No, I’m not talking about a home run ball sailing out toward the “hogs” above the Harley-Davidson Deck in left-center field at Miller Park. Rather, the cycle: the accomplishment of hitting a single, double, triple and home run in the same game. The “natural cycle” involves performing this more-than-minor miracle in increasingly powerful strokes, from single to double, etc. In looking around at the Milwaukee Brewers who have accomplished this feat, I’ve discovered that the cycle has a more complicated and thorough history than I originally thought.
The first to do it in MLB history was apparently a man named Curry Foley, who cycled for the long-defunct Buffalo Bisons of the National League on May 25, 1882, over 130 years ago. Foley had the good taste to do it in style, belting a grand slam in the process, a feat even more rare than the “natural cycle,” having been done only nine times in MLB history according to Baseball Almanac. It turns out a cycle with a granny is even more rare than a cycle with an inside-the-park home run. Evidently hitting for the cycle is about as rare as a no-hitter, each feat having been accomplished around 300 times in MLB history. Mike Trout became the second-youngest player ever to hit for the cycle in 2013, and do you remember that Brandon Barnes, then of the Houston Astros, did it in July of 2013, as well?
In any case, hitting for the cycle is one of the more conceptual and heady tricks a player can pull out of his hat in baseball. It’s a weird, weird thing, and not easy to do. A player can hardly “try” to hit for the cycle; it manifests itself upon the player and the game gradually. Only the luckiest bastards can pull the needed hit out of their pockets when they need it to complete the cycle. Brewers fans have been slightly spoiled by unlikely cycle-producers in recent years, with fleeting outfielder Jody Gerut picking it up in 2010, and then perhaps the greatest, craziest cycle I can remember: backup catcher George Kottaras in 2011.
Some cycles in MLB history were pulled off by players for now-defunct teams or under current teams’ previous monikers, but it’s pretty impressive that the Brewers have managed seven (or eight…I’ll get to that later) cycles in their relatively brief existence. For instance, the Brewers have more cycle-hitters than the Braves franchise, which dates back to the Boston Red Caps of 1876. They have more cycle-hitters than the Chicago White Sox, a charter member of the American League, which was founded in Milwaukee in 1900-01. The Giants and Pirates are the franchises with the most cycles, while the unfortunate San Diego Padres have never enjoyed the silly bliss that surrounds such a happening. But that’s just the nature of the cycle. It’s unpredictable, just like the game itself, and that explains the seemingly nonsensical facts that show that the Kansas City Cowboys and the Brooklyn Gladiators, franchises that were only around for one year a piece over 100 years ago, have as many cycle-hitters combined as the Toronto Blue Jays (2), who have been around nearly 40 years.
As I said earlier, the cycle in baseball is something that seems very cut and dried but when you look at the variables and variations a bit closer, all kinds of eclectic complexity comes out. As a result, I will not look at each of the Brewers’ cycles in great detail, merely shout out a roll call of the seven official cycles listed on most pages tied to the current franchise and mention the eighth, which is clouded in some mystery, lost in history. Note: no one hit for the cycle for the Milwaukee Braves, and in fact the Braves had a shocking drought of no cycles from 1910-1987.
- Mike Hegan hit for the cycle on September 3, 1976, against the Detroit Tigers at Tiger Stadium, becoming the first modern Brewer to collect all the pieces.
- Charlie Moore, whose page we recently sponsored over at Baseball Reference, hit for the cycle on October 1, 1980 against the California Angels at Angel Stadium.
- Robin Yount hit for the cycle on June 12, 1988, against the Chicago White Sox at old Comiskey. Current Brewer Carlos Gomez also cycled against the White Sox while with the Twins (2008).
- Paul Molitor fittingly followed Yount with a cycle against his hometown Minnesota Twins on May 15, 1991, at the Metrodome.
- Chad Moeller, a part-time catcher acquired in the Richie Sexson deal with Arizona, broke the Brewers’ decade-plus cycleless streak against the Cincinnati Reds on April 27, 2004. Moeller completed the Brewers’ first cycle at home and the first since they moved to the National League.
- Jody Gerut, acquired in a minor trade for Tony Gwynn, Jr., hit for the cycle against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field on May 8, 2010.
- George Kottaras hit for the cycle against the Astros at Minute Maid on September 3, 2011.
So those are the big seven. Not too shabby, I must say. The list features some of the franchise’s cornerstones as well as transient players who left their mark on Brewers history. Finally, I will point on what is technically the eighth cycle hit in Brewers history. The Baltimore Orioles franchise, which was previously the St. Louis Browns, was the Milwaukee Brewers for one sad year originally, in 1901. Those Brewers hit for no cycles. However, way back in 1891, the minor league Milwaukee Brewers of the Western Association and Western League joined the American Association, which was a major league at the time, for the last couple months of the 1891 season. These Brewers, who also played at Borchert Field, were just one of several incarnations of Milwaukee Brewers baseball teams over the years in various leagues, but on September 12, 1891, Wisconsin native Abner Dalrymple hit for the cycle in a win against the Washington Statesmen. Dalrymple, who first appeared in the majors with the Milwaukee Grays in 1878, would close his baseball career less than a month later.
So, there you have it, the eight Brewers cycles.