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Brewers uniform numbers can be divided into two classes: those worn by the 1982 club and those not worn that season. Come to think of it, much of Brewers history can be divided that way. The 1982 Brewers are by far the most remembered and most adulated squad fielded in the team's history. I suspect many numbers worn by the 1982 club are still identified by a segment of Brewers fans with players on that team, regardless of subsequent history.
As luck would have it, this week's number, #24, was worn by an integral member of the only Brewers pennant-winner. However, he is one of twelve players to wear that uniform and nine Brewers have worn #24 since he left the club.
Follow the jump for the #24 dozen!
Lew Krausse was the first pitcher in Brewers history. He also was the first second-generation big leaguer in Brewers history. He was acquired in exchange for the Seattle Pilots' first expansion-draft pick, Don Mincher. A righthander with a 42-55 record in seven big-league seasons, he was tabbed the opening day starter in 1970 but was pulled after allowing four runs in three innings. The Brewers went on to lose 12-0. Krausse spent two seasons in Milwaukee, going 13-18 with a 4.75 ERA in 1970 and 8-12 with a shiny 2.94 ERA in 1971. Following the 1971 season, he was traded to Boston with Tommy Harper and Marty Pattin in exchange for a raft of players highlighted by Jim Lonborg and George Scott.
Another pitcher that came back in the trade was Ken Brett, brother of future Royals great George. Ken, used mostly as a reliever in Boston, spent only one season in the Milwaukee rotation. He put up disappointing numbers, 7-12 with a 4.53 ERA, and missed some time in late July. After the season, he was one of the players traded to Philadelphia for Don Money and a couple other players. Both Money and Brett later became All-Stars, so it all evens out. Late in his career, Brett defined the word "journeyman," playing for 7 teams in six seasons.
Following the 1972 season, #24 was kept in storage for a while. That meant it was available when the Brewers acquired an outfielder with 59 home runs and a .265 average after six years with the Tigers. Jim Slaton and Rich Folkers were traded for Ben Oglivie in December 1977. Folkers was released in spring training and Slaton rejoined the Brewers as a free agent following 1978, so it was a curiously "cheap" acquisition. Oglivie blossomed in Milwaukee, hitting over .300 with 18 home runs in 1978. He followed with 29 home runs in 1979 and a career season in 1980, hitting .304, leading the league with 41 home runs, and making his first all-star squad. In 1982 he chipped in with 34 homers and 102 RBI. He was named to the all-star team in 1982 and 1983. His power started to fade after that but he hit. 280 until the end. He became a free agent after the 1986 season but did not play in the majors again. Ogilvie is now the hitting coach for the West Michigan Whitecaps, so you may see him at some Timber Rattlers games next year.
When Ogilvie left after 1986, #24 went back into storage for a few years. It came back out when Darryl Hamilton arrived to stay. Hamilton debuted in 1988 and struggled at the plate. His rookie season was most memorable, however, for a brutal collision that resulted in Dale Sveum breaking his leg. Hamilton made it back to the majors for 1990 and wore #24 for the first time. Hamilton played all three outfield position for the Brewers and hit a cool .290, albeit without much power. He was also memorably involved in an incident prompted by seagulls. When seagulls descended on County Stadium in 1993, the Brewers brought in a dog named Gus to keep the birds off the field between innings. One inning, Hamilton noticed Gus left him a gift in the outfield, looked to make sure, and theatrically held his nose while calling for the grounds crew. Perhaps with incidents like that in his mind, he left the team as a free agent following 1995 and signed a one-year deal with the Rangers. He bounced around the league for a few years after that and ended his career with the Mets in 2001.
Before the 1996 season, the Brewers traded a minor league named Juan Gonzalez to Florida in exchange for mercurial outfielder Chuckie Carr. Carr lasted two months in 1996 before injuring his right knee making a highlight-reel catch of a deep fly ball against Cleveland. He returned the next season but was released shortly after a difference of opinion with Brewers management. I will say one thing for Carr, it's not every ballplayer who names a blog. Remarkably, Carr was the hitting coach for the A-ball Carolina League Salem Avalanche, an Astros affiliate, from 2005 to 2007.
After Carr's dismissal, the Brewers acquired Twins outfielder Darrin Jackson, who presumably was willing to take a pitch or two. Jackson, never much of a hitter, spent the rest of 1997 and 1998 on the Brewers bench before leaving as a free agent.
After Jackson left, the Brewers went back to the Twins and picked up another outfielder. All Alex Ochoa did in 1999 was hit .300 in part-time duty with eight home runs. That season earned him a ticket to Cincinnati in exchange for Mark Sweeney. Ochoa hit .316 with 13 home runs in limited duty the next year but couldn't find a consistent home after that. He was re-acquired by the Brewers before the 2002 season in a three-team trade with the Rockies and Mets that involved luminaries like Lenny Harris and Glendon Rusch. He was traded in July of that year for veteran catcher Jorge Fabregas.
The #24 Forgettable Fourth/Fifth Outfielder parade marched on in 2000 with the arrival of one James Mouton. A six year veteran of the Astros, Padres, and Expos, Mouton hit .239 in 355 plate appearances over two seasons with the club. Perhaps his most notable appearance came on May 25, 2000, when the Brewers started every single major league Mouton ever in the outfield. James and Lyle (no relation) played center and left, respectively.
John Vander Wal spent most of his career being kept away from left handed pitchers at all costs in Montreal and Colorado. When he was finally allowed to play something approaching a full season in 2000, he hit 24 home runs for the Pittsburgh Pirates. That earned him one more full season's worth of playing time before he was sent back to platoon limbo. The Brewers picked him up as a free agent for 2003 and he rewarded them with 14 home runs in just over 300 at bats. However, his 104 strikeouts did him no favors and he was not brought back for 2004. After an awful time as a pinch hitter in Cincinnati, his career was over.
A list of recent Brewers players is not complete without at least one former Texas Ranger. The San Francisco Giants' 2nd round pick in 1995, Chris Magruder was traded to Texas as part of the deal that brought Andres Galarraga to San Francisco. Magruder played only seventeen games for the Doug Melvin-run Rangers in 2001, but that familiarity undoubtedly helped him earn a spot on the Brewers bench in 2004 and 2005. Unfortunately, you can only stay in the majors so long when you hit .216 with just four home runs. He was released by the Brewers following the 2005 season, ending his career. He later returned to school to finish a degree in forestry.
Once Magruder was released, another former Ranger took his place. Kevin Mench was directly acquired from Texas in the Carlos Lee trade. The 1999 4th round pick hit 25 home runs in 2004 and 2005 and it was hoped he would replace at least some of Lee's power. Unfortunately, that didn't quite happen. He hit an awful .230 with just one home run in the final months of 2006 and spent 2007 as the lesser half of a platoon with Geoff Jenkins. In 2007, he batted a remarkable 161 times before his first non-intentional walk. He was let go after the 2007 season, having hit just nine home runs for the Brewers.
It wasn't until September 2008 that #24 found another home. Top prospect Mat Gamel earned a trip to the majors by hitting .329 in AA and he went one for two in his brief major league appearances. Unfortunately, his career since then has made him one of the Brewers more controversial players, at least among fans. In 2009, he was called up in May and spent two months on the roster without a consistent starting role. He struggled and was sent down, not returning until September while unheralded Casey McGehee solidified his hold on the hot corner. Gamel then missed the first couple months of 2010 to injury and spent most of the year in the minors. Brewers fans, accustomed to the relatively quick success top prospects have found in Milwaukee, are split when it comes to just about everything to do with him. Regardless of the position Gamel ends up playing, it is imperative he stay healthy and impress a new manager. Otherwise, #24 may be looking for a new home.