“The one constant through all the years . . . has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past . . . It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again.” –James Earl Jones as Terrence Mann in “Field of Dreams, 1989

With the Milwaukee Brewers clinching a playoff berth during this past weekend’s home series with the Chicago Cubs and the “magic number” for clinching the National League Central crown whittled down to just three games, I have to admit a guarded, but growing excitement for the Brewers’ chances in this year’s post-season playoffs.

Given the Milwaukee Bucks’ Cinderella 2020-’21 NBA championship season, to borrow New York Giants rightfielder Archibald “Moonlight” Graham’s “Field of Dreams” quote, I have to wonder this about the 2021 Brewers capturing a first-ever World Series title: “Is there enough magic out there in the moonlight to make this dream come true?”

There was enough cinematic magic for actor Burt Lancaster’s Graham, when he ultimately fulfilled his dream of batting in the major leagues as he took to the plate against White Sox pitcher Eddie “Knuckles” Cicotte in farmer Ray Kinsella’s quixotic ballfield, improbably carved out of his Iowa cornfield. 

After Milwaukee came within a game of winning the 1982 “Suds Series” against St. Louis under local-boy-done-good manager Harvey “Arch” Kuenn, I’m pulling for homegrown skipper Craig Counsell’s Brewers to finally bring the World Series championship home to Brew City for the first time since the Milwaukee Braves did it in 1957, eight years before I was born.

Growing up with Major League Baseball’s expansion Brewers in the 1970s and early 1980s, I haven’t felt this excited about the team’s post-season chances since 1982. Dare I say I feel some magic in the air once again? 

While the names have all changed since Kuenn’s 1982 line-up card featuring the likes of childhood baseball heroes like Jerry Augustine, Mike Caldwell, Pete Vukavich, Jim Slaton, Cecil Cooper, Jim “Gumby” Gantner, Charlie Moore, “Stormin” Gorman Thomas, Ben Oglivie and future Hall of Famers Rollie Fingers, Don Sutton, Robin Yount, Paul Molitor and Ted  “Simba” Simmons — the only constant across these nearly two score years being Baseball Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Uecker behind the radio mic — this year’s spirited, fun-loving and never-say-die American Family Field team, even if I can’t remember a lot of their names, reminds me a lot of the ebullient “Harvey’s Wallbangers” of County Stadium fame.

Thirty-nine years removed, for me personally this year’s run is different. The middle aged 56-year-old me is light years removed from the Brewer Fevered 17-year-old fanboy that scrapbooked every exploit of the Milwaukee Brewers in their first winning glory years from 1978-’83 under George “Bambi” Bamberger, “Buck” Rogers and Kuenn. 

But then there’s still my old, retro-nostalgic Channel 4 Brewers mug from back in the day, still tucked away in the kitchen cupboard across the span of ten post-college moves, waiting in the wings with a 39-year accumulation of dust. With the final out of the 1982 World Series, 17-year-old me vowed not to quaff from my mug until the Brewers returned to the Fall Classic. True to my word, multiple Brewers and Channel Four logo iterations later, my lips have yet to again wrap themselves around the rim of my beloved mug.

After a 25-year post-season drought, the Brewers returned to the playoffs in 2008, 2011, 2018, 2019 and 2020, but a return for the World Series has remained elusive, even after battling for the National League championship in ’11 in six games against the Cardinals and in ’18 in seven games against the Dodgers.

Is there enough magic out there in the moonlight for me to hoist a cleaned, frosted Channel 4 Brewers mug in celebration during the 2021 World Series?

Here’s hoping for an October surprise from the Brew Crew.

Ein Prosit!