40 years ago this month, in October 1982, I witnessed four unforgettable events over a nine-day span. Now if I could only remember more of the details.
Friday, Oct. 8 — American League Championship Series Game 3, California Angels vs. Milwaukee Brewers at Milwaukee County Stadium.
What I remember: Somehow I was offered one of the company tickets for this game. I went with some people from the Wisconsin State Journal, where I worked. My lingering memory is simply being wowed by sitting so close to the field, fourth row of the lower grandstand between home plate and first base.
What I don’t remember: Anything about the game. The Brewers won 5-3. The Brewers had lost the first two games of the best-of-five series in California, so every game in Milwaukee was do or die.
Saturday, Oct. 9 — ALCS Game 4, Angels vs. Brewers at County Stadium.
What I remember: These were our tickets in the left-center-field bleachers. I went with my girlfriend, who’d just had her wisdom teeth removed and understandably wasn’t feeling great. (She somehow still married me five years later.) The weather was terrible. It was 60 but drizzling. The game started an hour and 44 minutes late, then had rain delays of 12 and 19 minutes.
I’d ordered our tickets by mail after the Brewers qualified for the postseason in early September. I got two strips of bleacher tickets for all six possible home ALCS and World Series games. (This, I looked up: They cost $39 each plus $3 for postage and handling, for which I had to get an $81 money order and mail it from Madison to Milwaukee.) I’d never popped for something so expensive for any kind of event.
What I don’t remember: Anything about the game. The Brewers won 9-5.
I had to work the next day, so my friends from Green Bay took our Game 5 tickets. That was the day the Brewers won the AL pennant to advance to the World Series. From his vantage point in our seats in the left-center-field bleachers, my friend watched the postgame celebration on the field. He saw one gent dancing on the field. This gent was not wearing pants. “Now that,” my friend told me later, “is national exposure.”
Thursday, Oct. 14 — Warren Zevon show, Madison Civic Center.
What I remember: I was 25, and I hadn’t seen a lot of shows, so I thought the whole thing was tremendous. Zevon alternated between pounding the piano and playing it delicately, and between singing fiercely and elegantly. I vividly remember Zevon dedicating “The Envoy,” the title cut on the album of the same name, to Philip Habib, Reagan’s special envoy to the Middle East at the time. I bought two tickets for this show, hoping someone could go along. That didn’t happen, so I ate one. That’s why you see a full ticket above.
“The Envoy,” Warren Zevon, from “The Envoy,” 1982.
What I don’t remember: (All this, I looked up, too.) The show started 25 minutes late. For whatever reason, it took Zevon that long to get out to the stage. Once there, he played for an hour and 45 minutes. “Johnny Strikes Up The Band” was the opening number. “Werewolves of London” was one of the encore numbers, complete with a “werewolves of Madison” line. I can’t find a full setlist from the show, but here are some of the other songs he performed that night: “A Certain Girl,” “Join Me In L.A.,” “Roland, the Headless Thompson Gunner,” “Charlie’s Medicine,” “Jungle Work,” “Play It All Night Long,” “Lawyers, Guns and Money,” Accidentally Like A Martyr,” “Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me,” “Cadillac Ranch,” “Excitable Boy,” “It Ain’t That Pretty At All” and “Carmelita.”
It might have gone something like this. Here’s Zevon from two weeks earlier, Oct. 1, 1982, at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic, N.J.
Saturday, Oct. 16 — World Series Game 4, St. Louis Cardinals vs. the Brewers at County Stadium. The Cardinals had a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, so the Brewers needed to win.
What I remember: We were back in our seats in the left-center-field bleachers. This time, it was a beautiful day. It was all so dazzling, far more so than the ALCS the previous week. So much hype, so much hoopla, so much fun. Milwaukee hadn’t hosted a World Series since 1958, the year after I was born. It was the first time for a lot of us of a certain age. (As it’s turned out, it’s been the only time for a lot of us of a certain age.)
What I don’t remember: Anything about the game. The Brewers won 7-5.
Four unforgettable events over nine days.
All these years later, just a delightful blur.