We re less than a month from Opening Day, so it s time to start previewing the season. Inspired by an old feature on The Black Table, we re going team-by-team and distributing Four Things You Don t Know about them. If you have suggested oddities on your team, send them to us at email@example.com. Today: The Milwaukee Brewers.
• 1. Where Have You Gone, Bernie Brewer? In the 1980s, any time a Brewer hit a home run, their mascot, Bernie Brewer, would appear beyond the outfield atop a giant mug of beer. The beer would pour down an enormous slide, and Bernie would descend it. A great influence on the youth of Wisconsin, no doubt. Of course, the most famous mascot-related incident in Brewers history occurred on July 9, 2003, when Pirates first baseman Randall Simon hit one of the Brewers' costumed racing sausages with a baseball bat. Simon was arrested and paid a fine and was suspended by Major League Baseball for three games.
• 2. More (BURP!) On Beer. The 1982 Brewers, who lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games in the World Series, were known as "Harvey's Wallbangers," a testament to the power-hitting Gorman Thomas, Cecil Cooper, Ben Oglivie and Robin Yount. But it was also a reference to the well-known hard-drinking ways of manager Harvy Kuenn's boys. That series was known as "The Suds Series," a reference to the great beer heritages of Milwaukee and St. Louis. Promotional t-shirts showed two mugs of frothy beer clinking above the Brewers and Cardinals logos.
• 3. They Have a Good Bloodline. Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder is the son of former Detroit slugger Cecil Fielder and enjoys telling this story about hanging out in the Tigers' clubhouse when he was a kid: "Baseball was fun to me but I wasn't that serious about it when I was younger. Tony Phillips was just like another kid, so we always wrestled. I was the same size as him when I was 12, so we were a pretty even match." The Brewers also have another son of a famous major leaguer — outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr. No word if he has wrestled Tony Phillips.
• 4. They Know Desperate Housewives. Rick Manning, who played four seasons with the Brewers in the 1980s, was a teammate of pitcher Dennis Eckersely in 1977 with the Cleveland Indians. He took away many fond memories of that season ... oh, and he also took Eckersely's wife, Denise, with whom he had become romantically involved.
(Tomorrow: The Pittsburgh Pirates)
(UPDATE: Furious readers set us straight: "Bernie Brewer is alive! And living in left field at Miller Park. He was forced into retirement in 84, but returned in 93. No giant beer stein anymore (alas) but he still slides down a giant slide after each Brewer home run.)