Thursday, July 16, 2015

New Feature: Meet the Brewers #1: Lew Krausse

For the first time in quite some time, I find myself without any new cards to talk about. My work life has been a bit crazy lately, and my collecting focus has been 100% focused on organization. I haven't been to a card show in over a month, either.  It can leave a guy a bit tongue-tied.

It can also leave a guy a bit lacking for something to write about.  As a result, I've decided to start a completely irregular feature (read as: when I don't have new cards, I can use this) called "Meet the Brewers."  Because I have tendencies towards being overly concerned about organization, I'm going to try to go in the order in which the players appeared with the Brewers, starting in 1970.

So, player #1 is Lew Krausse.  Why Lew Krausse? Because Krausse was the starting pitcher in game 1 for the Milwaukee Brewers, a home game for the Brewers against the California Angels.  

Lew Krausse, 1971 Topps
Opening Day 1970 started out auspiciously for Krausse -- getting Sandy Alomar, Sr., to ground out to Tommy Harper to start the game. That was followed by two fly outs to left fielder Danny Walton.  1-2-3 to start the game and welcome baseball back to Milwaukee.  It went downhill quickly for Krausse and the Brewers, though.  Down 4-0 after three innings, manager Dave Bristol pulled Krausse before his pitcher's first at bat.  The bullpen then conspired to give up 8 more runs to lead to a 12-0 loss.

Hardly the way that Bud Selig wanted to reintroduce baseball to Milwaukee after four seasons away.

How did Krausse end up in Milwaukee? The Kansas City Athletics signed Krausse as a bonus baby in 1961 straight out of high school. Krausse's father -- also Lew -- was a scout for the Athletics whose debut in the major leagues came with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1931.

He made 12 appearances that year and pitched fairly creditably for a kid straight out of high school -- walking way too many guys but not allowing a lot of hits and having a FIP of 4.66 in a league with a FIP of 4.09 really isn't that bad at age 18.  He went to the minors after that until 1964. He stayed in the major leagues with the A's in 1966 -- having the best year of his career that year at age 23 (14-9, 2.99 ERA, 3.33 FIP).  

Krausse moved with the team to Oakland for two years. He was upset about being demoted to the bullpen in 1969 -- a move precipitated by Rollie Fingers's move into the starting rotation by manager Hank Bauer.  Krausse came back to the starting rotation thanks to injuries, but the first move to the bullpen presaged the team's decision that Krausee was expendable.

As a result, Krausse was traded to the Seattle Pilots after the 1969 season in a deal that sent Ron Clark and Don Mincher to the A's in exchange for Krausse, Mike Hershberger, Phil Roof, and Ken Sanders. Krausse did not like the idea at first and thought about refusing to report to Seattle.  But, then, Manager Dave Bristol assured Krausse throughout spring training that Krausse would have a job in the starting rotation with the team that would become the Brewers. 

Krausse appeared just twice in relief in 1970, racking up a career-high 216 innings while starting 35 games (8 complete, 1 shutout).  He finished with a 13-18 record with a 4.75 ERA (4.41 FIP).  With that record, though, the Brewers did not guarantee Krausse anything for 1971 and, as a result, Krausse ended up in the bullpen again, mostly in long relief

1971 Topps Coin
Krausse pretty much asked to be traded in that story I linked to from the Milwaukee Sentinel in 1971. Still, Krausse ended 1971 well -- at least on the surface. His 8-12 record was nothing special (though pitching for a team with a 69-92 record didn't help that) but his 2.94 ERA was quite flattering to him since his FIP was 4.20.

Finally, in the offseason, the Brewers accommodated Krausse's unhappiness and included him in a major trade with the Boston Red Sox.  The Brewers sent Krausse, minor leaguer Patrick Skrable (who never played after 1971), 1970 All-Star Tommy Harper, and 1971 All-Star Marty Pattin to the Boston Red Sox in exchange for Ken Brett, Billy Conigliaro, Joe Lahoud, Jim Lonborg, Don Pavletich (a Milwaukee native who never appeared with the team), and future home run king George Scott.  

To close out his career, Krausse threw 60-2/3 awful innings in Boston in 1972 and got released in spring training in 1973.  He was picked up by the Oakland Athletics and spent 1973 in Triple-A Tucson.  He made one two-inning appearance for the Cardinals in 1973 after being sold to them in September.  He then signed with the Atlanta Braves, got sold to Oakland, and got sold back to the Braves all in the space of six months between December of 1973 and May of 1974.  He finished 1974 with the Braves before they released him after the season.  He was back in Triple-A Tucson for 1975, but that season was the end of his baseball career.

To celebrate the forty year anniversary of the Brewers first year in Milwaukee, the team had Krausse recreate his first pitch to catcher Jerry McNertney in 2010.

Photo by Benny Sieu of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel;
posted on by former Brewers pitcher Dave Baldwin.
And that, folks, is Lew Krausse, complete with the three cards/items that depict Krausse from my collection.

Thanks for reading.


  1. I'm afraid I have a LOT to learn about the Brewers. This could be a very educational series for me. :)

  2. I remember him with KC and to some extent with the Brewers but I have no recollection of him kicking around so much as his career wound down. He's about 27 or so in that Milwaukee 25th Anniversary card. He doesn't look nearly that old.

  3. Could he outperform Kyle Lohse right now?