Jerry Augustine: Getting the call
By Kris Leonhardt
Continued from last week
In 1974, Jerry Augustine was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 15th round of the free-agent draft by Brewers Scout Emil Belich.
“You know, it’s funny because I was drafted in 1974, and I had never seen a major league baseball game. And Emil Belich, who drafted me with the Brewers said, ‘Why don’t you and your wife come down and we’ll go to a baseball game?’” recalled Augustine.
“So, we drove down. We talked, we went to the game and they played the Oakland Athletics. I’ll never forget this because it was Catfish Hunter against some left-handed pitcher by the name of Kevin Kobel. And we sat up in the stands and my scouts who drafted me said, ‘Watch this guy who is pitching with the Brewers.’ And I watched him and he says, ‘I’ll tell you right now, your stuff is every bit as good or better than his right now.’ And I was floored by that because he just talked about a guy who was pitching in the big leagues against the famous Oakland As.
“It was inspiring to me because you just knew how much Mr. Belich, who had drafted me, believed in what I had as ability as a pitcher. So it was pretty special.
“That was the first professional game I ever saw — Major League game — in my life, and I signed that night with the Brewers.
But signing with professional baseball in 1974 isn’t what it is today.
“I did get about a $1,000 signature, which was good for my family, and then I think maybe a progressive bonus out of it,” Augustine recalled.
“I signed and then I went back home with packed and I ended up going to Newark, N.Y., with the rookie league to start.”
But, Augustine was there for just five days.
“I remember walking out on the field for my first day, and my first roommate was Moose Haas, who was drafted second, and he’s still one of my best friends… and they had me throw batting practice. They had a guy catching who was from Puerto Rico and this guy was a tall guy — about 6’5”-6’6” — and he didn’t know how to get down. He’s a catcher but didn’t know how to get into a catcher’s stance. So, the target he gave me was up around the guy’s shoulder all the time, and I had a really big problem with that,” Augustine said.
“I threw one day of batting practice, and then I threw once on the side, and all of a sudden the Brewers called me in and said, ‘Jerry, you’re going to be moving from our ballclub.
“I said, ‘They released me already?’
But, Augustine was headed up to “High A” ball — the Class A Midwest League.
“So, I flew out from Newark, N.Y., and I flew into Iowa. We’re playing in Iowa City. I flew out, got there at seven o’clock, went to the ballpark, put my uniform on, walked out on the bench, met my manager Matt Galante who at that time was for Danville Warriors. Met my manager, sat down; he came up, called me. He said, ‘Hey, can you throw tonight?’ I said, ‘Well, sure,’” Jerry said.
“So, it’s the eighth inning. He got me up in the game, brought me in the ninth inning. I pitched three innings and got a win.
“I got a win my first night. I mean, I didn’t get there till like the fourth or fifth inning. I got to win.
“Then, Matt started me two days later in the starting rotation, starting a game and I got another win. So, I was 2-0 and I was only there like three days.”
Augustine started 12 games with the team, completed six and garnered a 7-4 record with a 2.56 ERA.
Next week: Feeling the buzz