Friday was the 12th straight win for the Brewers, fulfilling a prophecy made by the founder of George Webb Restaurants seven decades ago. From the Webb-site:
It started with George Webb himself in the 1940s with the Brewer teams of the American Association. George, ever the baseball fan and home team booster, predicted the team would win 12 games straight. If they managed the feat, George hinted the restaurants would give away free hamburgers. The prediction lived on when Milwaukee’s home team became the Braves, and continued the tradition when the Brewers took up residence in town. And oh, how close the teams came several times. You could almost taste victory (and burgers). Finally, on April 19, 1987, the Brewers did it. Three days, and 168,194 hamburgers later, George Webb fulfilled the payoff, to thrilled customers and Brewers fans alike.
Milwaukee won 13 straight to open the 1987 season, still the major league record for best start to a season. But they haven’t reached the predicted dozen mark since.
The Brewers won their final seven games of the regular season to force a tiebreaker for the National League Central, then beat the Chicago Cubs to win the division. A sweep of the Colorado Rockies in the NLDS put the streak at 11, one shy of history.
“Who knew that we would make it this far and the biggest piece of stress going into this game would be George Webb’s hamburgers?” Brewers manager Craig Counsell asked before Game 1. “I remember the concept of free hamburgers going back so long, it’s hard to believe that it’s never happened since then. I guess it’s a pretty good streak. But it’s something for everybody to talk about for sure, and I mean, free hamburgers is free hamburgers.”
To prepare for the potential freebies, George Webb vice president Ryan Stamm told the Washington Post the company would “order an extra 200,000 hamburger buns and between 30,000 and 40,000 pounds of beef.”
The chain will give away the free burgers — one per person — from 2-6 p.m. CT on Thursday, Oct. 18.
“It’s been a long time coming and we are thrilled that our famous predication is once again true,” said Stamm in a statement after Friday’s win. “It’s been great to see our customers and the community rally around this year’s team and our grills are ready to cook up burgers to celebrate some of the best fans in baseball!”
That’s a lot of burgers, but that’s what happens when the Brewers’ last loss was September 22. Now Milwaukee can celebrate the victory, and the gift. After all, free hamburgers is free hamburgers.