25 years ago, Brewers' Easter miracle win set records, led to free burgers
MILWAUKEE - It was unprecedented. It was miraculous. It was "Holy cow, do you believe it?"
And it was free burgers.
On Easter Sunday, April 19, 1987 - 25 years ago to the day - the Milwaukee Brewers set an American League record with their 12th consecutive win to start a season, doing it in the most improbable fashion possible - a five-run comeback in the bottom of the ninth over the Texas Rangers at County Stadium.
The victory not only continued the team's incredible start to the 1987 campaign which included the franchise's only no-hitter (by Juan Nieves over the Baltimore Orioles), but it led the George Webb's restaurant chain to give away more than 168,000 burgers as part of a 40-year promise to baseball fans in the city.
But the big giveaway would never have happened without a big comeback.
Trailing 4-1, with most of the 29,357 still in attendance and hoping for a miracle on Easter, Glenn Braggs and Greg Brock each found their way on base against Mitch Williams.
After a Cecil Cooper fly ball, Greg Harris replaced Mitch Williams. Rob Deer then replaced nailbiting with celebration.
"A curve ball drilled to deep left...way, way, way out of here and gone for Deer, and they have tied it at four! Whoaaaa, whoa!" exclaimed longtime Newsradio 620 WTMJ Brewers voice Bob Uecker as County Stadium erupted in a blue and gold-clad volcano of joy.
B.J. Surhoff's strikeout then brought a calm across the then-34-year-old structure, but Jim Gantner walked.
At approximately 4:13 p.m., Brewers fans wearing their Easter Sunday clothes - or their Brewers gear - started pumping fists, high fiving, hugging and clinking glasses of what made Milwaukee famous in a toast to their team achieving an American League record - all because of one swing by then-Brewers infielder and now-Cubs manager Dale Sveum.
"A swing and a fly ball, right field and deep! Get up, get up and get out of here! Gone for Sveum, and they've done it again! 12 in a row, on a two-run blast by Sveum to win it! Oh my goodness! Holy cow, do you believe it?" screamed Uecker.
The 29,000-plus in attendance certainly believed. So did the pile of pinstriped Milwaukee Brewers who had just made history.
The George Webb's chain then started preparing to fulfill their promise made in the 1940's, that if the then-American Association Milwaukee Brewers won 12 straight games, it would give out free hamburgers.
That promise stayed with the Milwaukee Braves in the 1950's and 60's, and then with the Brewers.
Finally, nearly 40 years after Webb's prediction, it came true.
On April 22, 1987, the restaurant chain gave out 168,194 free hamburgers.
By that time, the Brewers' record winning streak to start a campaign had ended with a loss to the Chicago White Sox.
But the memories of what may be the most dramatic regular season win in franchise history still have not waned.
All because of Sveum, Deer and a lot of hamburger meat.