It was the “Suds Series”, as the 1982 World Series brought together two of the great brewing cities in America, with the St. Louis Cardinals meeting the Milwaukee Brewers. And the Suds Series produced seven games, complete with good back-and-forth battles, as each team trailed the Series by a game at one point before rallying to take the lead. It was St. Louis who traded their beer for champagne in the end.
It was an ironic matchup for reasons behind a shared city heritage. The Brewers and Cardinals were just a year removed from a huge trade—prior to the 1981 season the teams completed a seven-player deal where the Brewers got a Hall of Fame closer Rollie Fingers and an All-Star catcher in Ted Simmons.
The Cardinals (who had Fingers only for a couple days in the offseason as a result of a trade with the San Diego Padres) didn’t fare quite as well, getting mostly well-regarded prospects that didn’t pan out, but that deal with the Padres had gotten them a defensive wizard at shortstop in Ozzie Smith.
You can read more about the regular season paths the Cardinals and Brewers took to the Fall Classic and about the years enjoyed by their key players, at the links below. This article focuses squarely on the games of the 1982 World Series.
The National League held homefield advantage by virtue of the rotation system that existed prior to 2003, and the trade-off was that American League rules were used throughout the Series—there would be a DH in all games.
Two veterans, Mike Caldwell for Milwaukee and Bob Forsch for St. Louis got the call, and Milwaukee wasted no time getting after Forsch in the first inning. With one out, the Brewers’ MVP shortstop Robin Yount singled and Cecil Cooper followed with a walk.
With two outs, an error by normally sure handed Cardinal first baseman Keith Hernandez let in a run. Then Gorman Thomas, a big burly slugger had an RBI in an atypical high—he beat out in an infield hit. Caldwell took the mound with a 2-0 lead.
The Brewer lefty was razor-sharp and his team kept after Forsch. In the top of the fourth, Charlie Moore doubled down the left field line, was bunted to third and scored on a single by Paul Molitor. One inning later, Simmons homered. In the sixth, Milwaukee broke it open. With two outs, Jim Gantner singled to right. Then Molitor singled to left. Yount looped a double down the rightfield line, it was 6-0 and all but over.
Milwaukee still added four more runs in the ninth inning. Molitor finished with a World Series record of five hits and Yount, who followed him in the lineup had four hits. Caldwell threw a complete-game three-hitter and the 10-0 road win put St. Louis in a quick hole.
The Brewers looked in command for another reason—they were turning to Don Sutton for Game 2, who had been outstanding since his acquisition at the end of August and delivered great outings in must-win spots in the regular season finale and in the ALCS.
Milwaukee staked Sutton to an early lead, getting after untested John Stuper. In the second inning, Molitor continued his hot hitting, with two-out double that scored Thomas. In the third, Molitor singled, stole second, took third on a wild pitch and scored on a RBI groundout from Yount. With two outs, Simmons homered again. It was 3-0 and St. Louis was in serious trouble.
But in the bottom of that third inning, the Cardinals finally awoke. Dane Iorg, in the lineup as the DH singled to right. He was replaced on the bases by speedy Willie McGee after a groundball forceout, and McGee stole second. A double by Tom Herr scored St. Louis’ first run of the Series, and Ken Oberkfell then drove in Herr with a single to cut the lead to 3-2.
Yount chased Stuper with a leadoff double in the top of the fifth. Jim Kaat, a crafty veteran and former starter in his prime came on, but Cooper greeted Kaat with an RBI single.
Two months earlier the specter of Fingers might have started to loom in this game as it went to the sixth inning. Closers regularly came in as early as the eighth inning at this time and in a game like this, the seventh was a possibility. But Fingers had been sidelined with an elbow injury at the beginning of September, an injury that would ultimately end his career. The prospect of turning to him with a lead or in a tie game was not something Milwaukee manager Harvey Kuenn had at his disposal.
At a tie game was exactly what we had by the end of six. Oberkfell singled and George Hendrick drew a two-out walk. Darrell Porter doubled into the left field corner to score both runs and it was 4-4.
In the bottom of the eighth, Milwaukee had lefty Bob McClure on the mound. He could not get two left-handed hitters, as Hernandez worked a walk and Porter singled. Pete Ladd, the righthander and nominal closer came in and issued consecutive walks to Lonnie Smith and Steve Braun and St. Louis was ahead 5-4.
The inning might have been worse, but a line drive out off the bat of McGee was followed by Braun being called out after getting hit with a batted ball by Ozzie Smith, what would have been an RBI single. When Molitor started the top of the ninth with a bunt single, it looked like the lack of an insurance run might be big. But Porter completed his big night by throwing out Molitor on a stolen base attempt and closer Bruce Sutter slammed the door.
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Milwaukee was alive for the first World Series games the city had seen in 25 years, when the Braves played there. This writer was living in the west suburbs and was at old County Stadium on a crisp, but pleasant Friday night. But for Brewer fans that night was anything but pleasant.
Pete Vuckovich was on the mound for Milwaukee and facing Joaquin Andujar for St. Louis. Both pitchers put up zeroes through four innings. It was Vuckovich, the Cy Young Award winner, that cracked first. In the fifth, Lonnie Smith doubled with one out. An error by Cooper was followed by a three-run blast from McGee, a pure contact hitter not known for his power.
McGee wasn’t done. In the seventh inning, after Lonnie Smith had tripled and scored, McGee homered again. Milwaukee got two runs back in the eighth, when Cooper hit a two-run shot. But St. Louis added an insurance in the ninth against Vuckovich, still in the game. In the bottom of the ninth, McGee completed his dream night by robbing Thomas of a home run and the game ended 6-2.
Milwaukee had its turn getting a one-game lead in the World Series and then immediately taking the lead the next game. Now it was St. Louis’ turn to come within a hair of putting a chokehold on the Series, only to let it slip away in Game 4.
Moose Haas was an inconsistent righthander on the mound for the Brewers, and the Cardinals got after him immediately. Oberkfell doubled with one out in the first and Hendrick singled with two outs to pick up the run. In the second, McGee got rolling again with a one-out single and stolen base. A walk and wild pitch set up second and third. Herr then lifted a fly ball to deep center. It not only scored one run, and it scored both. Ozzie Smith, on second base, never stopped running and it was 3-0. Before the inning was over, Oberkfell had walked, stolen second and scored on a Gantner error.
The teams traded runs in the bottom of the fifth and top of the sixth, finally chasing Haas with the score 5-1. Dave LaPoint, one of the pitchers Milwaukee had traded to St. Louis in the Fingers/Simmons deal was cruising along. He was into the seventh, got one out, and induced Ben Ogilvie to hit an easy ground ball to first base. And then, the roof fell on in the Cardinals.
LaPoint was covering first base on the grounder and simply dropped the ball. It was followed by a single from Don Money. With two outs, Gantner doubled to score one run. LaPoint came out and righty Doug Bair come in. He walked Molitor to load the bases, and Yount singled in two runs to cut the lead to 5-4. Runners were on first and third and Cardinal manager Whitey Herzog summoned Kaat to stop the bleeding. He couldn’t. Cooper singled to tie the game.
With runners on first and second, a wild pitch prompted Herzog to make another pitching change, this one in mid-batter. After an intentional walk to Simmons, Thomas—whose pop-out had started this inning—completed the rally with a two-run single to make it 7-5.
It was a stunning turn of events and the Brewer bullpen made it stand up. Jim Slaton worked two clean innings and McClure retired the last five batters to tie the World Series at two games apiece.
Caldwell and Forsch rematched their Game 1 meeting and this one was a much better game. The Brewers still got to Forsch quickly though. With one out in the first, consecutive singles from Yount and Cooper singled, an error on a pickoff throw moved both runners up. Simmons grounded out, but picked up the run and it was 1-0.
St. Louis finally solved Caldwell for a run in the third, when David Green—another player moved in the big trade between the teams—tripled and scored on a Hernandez double. Milwaukee immediately answered when Molitor walked, Yount doubled and Cooper picked up the run with a productive out.
Molitor was again in the middle of a rally in the bottom of the fifth. After Moore had doubled to start the inning, Molitor drove him in with a base hit. Caldwell wasn’t nearly as dominant as Game 1—he gave up 14 hits in this game—but the lefty was finding ways to work himself out of trouble and the game went to the seventh still 3-1.
The Smiths—Ozzie and Lonnie—started the top of the seventh with a walk and a single. With two outs, a Hendrick base hit cut the lead to 3-2. Yount promptly answered in the bottom of the frame with an opposite-field home run for a 4-2 lead. The Brewers added two more runs in the eighth. With runners on first and second, Moore and Gantner hit consecutive RBI singles and the cushion was 6-2.
Cushion was needed, because the Cardinals rallied in the ninth. Green and Hernandez hit successive one-out doubles, Hendrick singled and it was 6-4, chasing Caldwell and bringing in McClure. Porter singled. The lead run was at the plate in the person of McGee. McClure got him with a strikeout. Gene Tenace then hit the ball hard to left field, but it was an out and Milwaukee was now back in control of the World Series.
Sutton would get the chance to close out a title when the Series went back to St. Louis for the back end. But the future Hall of Famer just didn’t have it in Game 6. In the second inning, doubles by Iorg and Herr were sandwiched around a Yount error and the result was two St. Louis run. In the fourth, Hernandez singled, Porter homered, then Hernandez tripled and scored. It was 5-0 and the rout was on.
Stuper threw a four-hitter. Hernandez hit a two-run homer in the fifth and the Brewers fell completely apart in the sixth, as the Cardinals used five hits, two wild pitches and a walk to score six runs. Milwaukee avoided the shutout in the ninth, but that was their only bright spot in a 13-1 win for St. Louis.
Vuckovich and Andujar were on the mound, each with normal rest for Game 7. Once again, they both pitched well early and it was scoreless in the fourth when St. Louis picked up a run. McGee and Herr started the inning with singles, and then on an infield hit, McGee scored all the way from second.
After St. Louis manufactured a run, Milwaukee answered with one swing in the top of the fifth—Ogilvie homered to right. In the sixth, the Brewers took the lead. Gantner doubled, then Molitor laid down a bunt. Andujar came off the mound and fired an errant throw to first. It scored the lead run and put Molitor on second base, where he was able to score on a Yount infield hit and Cooper sac fly.
Trailing 3-1, the Cardinals came right back at Vuckovich in the bottom of the inning. With one out, the Smiths got it going. Ozzie singled and Lonnie doubled, setting up second and third. McClure was brought in for Vuckovich. A walk to Tenance loaded the bases, then successive singles from Hernandez and Hendrick made it 4-3.
Andujar gave way to Sutter in the eighth, and the Brewers couldn’t touch the St. Louis closer. The Cards still got two more runs in the bottom of the eighth, removing any drama from the ninth and Sutter closed out the 6-3 win and the World Series title for St. Louis.
Porter named Series MVP. The nicest thing I can say about this is that it’s one of the most poorly considered MVP votes in Series history. He had a notable night in Game 2, but for the Series he only hit .286 with an on-base percentage of .310. A far better choice would be Andujar, who beat the AL Cy Young Award winner twice, including in Game 7, and only gave up two runs in 13 innings of work.
The notable performers for Milwaukee were Molitor and Yount, who hit .355 and .414 respectively, along with Caldwell, who had the two wins and a 2.04 ERA and was only two outs short of a pair of complete games.
St. Louis and Milwaukee went in opposite directions in future years. The Cardinals returned to the World Series in 1985 and 1987, though they didn’t win it all again until 2006. The Brewers faded at the end of 1983 and collapsed in 1984. One organization produced perennial contenders and playoff teams, while the other only sporadically contended and didn’t even make postseason play again until 2008.
Their divergent paths ultimately re-united when Milwaukee was re-aligned into the National League for the 1998 season and the Brewers and Cardinals met in the 2011 NLCS.