By Gregg Hoffmann Special to Published Aug 22, 2002 at 5:06 AM

The Brewers couldn't put together the 1982 team under the economic structure of baseball today. That was the consensus of the man who built the pennant winner, and several of the men who played on the team.

"No, I don't believe we could have afforded it," said Harry Dalton, the GM who built the 1982 Brewers. "If you put some of the financial restraints of today on us at that time, I don't believe we could have done it.

"In those days, the front office looked at skills, attitude and then financial factors in that order. I think today many with smaller market teams have to look at financial first."

Dalton and many members of the 1982 American League championship team were in town for the Hank Aaron charity golf tournament Monday, and a reunion at Miller Park on Tuesday.

Even if teams like Minnesota do build a winner, they will have difficulty keeping them, Dalton said. "If you win it's because players have played well," he said. "If they play well, they want to be paid well. It's almost a self-defeating situation."

Dalton said the situation, and the possibility of a strike on Aug. 30, has him "very concerned. I think it is causing a lot of people to reassess their love of baseball."

Paul Molitor, who is sometimes talked about as the next manager of the Brewers, agreed with Dalton. "I think it is getting tougher and tougher all the time for small market teams to stay competitive," he said. "It would be very difficult to build that team in Milwaukee now.

"In Minnesota, they brought up 18 rookies in 1999. It hurt a couple of them, who were sent back down. But, it's paying off now. At the same time, they don't know if they can keep their players in a couple years."

Ted Simmons, the Brewers' catcher and field leader in '82, said, "It could be done, but it would be very difficult in this environment."

Pete Ladd, who filled in for the injured Rollie Fingers and became a hero in '82, said he felt Major League Baseball has to follow the leads of the NBA, NFL and NHL on salary caps to allow teams in smaller markets to compete.

"I think we'll find out what direction we're going to go in over the next couple weeks," Ladd said. "I hope we can get back to where it was more in '82. The money is such a factor now."

An optimist

Simmons remained the most optimistic of the '82 players that owners and the players' union will avoid a work stoppage on Aug. 30.

"I believe in 11:59.59," said Simmons, who has been in front office and GM roles for several teams since he retired as a player. "I believe that rational, intelligent people can work things out. I have known Donald Fehr (union head) and Bud Selig for years, and no matter what other people think of them know both are rational, intelligent men.

"The 1994 stoppage was inevitable. The owners called the players bluff, just like in poker. The players always pointed to the playoffs and World Series and said ‘you don't want to lose those.' Then, they were called.

"Both sides learned how dangerous it was. I don't think either side wants to go there again, so something will be worked out at 11:59.59."

A lot of heart

Almost to the man, the '82 players said that their love of the game, and having a lot of heart made that team great. "I think today's players love the game too, but don't always ask enough questions or spend enough time around the ballpark," Ben Oglivie said.

"I coach younger players (A ball for San Diego) now and try to let them know how much passion you have to have for this game if you are going to make it. We had it on that '82 team."

Quevedo deserves demotion

Give credit to the Brewers for sending pitcher Ruben Quevedo to the minors, even though there are only a couple weeks left to the season at that level. Quevedo just did not keep himself in shape and did not always respond to instruction from his coaches.


That's why the Cubs gave up on him, and let him go in exchange for David Weathers last season. Before Quevedo gets another chance with the Brewers, he should be told to get into shape and grow up, not out.

Player of the Week

Jose Hernandez went 9 for 22 on the road trip with a homer and three RBI and had two hits Tuesday night in the first game of the home stand. He had hit in nine straight games as of this writing.

Play of the Week

Hernandez's three-run homer broke open last Friday's game and sent the Brewers to a 10-3 win over the Pirates, the Crew's only win on the road trip.

Goat of the Week

Quevedo is gone, so I can't pick on him again. Jose Cabrera, who has done a decent job overall as a starter and reliever, coughed up five runs in one inning and took the loss last Saturday. So, he gets the dishonor.

Gregg Hoffmann will write The Brew Crew Review next Thurs., Aug. 29. If the players go on strike August 30, the column will take a hiatus until play resumes.

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.