On this date in Milwaukee Brewers history, the infamous “Chuckie hacks” incident happened in Anaheim. This bit of baseball historical wackiness all played out on May 16, 1997, during a 5-1 Brewers loss to pitcher Chuck Finley and the Angels.
Paying the Price
On December 4, 1995, outfielder Chuck “Chuckie” Carr was traded with minor league pitcher Ty Narcisse from Florida to Milwaukee for minor league pitcher Juan Gonzalez. Neither Gonzalez or Narcisse would see action in the majors – Gonzalez had 14 appearances for the Brewers in 1994, but wouldn’t make it back to the bigs. According to Baseball Reference, the Brewers paid Carr $325,000 for his services in 1996 and 1997.
Carr was originally drafted by the Cincinnati Reds back in 1986. He was always considered a stolen base threat and profiled as a hit for average guy with not much power. Carr came up with the New York Mets in 1990 and played there until spending part of 1992 with the St. Louis Cardinals. His greatest success came in 1993 as a member of the Florida Marlins, when he stole 58 bases to lead the National League.
Yet for all the stolen bases, Carr also occasionally got himself into trouble on the base paths. He managed to get himself thrown out in three rundowns – in one game! Carr shrugged it off, saying, “I had a good day AND a bad day.”
Brewers manager Phil Garner had high hopes coming into 1997 that Carr could be the answer to his lack of a leadoff hitter. He had talked to Carr about putting the ball in play more and trying to work the count. Carr kept swinging for the fences as his batting average plummeted through April and May. Not only did Carr resemble Willie Mays Hayes in Major League II for his plate approach, he also loved to speak about himself in the third person. Other Brewers that referred to themselves in the third person were George “Boomer” Scott before Carr and Nyjer Morgan after him – but they generally backed up their talk with clutch hitting.
Chuck Finley was a tough opponent on the mound in 1997. He averaged 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings pitched, so it was important for the Brewers hitters to try to work the count against him. Carr led off against Finley in the eighth inning with the Brewers down, 4-1, and somehow managed to work Finley to a 2-0 count. He then ignored a “take” sign from third base coach Chris Bando and popped the next pitch weakly to third base for an out. After the game, before reporters were let in, Phil Garner was fuming. Garner caught Carr in front of his locker and asked what he was thinking in ignoring the “take” sign. Carr’s response, as most Brewers fans know, was classic:
“Chuckie don’t play that game,” he said. “Chuckie hacks on 2-and-0.”
Phil Garner’s Funny Farm
It was Carr’s last at-bat for the Brewers, who released him on May 20th with a .130 batting average. Garner summed up the tussle by saying, “The guy is always talking about himself in the third person, which often gets you one of those white jackets that ties in the back.”
Carr finished the year with Houston and it proved to be his final season in the majors. The Astros did win the National League Central division that year. In a strange ironic twist, ten years later Carr found himself coaching in the Astros minor leagues. The Astros big league manager at the same time was…yup, you guessed it – one Phil Garner.
Side note: While in the Seattle Mariners farm system, Chuckie once told another center fielder to go find another position to play. That center fielder was Ken Griffey Jr.
Please feel free to share this article to your favorite social media sites with the buttons below the photos. I also encourage you to visit the Baseball Bloggers Alliance where I am a contributor. Thanks!