Brewers, fans mix at virtual happy hour

April 24th, 2020

MILWAUKEE -- offered a tour of his home office with a beer in hand. told of keeping his arm in shape thanks to his wife, Jonie, who is proving a quality throwing partner despite being five months pregnant. David Stearns showed off a new, self-inflicted buzz cut.

The Brewers are all staying safe at home these days, but that didn’t stop them from coming together on Thursday for what might have been a Major League first -- a virtual happy hour with a packed house of 1,000 fans.

“Normally, if I was stuck in front of my computer at 5 o'clock, then it would be an ‘unhappy hour,’” the Hall of Famer Yount quipped. “But under the circumstances, we’ll turn it into a happy hour.”

Brewers broadcaster Brian Anderson moderated the webinar, hosted by the Brewers and their friends at Molson Coors. Fans submitted questions and took part in a pair of polls. Yount, Woodruff and Stearns told stories ranging from Yount’s dinner with Bud Selig and Bob Uecker in Arizona before the state’s governor ordered residents to remain at home, to baseball memories from in the 2008 regular-season finale to Woodruff’s home run off Clayton Kershaw in the 2018 National League Championship Series.

Stearns, the Brewers’ president of baseball operations and general manager, was reminded this week how much he misses the game. He was channel surfing when he came across a rebroadcast of the 2018 National League Central tiebreaker game at Wrigley Field.

“We’re in a grind right now, all of us are,” Stearns said. “Regardless of where we are in life, this is affecting us in some capacity and we’re just trying to get through each day, make the most of each day. But when you see a moment like [the end of Game 163], it reminds you of how you felt, what it felt like to go through that as a community and how much our fanbase cares. …

“That really got my spirits up. It gave me a ton of motivation that when we get this thing going again, we need to experience moments like that. That’s what it’s all about. We know our fan base is sticking with us.”

Stearns hopes to experience those emotions again soon.

“Step 1 is we need an environment that’s safe for everyone to congregate in, right?” he said. “We need our health officials, our governmental officials, to tell us it’s safe. Once it’s safe, we can turn this thing on pretty quickly. ... I wish I could tell you when that will be. I would love to be able to break the news right here, but, obviously, we don’t know. The only thing we can do is be prepared when it comes.”

Woodruff is doing just that at home in Mississippi. The starting pitcher happened to build a home gym in his garage over the offseason, and it is coming in handy now. Last week, he and his dad built a makeshift pitchers’ mound in the backyard.

“If I’m on total lockdown, I’m going to have everything I need,” Woodruff said. “My wife, she’s actually been the best throwing partner out of everybody. She’s about five months pregnant, but she gets out there and throws. … If I throw it too hard or whatever, she lets me know quick.”

Later in the chat, Woodruff gave Jonie another shout-out. She is a nurse.

“We’re trying to get back to playing baseball as soon as we can, but it’s going to take everyone doing their part,” Woodruff said. “We play this game for the fans. … I’m going to do my best here in Mississippi to stay low-key so we can get back to playing baseball and playing in front of those fans.”

Yount had the last word.

“I just hope sooner than later we can figure out a way to get the game of baseball back on the field, whether it’s with fans in the stands or not,” Yount said. “Get games, live, real games that mean something. Even if it’s only on TV. Do you know how much that would mean to fans now?

“Whatever we can do to try to make that happen sooner than later is really in all of our best interests.”