I’ve been thinking for quite some time about my favorite Brewers moments, ever since this series began. You see, I’ve been out of Milwaukee for the Brewers’ best seasons in the last few years — their 2008 Wild Card run corresponded with my move to Chicago, as the Windy City acquired me just about the time that the Brewers landed CC Sabathia; I remember rushing to the neighborhood Starbucks on Broadway and Sheridan to get an internet connection and rail against the trade (history shows I was dead wrong in hilarious ways). Their 2011 Division Championship corresponded with our move to Cleveland, their improbable August and September run a phenomenal antidote to the vacant loneliness of our new town. I will never forget walking into our neighborhood dive on 25th and Bridge and seeing the Brewers on the big screen against the Cardinals; to see our Milwaukee nine when I was as far from Milwaukee as I’ve ever been was quite a thrill. Yet, none of these memorable moments get me anywhere near Miller Park Way.
So, I thought back to June 18, 2007. One of the benefits of living, working, and studying at Marquette University was the easy trip up Wisconsin Avenue to the ballpark. This was an easy way to enjoy baseball during the Brewers’ awful years, which corresponded perfectly with my college days — it was an easy time of calling my dad an hour before gametime and saying, “want to go see Ben Sheets?” Sometimes, it was just as fun to go see Roy Oswalt or even Ian Snell.
This day in June was a different story. One of my closest friends, and my dad, managed to land seats high in the Terrace Reserved behind the left field foul pole. We rushed to watch this phenom, young Yovani Gallardo, a kid that brought yet another promising step in the Brewers’ building process.
I was going to make this post about Gallardo retiring Barry Bonds as a gutsy young hurler, but, alas, my memory failed me. Bonds walked a couple of times, and smacked a double against Gallardo, but otherwise, the youngster was poised and earned his first win in his first start. I’ll never forget that promise — the youngster that could mix pitches, working like a veteran during his first start; the only question was, “How many of Gallardo’s handful of pitches will he be able to effectively throw at the big league level?” If my memory serves me correctly, the question used to be about Gallardo’s slider; now the righty throws that pitch more than any of his secondary offerings.
Gallardo’s first start will always stand with me as a great memory. A time when we would make our game attendance decisions in a snap, gobble up tickets, and make our way down to a slightly-less-packed Miller Park. No matter, the baseball was a different kind of entertaining back then. But when that Gallardo showed up, the tide shifted; I felt that things were finally moving in the Brewers’ direction, and Doug Melvin‘s careful rebuilding plan received a kickstart. Perhaps I think of the promise Gallardo offered on June 18 more than anything else, when I argue in favor of extending the Brewers’ franchise pitcher; with Gallardo, that feeling will always extend beyond any statistic rattling away in my mind. It’s that same promise I feel when I try to convince Brewers fans that the young arms for 2013 will serve the team well; it’s that glimmer of hope that Gallardo gave us in 2007 that shines through once again.
Now, he’s the leader, and the next wave is on their way. A better plan for that young, franchise pitcher, I could not have written myself.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Thank you for reading and commenting and continuing to come by Disciples of Uecker!