Mehring Monday: What's Brewing?

By Chris Mehring / Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | November 28, 2016 11:52 AM

Take a trip with me back to the time before internet. There was no Snapchat, no Twitter, and no Facebook. There were three uses for computers: Word Processing, space flight, and playing Tic-Tac-Toe or Global Thermonuclear War with your friend Joshua.

Where would you be able to find information about your favorite baseball team? There was the newspaper and the radio or TV broadcasts. But, what if you wanted more? That was when you joined the team fan club and had the team magazine mailed to your house.

In the case of the Milwaukee Brewers in the early 1980s, that would be What's Brewing? I have been fortunate enough to find a few copies while doing some cleaning at my parent's house. Unfortunately, the Paul Molitor posing with an Indy Car and the Ben Oglivie "Spider-Man" issues have been lost to history.

What kind of information was in these fan magazines?

The back cover of the Charlie Moore issue had an ad for the Brewers Television Network with broadcasters Steve Shannon and Mike Hegan. The flagship station was WVTV in Milwaukee with stations in Madison (WKOW), Green Bay (WLRE), La Crosse (WXOW), Eau Claire (WQOW), Wausau (WAOW), Rockford, Illinois (WQRF), and Dubuque, Iowa (KDUB).

The issue also had a very long Q & A with Paul Molitor that deals with his move to third base before the start of the 1982 season; a short column by Pepsi Fan Club Captain Paul Molitor about preparing to play in Cold Weather; and a story about the opponents the Brewers would host in May (Royals, Twins - look out for consistent starter Pete Redfern!, Angels, Mariners, and A's.

My favorite part of this issue is a visit with Bruce Manno, Milwaukee's Coordinator of Minor League Operations that details the prospects in the system, which in 1982 included the Triple-A Vancouver Canadians, the Double-A El Paso Diablos, the High-A Stockton Ports, the Low-A Beloit Brewers, the Rookie League Pikeville Brewers, and a co-op extended spring training team with the Orioles in Florida.

Vancouver gets most of the publicity and photos of players on that team include Mike Madden, Bob Skube, Lawrence Rush, and Bill Schroeder. Guys down at Beloit who are mentioned are Ken Clayton, Billy Max, Collin Tanabe, Jerry Miller, and Bill Wegman.

There is also an ad where you can by a 45 of Brewer Fever for $1.95 plus $.50 for postage. Come on….Stomp your feet! Clap your hands! Your part of the team sitting in the stands!

The Rollie Fingers issue is from August of 1984 and includes a shot of his Rollie Spells Relief intro that was shown on the old animated video board at Milwaukee County Stadium and Rollie getting out of the Chevrolet Courtesy Car to head to the mound. Not a bullpen cart like what the Timber Rattlers now have, an actual car.

The Paul Molitor column is about him visiting El Paso and Beloit after his elbow surgery. He writes that he talked with General Manager Harry Dalton about a way to contribute to the Brewers organization off the field. He also spent time scouting Major League games with Harvey Kuehn. He calls it an excellent experience.

There is also a base running clinic from Robin Yount; a Q & A with Annie Waits, wife of Rick Waits; a Q & A with Bobby Clark; a Mark Brouhard pin-up poster; scouting reports on the August home opponents (Twins, Rangers, and Indians - with Bullpen Stopper Ernie Camacho); and a column from manager Rene Lachemann that looks at the performance off all 14 American League teams in the first half of the season.

The Down on the Farm feature has Mario Zilno look at Beloit's Mike Birkbeck, who has 10-1 with a 2.16ERA in 17 starts to that point of the 1984 season. Two of players of the month in system were Ted Higuera in El Paso and Dan Plesac in Stockton.

The ad for Brewer Fever notes that the cost of the 45 is down to $1.25 plus $.50 for postage.

The other issue in the image has Ed Romero on the cover and is dated September 1984.

The highlight of this issue was the article promoting the Brewers hiring FRANK ROBINSON as their hitting coach for the remainder of the 1984 season. This is a fact that I had forgotten.

Tom Trebelhorn, the first base coach, has a four page article on The Art of Bunting. Four pages! This is like how Vince Lombardi could talk about the sweep for eight hours.

Other highlights are a chat with Donna Schroeder, wife of Bill Schroeder; a Jim Sundberg pin-up poster; previews of the Tigers, Orioles, and Blue Jays; and the Rene Lachemann column about injuries piling up. Lachemann would be let go before the end of the season.

Down on the Farm got a little bigger in this issue as they point out that Dale Sveum is in the big leagues for good and seven Brewers farmhands were rated in the Baseball America Best Tools surveys for various leagues.

For example, Brian Finley of the Beloit Brewers was named "Fastest Base Runner" and "Best Defensive Outfielder" in the Midwest League and Glenn Braggs was named "Best Batting Prospect" and Hitter with the Best Power" in the California League.

The ad that stands out in this issue is one for Brewer Peanut Butter and Brewer Jelly. It doesn't mention where you can buy them, but it does remind you to save the "Hits" for free Brewers merchandise because each 18-ounce jar is worth three hits!

These are great little time capsules and I hope that I can find a few more.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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