The good ol' days
I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them.
-- Andy Bernard
Like many of us, my love of baseball and the Brewers started at a young age. My first baseball memory was 8-year-old me watching the 1981 Divisional Playoffs with my dad on ABC. Even though it was my first memory, I must have known enough to feel like Milwaukee was an underdog going against the big, bad Yankees, because I remember distinctly that feeling, and being so disappointed after game 5. But I will always fondly remember Paul Molitor's game three homerun and how good those Brewer uniforms looked under the bright lights that night.
After 1981, I was hooked and followed the Brewers a closely as I could. Back in 1982 I wore number 4 on my little league jersey. And even though there weren't many Brewer games on TV, the newspaper and 10pm news always had box scores and highlights. I was glued to the TV for game 162, and I watch the entire ALCS, except for the last 2 innings of game 5, which I listened to on the radio as we drove home from my grandparents' house. And I was utterly convinced the Brewers were destined to win the whole thing after winning game 5. When they didn't, I wasn't all that upset. They took the Yankees to the wire in 1981, and they were so close in 1982, it was natural for a 10-year-old to assume they'd be back in 1983. In all fairness, what 10-year-old could have foreseen the next 20+ years?
They're [expletive deleted]
-- Groundskeeper # 1
As the Brewers won less during the 1980s, my interest in baseball waned. I started playing football in 7th and 8th grades, and even when I stopped playing due to a knee injury football had become my primary love.
As for baseball, I was still a fan, but one of convenience. Maybe it was because of the success Milwaukee had when I was younger, before I understood how sports work, but I found it hard to watch then the games didn't mean everything. And even as the team rebounded back into relevance in 1987 and 1988 and they did have games which meant everything, it wasn't the same as it was earlier. As a baseball fan, I was lost, and it wasn't until 1992, with the help of Earl Weaver, I was found again.
The number 3 man (in your lineup) should be a contact guy who can hit with power. Stan Musial and Ted Williams were two of the best that ever lived. Pick a player like that.
-- Earl Weaver
Several things happened in 1992 which saw me rediscover baseball. I was a high school graduate with a bit more freedom and time on my hands. I still was a huge Packer fan, but in the spring of 1992 they were coming off a 4-12 season with a rookie head coach and a ton of questions. I also had a bit more money, which lead to two purchases which changed how I view baseball. The first was a computer game called Earl Weaver Baseball 2 with the all-important Commissioners Disk. This was quickly followed by the 1992 edition of The Sports Encyclopedia Baseball.
For those of you who never played it, Earl Weaver Baseball 2 was pretty incredible for its time. If you got version with the Commissioners Disk, not only did you get the game, but you also got full MLB rosters, plus all-time greats divided into AL, NL, and Negro League rosters by era. I had heard of guys like Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb, but who were Nap Lajoie or Ed Walsh or Cool Papa Bell? As I got into the game, I found you can use the player editor to add players, their statistics, and attributes. And best of all, you can create and draft your own teams based upon the pool of players you created. But wait, there is still more! You got to build your own management style and custom ballpark for each team. The more I played, and the more I learned about the past from the thickest book I'd ever seen, the more I was hooked.
Armed with EWB2 and a book of baseball stats back to 1901, a friend of mine and I built a pool of historical and current players, 8 teams, and a 152-game schedule. We held our draft on a train from Madison to Albany, NY in May, and had our league season that summer. EWB2 has the ability to simulate games, which we did for most of them, but the in-game action was good enough that we got together as often as possible to play games ourselves.
The game wasn't perfect by any means, but our results were still fascinating to us. In many ways, the game was very extreme. Players who had good years had really good ones, and those who didn't were often like the one Lou Gehrig suffered through in the printout above. But to watch a 152-game season with current stars like Ricky Henderson and Jose Canseco compete with and against all-time greats like Christy Mathewson and Walter Johnson never got old. It was my first experience with platoons, managing a pitching staff, and injuries. Our EWB2 World Series was held on the last day of the actual baseball season, and according to my somewhat incomplete season documentation, the Brewhas defeated the Sharks in 6 games. Bob Gibson beat Ed Walsh 4-1 behind 4 hits from Honus Wagner in game 6.
The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game -- it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and it could be again.
-- Terrence Mann
There was no 1993 Earl Weaver Baseball 2 season. My cohort and were busy with school and work, and neither of us had the time we needed to put into the game to make it interesting. But, thanks to the game and the Brewers run in 1992, my fandom was back.
During the 1992 season I watch more Brewer games than I ever had. I attended exactly one game in 1992, but at that game I watched from Lower Grandstand Section 16, Row 9, Seat 19 (seat 19!) as Robin Yount stroked hit number 3000 to right center off Jose Mesa. I was saddened by the team's playoff push falling a bit short, but I had a different perspective than I had when I was younger. I wasn't crushed like I was in '81, nor was I sure they'd be back in '93 like I was after the World Series. For the first time, I was able to enjoy the ride, and appreciate the season and the memories for what it was.
I can't say I followed every season thereafter with the same vigor I followed the 1992 team. I went from a student to a career in software, so I didn't have the same amount of time to put into baseball as I used to. But it was always there, even in the late 1990s and early 2000s when the Brewers fielded some pretty awful teams. In 2001 I got married and had two kids who needed to be converted from Cardinal fandom to Milwaukee, and a little startup website called Brewerfan.com helped me find the right community to do so.
Earl Weaver Baseball, 2022
As I wrote this article, I had to know if Earl Weaver Baseball 2 would run today. After a big of digging for the copyright protection wheel that game with my game, I fired up the game on DOSBOX. I lost four hours on Sunday to the game, and I don't mind one bit. It's not Out of Park Baseball, but it was everything I remember from 30 years ago. I still wanted to swing at everything, my teams defense still sucked, and runners on third still would run home on a 3-2 pitch with 2 outs and with the bases not loaded... and be tagged out at home when the batter walked. I love that game, but I still hate that bug.
Now, if we can only find the 2022 Brewers that ideal number 3 hitter Earl Weaver says you should pick...