Author's personal collection.
The Brewers acquired three key players from their 1981-82 playoff appearances in one fell sweep 32 years ago today.
The Brewers have made several good trades over the years, but the one they made on this day in 1980 has to be their best one.
After winning 93, 95 and 86 games over a three year span between 1978-80 but missing the playoffs all three seasons, the Brewers made another move to get themselves over the hump 32 years ago today when they acquired starting pitcher Pete Vuckovich, reliever Rollie Fingers and catcher Ted Simmons from the Cardinals for four players.
Fingers, who had just been acquired from the Padres four days earlier, would go on to pitch in 177 games as a Brewer over the next five seasons with a 2.54 ERA and 97 saves. He was an All Star twice during his Milwaukee tenure, and was both the 1981 AL Cy Young Award winner and Most Valuable Player.
Vuckovich would be a key part of the Brewers' rotation over the next two years, posting a 3.42 ERA over 54 games (he likely would have pitched more if the 1981 season hadn't been strike-shortened). He was the 1982 AL Cy Young Award winner and went on to make four postseason starts that season.
Finally, the veteran catcher Simmons went on to play 665 games as a Brewer over five seasons, becoming more of a 1B/DH in the later years. He hit 66 home runs and drove in nearly 400 runs over those years in Milwaukee.
Meanwhile, the four players the Brewers sent to St. Louis had little impact on the Cardinals. Sixto Lezcano, Dave LaPoint, David Green and Lary Sorensen each had brief, relatively non-notable Cardinal careers.
With help from the B-Ref Play Index, happy birthday today to:
- 2000-02 Brewer Mike Buddie, who turns 42.
- 1973-83 and 1986 Brewer Gorman Thomas, who turns 62. We covered his birthday in this space last year.
- Beloit College alum Tully Sparks, who would have turned 138. Sparks played 12 major league seasons between 1897-1910 as a member of the 1901 Milwaukee Brewers and four other teams.