Jerry Augustine: A team bond
By Kris Leonhardt
Continued from last week
As the Milwaukee Brewers developed into a powerhouse — known as “Harvey’s Wallbangers” for manager Harvey Kuenn — Jerry Augustine said that the team grew into a close-knit group.
“From 1979 on, and we were very, very close to making the playoffs each of those years. If you look at where we were from 1978 — when (George) Bamberger came over — where we were from 1978 to 1981. We got into playoffs in 1981 and made it to the World Series in 1982. There was a bond there,” Augustine recalled.
“But, I think when you when you talk about that bond… you need special people to be your leaders. And I think that’s one thing that we had. In the trade with St. Louis when Rollie (Fingers) came over and Pete Vuckovich came over and Ted Simmons came over; that was the key right there. And it wasn’t because they were good baseball players, it was because we found a leader and that leader was Ted Simmons. Ted Simmons was our leader. He’s the one guy that when you talk about a team and being able to form and go out and present yourself as a team and do good things. It was Ted Simmons.”
But, when the Brewers made it to the World Series in 1982, they would do so without their ace relief pitcher, Rollie Fingers, and when the team picked up Don Sutton, Augustine wouldn’t be in the lineup either.
“What happened was in July, Rollie tore up his shoulder and what they had to make the decision on was who they’re going to put on the roster. And it just ended up that myself and Jamie Easterly were two guys that were left off the roster,” he added.
“We did everything the baseball team did — we traveled, we dressed, we sat on the bench, we did everything everybody did — we just weren’t eligible.”
The 1982 Brewers won the American League pennant, but lost the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games, 4-3, and still came back to a hero’s welcome in Wisconsin.
“Rollie Fingers came up to me several years later and said ‘Augie, you know, I couldn’t pitch and I knew you could pitch. I went in and I was hoping they would activate you,’” Augustine recalled.
“But it ended up that they were using Rollie saying that he could come in any time and it just didn’t work out that he did get in; and of course because of that, I wasn’t active in the roster.
“But, I lived every minute with everybody that played. I sat next to Harvey Keane. I learned more about baseball from Harvey that time… I learned so much about baseball and sports and how to say you know, what, maybe you were the active guy, but like Harvey told me, he said, ‘Augie, we wouldn’t be here if it wouldn’t be for you. One of the games some of the games that you pitch for us during the summer, the way you came out, you worked your butt off and you worked hard, is the reason why the Milwaukee Brewers made it to the playoffs.’ And I think Harvey would say that anybody who was on our roster because it took us as a team in order to do it.
“He just made you feel really special and know that you were a part of that 1982 team that was able to make it. To this day I’ll never forget it, and it’s really helped me be a better person.
“It really helped me as far as my coaching and what I think about baseball and the way I talk about baseball and my love for the game; that really helped me a lot.”
Next week: Life after the Brewers