June was a pivotal month for both the 1957 Braves and 1982 Brewers, with two key personnel moves by both clubs.
As the June 15 trade deadline approached in ‘57, the Braves acquired second baseman Red Schoendienst from the New York Giants. He solidified their infield and hitting attack.
On June 2, 1982, Brewers general manager Harry Dalton made the tough decision to fire Buck Rodgers as manager and replace him with minor-league instructor Harvey Kuenn.
Harvey's Wallbangers were born.
The Braves had coveted Schoendienst for quite some time. When he was with the Cardinals, the Braves almost got him. But, the Cards asked for Bob Buhl and Joe Adcock in return, a price deemed to high by Milwaukee general manager John Quinn.
But, the Giants didn't ask for as much. Quinn pried Schoendienst loose from New York for pitcher Ray Crone, second baseman Danny O'Connell and aging outfielder Bobby Thomson.
Hank Aaron recalled the trade in the book, "I Had A Hammer." Said Aaron: "Schoendienst was getting a little old, but he was a master second baseman and he still had plenty of hits left in him from both sides of the plate."
"He made our team complete, and after the trade it looked as though nothing would stop us -- except maybe injuries."
Schoendienst went on to hit .310, had a 23-game hitting streak which took up most of July and had the highest fielding percentage among National League second basemen. He finished third in voting for MVP, with Aaron winning the honor.
"Red Schoendienst knew how to play the game," recalled Johnny Logan, who became the Redhead's double play partner at shortstop. "When he came to the team, he brought a professional attitude and a look of a winner."
While Schoendienst added a player piece of the puzzle for the Braves in ‘57, the Brewers in ‘82 needed a managerial move. The club had most of the player pieces in place, although Don Sutton's addition later in the season cannot be overlooked.
But, despite the talent, the Brewers were only 23-24 and seven games out of first place on June 2. Dalton pulled the trigger.
"We were close to 50 games into the season and by that time the club wasn't responding the way it should," Dalton recalled in the book, "True Brew."
"I felt Buck didn't have a handle on it at the time. I thought he could manage, but I didn't think he was the man for the club at that time. I felt Harvey knew them all. They liked him and respected him. He lifted a blanket off the club."
In his first address to the players, Kuenn told them, "I know you guys can play. I know what you can do, now just go out and have fun."
In Kuenn's first game, the Brewers won, 5-2. They swept the Oakland A's, outscoring them, 28-6, in three games. That's when "Harvey's Wallbangers" was coined.
After Kuenn took over, the Brewers won 20 of 27 games and moved into first place on July 11.
This writer covered that 1982 team and saw the transformation when Kuenn took over. Under Rodgers, the players were tight. Under Kuenn, they loosened up and blended into a true team.
While the Schoendienst and Kuenn moves turned out to be keys, no pennants or championships are won in June. More players and events would develop for both the Braves and Brewers as they marched toward their championship seasons. Look for some of those in future editions of this Milwaukee Baseball Anniversary Series.