Career Remembered for a Game Effort : Hero in Game 4 of '82 American League Playoffs Against Angels Adjusting to Life After Baseball

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Mark Brouhard never will be voted into the baseball Hall of Fame.

Nor will he be mentioned among the Milwaukee Brewers' all-time great players.

But if you are an Angel fan, the mention of Brouhard's name will bring back painful memories of the 1982 American League Championship Series, which the Angels lost to the Brewers, three games to two, after leading, 2-0.

Brouhard, a 1974 graduate of El Camino Real High, played in only one game during that series, but his performance (three for four, three runs batted in, an ALCS-record four runs scored) in Game 4 still haunts Angel fans.

"That was definitely the highlight of my career," said Brouhard, who replaced injured Ben Oglivie (34 home runs, 102 runs batted in) in left field and led the Brewers' 9-5 victory. "Ben had hurt himself in the previous game, and when I got to the ballpark that night, they said, 'You're starting in left field,' and I said, 'Great.' "

Brouhard's joy was tempered shortly thereafter when he failed to get a single at-bat in the Brewers' seven-game loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.

"It was frustrating at the time," said Brouhard, a Camarillo resident. "I felt that I deserved a chance to play some in the World Series. I felt like I had earned it.

"But (Manager Harvey Kuenn) felt that this might be the veterans' one shot to play in the World Series and he went with them. . . . As it turned out, we lost anyway."

Brouhard, 35, chuckled when he made that last remark, but according to Angel scout Joe Carpenter, who signed Brouhard out of Pierce College in 1976, Kuenn's decision not to play him in the '82 World Series was a bitter pill for Brouhard to swallow.

"That broke his and his mother's heart," Carpenter said. "I still can't understand why they didn't let him at least pinch-hit a couple of times."

Part of the reason was because Milwaukee's lineup was loaded with talented offensive players.

Nicknamed "Harvey's Wallbangers," the Brewers had five players who hit 23 or more home runs and drove in 97 or more runs that season.

"That's just the way things worked out," Brouhard said of his non-appearance in the World Series. "I had my ups and downs during my career, but I have no regrets. It was a great experience."

A part-time player as an outfielder and designated-hitter for Milwaukee from 1980-85, Brouhard batted .259, hit 25 home runs and drove in 104 runs in 909 at-bats in his career.

He played for the Yakult Swallows in Japan in 1986 and '87 before retiring.

Although he was offered coaching jobs at the minor league level after he stopped playing, Brouhard turned them down because they would have required extensive traveling and time away from his wife Jennifer, daughter Melissa, 8, and son Justin, 3.

"I wasn't forced out of baseball," said Brouhard, 35. "But it was kind of a decision that I had to make. I wanted to spend more time with my family and that's one of the reasons why I didn't pursue the coaching jobs."

Although Brouhard left baseball of his own volition, the transition to "real life" was not easy.

He bounced around from one job--construction, real estate, etc.--to another for the first three years before forming a painting business (homes and commercial buildings) with neighbor Chuck MacQuiddy last year.

"This is the first regular job I've had since I got out of baseball," said the mustachioed, 6-foot, 230-pound Brouhard. "I like having my own business and doing my own thing. I feel like I've finally found a niche."

Brouhard's mother Jan concurred.

"He did spend a lot of time wondering what to do with his life after baseball," she said. "It's a big change, going from making good money when you're young and in the limelight to not being in the limelight."

Brouhard, who played for Pierce in 1975 and '76 after earning All-City Section honors at El Camino Real as a senior, had been told that the transition from baseball to what he calls "reality" would take time, but he was surprised just how long it took.

"I kind of floated around for the first three years," he said. "I was in a rut there for a while. It wasn't until I started this painting business that things started to fall into place."

Carpenter, who has been a scout with the Angels for the past 19 seasons, remains surprised that things never fell into place for Brouhard. He first took notice of Brouhard when he was a catcher at El Camino Real.

"The thing that impressed me most about him was that he looked like a guy who was born strong, like Mickey Mantle," Carpenter said. "He never lifted any weights, but he was just a big strong kid. . . . He wasn't pretty to watch, but he got the job done. The guy could really pop a bat."

Not everyone in the Angels' organization shared Carpenter's enthusiasm about the then-210-pound Brouhard. However, Walter Shannon, the scouting director at the time, gave Carpenter the green light to sign him.

"He said, 'Let's sign him as a personal favor to you,' " Carpenter said, chuckling. "He still wasn't convinced that Mark had major league talent, but I knew he did."

Brouhard eventually made Carpenter a prophet.

After playing rookie ball in 1976, he played at the Class-A level in 1977 and 1978 before batting .350 with 30 home runs and 107 RBIs for El Paso in the double-A Texas League in 1979.

Despite those numbers, the Angels failed to protect Brouhard on their 40-man roster, and the Brewers picked him up.

His most productive season for Milwaukee was 1983 when he batted .276 with seven home runs and 23 RBIs in 56 games.

"For some reason, he never got a chance to play full time," Carpenter said. "I always thought that if he could have done that, he really could have made a name for himself."

These days, the easygoing Brouhard doesn't fret over the what-ifs. He's busy making a living and raising a family.

"Next to the 1982 playoffs, the greatest thrill I ever had was just making it to the major leagues," Brouhard said.

"You think about that type of stuff when you're a kid, but it's kind of a dream then. When you finally realize that dream, it's pretty special."

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
67°