MILWAUKEE -- Happy birthday, Coop.
That was the sentiment in the Milwaukee Brewers' corner of social media on Tuesday, when Cecil Cooper, the sweet-swinging Brewers first baseman and a member of the club's Walk of Fame at Miller Park, celebrated his 67th birthday.
Online well wishes prompted a specific memory for Brewers fans of a certain age, who forever will connect Cooper with one of the best moments in franchise history. His go-ahead single in decisive Game 5 of the 1982 American League Championship Series against the Angels, which Cooper willed to the grass in shallow left field at County Stadium, sent the fans into a frenzy and the Brewers to their only World Series.
But it was not the only big hit in club lore.
Candidates for the biggest hit in Brewers' history range from the merely memorable -- Sixto Lezcano's walk-off grand slam on Opening Day in 1980, Rick Manning's walk-off single with Paul Molitor and his 39-game hitting streak on deck in '87, and Bill Hall's pink bat blast on Mother's Day in '06 -- to the truly impactful.
There was Hank Aaron's 755th and final home run. Ned Yost's homer over Fenway Park's Green Monster as the Brewers chased the AL East crown in '82. Robin Yount's two home runs off Jim Palmer in the all-or-nothing '82 regular-season finale and big blasts for Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun against the Pirates down the stretch in 2008 to keep Milwaukee's Wild Card hopes alive.
Since it is Milwaukee, here is a six-pack of hits that stand above the rest. If you disagree, head to the comments to make your case.
6. Easter Sunday
For many fans in these parts, those two words are all you have to say. It was April 19, 1987, and the Brewers needed a crazy comeback against the Rangers to extend their season-opening winning streak to 12 games, an American League record. The Brewers trailed Texas entering the ninth inning at County Stadium, 4-1, before Rob Deer smashed a three-run home run off reliever Greg Harris to tie the game. Three batters later, after Jim Gantner worked a two-out walk, Dale Sveum won it with another homer. The Brewers won their next game, too, to match the Major League record for consecutive victories to begin a season.
5 and 4. Braun in '08, and again in '11
Eighth inning, tie game, trip to the postseason on the line. That was the scenario in the 2008 regular-season finale against the Cubs, and again on Sept. 23, 2011, against the Marlins. Both times, Braun went deep at Miller Park to extend the Brewers' season. His two-out, two-run homer off Chicago's Bob Howry in 2008 gave CC Sabathia the lead the lefty needed to seal the NL Wild Card, snapping Milwaukee's 26-year postseason drought. Three years later, Braun's three-run homer off Florida's Clay Hensley helped clinch the Brewers' first division title in 29 years.
3. "Three thousand for Robin"
Yount, the greatest Brewer of all time, sealed his spot in Cooperstown on Sept. 9, 1992, when Yount singled to right field off Cleveland's Jose Mesa for career hit No. 3,000. Fittingly, the first teammates to reach Yount at first base were his longtime teammates, Molitor and Gantner.
2. T-Plush tickles one up the middle
Nyjer Morgan and his many alter egos fit right in for the Brewers in 2011, when the spunky outfielder bounced a 10th-inning single up the middle off D-backs closer J.J. Putz, sending Carlos Gómez home for the winning run in Game 5 of the National League Division Series. It was Milwaukee's first postseason victory since Cooper's clutch hit won the ALCS in '82.
The Brewers were a team to be reckoned with for five straight seasons from 1978-82, but until Cooper connected for a two-run single against California reliever Luis Sanchez in the seventh inning of ALCS Game 5, they had never made it all the way to baseball's biggest stage -- the World Series.
Cooper willed them there, waving his arms in the style of Carlton Fisk until the baseball found safety, sending Charlie Moore and Gantner home with the two runs the Brewers needed to win the series. A seven-game World Series against the Cardinals would end in heartbreak, but the same fans who jumped for joy at Cooper's hit welcomed the team home with a parade down Wisconsin Ave. anyway.