MILWAUKEE -- When the Brewers laid plans to gather Robin Yount and Co. for a celebration of the 35th anniversary of the greatest team in franchise history, who knew the current club would stand in first place?Certainly not Yount himself."I think it caught us all a little bit by surprise,
MILWAUKEE -- When the Brewers laid plans to gather Robin Yount and Co. for a celebration of the 35th anniversary of the greatest team in franchise history, who knew the current club would stand in first place?
Certainly not Yount himself.
"I think it caught us all a little bit by surprise, where they're at right now," Yount said Friday, a day ahead of a pregame ceremony to honor the 1982 American League champions. "I was even in Spring Training for a week and got to see some of the guys, but I wasn't there long enough to get a feel for what we really had.
"The little bit I've seen of them, they sort off remind me of the late '70s Brewers, with power and speed. If we can get the pitching, I don't see why they can't continue to hang in there like they're doing. They're just playing great. They seem like a fun team to watch day and day out, with the power and speed and the way they play."
Yount can't shake the habit of referring to the Brewers as we, a common affliction for a 1982 Brewers team that featured four future Hall of Famers and countless more characters. They won the AL East with a pair of Yount home runs on the final day of the regular season, beat the Angels in a decisive Game 5 of the AL Championship Series on Cecil Cooper's go-ahead single and then played the Cardinals to the limit in a seven-game World Series.
Thirty-five years later, the box score still says the Brewers lost. And yet this collection of players remains celebrated in Milwaukee with the same fervor that gripped the city the day after Game 7, when an estimated 100,000 fans lined Wisconsin Ave. for the Brewers' trip to County Stadium, where 30,000 more fans awaited.
"We're still connected," Cooper said. "It's like we never left."
The Brewers are asking fans to get to their seats by 5:45 p.m. CT on Saturday for a pregame ceremony. Hall of Famers Yount and Rollie Fingers lead the list of attendees with Brewers founder Bud Selig, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown later this month. Audrey Kuenn will be there on behalf of late husband Harvey, the 1982 Brewers manager. Other players expected on hand include Jerry Augustine, Dwight Bernard, Mike Caldwell, Jamie Easterly, Jim Gantner, Larry Haney, Moose Haas, Larry Hisle, Pete Ladd, Don Money, Charlie Moore, Ben Oglivie, Ed Romero, Ted Simmons, Jim Slaton, Gorman Thomas and '82 AL CY Young Award winner Pete Vuckovich.
"When we all get back together in a room as a group, it's like we were all in the clubhouse just last night," Yount said. "Like we had a game last night and we're all back this morning. It's like no one ever left. It's pretty weird how that happens."
"We used to get on each other a lot when we played, and it doesn't stop after 35 years," said Fingers. "We still get on each other for things that happened in the past."
Thomas is a regular at Miller Park, but Cooper and Fingers are less frequent visitors.
"I don't watch a whole lot of baseball," said Fingers.
"He didn't when we played, either," Yount said. "He'd go out in the eighth inning. If you noticed, he was the one who always used to ride in the golf cart."
"It's a long way from out there," Fingers said.
They bantered Friday like it was still 1982, about everything from the size of their waistlines to the time Fingers faced Selig in batting practice. On Saturday, they will watch the 2017 Brewers face the Phillies.
"It seems like the Brewers are playing a great band of baseball," said Cooper. "Most of the names, I'm not familiar with. But the way they play, it sounds like, is the right way to play. … It's the same kind of a team."
Said Fingers: "The chemistry is working pretty good for them right now. They're picking each other up, and that's how you win."
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast.