Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Feeling Nostalgic About Greg Vaughn

Growing up, I like most kids loved Robin Yount and Paul Molitor. I mean, they are/were the greatest Brewers in franchise history. And while he played with both of those guys for a few seasons, perhaps my favorite Brewer post Yount/Molitor was Greg Vaughn. When early this offseason the Brewers announced they would be doing a Greg Vaughn bobblehead day I was stoked. To me, that was almost as cool as when they did Rob Deer last season and will probably go into my pantheon of Brewers bobbleheads (joining 15' Deer, 02' Aaron, 06' Miller, 08' Braun, 12' T-Plush, 13' Scott, 14' Gomez and 14' Yount). Then in January Vaughn was announced to attend Brewers On Deck. Suddenly all this talk of Vaughn got me really feeling nostalgic about his time as a Brewer and his career in MLB. Hell, I even recently purchased a lot of 12 Vaughn cards off eBay that had a few of his rookies that I didn't already have.

Vaughn was drafted by the Brewers in the 1st round (4th overall) in the 1986 Draft out of the U (where he was an All-American). He made his MLB debut in 1989 and was a rookie in 1990 when he hit 17 HR. He would go on to play eight seasons with the Brewers making the All-Star team twice, hitting 169 of his 355 career HR in a Brewers uniform. His two All-Star seasons (93' and 96') were his best in Milwaukee. In his age 27 season in 93' he hit 30 HR had an .850 OPS and drove in 97 (6.7 WAR). In 96' he slugged 31 HR had had an .948 OPS and drove in 95 (2.7 WAR) for the Crew before being traded at the July 31st deadline to the Padres for Bryce Florie, Marc Newfield and Ron Villone (YUCK! What a typical shit Selig/Bando move of the mid to late 90's).

(Couldn't find him hitting a HR as a Brewer, so here he is taking Randy Johnson deep in the 98' NLDS)

That trade hit me hard. I was 14 at the time and still didn't understand the economics of baseball and how my team could keep trading away our good players. Vaughn had a down year in 1997 due to injury but had outstanding season in 98' (Padres) and 99' (Reds) as an All-Star and MVP candidate even slugging 50 HR in 98' (friend of mine got Vaughn to sign a ball at On Deck and inscribe "50 HR" on the ball, thought that was awesome), one of only twenty seven players in MLB history to hit 50 or more in a season. He played four more season between Tampa Bay and Colorado before retiring after the 2003 season.

"Vaughn's Valley" out in LF is something that will live in Brewers lore for ever. It was a staple of County Stadium for six years, he played LF and hit the vast majority of his dingers to that part of the bleachers so it was very fitting. Vaughn was a bad ass, cool cat. He was strong, hit a lot of dingers, had a swag to him, usually had the top few buttons undone on his jersey and was usually seen with a big old dip in his lower lip. He was a ballplayer. I remember always trying to imitate that famous pigeon toed stance he had while playing home run derby with friends in the backyard. He wasn't the greatest player, but to me he always seemed a bit underrated and on some shitty Brewers teams he was something to really enjoy and look forward to. I look forward to getting his bobblehead this season and hope he will make it out to Miller Park that day so he can get an ovation he deserves from all the other fans who think Greg Vaughn was the man.

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