’82 All Over Again!

Friday October 7th, 2011 – Dubuque, IA

I was late for call time at my show tonight, but I had to watch my hometown Milwaukee Brewers advance to the National League Championship Series. I wanted to let as much of it soak in as possible, as it’s been almost thirty years since the last time I got to taste this.

What a freeze frame in time that whole experience was. I’m sure everyone else who was alive in 1982 has vivid memories of that year just like I do. The whole city was alive with a buzz of pure electricity like I’d never felt before. We all became a single source of civic pride, a unified throbbing pulse bonded by the Brewers. How could anyone not love it?

Older people then said it reminded them of the Milwaukee Braves going to the Series in 1957, but I wasn’t around for that one. I’d heard about it quite a bit from my grandpa, and he said that was a surreal experience too. I was sorry we didn’t get a chance to bask in ‘82 glory together, as he died in December of ‘81. It would’ve been one of my best memories.

Even without him, it was still pretty special. I remember everyone in town wearing their Brewers t-shirts and jerseys and caps and jackets, and at the time I was working at a steak house as a grill cook and hating my life. A street vendor came in the restaurant and started selling Brewers souvenirs to customers and staff, and people were buying it up like crazy.

Nobody kicked the guy out, and when he left we waved and thanked him for stopping in to see us. Would that ever happen in any other situation? If I decided to randomly wander into a restaurant out of the blue and started selling comedy videos or joke books, I’m sure I’d have to spend at least one night in jail. Not that guy. He made money and we loved it.

I also distinctly remember turning down a chance to see one of the World Series games at County Stadium because the ticket cost $50 at the time. That’s laughable now, but $50 was a lot of money back then to a 19 year old kid who was living on his own and needed money to pay rent. I assumed they’d go back again and I’d see it then. How wrong I was.

Now it’s almost thirty years later, and I still regret not buying that ticket. I would have long forgotten that fifty bucks, but I’d have the experience forever. People of all ages and colors and backgrounds were only ONE thing – Brewer fans. It was a wonderful feeling of unity and pride and excitement that’s painfully lacking in ‘normal’ life. This was special.

This year’s team hasn’t made it to the World Series just yet, but the feeling was exactly the same as I watched the winning hit by Nyjer Morgan, who will be remembered forever just like Hank Aaron for his winning home run in ’57 and Cecil Cooper for his famous hit in ’82. I can still picture his hands motioning for the ball to get down as he ran, and it did.

Memories like this are far too rare for me to let this opportunity pass. If they should get into the World Series again, I’ll sell a kidney if I have to so I can be there and experience it live and in the flesh. Plus, they’ll have beaten the dreaded St. Louis Cardinals and got a sweet payback from that crushing defeat in ‘82. This will be a year to remember forever!


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