brewers baseball and things



It was one of those motels with lawn chairs set up outside the rooms, 50 bucks a night, cockroach tape beside the beds. In the lobby, the owner was watching tv. There was one of those windows on the ceiling, a skylight. There was a moth or a butterfly banging into the window, presumably struggling to get back outside.

An older man wearing a white button down shirt looked up at the moth or butterfly flapping away and then noticed the blue sky and he didn’t know why, but he thought about those times in New York when there were three baseball teams playing in the same city with that Coogan’s Bluff outside the Polo Grounds and kids probably sneaking into Ebbets Field and some other happenings at Yankee stadium.

Maybe he felt like the moth or butterfly and wanted what he could never have?



climbing up and down totem poles

Players worked winter jobs, rode subway to and from games, sat beside fans who also worked winter jobs and said things like, “Hey Hack,why’d you go and swing at that pitch?

There were men mounted on horses policing outfield alleys but before hoofs, fans braved barriers and tore up grass like fanatical dogs we still celebrate burial mounds sneaking peaks free of charge; from Coogan’s Bluff to Wrigley’s rooftop paradise there will be more.

Mockingbird Hill Milwaukee was situated behind the VA Hospital on National Avenue. Fans gathered and looked into County Stadium’s right field…sea gulls soaring in breezes, first the Braves, then the Brewers until the end in the early 1970’s. Ambition was to blame. Bleacher expansion.

But those Braves; from Boston to Milwaukee to Atlanta like Athletics from Philly to KC to Oakland; fantastic eagles wing spread. Totem poles. And then the Brewers like the Royals like the Mariners to replace the ghost of Braves Athletics and Pilots. Totems of the pacific northwest. Totems of our museum minds.

Maybe Atlanta knows nothing of Walt Tragesser and Milwaukee nothing of Ray Oyler but that’s ok in a silent and non invasive tree ring sort of way, barely disrupting the ecosystem; not knowing the totem or knowing is discovering it again.

This fresh autum day all can be brand spanking new; a perfect rite for a vortex and a warp and a time machine to escape these parentheses…..(         ) stuck in the here and now.

To that spring of 1970 when the equipment trucks heading north from Arizona turned left and not right; headed east-not west and reached  Milwaukee not Seattle to become the Brewers and not the Pilots and dammit the Brewers were never an expansion team and neither were the Milwaukee Braves.

Gorman Thomas was the first player the Pilots picked in the 1969 draft and well, if there was ever a player destined to play in Milwaukee and Brew city, it was Stormin Gorman Thomas. He fit the city like a patron saint of bar rails. Milwaukee has more bars per square mile than anywhere in the world if I’m not mistaken more bowling alleys as well.

Gorman didn’t surface in the majors until 1973 and it took a few years but in 1978 he became bigger than Evil Knievel and the love never stopped until it went terribly sour in 1983 when Gorman was traded to Cleveland for Rick Manning. There were others in that trade but Manning was Gorman’s ghost out there in centerfield and we never got used to him.

Manning slashed the game winning hit August 26, 1987…a walk off 10th inning single against his former Indians and Manning was booed by Milwaukee fans because Paul Molitor was on deck and his 39 game hitting streak was in danger of ending and it did. Manning could do nothing right in Milwaukee even when he did right. That game is remembered for Molitor’s streak biting the dust and on a more positive note Teddy Higuera’s 10 inning, 3 hit complete game victory. Rick who?

Stormin Gorman Thomas was the first ever Seattle Pilot. He will always be a forever member of the Seattle Milwaukee double helix totem pole. In that inaugural Milwaukee season, you could see Pilots under the Brewer uniforms. It was fading but it was there. Must have been low on linens back then.