Teddy Higuera – Last of the Milwaukee Brewers 20 Game Winners

The last pitcher to win 20 games in a season for the Milwaukee Brewers was left-hander Teddy Higuera back in 1986.  His 20th and final win came on September 25th that year.  Only two other pitchers have won 20 or more games in a season for the Brew Crew, and both came prior to Higuera’s fantastic year.  Mike Caldwell won 22 games in 1978 and Jim Colburn won 20 in 1973.

Teddy Higuera was born Tedoro Higuera Valenzuela in Los Mochis, Sinola, Mexico, on November 9, 1958.  He was in his mid-20’s when the Brewers purchased his contract from the Mexican League’s Indios de Ciudad Juarez.  He spent one season in the minor leagues and made the big league rotation out of spring training in 1985.  His biggest competitor was Yukata Enatsu from Japan, but the knock on him was age – as Enatsu was 36 years old.

Higuera had a great first year with a 15-8 record and 3.90 ERA, which led him to the Sporting News Rookie of the Year Award.  He came in second as AL Rookie of the Year.

But 1986 was Higuera’s career year.  Along the way to 20 wins he was selected for the All-Star game where he pitched against his hero Fernando Valenzuela.  He finished second on the Cy Young Award ballot that season. He and Valenzuela were heroes in their home country – a Mexican radio network carried all the Brewer games that Higuera pitched.

Early in September Higuera’s teammates were taking notice of his dominance.  Reliever Dan Plesac said, “Nobody wants to spend the winter living with the fact that he might be responsible for Teddy finishing with only 19 wins.”

The opposition also couldn’t help but take notice.  Detroit manager Sparky Anderson had nothing but good things to say about Higuera.  He said Higuera was “the best left-hander in the American League.”

“He knows how to pitch and makes good pitches.  He’s not 18-9 (as of September 9) by accident.”

Jesse Barfield of Toronto said “A good left-hander is hard to come by, and Milwaukee has a good one in Higuera.”  He went on to rank Higuera “up there with Roger Clemens.”

By mid-September Higuera finally said through his fellow pitcher and translator Juan Nieves that “No. 20 is coming.  No. 20 it is.”  It was the first time he mentioned anything beyond his next game since spring training when he “hoped to win 20 games.”

After allowing just five hits in a 5-0 victory over Toronto on September 14, Higuera was just one win away from the 20 game mark.

Higuera’s 20th win came fittingly in George Bamberger’s final game as Brewers manager.  Bamberger announced he was beginning his retirement immediately after the game even though a few games remained in the season.   The Crew won 9-3 over the Baltimore Orioles.

Robin Yount came into the game for the injured Glenn Braggs in the fifth inning and helped out with his bat.  Yount doubled in the fifth and seventh innings, and followed that up with a two-run homer in the eighth.

The Orioles manager, Earl Weaver, also was retiring at the end of the season.

“It’s about time he retires, and I’m about past due,” Weaver joked in reference to Bamberger.  He added that both of them had been sweating it out “the last 10 years for the pension.”

“I dedicated the game to him,” Higuera said of Bamberger.  “Last year he gave me the chance to pitch, and this year he built up my confidence.  He’s going to be missed.”

“This kid knows what he’s doing out there.  He’s got a good head on him,” Bamberger said.  “This is a perfect way to go.”

Brewers were not a good team in 1986, and the victory in Higuera’s final start helped the team get out of the basement in the American League East.

“I always wanted to reach that 20th win of the year.  I’m glad I didn’t have to wait until my last start.”

Higuera did start one final game that season and could have tacked on one more win to his total, but lost 2-1 to the Detroit Tigers.

The American League had another 20 game winner in Boston’s Roger Clemens that year.  Fernando Valenzuela was also a 20-game winner that season over in the National League.  Higuera and Valenzuela were the only Mexican born pitchers at that point to win 20 games in a season. Their numbers in 1986 were similar:

Valenzuela was 21-11 with 242 strikeouts, 20 complete games, and a 3.14 earned run average.  Higuera was 20-11, struck out 207, had 15 complete games with four shutouts, and a 2.79 ERA.  Just seven of Higuera’s wins required a save from the bullpen.  Five were saved by Mark Clear and the other two by Dan Plesac.

By spring training in 1987 Higuera was learning how to speak English.  On the mound he fell short of the previous season’s win total with 18 overall.  He had 240 strikeouts and 32 consecutive scoreless innings on the year to set team records.

Higuera lowered his ERA to 2.45 for the 1988 season, but had a 16-9 record over 31 starts.  After that he was plagued by a number of injuries and never was quite the same pitcher.  The ailments ranged from back issues that led to surgery and sprained ankles.  He had a mostly healthy 1990 but finished with an 11-10 record and just 129 strikeouts.  The front office felt he could pitch at the levels from earlier in his career and signed him to a four year, $13.1 million contract.

The injuries were far from over, however, as Higuera tore his rotator cuff in 1991.  He went through a number of surgeries and extensive rehab, missing all of 1992.  He didn’t pitch a lot in 1993, with just 30 innings covering 8 starts.  In 1994 he managed 58.2 innings both starting and relieving.  By that time his ERA ballooned to 8.44 and the Brewers cut ties after the season.

Higuera tried to catch on with the San Diego Padres in 1995 but did not make the team.  He retired soon after and went into coaching.  He has been the pitching coach for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic three times thus far.  The Mexican Professional Baseball Hall of Fame inducted him in 2011.

For his career, Higuera posted a 94-64 record with a 3.61 earned run average and 1,081 strikeouts over 1380 innings.  Since he pitched more than 1000 innings for the Brewers, he met the criteria for induction into the Wall of Honor found on the exterior of Miller Park.  He was one of the original 58 inductees in 2014.  The Brewers also honored him in 2015 by election to the Miller Park Walk of Fame.  He now has a granite plaque in the terrace area walkway outside Miller Park.

In the years since Higuera’s 20 win season, Chris Capuano came next closest to achieving the mark.  His 18 wins in 2005 were the most in a season since Higuera won 18 in 1987.  Wily Peralta went 17-11 in 2014.  For now, Brewers fans will have to wait to see if another pitcher can post a 20 win season like Teddy Higuera did back in 1986.

Here’s a short video of Higuera sealing his 20th win of 1986.

Please feel free to share this article to your favorite social media sites with the buttons below the photos.  I also encourage you to visit the following sites where I am a contributor:

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Higuera in action

Higuera in action

Walk of Fame induction ceremony

Walk of Fame induction ceremony

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Higuera’s 20 wins (click to enlarge photos on page)

 

Milwaukee Brewers Week in Review: September 12-18

The week in review: The Milwaukee Brewers kicked off last week with a three game series in Cincinnati. They dropped the first two games by scores of 3-0 and 6-4, but rebounded with a convincing 7-0 win. Next up was Chicago with the Cubs on the threshold of clinching the NL Central division title. Milwaukee put their celebration on hold with a 5-4 win on Thursday night, but that was only temporary until St. Louis lost later in the evening. The Crew went on to win the four game series, three games to two. Going into Monday’s action the Brewers are still in fourth place in the NL Central with a 68-82 record, 26.5 games behind Chicago.

Offensively speaking: Chris Carter hit a couple homers in the Cubs series and still leads the team with 36 dingers. He also leads the team in strikeouts with 191, and that sets a new franchise record. Jose Hernandez had 188 K’s in 2002. Ryan Braun hit a pair of homers and drove in five runs in the Brewers 11-3 win over the Cubs on Saturday. It’s Braun’s sixth multi-homer game this season.

Pitching in: Junior Guerra threw six scoreless innings in the win over the Reds and lowered his season ERA to 2.81 in the process. He has since been shut down for the remainder of the season in an effort to protect his arm, after throwing a career high 148 1/3 innings between Milwaukee and Colorado Springs. Wily Peralta had a good outing on Sunday with six innings of one run ball to beat the Cubs and improve to 7-10 on the season. He also chipped in a single.

Injuries and roster moves: Michael Blazek has been throwing simulated games and the goal is to get him healthy and end the season on a positive note. “I’d like to get him game action,” manager Craig Counsell said. “That’s a goal, to get him game action, but the No. 1 goal is to have him feel healthy, just because I think game action is the last step of feeling healthy … but not at the risk of anything else.” Keon Broxton fractured his right wrist in a collision with the Wrigley Field wall last Friday. Michael Reed was recalled to take his place. Kirk Nieuwenhuis replaced Broxton in the game but also left due to a lower abdominal strain, so right now it looks like Reed will get the bulk of the center field starts going forward.

Down on the farm: Prospects Nathan Kirby and Taylor Williams both spent the entire Minor League season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, but are on track to take part in the Brewers’ fall instructional league. Kirby is ranked as the Brewers #22 prospect according to MLBPipeline.com. #17 prospect Ryan Cordell had a high ankle sprain in August and will be added to the instructional league. He’s the outfielder that came over from Texas in the Jonathan Lucroy trade.

The week ahead: Well, this is it – the last home stand of 2016. After today’s off day, Pittsburgh is in for three games and Cincinnati visits for Fan Appreciation Weekend. Next Monday the Crew will be in Texas to start the final week of the season. Probable pitchers are Matt Garza, Jimmy Nelson, and Chase Anderson for the Pirates series.

Random notes: If you were under a rock this past week you probably missed the 2017 schedule release. The Brew Crew kick off the season on Monday, April 3, at home against Colorado at 1:10 p.m. Interleague includes games against the AL East, so fans can party like it’s 1982 all over again. Boston visits Miller Park for the first time since 2003, and the Brewers also welcome Toronto and Baltimore to town. Milwaukee visits New York and Toronto. The annual border battle is on with Minnesota both in Target Field and Miller Park for two games apiece. You can see the entire 2017 schedule here.

Later this week I’ll have a blog post about a very special moment in Brewers history – the last time a starting pitcher won twenty games in a season. It was 30 years ago and the guy? Teddy Higuera.

Please feel free to share this article to your favorite social media sites with the buttons below the logo.  I also encourage you to visit the following sites where I am a contributor:

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1980’s Baseball

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Milwaukee Brewers Research – A Cup of Coffee with Ray Peters

The baseball definition for a “Cup of Coffee” is a short time spent by a minor leaguer at the major league level.  One way a player can get a cup of coffee is via the September call-up when teams are allowed to expand their rosters from 25 players to 40.  Many players joining teams during September make just an appearance or two, and never return to the big leagues.

In 1970, the first year of Milwaukee Brewers baseball, there were two such cup of coffee player appearances.  Both are notable because they came prior to the September call-ups.  Pitcher Ray Peters made just two starts and saw his major league career last about a week.

Raymond James Peters was born in Buffalo, New York, on August 27, 1946.  In his playing days he was listed as 6’5” and 225 pounds.  Peters had four pitches he relied upon – a fastball, big curve, changeup, and breaking slider.  He said his curve and fastball were generally his strongest pitches.

Peters went to Nickols High School in his native Buffalo and the big right-hander quickly made a name for himself on the mound.  He decided to attend Harvard University and stuck with it until graduation, even as teams tried to draft him.  Peters was determined to get his degree from Harvard and in each case the money offered wasn’t enough to sway his decision.

The Detroit Tigers were the first team to draft Peters as they chose him in the 28th round of the 1965 MLB June Amateur Draft.  Next the Kansas City Athletics picked him in the 5th round of the 1967 MLB June Draft – Secondary Phase.  After the Athletics moved to Oakland they again selected Peters, this time in the 2nd round of the 1968 MLB January Draft – Secondary Phase. The New York Mets also drafted Peters while he was in college.  They picked him in the 3rd round of the 1968 MLB June Draft – Secondary Phase.

Peters finally decided to sign with the Seattle Pilots after they chose him in the first round of the 1969 MLB January Draft – Secondary Phase.  He finished with a college record of 17-5 and kept his earned run average under 2.00 in both his sophomore and junior seasons.  Peters also hit well in college with a .286 in his first season and .273 the next.  He was named to the Sporting News All-American Team in 1968.

Norm Shepard, his coach at Harvard, once said, “A pitcher like Ray comes along just once in a while. He was one that could throw the ball by the hitter. You don’t get a real stopper like Ray every day.”

Peters graduated with a degree in South American History before reporting to the Pilots minor leagues. He had a great 1969 season covering three levels, finishing with a combined 12-4 record and a 2.98 ERA.  It looked like Peters had a real opportunity to move up to the expansion Pilots and help the team.  When the team was bought in bankruptcy court and moved to Milwaukee in 1970, Peters stuck with the club but did not make the roster out of spring training.  He was sent to the minors until being called up on June 1.

While Peters was not pitching particularly well for Portland, the Brewers had been scuffling in the standings and had suffered a rash of injuries to their pitching staff.  The team was also about to kick off a four game series with the Cleveland Indians which included a doubleheader on June 2.  An extra arm was needed immediately.

Peters made his debut against the Indians on June 4 in an 8-4 loss at Milwaukee County Stadium.  Just 8625 fans were on hand to see Peters pitch two innings while giving up six hits, four earned runs, and three walks.  He did record a strikeout against Ray Fosse.  In all, 15 batters came to the plate against #41.

Peters said he had two favorite hitters at the time – righty Al Kaline (future Hall of Famer) and lefty Vada Pinson.  In his short career, Peters was fortunate enough to face both Kaline and Pinson.  He managed to get Pinson to fly out in the Indians game.

On June 9, Peters made his second and final start and got to face Kaline and the Detroit Tigers. Peters was removed from the game in the first inning without recording an out.  He was taken out with the bases loaded after giving up a single and two walks – including a walk to Kaline.

Kaline turned out to be the final batter Peters would face in his major league career.  Peters was relieved by Skip Lockwood.  The next hitter struck out before Lockwod gave up a grand slam to Willie Horton.

In two games his final line was two innings with seven hits and five walks.  He was blasted for seven earned runs for a 31.50 ERA with a 0-2 record.  No one hit Peters hard in the two games.  He only gave up singles and four of those were broken bat bloopers.

The timing of that second poor start for Peters couldn’t have come at a worse time.  Outfielder Steve Hovely was traded to the Athletics and in return the Crew received infielder Tito Francona and pitcher Al Downing.  To make room for the extra player the Brewers sent Peters back to Portland.  He would never return to the big leagues.

Peters spent the bulk of 1970 pitching for the AAA Portland Beavers.  Many Brewers pitchers have admitted that it was a tough stadium to pitch in, and the team wasn’t very good overall.  Peters started 24 games for Portland and had one relief appearance, posting a 5.78 earned run average over 134 innings with 109 strikeouts.  His record was 7-10 that season.  Peters also made three starts for Jacksonville of the AA Southern League with better results – a 2.70 ERA over 20 innings pitched.

Peters was dropped back to AA ball in 1971, but only made one appearance for the Brewers team in Evansville before being traded with slugging catcher/first baseman Pete Koegel to Philadelphia.  The Brew Crew netted Johnny Briggs in what is still considered one of the more lopsided trades in team history.  Briggs smacked 80 homers and drove in 259 with a .258 batting average across five seasons. He also had some versatility, playing all three outfield spots, first base, and designated hitter.  By the time Briggs was traded to the Minnesota Twins in 1975, he was the Brewers all-time home run leader.

On the other side, Koegel would appear in just 53 games for the Phillies in 1971-72, and hit just .173 in that time frame.  The Phillies assigned Peters to their AA Eugene team for the remainder of the 1971 season where he logged 100 innings, but pitched to a 2-9 record with a 5.67 ERA.  He hung up his spikes after that and has cited injuries as a reason to leave the game.

There isn’t any Topps baseball card of Peters, but a card was included in the Brewers 1994 25th anniversary card set.  Peters did have a photo taken on one knee (see photos below this article) at County Stadium after he was called up to pitch for the Brewers.  It was the head shot portion of this photo that was used for the anniversary card in 1994.

The Harvard Hall of Fame inducted Peters in 1993.  In 2010 he was diagnosed with autoimmune autonomic ganglionopathy (AAG)—a rare disorder characterized by failure of the autonomic nervous system.  He was successfully treated for the disease with a combination of steroids and a drug that suppresses the antibodies. Today he lives in Texas with his wife Janis.  They were married in 1970 on an off day while Peters was with Portland.

In 2015 an article was posted on the Baseball Hall of Fame site about Peters and his wife visiting Cooperstown for the first time.  Peters was wowed by the museum and looked great wearing a Seattle Pilots polo shirt.

Cheers to Ray Peters!  He has a place in my historical book about the Milwaukee Brewers early years.

Bruce Brubaker also had a cup of coffee on that original Brewers team by appearing in one game before being returned to the minors.  You can read my profile of Brubaker here.

Please feel free to share this article to your favorite social media sites with the buttons below the photos.  I also encourage you to visit the following sites where I am a contributor:

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1980’s Baseball

And check out my Facebook author page for articles like this and much more!

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The original Ray Peters County Stadium photo

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Head shot used for 25th anniversary card

 

 

Milwaukee Brewers Week in Review: September 5-11

The week in review:  The Milwaukee Brewers kicked off last week with a big 12-5 win over the Chicago Cubs at home, and followed that with a 2-1 win to take the series.  They moved on to St. Louis and again won big by a 12-5 score. The four game series was ultimately split.  After the Cards won the middle two games, Milwaukee won 2-1 on Sunday.  Going into Monday’s action the Brewers are 64-79, good for fourth place in the NL Central and 27.5 games behind the division-leading Cubs.

Offensively speaking:  The team had tons of offense in their rout of the Cubs and Cardinals in their 12-5 wins.  Against the Cubs, Ryan Braun drove in four runs and Hernan Perez had four hits.  Perez had another four hit night and Orlando Arcia chipped in three hits, plus the team managed back-to-back homers for the seventh time on the season.  Perez is hitting .458 in his last 24 at bats.

Pitching in: Matt Garza had a nice start against the Cubs in the 2-1 game. He tossed six innings and gave up just three hits and a run.  On Sunday it was Zach Davies turn to be the mound star in the 2-1 win over the Cardinals.  He went 7 1/3 innings, giving up five hits and one run, while striking out seven batters.

Injuries and roster moves: The final September call-ups were pitcher Taylor Jungmann from the Biloxi Shuckers, catcher Andrew Susac from Colorado Springs, and pitcher Damien Magnifico also from the Sky Sox.

Down on the farm: The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers bowed out of the Midwest League Class A playoffs Thursday night after being swept by the Cedar Rapids Kernals.

The week ahead:  The Crew begin a three game series in Cincinnati tonight.  They move on to Chicago for a four game set with the Cubs over the weekend.  Next Monday is an off day.  Probable pitchers for the Reds series are Wily Peralta, Matt Garza, and Junior Guerra.

Random notes: Later this week I’ll have a blog post about the cup of coffee career of early Brewers player Ray Peters.

Please feel free to share this article to your favorite social media sites with the buttons below the logo.  I also encourage you to visit the following sites where I am a contributor:

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1980’s Baseball

And check out my Facebook author page for articles like this and much more!

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Milwaukee Brewers Research Interview – John Morris

Left-handed pitcher John Morris was born on August 23, 1941 in Lewes, Delaware.  He played baseball as he grew up and was signed by the Philadelphia Phillies shortly after high school, in 1960 as an amateur free agent.

Morris spent the next few years toiling away in the Phillies minor league system, and made his major league debut with the team on July 19, 1966.  He appeared in 13 games during the remainder of the season, posting a 5.27 earned run average.  The team sent him back to the minors for the entire 1967 season.

After the 1967 season Morris was sent to the Baltimore Orioles to complete an earlier deal between the two teams.  In 1968 he pitched for the Orioles and made the most of his new surroundings and opportunity.  Over the course of 31 innings he put up a 2.56 ERA, but the Orioles still placed him into the 1968 expansion draft for the new Kansas City Royals and Seattle Pilots.  Morris wound up becoming the 52nd pick by the Seattle Pilots in the draft.

Morris pitched for the Pilots in their lone 1969 season and remained with the team after they were purchased in bankruptcy court and became the Milwaukee Brewers.  He made the team out of spring training and was there for the franchise’s first home opener at Milwaukee County Stadium.  He recalls, “The opener was electric – Milwaukee is a close knit community.”

As many Brewers fans know, the team was beaten soundly 12-0 on their first opening day.  By the time it was over, 16 players could say they appeared in the team’s first ever franchise game.  Morris was one of them, as he pitched the final two innings, giving up a hit and a run.

Morris started the year in the bullpen but didn’t stay there for long.  Early on it was apparent that the back end of the starting rotation was not completely solid.  Manager Dave Bristol made some changes by May, having Morris replace George Lauzerique in the starting rotation, which gave Milwaukee a much needed left-handed starter.  The Brewers opened the season as the only American League team without a southpaw starter.  Morris commented in the newspapers that he “felt better suited to be a starter in the major leagues.”  The consistent schedule of starting games allowed him to focus more on being the best pitcher he could be.

Morris entered the rotation with an excellent outing against the New York Yankees at home on May 13th.  He says, “My first start in the majors was against the Yankees. I threw 9 innings with only three hits and one run.  We won 3-1.”

His time in the rotation was short however, as a kidney ailment forced him onto the disabled list in late May.  It turned out to be a long and tough summer for the pitcher and he remained on the DL until mid-September.  His return was a source of encouragement for the team, as they were desperately battling to finish in fourth place in the American League West division after a poor start to the season.

Manager Dave Bristol immediately inserted Morris back into the starting rotation. While Morris only lasted a little over four innings and took the loss in his first game, a number of his teammates commented on how good it was to see him on the mound after such a long layoff.  Morris says as a player he taught himself to “always expect the best” and lived up to those expectations by winning his final two starts of 1970.

The Brewers beat California 7-4 in their final home game of the 1970 season. Only 6549 fans were in the ballpark to see their Brewers explode for six runs in the first two innings and then cruise to victory behind the arms of Morris, John Gelnar, and Ken Sanders.  Morris says his best friend on the team was Sanders.  Ironically, it was the kidney ailment by Morris and an injury to another pitcher that opened the door for Sanders and Dave Baldwin to come up from the Portland minor league team and prove their worth at the big league level.

It turned out that 1970 was the high water mark for innings pitched by Morris in a single season, as he started nine games and relieved another 11, for a total of 73.1 innings.  Morris was not known as a big strikeout pitcher as he fanned just 40 batters – roughly one every other inning.  But he kept his ERA to 3.93 for the year.

Morris had another consistent season in 1971, mostly in relief this time.  He appeared in a lot more games – 43 overall – and threw 67.2 innings. It was his final season in a Brewers uniform.

The Milwaukee Journal headline on October 21, 1971, proclaimed “Brewers Trade Last Original.”  Morris was the last remaining member of the roster from opening day in 1970 until being traded to the San Francisco Giants.  Morris had been assigned to the Double A Evansville roster at the end of the season by the Brewers, paving the way for the trade.  He had the distinction of being the only other pitcher besides Ken Sanders to earn a save in the 1971 season for the Brew Crew.

He did not pitch much for the Giants in his final years – and in fact he threw just 6.1 innings in both 1972 and 1973.  He managed 20.2 innings in 1974.  The Giants bounced him between their Phoenix minor league team and the majors over the course of those three years.

Morris threw his last pitch for the Giants on October 2, 1974. He reported to spring training with the team in 1975 but was released just prior to opening day.  He retired from baseball soon afterward and finished his career with a 11-7 record with a 3.95 ERA over 232.1 innings pitched.  He appeared in 132 games, and all but 10 were in relief.  During his playing days Morris stood 6’ 2” and weighed 195 pounds.

After baseball Morris worked in sales for the purification of water for 15 years. He joined the Phoenix International Church of Christ non-denominational. Today Morris enjoys his retirement by playing a lot of golf near his home in Scottsdale, Arizona.

As for his time with the Brewers, Morris says he “felt privileged to be part of the franchise” and the “fans met us with open arms.”

My thanks to John Morris for taking the time to answer my questions about his time with the Milwaukee Brewers!

Please feel free to share this article to your favorite social media sites with the buttons below the photos.  I also encourage you to visit the following sites where I am a contributor:

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And check out my Facebook author page for articles like this and much more!

John Morris baseball card

John’s Topps card (click to enlarge images)

John Morris back of card

The back of John’s card

Milwaukee Brewers Week in Review: August 29-September 5

The week in review:  The Milwaukee Brewers kicked off last week with two losses to the St. Louis Cardinals followed by a 3-1 in the finale of that series.  They went on a short weekend three game road trip to Pittsburgh and swept the Pirates. On Labor Day they welcomed the Chicago Cubs to Miller Park and were beaten 7-2.  Going into Tuesday night’s action the Crew are 60-77, good for fourth place in the NL Central.

Offensively speaking:  Keon Broxton and Chris Carter are both over .300 in their last 20 at bats or so.  Carter bopped three homers this past week to run his team leading total to 33 on the year.  He added 7 runs batted in.  Ryan Braun hit his 25th homer on Sunday in the losing effort to the Cubs.

Pitching in: Chase Anderson had a heck of a game going on Sunday against the Pirates. He threw just 65 pitches over 5 innings, giving up 5 hits and no walks.  Manager Craig Counsell had his crystal ball going.  He pinch hit Jonathan Villar for Anderson and Villar smacked a grand slam en route to a 10-0 shutout.  Anderson picked up the win.  Scoreless relief of late has come from a number of guys including Jacob Barnes, Michael Blazek, Blain Boyer. Junior Guerra came off the DL and went 3.1 innings, scattering 5 hits and 2 walks.

Injuries and roster moves: GM David Stearns ended August by trading minor league outfielder Eric Young Jr. to the Yankees for cash. If he had appeared for the Brewers in a game he would have joined Tito/Terry Francona and Dave/Derrick May as father/sons that played for the Crew – as EY Jr’s father played for the Crew. You can read my post from earlier this year of these fathers and sons here.

September call-ups/DL activations so far include RHP Jacob Barnes, RHP Ben Rowen, RHP Junior Guerra, RHP Michael Blazek, and infielder Yadiel Rivera. Stearns says there may be a couple more call-ups today – possibly including pitcher Taylor Jungmann – by the time you read this.

The player to be named later in the Jonathan Lucroy/Jeremy Jeffress trade to Texas has been named. It’s outfielder and #6 Rangers prospect Ryan Cordell.

Down on the farm: The class A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers made the playoffs after a big push in August and early September! The T-rats finished 37-33 and will take on Cedar Rapids at home on Wednesday night.

Players have been announced for the Arizona Fall League. Top prospects representing the Crew on the Salt River Rafters include outfielder Brett Phillips, catcher Jacob Nottingham, infielder Isan Diaz.  Pitchers include Tayler Scott, Tyler Spurlin, Josh Uhen.  There will be another player named soon.

The week ahead:  The Brewers continue the home stand with two more games against the Cubs.  They hit the road after that and head to St. Louis for a four game set with the Cardinals.  Probable pitchers for the upcoming games are Wily Peralta, Matt Garza, and your guess is as good as mine. The word is Counsell will be fronting a six man rotation for the remainder of the season.

Random notes: Later this week I’ll have a post about original Brewers pitcher John Morris. He was kind enough to answer some questions I had for my historical Brewers book. John, in fact, was the last player from the opening day 1970 roster to be traded.

Just eight home games remain for the Crew this season. I’ll be attending at least one on the final weekend, as is my annual tradition.

Please feel free to share this article to your favorite social media sites with the buttons below the logo.  I also encourage you to visit the following sites where I am a contributor:

Baseball Bloggers Alliance

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MLB Trade Rumors

1980’s Baseball

And check out my Facebook author page for articles like this and much more!

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Writing Archive – The Last Dinosaur

 I like to call my early stories “little kid writing.”  Ahhhh…those were the days.  I had yet to discover quotation marks so of course any conversations weren’t set off from the actual story.  This particular story ends pretty abruptly, and as far as I can can tell it was due to me running out of lined paper!  So here is…

The Last Dinosaur

Chapter One

Dave and Dick were brothers.  They were always learning about history.  Their favorite thing to learn in history was dinosaurs.  Sometimes they would hunt for fossils.  One day they found almost half of a Triceratops.  Once Dick was reading a magazine called Dinosaurs.  He read about a man who thought he saw a dinosaur.  The man was Joe Simpson.  He lived near Dave and Dick.  Dave said they should go see Joe Simpson.  So they set off to Joe’s farm.  When they got there they saw a man.  Dave said that must be Joe Simpson.  Joe was walking back to his barn when he saw Dave and Dick.  Hi there he called.  I know why you are here.  The dinosaur column Dick said.  Dave asked will you answer some questions?  Why sure said Joe.  Anything to help you.  Where did you see the dinosaur Dick asked.  In the woods.  I went after my horse.  She got away from me and I chased her into the woods.  There I saw a Triceritops.  He was ramming into a tree with his horns.  What time did you see him Dave asked.  About four thirty in the afternoon.  What day?  Three days ago on Tuesday.  Thank you for your answers.  We have to leave now Dick said.  Good bye now boys.  On the way back to their house Dave and Dick saw a man.  He asked do you know where Joe Simpson lives?  Joe and I used to be buddies.  Then Joe moved.  Just down the road sir.  It’s the first house.  Thank you boys the man said.  When Dave and Dick got home they were very tired because they had walked five miles.  They went to their room and lay down on the bunk bed.  Dave said we’ll go to Joe’s farm tomorrow.  Dick said we can ask Joe to show us where he saw the dinosaur.  It’s time for supper Dick said.  Well let’s go.  Dave and Dick ate supper and they played three games of checkers.  Then they were sleepy from the day’s long walk to Joe’s farm.

Chapter Two

The next day Dave and Dick went back to Joe’s house.  They found him just walking out to his barn.  Hi boys he said.  Hello Dave called.  Joe could you show us where you last saw the dinosaur Dick asked.  Sure.  I’ll show you where I last saw him and his tracks in the mud.  Soon they were in the woods.  There’s the tracks Joe said.

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Hey mom - someday I'm going to work at a newspaper and look just like this!

Hey mom – someday I’m going to work at a newspaper and look just like this!

Milwaukee Brewers Week in Review: August 22-28

The week in review:  It was a tale of two home series this past week for the Milwaukee Brewers.  They started out a ten game home stand with wins over the Colorado Rockies by scores of 4-2, 6-4, and 7-1.  The Pittsburgh Pirates came to town over the weekend and swept the Crew in a four game series.  Going into Monday’s action the Brewers are 56-74, a half game ahead of Cincinnati in the battle for fourth or last place in the NL Central.

Offensively speaking:  Hernan Perez continues to flash some power.  He had two homers and six RBI’s over the last seven games. Perez also added three steals to his credit.  Jonathan Villar had two steals to reach an even 50 for the year. Orlando Arcia hit .318 in his last 22 at bats, including knocking his first big league homer.

Pitching in:  Zach Davies threw six innings, working around 5 hits and 3 walks to pick up a win. Tyler Cravy had some good scoreless work out of the bullpen this past week – and he hit a home run in his first MLB at bat!  On the opposite end of the spectrum, tough outings for Matt Garza and Chase Anderson last week.

Injuries and roster moves:  Some rehab assignments this week for RHP Jacob Barnes (Biloxi Shuckers), RHP Junior Guerra (Colorado Springs Sky Sox) and infielder Will Middlebrooks (Biloxi).

Down on the farm: Biloxi had their five game winning streak snapped over the weekend.  Middelbrooks went 2 for 4 with an RBI in his first rehab start.  The Shuckers are chasing the Mississippi Braves, but sit six games back with time running out.  The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers have also been hot – all through August to be exact.  The class A club claimed their fourth straight win on Sunday behind Isan Diaz’s 20th homer.  He just needs two more to tie for the franchise single season record.  The T-rats are just a half game behind Burlington in the race for a wild card.

The week ahead:  The Brewers continue the home stand with three games against St. Louis starting tonight.  After an off day on Thursday, they spend the weekend in Pittsburgh before traveling back to Miller Park on Labor Day for a series with the Chicago Cubs.  Probably pitchers for the Cards series are Zach Davies, Wily Peralta, and Matt Garza.

Random notes:  It sounds like some of the September “call-ups” will be guys returning from the DL, such as Guerra, Middlebrooks, Barnes, and Michael Blazek.  Guerra had a successful rehab outing and fully expects to rejoin the team this Friday in Pittsburgh.  It remains to be seen who the potential legit call-ups might be when rosters expand.

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Writing Archive – Lifelong Lessons Learned from a Summer Job

Here’s a wonderful high school essay assignment – write about how you spent the summer and if you actually learned anything from it!  While I wrote that I gained some great life experience, I don’t think I took any of these lessons to heart until I was an adult.

Lifelong Lessons Learned From a Summer Job

Last Summer I learned values of discipline, responsibility, and a trade while on a cement construction job. The job was with my father’s company, so I had to prove capable of the work. I didn’t want favoritism from my father either. I really had to earn my keep.

The responsibilities came early in the morning, sometimes before 5 a.m. Sometimes I had to get up early because we had incredible amounts of work on particular days. I scoffed at rising early one night in my first week of work. At 1 a.m. I was still awake, fully aware that at 4:30 a.m. we had to leave to complete a large driveway. I was dead on my feet, but I still worked as hard as I could. This taught me the quality of work goes down when employees burn the candle at both ends. When I started to go to bed earlier, I felt more relaxed and the work seemed easier. That was just one way I became more disciplined.

Hot days were a good test of my will because I had to resist the temptation to complain, or whine to my father. On one such occasion, he left me alone on a job. I was left with a wallish mass of cement blocks, a wheelbarrow, and 90 degree heat. My task was to load the wheelbarrow with the blocks and wheel it about fifty yards to the street curb. I worked hard and completed most of the job before my father returned. He gave me a compliment which gave me a good feeling of responsibility.

A large aspect of the job was getting along with my co-workers. We had to know each other’s actions before they happened. That may sound strange, but it was a tremendous factor in doing a quality job. I felt that by the end of the summer we worked together extremely well. We had our differences early on, mostly because I thought I was privileged. I quickly learned to handle myself, and act more mature.

Maturity showed the customers that I wouldn’t just fool around and ruin their job. The customer also found that our company took the time to care about the job and not just personal monetary goals. My father passed some words of wisdom on to me. He said, “The customer is the most important part of our business. Without the customer, we would not own this company.” It made me realize what every type of work is about.

Finally, I learned a trade and some very important values that will have an effect on me for life. The experience was well worth it!

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One of Dad's construction trucks

One of Dad’s construction trucks

Awww, youth is wasted on the wrong people!

Awww, youth is wasted on the wrong people!

Milwaukee Brewers Week in Review: August 15-21

The week in review:  The Milwaukee Brewers ended their week on a high note with a dramatic comeback victory over Seattle on Sunday, as they put up four runs in the ninth inning. The rest of the week was one the players and fans would like to forget. The Crew lost six straight, dropping four games to the Chicago Cubs and then the first two in Seattle.  Most of the losses weren’t close other than a 7-6 score in the first game of the Mariners series. Going into Monday’s action, the Brewers are 53-70, tied for fourth/last place in the NL Central with the Cincinnati Reds.  The teams are 25 games behind the front running Cubs.

Offensively speaking: How about outfielder Keon Broxton slugging a couple homers on Sunday to lead the team? It was a perfect way for Manager Craig Counsell to celebrate his birthday. Broxton led the team in hits and batting average this past week – and also strikeouts. Chris Carter has upped his batting average of late, hitting .273 over 22 at bats with two homers. He leads the team with 29 homers for the year.

Pitching in: How long has it been since a left hander started a game for the Brewers? You’d have to go back to 2013 and (not Randy Wolf) Tom Gorzelanny.  Counsell says there isn’t any one reason for the long drought, but it is “kind of fluky.” Lefty Brent Suter made his debut this past Friday after being summoned from Colorado Springs and will now move to a bullpen role.  He is certainly someone to watch after tearing it up with the Sky Sox this season.  Bright spots on the pitching staff this past week came from Tyler Thornburg, Tyler Cravy, and Carlos Torres with scoreless relief. Thornburg earned a win on Sunday in the comeback game.

Injuries and roster moves:  There were a number of moves this past week. RHP Michael Blazek went on the DL first and Tyler Cravy was recalled to take his spot. Next RHP Damien Magnifico was recalled from the Sky Sox and 1B Andy Wilkens was sent back down. It was good to see right fielder Domingo Santana come off the DL, giving him time to salvage the season and look toward next year. Outfielder Ramon Flores was designated for assignment upon Santana’s return. Finally, in need of a starter, Brent Suter was called up and Magnifico sent down – so his stay in the bigs was pretty short – for now, at least. Starting pitcher Junior Guerra is working toward a return from elbow soreness. He threw a 30 pitch bullpen session in Seattle on Saturday and is scheduled for a couple innings of simulated action against batters back at Miller Park today. If all goes well he will be sent out on a minor league rehab assignment next.

Down on the farm: Pitching prospect Josh Hader threw six innings of shutout ball on Sunday and struck out 12 batters in the process – including Carlos Gomez – the guy he was traded for last year. It was Hader’s first win at the Triple A level. The Sky Sox are currently 6.5 games behind front running Oklahoma City. Brett Phillips leads Biloxi with 53 runs and RBI’s. Clint Coulter has a 13 game hitting streak going with the Shuckers. Off the field, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers welcomed former Brewers great Don Money for a meet and greet on Sunday.

The week ahead:  The team is back at home for a nine game home stand to wrap up August, starting off with three games against Colorado. On Thursday Pittsburgh comes to town for a three game weekend series. Probable pitchers are Jimmy Nelson, Chase Anderson, and Zach Davies.

Random notes: The recent word from GM David Stearns is the Crew won’t be “filling the dugout” with a bunch of extra players come September. Right now they’re trying to figure out who they want to look at in the last month, but some of the guys such as Orlando Arcia are already on the team. The last six weeks figure to be development time for many players and with a lot of upcoming games against better teams, fans shouldn’t be expecting too many wins. After this home stand the team has just nine games at home in September and October.

Today is former Brewers Hall of Famer Paul Molitor’s 60th birthday.  Happy Birthday to the Ignitor!

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