One thing the Brewers don't do well is throw out stealing base runners. Through Sunday's game, Milwaukee catchers had cut down only 22 of 118 would-be thieves, a woeful 18.6%. In compensation, No. 1 Catcher Ted Simmons is having his finest American League season at bat. In 1981, his first after 11 seasons as a career .298 hitter with the National League Cardinals, Simmons hit an embarrassing .216 in the abbreviated season. He ran that up to .269 last year with 97 runs batted in. He has been sizzling this year, hitting .305 at week's end with 58 RBIs. "They tell you when you change leagues you'll have trouble, but when you've been successful, you say you won't have difficulty," explains Simmons. "Those who say you will are right." Playing as a DH, as he is increasingly required to do, is merely "a paid vacation. As a catcher I have no trouble staying with the game. I'm sitting there calling all the pitches with whoever is catching, so I'm always involved. Other DHs don't visualize a game the way catchers do. The only thing I'm missing is the physical part of catching. It's like a vacation." As a DH, Simmons was .333 (51 for 153) through Sunday.
The old blue Brew Crew may indeed be back. And the future is looking up, too. Hours before the Saturday win over the White Sox a large, hairy and disheveled-looking player, his belly peeking from beneath his sweat shirt, sweltered in the summer heat throwing to a batting-practice catcher under the watchful gaze of Kuenn and Pitching Coach Pat Dobson. The pitches were coming harder and harder, when, surprisingly, a fluttering knuckleball crossed the plate. The anxious crowd around the cage was impressed. "Nice going, Vuke," someone shouted. And when the pitcher walked off the mound Kuenn called after him, "Peter, that was very, very good." Indeed, who can tell what might happen in September? Or October?