CHICAGO — Mike Brosseau grew up at Wrigley Field dreaming of belting a go-ahead home run and circling the bases. How many kids have that dream? And how many actually get to live it?
Brosseau did. The pride of Munster, Ind., just south of the Windy City, who went undrafted out of college but fought his way to the Major Leagues anyway, delivered his first big moment with his new team Sunday when he hit a tie-breaking homer into the left-center-field bleachers in the seventh inning of the Brewers’ 5-4 win over the Cubs.
Brosseau’s first career pinch-hit home run sent the Brewers to the victory they needed to avoid an 0-3 start after all of Milwaukee’s “big three” starting pitchers were wobbly in their season debuts. But that does not fully explain why the energetic infielder was windmilling his arms as he ran around the bases.
Brosseau’s godfather, Tony Hunter, was president and CEO of the Chicago Tribune, which formerly owned the Cubs. Growing up, Brosseau described having free rein at Wrigley Field, getting to know Aramis Ramirez, Moises Alou and Derrek Lee in the dugout and running around the outfield during batting practice. Brosseau made it to the Majors in 2019 with the Rays and was supposed to visit Wrigley for a Fourth of July series in ‘20, only to see those plans wiped out by the pandemic. It took a November trade to the Brewers to make his boyhood dream come true.
“There was definitely a moment of realization, like, ‘This was my home field,’” said Brosseau, who pinch-hit on Opening Day and started for the Brewers on Saturday before beginning Sunday’s series finale on the bench. “When I was coming to games as a fan, I wanted to be those guys. I wanted to be in the dugout, on the field. That’s what every kid dreams about when they go to a game.
“But then there was the transition of, ‘It’s time to play baseball.’ And we’re going to have a lot more chances now.”
Home runs from Willy Adames, Rowdy Tellez and Brosseau helped the Brewers overcome another day of shaky pitching for their first victory of 2022. All three Brewers starters in the series — Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff and Freddy Peralta — left the mound with Milwaukee in a deficit, combining to allow 13 runs on 13 hits and 10 walks with 12 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings. Only Burnes pitched with a lead at any point in his outing.
But the Brewers powered their way to a comeback in the finale, getting a solo home run from Adames in the third inning, a go-ahead two-run home run in a three-run sixth from Tellez, and, after an Adames error and two wild pitches from Jake Cousins gave away a one-run lead, another go-ahead homer from Brosseau in the seventh off Cubs left-hander (and 2021 Brewer) Daniel Norris.
“That’s why he’s here, to do that in the right spots,” Brewers manager Craig Counsell said of the right-handed-hitting Brosseau. “He had the right spot today.”
Once again, the Cubs threatened a comeback. In the bottom of the seventh, with the tying run at third, Jonathan Villar hit a tricky bouncer to the middle of the infield. Adames charged across and made the throw to first as Villar slid headfirst to the bag. He was called out, but the play was reviewed. Without enough evidence to overturn the call on the field, it stood.
“At first, I thought we got him by a long shot,” Tellez said. “But it was close.”
When Devin Williams and Josh Hader slammed the door with electric relief over the final two innings, the Brewers were officially spared the specter of baseball’s first 0-162 season. Brosseau’s storybook home run was a game-winner.
“He’s a character. Great haircut,” said Tellez, who has a similarly clean-shaven head. “He’s a really good clubhouse guy and keeps everything light. When you have multiple guys like that on a team, and you have a rough first two games, it’s easy to pick it up.”
Brosseau’s parents were in the stands. They carried with them a photograph of Mike at Wrigley Field as a boy.
“It was just a big moment, a big time in the game,” Brosseau said. “It was pretty cool to come back to where I grew up, close to home. … We were struggling to get some runs on the board, and the last couple of days didn’t go our way, necessarily, so we really wanted that one.”