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Big League Stew

Corey Hart: Brewers want to ‘one-up’ beloved 1982 AL champions

David Brown
Big League Stew

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MILWAUKEE — Every city seems to have at least one team, an old favorite from years gone by, to which fans compare to the contemporary squad. Here, it's the 1982 Milwaukee Brewers, a team that reflected its home city like few probably ever have or done since.

Paul Molitor, Robin Yount, Cecil Cooper, Gorman Thomas, Pete Vukovich, Ted Simmons, Ben Oglivie, Jim Gantner, Rollie Fingers. The '82 Brewers not only won, but they won with blue-collar charisma, star power and the most dominating offense in the major leagues. Not to mention the manliest facial hair of the century. They were guys fans could have a beer and a brat with, at least in their imagination.

Outfielder Corey Hart has become quite familiar with the team, even though it played before he was even born.

"We hear ' '82' all the time, because that's the face of this organization," Hart said.

The 2011 Brewers have one advantage on the '82 team — as long as they stay alive in the playoffs. These Brewers can still win the World Series. In '82, the St. Louis Cardinals stopped them short.

"It would be nice to one-up them, to get there and do something they didn't do," Hart said.

As much as everyone here seems to love the '82 Brewers, the success of that team has been a blessing and a curse to the players who have followed. {YSP:MORE}

"I think it used to get old," Hart said. "It used to be a lot worse than it is now. We used to get frustrated with it because we wanted it to be now, to be present.

"But the more we've been here, the more we understand how important that team is to the city. We've met all of the '82 guys — they're all nice. Robin, Coop, Gorman. They're all awesome guys. We don't mind it."

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Many of the old Brewers remain part of the community and work — or used to work — for the team in some capacity. Thomas, the '82 team's burly center fielder, limped on the field before throwing the ceremonial fist pitch for Game 1 of the NLCS. Thomas is 60 now — almost elderly — and gives you an idea of how long ago that magical season was.

"That's one of those teams this organization never forgets, so it's kind of hard to sweep 'em under the rug. They're always gonna there," Hart said.

Hart figures the time has long-since passed for the franchise to make new memories. This team gives the Brewers their best chance, by far, to win a World Series since '82.

"We're trying to be them," Hart said.

One difference: Hopefully, in another 25 years, Hart has better knees than Ol' Stormin' Gorman.

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