By Gregg Hoffmann Special to Published Sep 20, 2007 at 5:19 AM

Both the 1957 Braves and 1982 Brewers clinched their playoff berths in dramatic fashion.

A little after 11:30 p.m. on Sept. 23, 1957, Hank Aaron strode to the plate and hit a home run that won the National League pennant for the Braves.

Aaron's homer ended what had been a classic game against St. Louis. Lew Burdette, who would go on to win three games in the World Series against the Yankees, started the contest against the Cardinals' Vinegar Bend Mizell before a crowd of 40,926 at County Stadium.

The Braves scored first when Wally Moon dropped a fly ball in center field. In the sixth inning, Al Dark singled home two runs off Burdette to give the Cards a 2-1 lead. Milwaukee tied it, 2-2, on Eddie Mathews' RBI double in the seventh.

Burdette went on to blank the Cardinals through 10 innings, but the Braves could not score off the St. Louis bullpen. Gene Conley, who would win championships with the Braves in baseball and the Boston Celtics in basketball, came in from the bullpen in the 11th inning and put down the Cardinals in order.

That set up the bottom of the 11th. Author Bob Buege described it this way in his book, "The Milwaukee Braves: A Baseball Eulogy":

"Schoendienst led off against (Billy) Muffet with an easy fly to Moon in center, but (Johnny) Logan lined a single up the middle to give the shivering fans some hope. The temperature had dipped to 44 degrees by now, but of course no one was leaving before the verdict. Mathews lofted another routine fly to Moon, and the groan from the crowd was audible. A rumble of anticipation seemed to accompany Aaron's approach to the batter's box. The slender young outfielder with the powerful wrists was the league leader in home runs and runs batted in; if anyone could end the game with one swipe of the bat, certainly Aaron could -- and did. He pounced on Muffet's first pitch and lined it toward the centerfield fence. Moon leaped, but could not come down with it. The ball landed six feet beyond the wire fence and took a high bounce into the hands of a leaping spectator. The fan, Hubert Davis, carried off the season's prime souvenir; gleeful Braves players ran onto the field and carried off Aaron, the man of the hour, on their shoulders."

In what might qualify as the understatement of all time in sports, the modest Aaron said, "I think that was the most important home run I ever hit."

The Brewers had to wait until Oct. 3 to clinch their division title in 1982. They went to Baltimore with a three-game lead and four to play, but the Orioles beat them in the first three games of the series.

On Sunday, Oct. 3, two Hall of Fame pitchers -- the Brewers' Don Sutton and the Orioles' Jim Palmer -- hooked up under dramatic circumstances. Brewers general Harry Dalton had acquired Sutton a little over a month earlier just for such a situation.

Dalton was supremely confident on the day of the big game, telling the team, "I'm disappointed we lost, but I'm not disappointed in you." Dalton gave what many call the most inspiring pep talk ever, ending with, "Let's win this thing."

Before 52,000 partisan fans at Memorial Stadium, Robin Yount started the game with a homer in the first inning. Yount, who would win the 1982 MVP award, would add another homer, a triple and four RBI before the day was over.

Sutton was superb. Ben Oglivie and Gorman Thomas made great catches when the game was still close, and Ted Simmons added a home run to complete a 10-2 victory that clinched the American League East title.

"What are the percentages of two teams playing the final game like that for the championship?" Oglivie said after the game. "That's what it's all about. You couldn't have had a better four-game series and a better clincher."

Of course, the Braves went on to win it all in ‘57. The Brewers beat the Angels in a dramatic AL Championship series, but lost to the Cardinals in the World Series.

There hasn't been a clincher for a Milwaukee team for 25 years. The 2007 Brewers are fighting to end that drought.

Gregg Hoffmann Special to
Gregg Hoffmann is a veteran journalist, author and publisher of Midwest Diamond Report and Old School Collectibles Web sites. Hoffmann, a retired senior lecturer in journalism at UWM, writes The State Sports Buzz and Beyond Milwaukee on a monthly basis for OMC.