From baseball-almanac.comSEATTLE PILOTS
It is said that first impressions are usually correct. They surely were in the case of this franchise. Its first impression, created in Seattle in 1969, was that of a cash-strapped franchise having trouble competing on the Major League level. Little has changed in the thirty-six years since the team moved to Milwaukee.
Seattle was awarded one of the four expansion franchises given out by baseball for its centennial celebration in 1969. Former college and minor league players Dewey and Max Soriano were the recipients, backed by the money of William Daley, a former owner of the Cleveland Indians, who had once considered moving the Indians to the northwest.
The Seattle Pilots lived only one year, finishing in last place in the American League West at 64-98. The team's escapades were immortalized far beyond their accomplishments or impact in Jim Bouton's tell-all memoir "Ball Four."
After the one season of poor play and lagging attendance (about 678,000) at the revamped minor league park called Sicks Stadium, Daley withdrew his investment, essentially bankrupting the team.
The franchise was sold to a conglomerate headed by Milwaukee auto magnate Bud Selig. Despite some last minute legal contests, Selig won the approval of baseball to move the franchise to Milwaukee and the Brewers were reborn, having existed once previously in the American League's initial season of 1901. Those Brewers moved to St. Louis to become the Browns in 1902. The National League's Milwaukee Braves had played here from 1953-65.
The Brewer's first decade was mostly a dance with the bottom of the American League - first the Western Division where they played in 1970-71, and then the American League East, where they moved in 1972, trading places with the Washington Senators franchise which moved west to Texas.
It did not matter in which division they played. The Brewers were basically a moribund crew through most of the 1970s. Their only claim to fame was having all-time home run king Hank Aaron on the team in 1975-76. Aaron hit the last twenty-two of his seven-hundred fifty-five home runs for the Brewers.
The Brewers began to stir under the leadership of General Manager Harry Dalton and field manager George Bamberger, earning a third place finish in 1978. The Brewers steadily improved their roster until, at the end of the decade, they suddenly had one of the strongest teams in the game, featuring a combination of home grown talent and imported veteran talent including future Hall of Famers Paul Molitor and Robin Yount, Cecil Cooper, Gorman Thomas, Ben Oglivie, Sal Bando and Sixto Lezcano.
The acquisition of all-star catcher Ted Simmons (1980) and relief ace Rollie Fingers (1982) helped put the team over the top. The Brewers won the back-half of the two-part strike season of 1981 with Cooper hitting .320 and Thomas smacking twenty-one home runs, one behind the league leader Eddie Murray. The team lost the Divisional Playoff to the Yankees in the maximum five games.
There were great expectations for the 1982 team, but it got off to a sluggish start under manager Buck Rodgers. He was fired with the team at 23-24, and replaced by coach Harvey Kuenn. Under Kuenn, the Brewers went 72-43 and destroyed American League pitching to gain the nickname "Harvey's Wallbangers"
The team hit two-hundred sixteen home runs, led by Thomas (league leading thirty-nine home runs & one-hundred twelve runs batted in), Cooper (thirty-two home runs, one-hundred twenty-one runs batted in & .313) and MVP shortstop Robin Yount (twenty-nine home runs, one-hundred fourteen runs batted in & .331). The team also had a solid pitching rotation anchored by Cy Young Award winner Pete Vuckovitch (18-6, 3.34), Mike Caldwell (17-13, 3.91) and Fingers who saved twenty-nine games.
The Brewers were tied with the Orioles for the East Division lead on the last day of the season. The Brew Crew prevailed in the final game 10-2 to win its first, and to date, only outright Divisional Championship. They then became the first team to rally from an 0-2 deficit in the best-of-five Championship Series, coming back to sweep three straight from the Angels. They came up short however, losing a seven game World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Since their only post-season appearances in 1981-82, the franchise has had trouble competing. A combination of poor management, a famished farm system and restricted financial resources has kept the Brewers at or near the bottom of the standings. Two exceptions were a third place 91-71 record in 1987 under Tom Trebelhorn and a second place 90-72 record in 1992 under Phil Garner.
In 1998, the Brewers agreed to move from the American League to the National League in order to provide a balance for interleague scheduling and in 2001, the team moved from Milwaukee County Stadium to Miller Park, a state-of-the-art ballpark with a retractable roof. The Selig family sold the franchise in 2004. The new owner, Los Angeles investment banker Mark Attanasio and manager Ned Yost recorded a milestone of sorts — bringing home an 81-81 record for the Brewers in 2005, snapping the team's skein of losing seasons which has reached back to 1992.
"They (the city of Milwaukee) have the best bratwurst and the best tailgate parties in all of baseball here (Milwaukee County Stadium)." - Author Philip J. Lowry in Green Cathedrals (1992)