round choice in 1977, and the Brewers made a 20-game winner out of Mike Caldwell in 1978. The Brewers also had added Cecil Cooper in a trade with the Boston Red Sox, and finally in 1980, the Brewers put the finishing touches on its team in a trade with St. Louis that brought Rollie Fingers, Ted Simmons, and Pete Vuckovich to the Brew City.
With the team struggling at 23-24 in the early part of 1982, Harvey Kuenn was brought on board as the team's manager. The Brewers went 72-43 the rest of the way, winning the AL East title by one game over Baltimore. Yount ran away with the MVP Award and Vuckovich won the Cy Young Award winner for 1982, just a year after Fingers won both awards.
The team then overcame a 2-0 deficit in the American League Championship Series, winning the next three games against the California Angels to win the American League pennant and secure their place in the 1982 World Series against the Cardinals.
In the Series, the Brewers held a 3-2 lead heading back to St. Louis for Game 6, but couldn't finish the job, folding to the Cards in seven games. The team has yet to make it back to the Series.
Yount and Molitor
In subsequent years, the Brewers declined, finishing no higher than fifth from 1983 to 1986, going through three different managers during the time. But hope was renewed in Milwaukee in 1987 as Team Streak won its first 13 games of the season. Unfortunately, Molitor landed on the disabled list, and the Brewers went on a 12-game losing streak shortly after. The team still managed to finish in third place in the AL East with a 91-71 record, highlighted by Molitor's 39-game hitting streak and Juan Nieves' no hitter on April 15, the only no hitter in Brewers history.
However, from 1988 to 1991, the Brewers finished no higher than fourth, before rallying behind rookie manager Phil Garner in 1992 to finish just four games behind the Toronto Blue Jays for first place.
On September 9, 1992, Robin Yount collects career hit 3,000, becoming the 17th player in history to reach the plateau. He retires following the Brewers' dismal 1993 season, but still manages to make his way into the record books again, becoming the only player in history to record 200 hits against every team he has played against.
Molitor becomes a Blue Jay following the 1992 season after 15 years as a Milwaukee Brewer.
The 1992 season marked the last time the Brewers reached the .500 mark until the 2005 season. The team struggled after losing Yount and Molitor and despite bringing plenty of talent through their system (Greg Vaughn andGary Sheffield to name a couple), none stayed in Milwaukee. Garner did the best with what he had, posting two seasons of near .500 ball in 1996 and 1997.
In 1997, the team agreed to move to the National League as part of MLB's expansion and realignment plan that would allow for Interleague Play beginning in 1998.
The move was originally seen as being an attempt by Brewers owner and Baseball Commissioner Selig to benefit the team. However, the team slipped even further and posted a franchise-low 56 wins in 2002, a season that will live in infamy forever in the state of Wisconsin.
Bye-Bye Bud: The Attanasio, Yost and Melvin Era
Following the 2002 season, Doug Melvin was named the Brewers' new general manager and Ned Yost the team's new manager. Yost, who had been an assistant under Bobby Cox in Atlanta for 12 years, took over a team in need of guidance, and Melvin took over a franchise that needed an overhaul.
The 2006 season was a step back for the Brewers. Injuries to the team's pitching staff and growing pains experienced by the club's young players left the team with yet another sub-.500 record at 75-87. But the team was still headed in the right direction. Midseason acquisition Francisco Cordero took over the closer spot and converted 16 saves, and Melvin made the largest signing in team history by inking NLCS MVP Jeff Suppan to a four-year deal following the season.
In 2007, the Brewers exploded out of the gates and held a 24-10 record, the best in baseball, on May 9, but 14 games over .500 was the season's high water mark, which they matched again on June 27 but never would see again. The Brewers struggled over the next few months and finally lost their hold on the NL Central on August 17 to the Chicago Cubs.
After exchanging the division lead for the next several weeks, the Brewers finally faded in the last month of the season after ace Ben Sheets went down for the remainder of the year. Nonetheless, they won their final two games to finish the year at 83-79, their first winning season in 15 years.
Third baseman Ryan Braun was named the National League Rookie of the Year and first baseman Prince Fielder finished third in the National League Most Valuable Player race after setting a franchise record with 50 home runs, also becoming the youngest player in MLB history to reach 50 in a season.
(In chronological order)
- 44 - Hank Aaron (played in Milwaukee for Braves franchise from 1954-65, then returned as a Brewer in 1975 and had his number retired by the team following his retirement in 1976).
- 34 - Rollie Fingers (played in Milwaukee from 1981-85)
- 19 - Robin Yount (played in Milwaukee from 1974-93 and is now the bench coach for the team, wearing no. 19)
- 42 - Jackie Robinson (MLB retired Robinson's number in 1997)
- 4 - Paul Molitor (played in Milwaukee from 1978-92)
- Allan H. "Bud" Selig
- Mark Attanasio (bought the team in 2004 for $180 million)
- Joe Schultz (1969, Seattle)
- Dave Bristol (1970-72)
- Roy McMillan (1972)
- Del Crandall (1972-75)
- Harvey Kuenn (1975, 1982-83)
- Alex Grammas (1976-77)
- George Bamberger (1978-80, 1985-86)
- Buck Rodgers (1980-82)
- Rene Lachemann (1984)
- Tom Trebelhorn (1986-1991)
- Phil Garner (1992-99)
- Jim Lefebvre (1999)
- Davey Lopes (2000-02)
- Jerry Royster (2002)
- Ned Yost (2003-2008)
- Dale Sveum (2008- )
Rookie Of The Year
- Pat Listach (1992)
- Ryan Braun (2007)
Hank Aaron Award
- Prince Fielder (2007)
All-Time Team Leaders & Stats
- Home Runs: Robin Yount 251
- Runs Batted In: Robin Yount 1406
- Batting Average (minimum 1,000 plate appearances): Jeff Cirillo .306
- Batting Average (minimum 2,000 plate appearances): Jeff Cirillo .306
- Batting Average (minimum 3,000 plate appearances): Jeff Cirillo .306
- Batting Average (minimum 4,000 plate appearances): Paul Molitor .303
- Hits: Robin Yount 3142
- Runs: Robin Yount 1632
- Doubles: Robin Yount 583
- Triples: Robin Yount 126
- Stolen Bases: Paul Molitor 412
- Walks: Robin Yount 966
- Wins: Jim Slaton 117
- Saves: Dan Plesac 133
- Strikeouts: Ben Sheets 1171 as of August 7th 2008
- Earned Run Average: Dan Plesac 3.21
Single Season Records
- Home Runs: Prince Fielder 50, 2007
- Runs Batted In: Cecil Cooper 126, 1986
- Batting Average: Paul Molitor .353, 1987
- Hits: Cecil Cooper 219, 1980
- Runs: Paul Molitor 136, 1982
- Doubles: Lyle Overbay 53, 2004
- Triples: Paul Molitor 16, 1979
- Stolen Bases: Tommy Harper 73, 1969
- Hitting Streak: Paul Molitor 39, 1987
- Walks: Jeromy Burnitz 99, 2000
- Wins: Mike Caldwell 22, 1978
- Saves: Francisco Cordero 44, 2007
- Strikeouts: Ben Sheets 264, 2004
- Earned Run Average: Mike Caldwell 2.36, 1978
Record Per Season
Minor League Teams
- Nashville Sounds
- Huntsville Stars
- Brevard County Manatees
- West Virginia Power
- AZL Brewers
- Helena Brewers
- VSL Brewers