By Gregg Hoffmann Special to Published May 23, 2002 at 5:22 AM

You can't live in the past, but it also doesn't hurt to remember it. A monument was dedicated to the Milwaukee Braves Wednesday outside Helfaer Field, the soon-to-be-dedicated Little League park on the site of the former County Stadium.

Scores of fans turned out for the unveiling of the monument, a project of the Milwaukee Braves Historical Association. Johnny Logan, Felix Mantilla, Andy Pafko and several other former Braves took part in the ceremony and remembered the "golden years" of baseball in Milwaukee.

I was a kid when the Braves were in town. I loved them. They were easy to love, with two pennants, a World Series Championship and never a losing record in 13 seasons. Eddie Mathews, Henry Aaron, Warren Spahn were Hall of Famers. Several other Braves didn't reach that stature, but were legitimate stars.

More than 2 million people packed County Stadium in a day when that figure was almost unheard of. The entire state buzzed about Braves' baseball.

It was a simpler, better time for baseball in Milwaukee. The NFL and NBA were not nearly as big as now. People actually left the house to watch games, rather than sit glued to their TVs or video games.

Expansion, and the siphoning off of good athletes by other sports, had not yet watered down talent in baseball.


It didn't cost as much to go to a game. The players didn't make as much. Fans didn't even mind not having a roof.

This is not nostalgic waxing of an old-timer, who claims everything was better in the past. Although I sometimes write history books, I spend little time looking back and think many things are better today than yesterday.

But, you honestly can't say that about baseball in Milwaukee, not with a possible player strike looming, slacking attendance in only the second year of Miller Park and losing baseball on the field. Only the All Star Game is providing a bright spot, and some players say they might boycott it because of the labor problems.

It really was better back in the Braves days. Let's just hope the Brewers, and baseball in general, can draw some inspiration from the past and make things better in the future.

Power Surge

It certainly looked better for the Brewers in the seventh inning of their game Tuesday against the Dodgers. They exploded for eight runs in the inning. Geoff Jenkins, who had gone 0-20 on the home stand, had a double and tape measure homer in the inning. Tyler Houston also homered.

"I told myself to just relax, go out there and hit it," Jenkins said after the game. "That's what I've always done in the past. Hopefully, I can get back to it."

The power surge reminded you of how the Brewers played in the second half of 2000 and early last season. They have made a concentrated effort this season to not be an all or nothing team. They have tried to manufacture some runs with a running game, but at times have been reckless and have run themselves out of possible rallies.

Somewhere between the extremes must be a winning combination. Let's hope the Brewers find it.

Missed PR

The Brewers missed a chance to attract the attention of the large Asian media corps that follows the Dodgers because of Hideo Nomo and Kazuhisa Ishii. On the day the Dodgers came to town, the Brewers outrighted their Japanese connection, pitcher Takahito Nomura, to Indianapolis (AAA).

Wright's Return

Jamey Wright is expected to come off the DL Friday night and start against the San Diego Padres. Reliever Brian Mallette will likely be sent to Indianapolis to make room on the roster. Reliever Curtis Leskanic also could be close to being activated.

Players of the Week

Eric Young hit almost .400 for the week and sparked the team on the base paths and in the field at times. He did make a couple base running blunders in key situations of two games, but overall had his best week as a Brewer.

Ben Sheets also deserves mention after letting up a total of two runs in two starts without getting a win. Alex Sanchez also hit well over .300 for the week, but see Goat of the Week for the flip side of Sanchez.

Play of the Week

Tyler Houston's homer on Tuesday night was the Brewers' first pinch-hit homer of the season and served as the key to that big eight-run inning.

Goat of the Week

Sanchez continues to get on base, but that too often has been the best way to eventually get him out. He had the unfortunate distinction of making an out at every base in one game because of reckless base running. For that he gets the unusual honor of being both a Player and Goat of the Week.

If Sanchez can cut back on his mistakes on the base paths, he could easily become the Player of the Week quite often without the Goat horns. He has the speed to make things happen, but he has to play smarter baseball.

Gregg Hoffmann writes The Brew Crew Review on Thursdays and The Milwaukee Sports Buzz on Mondays for OMC.

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.