Nyjer Morgan was a hero for Milwaukee.
The last time the Milwaukee Brewers won a division title Ronald Regan was the president of the United States, Michael Jackson had not yet released “Thriller,” and the San Francisco 49ers had only one Super Bowl Championship.
The year was 1982, and the Brewers were still in the American League. It was a best of five series against the California Angels.
The Angels had jumped out to a two-game lead after outscoring the Brewers 12-5 in the first two games. But this was a Brewers team that was not going to be denied.
After the first two contests, the series relocated to County Stadium for the remaining games. The next two games were both Brewers victories in which they never trailed. However, Game 5 was a different story.
Game 5 was a game in which Milwaukee had trailed 3-2 going into the seventh inning. But in that seventh inning the Brewers loaded the bases after two singles and a walk.
Up came first baseman Cecil Cooper, the man who would make Milwaukee history. His bases-loaded single drove home two runs, and the Brewers went on to win the game 4-3.
This was the last time that the Milwaukee Brewers had won a division title.
Fast forward to 2011. The Brewers are now in the National League and they are facing the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLDS.
The first two games were easy home wins for the Brewers. After two games in Milwaukee, the Brew Crew was traveling to Arizona having outscored the Diamondbacks 13-5.
But in Arizona the Diamondbacks turned it around. They won the next two games with ease as they outscored Milwaukee 18-7.
Just like in 1982, the Brewers were back fighting for a divisional title in Game 5.
Game 5, at that point, had been the most dramatic baseball game that I’ve ever seen. Milwaukee had been ahead 2-1 going into the ninth inning.
The top of the ninth saw Willie Bloomquist bunt in a tying run, and after the bottom of the inning went scoreless it was time for extra innings.
The top of the 10th inning was a fantastic pitching display by John Axford as he retired the first three batters.
Cue the dramatics in the bottom of the 10th. Centerfielder Carlos Gomez came up with no one on and one out. He proceeded to convert a base hit to left field.
Introduce Right fielder Nyjer Morgan. With Morgan at the plate Carlos Gomez steals second. The runner is in scoring position, and the Brewers have only one out. If only they could…
David Hernandez pitches and Morgan hits a ground ball to centerfield. It’s as if this next part happened in slow motion. Gomez starts rounding the bases and slides home to win the NLDS.
Miller Park erupts and the Brewer advance to the NLCS for the first time in their history. They’ll be playing for a pennant for the first time since 1982.
This was my favorite memory of this most recent MLB season. In my opinion, the Brewer’s game 5 symbolizes everything that this year’s MLB post-season was about.
Late game heroics, a never say die attitude, and a small-market team getting to play for it all. Isn’t that what this MLB season was really all about?