Harry Dalton’s final GM job came with the Brewers from 1978-1991. When he started, the team had yet to post a winning season in eight years in Milwaukee. Soon he helped turn things around. His first year featured 93 wins. In 1979, they improved by two games and finished second to the AL champion Orioles.
Dalton’s Brewers had their third-straight winning campaign in 1980. Wanting to get over the hump, Dalton engineered another blockbuster deal. The GM sent four players to the Cardinals for Hall of Famers Rollie Fingers and Ted Simmons, and future Cy Young Award winner Pete Vuckovich.
Fingers posted a 1.04 ERA and led the league in saves to earn both the Cy Young and MVP awards. Simmons made the All Star team for the 7th time, and Vuckovich led the AL in wins. Dalton’s newly-acquired trio pushed the Brew Crew to their first postseason in 1981 where their season was ended by the Yankees.
In ’82 they were even better. Milwaukee won the division and beat Dalton’s former team the Angels in the ALCS. In the World Series, the Brewers dropped a seven-game thriller to Whitey Herzog’s St. Louis Cardinals. Dalton was named MLB Executive of the Year.
Dalton stayed in Milwaukee as GM through the ’91 season then as a consultant from ’92-’94. In 2003 he was inducted into the On July 24, 2003, Dalton was inducted into the Milwaukee Brewers Walk of Fame.
Dalton, who died in 2005 remains a candidate for Cooperstown. The executive has appeared multiple times on the Veterans Committee ballot.
In the collection is this letter written by Dalton’s great acquisition for the Brewers, Rollie Fingers. The reliever outlines what it means to him to have a plaque in Cooperstown.
Fingers writes, “As a baseball player it’s the ultimate accomplishment. Players may win a Cy Young or MVP Award, win a home run title, or a batting championship, but those are the awards that are won over the span of one year. The Hall of Fame is a career accomplishment that took me 22 years as a pro…Being honored as a Hall of Famer means you were the best at what you did and that your dreams came true.”