Face of the Franchise:  1980

Each season from the early days of the relocated Seattle Pilots through to the modern Miller Park era, we apply McLeam's Formula to the roster and cook up the player who represents the Brewers as the Face of the Franchise that year.

1980 Milwaukee Brewers

Lary Sorensen


The Brewers finished 9th in winning percentage again in 1980, and the 9th ranked player in WAR was pitcher Lary Sorensen.

Lary Sorenson was a promising young pitcher for the Brewers, who in 1980 were looking to take the league by storm. One can only guess how far he would have gone if his impoverished family were able to afford two R's for his name. Lary had won 18 games in his first full season two years earlier, and combined with their strong lineup, the rotation of Mike Caldwell, Sorensen, Jim Slaton, Moose Haas, and Jim Travers was extremely talented. The lineup had some big bats in it and played decent defense, but Brewer legend Jerry Augustine couldn't carry the bullpen load by himself.

The Brewers won 86 games that year. It was fun (perhaps for Lary a little too much fun) but not successful enough, so Harry Dalton stepped in and made Brewer Legendary Trade #2. Not satisfied with stealing the pants off the Tigers in the Ben Oglivie trade, the Dalton gang held up St. Louis at gunpoint and stole Ted Simmons, Rollie Fingers, and Pete Vuckovich, and left behind Sixto Lezcano, a couple of other guys, and Lary Sorensen with a sign around his neck that said "do not open until rehab."

The Brewers were headed to the top, and Lary was headed in the other direction. At first he played for the Cardinals, but they recognized his decline and traded him down to the Indians, who then dumped him on the Oakland A's, and then he tumbled down to the lowly Cubs, further down to the minors, was suspended for cocaine use, and then finally even further to the Montreal Expos. Even the cold Canadian air couldn't shock Lary's drug-and-alcohol-saturated system to life, and after 16 horrible innings with the Giants, he was done.

But since he was a former player and he spoke English, he was qualified to be a broadcaster, and the career suited him perfectly. He could chat for a while about having once played baseball and mercilessly abuse his liver between hangovers. So it seemed like he was headed for a happy ending before he was found nearly dead drunk in his car on the side of the road with a Hall-of-Fame caliber .48 BAL. It was six times the legal limit and his 7th offense, so he went to jail, but sadly at age 52 he was too old to pitch for the prison team. He was released in December of 2009 (something something 'leaving the yard' something).

1980 FotF: Lary Sorensen represents the series of changes that a good team needs to make to become great. He had a lot of talent, but winners don't let their partying affect their on-field performance. It's one thing to have a few brewskis with the fans at a tailgate party after the game, and quite another to destroy your mind and body with recklessly recreational drugs. Lary had to go, and his departure was good for Milwaukee. I don't know where Lary is now, but there's no record of an obituary, so there's probably a happy bartender somewhere buying his boat one shot at a time with Lary's pension.


You can read a much more uplifting story about 1979's Face of the Franchise Gorman Thomas here

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