A few weeks ago Noah Jarosh was asked to share a few words on a beloved Brewer for this Baseball Nation post on "cult favorite" players in the NL Central. Follow that link to see the full post, where another division writer also discusses their lasting appreciation for former Brewer Bill Spiers. Here, though, are Noah's thoughts on his "cult favorite" Brewer, Russell Branyan.
While it's hard to pick out a true "irrational" hatred for a former Brewers player, there are plenty of players whom many fans of the team absolutely loved despite a middling on-the-field performance at best. Guys like Craig Counsell, Brooks Kieschnick, Seth McClung, Brady Clark, Brian Shouse, and so many more. But to me, one guy stands out above the rest. There is one man who became almost a figure of myth among Brewers fans. He is the man who hit the longest home run in Miller Park history, a 480-foot goliath shot to dead center that there appears to be no video of anywhere.
I'm speaking, of course, of Russell "The Muscle" Branyan. Branyan, a former top prospect, started off his career with the Indians and Reds, and showed fantastic power potential. In fact, in 2000, when he first received substantial playing time in the majors, he hit 16 home runs in just 67 games. Unfortunately, he did not receive nearly enough playing time in Milwaukee and had just 280 at-bats in his first two-year stint with the Brewers. He came back to Milwaukee in 2008 and played in just 50 games but hit 12 homers!. Branyan was the essence of a three-true-outcomes player: He struck out a lot, had a good on-base percentage, and, of course, could hit the long ball. He may not have made contact very often, but when he did...well, when he did he hit the ball longer than anyone ever has in Miller Park.