Gorman Thomas was a slugging star for the Milwaukee Brewers in 1982. He led the Brewers with 39 homers and drove in 112 runs. However, in the postseason, Gorman was no longer Stormin’. He had only two hits in 11 at-bats (along with two walks) in the first three games of the World Series. In the League Championship Series, he had been even worse — one hit in 15 at-bats in addition to two walks. His struggles extended back to the final week and a half of the regular season. Since September 21, Thomas had only 7 hits in 67 at-bats and had driven in only seven runs in 20 games.
The heat was on, and Thomas was hearing the displeasure of the fans as the Brewers, trailing in the World Series two games to one to the St. Louis Cardinals, took the field for Game Four. The Cardinals scored a run in the first and padded the lead the next inning. With Willie McGee on third and Ozzie Smith on second with one out, Tom Herr sent Thomas back with a long fly to center. Thomas backpedaled and caught the ball, as his momentum carried him back to the warning track. As he planted to throw, his gimpy right knee went out from under him, and he fell to the ground. McGee had tagged at third and was scoring easily. From second, Smith took off and ran hard. He gave a glance back and then picked up his third-base coach, Chuck Hiller, who was waving him home. Smith never slowed and slid home ahead of Robin Yount’s relay. The two-run sacrifice fly gave St. Louis a 3-0 lead.
In the fourth the Brewers put two on with one out when Thomas came up. He fouled out to catcher Darrell Porter, and Milwaukee came up empty in the inning.
The Brewers trailed 5-1 when Thomas came up to start the bottom of the seventh. Another foul out to Porter brought him more serenading (and not the good kind). However, Thomas would get another chance — in the same inning.
Milwaukee was only eight outs away from falling behind by two games in the Series. Ben Oglivie hit a grounder to first that took a high hop. Keith Hernandez leaped to bring it in and flipped to pitcher Dave LaPoint covering. LaPoint dropped the ball. Don Money singled, but LaPoint got Charlie Moore to pop out. The final out of the inning, though, took a long time. Jim Gantner doubled to score Oglivie and finish the day for LaPoint. As Whitey Herzog went to the mound, the fans derisively chanted, “We Want Sutter!” Bruce Sutter was the Cardinals’ relief ace; however, the night before he was tagged for two runs in 2⅓ innings. It was the second game in a row that Herzog had called on Sutter in the seventh inning, and the skipper said he wanted to wait until at least two out in the eighth before using him again.1
So instead, Doug Bair relieved and walked Paul Molitor to load the bases. Bair came in with a high pitch to Robin Yount, who tried to hold up on his swing. Yount was unsuccessful but liked the result. The ball shot off his bat into right field, bringing in two runs and sending Molitor to third. Jim Kaat was next to the mound. Cecil Cooper hit a hard shot off the glove of third baseman Ken Oberkfell for a single as Molitor scored the tying run. Ted Simmons was up when Kaat delivered a wild pitch, advancing the runners to second and third. With the count now 2-and-1 on Simmons, Herzog brought in Jeff Lahti and had him complete an intentional walk to Simmons (with the walk charged to Kaat).
The Brewers had batted around, and the next hitter was Thomas. Regardless of his recent struggles and whatever lack of confidence the fans had in him, Thomas drilled a single to left-center to score Yount and Cooper. Six runs in the inning — all unearned to the team — put Milwaukee ahead 7-5.
St. Louis made one last run at catching up, putting runners at first and third with one out in the eighth. But Bob McClure relieved starter Jim Slaton, got Willie McGee to ground into an inning-ending double play, and then retired the side in order in the ninth.
The Brewers had evened the World Series.
This article appears in “From the Braves to the Brewers: Great Games and Exciting History at Milwaukee’s County Stadium” (SABR, 2016), edited by Gregory H. Wolf. To read more stories from this book at the SABR Games Project, click here.
1 Rick Hummel. “Error Opens Floodgates, Birds Drown, 7-5,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, October 17, 1982, 1.