Today’s Postseason Series From The Baseball Project That May Or May Not Amount To Anything is the 1982 World Series. The Cardinals were in rare territory for them. They had not finished first since 1968 and were a pretty bad team through the 1970’s. But Whitey Herzog took over managerial (and for a brief time GM) duties and began to build his team like he did in Kansas City. Whitey’s teams were built on defense with speed and on offense with speed and on-base percentage. After the 1981 season Herzog traded talented but hotheaded and unpopular shortstop Garry Templeton to the San Diego Padres for Ozzie Smith. Earlier they picked up another Smith – Lonnie – from the Phillies, giving them some guys who could run.
By the way, in researching this and looking up the Cardinals’ transactions, I found their June draft:
1st Round: Todd Worrell (1986 Rookie of the Year, 3-time All-Star, twice led the league in saves)
5th Round: Mark Davis (No, not the reliever)
7th Round: Terry Pendeton (1991 NL MVP and batting champion, 1992 All-Star)
10th Round: Vince Coleman (1985 Rookie of the Year, 2-time All-Star, 6 stolen base titles, 100 SB’s 3 straight years)
11th Round: Rob Dibble (2-time All-Star, member of the “Nasty Boys” bullpen for the 1990 Reds)
29th Round: Kevin Ward (nothing special)
Now, they didn’t sign Dibble, and I’m not comparing this to the 1974 Steelers’ draft, but you have to admit, they did a hell of a lot better than many teams did in the draft.
The Cards featured one of the best defensive infields of modern times. Besides Ozzie (greatest defensive shortstop of all time), they had Keith Hernandez at first base (arguably the defensive first baseman of his era), Tommy Herr, and Ken Oberkfell. Add in Lonnie Smith and All-Ugly Team co-captain (along with Ron Karkovice) Willie McGee, and a team that finished dead last in strikeouts finished third in ERA and first in fewest runs allowed. The staff itself was led by one of the hottest heads ever in Joaquin Andujar, Bob Forsch, and relief Ace Bruce Sutter
Offensively they finished fifth in the league in runs despite hitting only 67 homeruns (think about it this way: Carlos Santana and Mike Napoli combined for 68 this year and neither were in the top ten in the AL). They scored because they got on base (second in average, first in OBP), and ran (led the league in stolen bases and fewest caught stealing).
They wrapped up the division in the final week of the season, then swept the Braves in the NLCS for their first pennant in 14 years.
After making their first postseason appearance in franchise history in 1981, the Milwaukee Brewers got off to a slow start in 1982 and after 47 games Buck Rogers was sent to the 25th century and Harvey Kuenn was promoted to manager. The Brewers became known as “Harvey’s Wallbangers” because they flat out mashed. Despite playing in a pitchers park (94 Park Factor; above 100 favors hitters), the Brew Crew led the American League runs, homeruns, slugging, and OPS. The lineup featured future Hall of Famers in Robin Yount at short (1982 AL MVP) and Paul Molitor at third (before they realized the DH was made for him), All-Stars Ted Simmons behind the plate, Cecil Cooper at first, Gorman Thomas in center, and Ben Oglivie in left. The pitching staff was anchored by Cy Young winner Pete Vuckovich* and Hall of Fame reliever Rollie Fingers, plus getting additional help with a late season trade to acquire Hall of Famer Don Sutton (3.29 ERA in seven starts). Unfortunately for the Brewers, though, Fingers wouldn’t pitch in the World Series due to arm issues (he would miss all of the 1983 season
*-No way he should’ve won the award. I don’t care what anyone thinks about WAR, if you rank 28th in your league in that category, you shouldn’t win the award.
The Brewers entered the final weekend of the season needing to only win one of the final four games against the second place Orioles to clinch the division. After losing the first three games by a combined score of 26-7, the Brewers hit four homeruns – the deciding blow a 2-run shot in a 5-run ninth – to win 10-2 and wrap up the AL East. In the ALCS they came back from a 2-0 deficit and a 3-2 deficit in Game 5 to win their first AL Pennant.
Game 1 was in St. Louis and the Brewers were hitting early and often. They plated two in the first and one in the fourth. Simmons homered in the fifth, then Robin Yount chased Forsch in the sixth with a 2-run double. That was more than what starter Mike Caldwell needed as the Brewers cruised to a 10-0 win.
In Game 2 the Brewers started right where they left off, taking an early lead in the second with a run then extending it to 3-0 with a groundout and Simmons’ second homer in the series against his former team. This time, however, the Cardinals fought back. In the bottom of the third Tommy Herr doubled in Willie McGee and scored on Ken Oberkfell’s single, making it 3-2. The Brewers got one run back in the fifth, but the Cards tied in the sixth on Darrell Porter’s 2-run double. Then in the top of the seventh Cecil Cooper hit a 2-out double and Herzog didn’t hesitate. In a page reminiscent of Terry Francona and Joe Maddon this postseason Whitey when to his relief ace, Bruce Sutter. Before we get too proud the first batter Sutter faced was Ted Simmons and he intentionally walked him. Couldn’t the previous pitcher have taken care of that? Anyway, Sutter got out of the inning and got through the eighth while the Cardinals failed to score in the seventh. Then in the eighth Keith Hernandez led off with a walk. After a fielder’s choice Porter singled and Lonnie Smith walked to load the bases. Kuenn went to Pete Ladd – noticed he went with the Buck Showalter approach here with Fingers – and Lad promptly walked pinch hitter Steve Braun to push across the go-ahead run. Sutter finished off the heart of the Brewers order in the ninth and the Series was tied as they headed to Milwaukee.
Game 3 featured Vuckovich and Andujar on the hill. The game was scoreless until the fifth when with one out Lonnie Smith doubled and future Cards’ nemesis Dane Iorg reached on an error by Cecil Cooper. Then on the very first pitch he saw, Willie McGee homered to right to make the score 3-0. It remained that way until the seventh when with one out Lonnie Smith blasted a shot into the right-centerfield gap. Smith slid into third with a triple, and when Jim Gantner’s relay throw went out of play, Smith scored the game’s fourth run. After a flyout Willie McGee hit his second homerun of the night. Again in the seventh Herzog went in with his ace. Since the game was 5-0 he waited as long as he could. After a 1-out single he pulled Andujar in favor of Jim Kaat. Kaat gave up a 2-out single and was pulled for Doug Blair. Blair walked pinch hitter Don Money and then was pulled for Sutter to get out of the jam. The Brewers got to Sutter in the eighth with a 2-run homerun by Cecil Cooper, and looked poised to possibly get back into the game in the ninth. But after Oglivie reached on an error Gorman Thomas blasted a ball to left center. Looking at the replay I’m not sure if it would have left the yard, but it was definitely extra bases. The game’s hero, though, Willie McGee sprinted out, leaped, and robbed Thomas, basically ending the threat. The Cardinals took a 2-1 lead with a 6-2 victory.
Game 4 started out just how the Cardinals wanted, scoring a run in the first. Then in the second, McGee hit a 1-out single and stole second. Then Ozzie Smith walked and both runners moved up on a wild pitch. Then history happened.
After fighting off a couple of 3-2 pitches Tommy Herr hit a deep fly ball to center. Gorman Thomas backed up and caught it at the warning track. When he went to brace himself to throw he slipped on the lip of the grass and track. McGee scored easily and Ozzie Smith went full speed around third and score. It was the first ever 2-run sacrifice fly in World Series history.
Things looked bleak for the Brew Crew going into the bottom of the seventh and trailing 5-1. But with one out Oglivie reached on an error and Don Money singled. After a popout Jim Gantner doubled to right-center to score a run, chasing starter Dave LaPoint. Paul Molitor drew a walk to load the bases and then Robin Yount singled, chasing reliever Doug Blair. Jim Kaat was met by Cecil Cooper who singled to tie the game. Then after a wild pitch moved both runners up, Kaat was pulled in mid at-bat for Jeff Lahti. In another head-scratcher, Lahti’s first assignment was to intentionally walk Simmons. Then Gorman Thomas singled to left-center, scoring two runs. Because he burned Sutter up in a 5-run game the day before, Herzog couldn’t go to him again. The Brewers won 7-5 to even the series.
In Game 5 the Brewers got started early, scratching a run across in the first. The Cardinals tied in in the third only to have the Brewers take the lead back in the bottom half. The game was 3-2 in the seventh when Yount homered to make the score 4-2. Sutter came out in the eighth to keep it a 2-run game. He looked to get out of it with one on and two out. But then he walked Oglivie on four straight, then back-to-back singles from Charlie Moore and Gantner and it was a 6-2 game. The Cardinals got two back in the ninth, but the Brewers held on 6-4 to take a 3-2 lead back to St. Louis.
Game 6 was a complete disaster for the Brewers. Don Sutton was on the mound, and the Cardinals pounded the future Hall of Famer, scoring seven runs in the first five innings, chasing Sutton in the fifth. Then they scored six in the sixth off of Don Medich to put the game away. The Cardinals won 13-1, forcing Game 7.
Joaquin Andujar started for the Cardinals, Klu Heywood for the Brewers. The Cardinals got to Vuckovich in the fourth when McGee and Herr led off with singles. After Ozzie Smith popped out, Lonnie Smith hit ball past a diving Paul Molitor and Yount could not make a throw, making the score 1-0. They took that lead into the top of the fifth and it lasted exactly one pitch. Oglivie launched Andujar’s first offering deep into the right field seats to tie the game.
It didn’t stay tied long. In the top of the sixth Gantner led off with a double then Molitor laid down a bunt (ugh). Oberkfell broke late on it and Andujar grabbed it and threw off his back foot and it bounced away from Herr, scoring a run and moving Molitor to second. Then Yount bounced a ball to Hernandez and Andujar failed to cover first, putting men on the corners with nobody out. A Cooper sac fly made it 3-1.
Then in the bottom of the sixth Ozzie had a one out single, then Lonnie doubled to chase Vuckovich. Bob McClure came in and walked former World Series MVP Gene Tenace on five pitches to load the bases. Then Keith Hernandez – it happened to be his birthday – hit a 3-1 pitch into right-center to tie the game. After fighting off a couple of 1-2 pitches George Hendricks slapped a ball between first and second to give the Cardinals the lead.
But of course, no postseason game involving Joaquin Andujar could ever go without some fun. To start the seventh Andujar struck out Gorman Thomas, then got Roy Howell to fly out despite Lonnie Smith’s best efforts to screw it up. After an infield single Gantner bounced the first pitch right back to Andujar, who calmly and confidently threw a bullet to Hernandez to end the inning. On the way to the dugout, though, some words were exchanged (let’s just say neither were wishing Keith Hernandez a happy birthday), causing Andujar to turn around, shout at Gantner, and toss his glove aside. Home plate umpire Lee Weyer quickly jumped in and backed Andujar away as the benches emptied. Whitey Herzog wisely decided that Andujar saw his last hitter of the night. Sutter came out in the top of the eighth and retired the top of the Brewers’ order in nine pitches.
In the bottom of the eighth, Lonnie led off with a ground rule double. Then after a bunt strikeout, Hernandez was intentionally walked. George Hendrick flied out and Mike Caldwell came in to relieve Moose Haas. Looking to get out of it without a run scored, Caldwell threw a 1-0 pitch to Darrell Porter that Porter lined into right field for a back breaking RBI single. Steve Braun followed up with another RBI single. In the top of the ninth Sutter got two relatively quick groundouts but then Gorman Thomas worked the count full and fouled off four straight foul balls. But in the end, Sutter got Thomas on a high fastball and the Cardinals won their first World Series in 14 years.
The Cardinals would go on to win two more pennants in the 1980’s, but it would be another 24 years until they won another World Series. For the Brewers, the needed to switch leagues 15 years later and still go another 11 years after that to reach the playoffs. Later on, Ozzie Smith, Whitey Herzog, Bruce Sutter, Don Sutton, Rollie Fingers, Paul Molitor, and Robin Yount all received their plaques in Cooperstown. Yount and Molitor are the only two players in the Hall of Fame to wear a Brewers’ cap on their plaques.