It’s Sports Jerseys Week here at SB Nation. We wanted to get a last-minute article in to be apart of the fun! Because the Milwaukee Brewers are changing jerseys for the first time in two decades, why not take a look back at every major accomplishment accomplished under a top four jersey in franchise history.
The Brewers introduced “wheat” jerseys in 2000 to coincide with the opening of Miller Park (although, Miller Park wouldn’t open until 2001 due to the Big Blue tragedy). Replacing the block M-B jerseys, the wheat logo jerseys ran a Brewers script across the front in a plain white, dark grey and navy blue alternate. It’s the longest lasting jersey the Brewers used, although there were slight alterations made to it over the years, like offering an alternate “Milwaukee” script on one of the jerseys.
When the Brewers first started wearing the new threads, they were just two seasons into their NL Central stint, coming out of yet another fifth-place. There was a lot of new with this team besides the jersey though, like the manager. Davey Lopes had been named the starting manager, replacing Phil Garner as the team’s skipper (Garner was fired mid-season in 1999). Dean Taylor had been hired to replace Sal Bando in the front office. But none of that would matter, as the Brewers finished third in the division. Yet another disappointing finish for the Crew.
The first “accomplishment” for the Brewers in the white and wheat came in 2005. For the first time since 1992, the team didn’t have a losing record. Looking back on it, that sounds idiotic to celebrate, but with a wealth of good youngsters like JJ Hardy, Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks in the fold, the arrow was finally pointing up for Milwaukee.
With Milwaukee’s young talent finally coming together, things finally started clicking in the 2008 season. The team brought in a couple of veterans in Jason Kendall and Mike Cameron, while the rest of the field was filled with youngsters with a few years in the league, including sophomore Ryan Braun. Ben Sheets and company led the team to a great first-half record to put the team in position to make one of the biggest trades in franchise history for CC Sabathia. From there, CC took over and helped power the team into the playoffs, despite a rocky September that would get manager Ned Yost fired. The team was eliminated in the NLDS and CC left for a huge contract with the New York Yankees.
The team took a pretty steep decline for the next two seasons with Ken Macha behind the helm. It’s truly best to pretend that those years didn’t happen because the Brewers wasted Fielder’s prime.
Sick of the rut the Macha had buried the team into, Doug Melvin sat stewing in the 2010-2011 offseason. Determined to make Milwaukee a winner again, Doug started making calls to make two significant acquisitions: Zack Greinke and Yuniesky Betancourt, I mean Shaun Marcum. Add in 2010 signing Randy Wolf and Yovani Gallardo, and the Brewers suddenly had a pitching staff, something that hadn’t been true since... a long time ago.
With a finally good pitching staff and a strong offense, the Brewers smashed their way into their first ever NL Central title. Ryan Braun was amazing for perfectly legitimate reasons and won the MVP. The team barely survived the NLDS, beating the Arizona Diamondbacks with a 10th inning walk-off victory at Miller Park. Then the stupid St. Louis Cardinals ruined everything, as they’re prone to do.
Since this is all about the positive, we’ll gloss over any legacy or franchise muddying events that might have happened in 2012 and 2013. Honestly, nothing probably happened and it was all fine.
The team went through a tough time over the next few years. While there were highlights, like Carlos Gomez and Jonathan Lucroy, there were also a lot of low lights. In 2015, the team finally decided to rip the bandaid off and start the oh-so popular rebuild. The official start happening when the team shipped Carlos Gomez off the New York Mets and then the Houston Astros with Mike Fiers (tee-hee) for some guys named Josh Hader, Adrian Houser, Brett Phillips and Domingo Santana.
That offseason, the team transitioned from Doug Melvin to David Stearns and started the rebuild in earnest. Stearns started his term by trading Khris Davis to the Oakland A’s and then flipping minor parts for players like Keon Broxton, Trey Supak, Freddy Peralta. In July, the team would sell off it’s biggest piece, Jonathan Lucroy, to the Texas Rangers for Lewis Brinson, Luis Ortiz and Ryan Cordell.
Shockingly, in 2017, Milwaukee was already a winning team. In his second full season as manager, Craig Counsell guided Milwaukee to a 86-76 record and second place in the NL Central. While things were going well, Stearns became aggressive with two major moves in the offseason. On Jan. 25, 2018, Stearns traded Lewis Brinson and three other prospects for Christian Yelich, quite possibly the biggest trade in franchise history. One hour later, he announced that the team signed center fielder Loenzo Cain to a five-year deal. In the blink of an eye, the Brewers went from having players who were shockingly good to a very good roster.
In 2018, those players and a huge second-half from Christian Yelich led Milwaukee to its second playoff appearance of the decade and second NL Central crown. The team had to conquer the rival Chicago Cubs in game 163 to do it and pulled it off at Wrigley. That momentum carried the Brewers through an easy NLDS in Coloroda, which they swept 3-0. Next up was the Los Angeles Dodgers. Milwaukee kept up with LA but could not overcome the offense and pitching, losing in game seven.
Yelich was named MVP in the offseason and the team carried its high to 2019. The year was both great and frustrating, as Stearns put more stock into young players making an impact, acquiring no starters in the offseason. Bounce back campaigns from Zach Davies and Chase Anderson, along with Brandon Woodruff establishing himself as a rotation piece helped, while Christian Yelich seemed to carry a hurting offense for most of the year. Yeli would break his knee cap in September, but the team powered through and took the Wild Card spot. Unfortunately, the future World Champion Washington Nationals pulled off a stunning eight-inning defeat, sending Milwaukee home disappointed.
This offseason, the team introduced four new jerseys that will be worn whenever baseball returns, putting the old wheats to rest. All in all, the Brewers had a winning record in eight of their 20 seasons in the wheat unis, second to the 10 in the original ball and glove. The team also made four playoff appearances, while rostering two MVPs. It also held the names of some of the franchise’s best players ever, along with some of the more entertaining characters. While not as visually appealing as the ball-in-glove logo, it is a jersey that deserves to be treasured for the memories created while the players wore it. I plan on having a beer and untucking my jersey for one last Brewers celebration before moving on to the newest versions.