'Tony Plush' recalls moment of glory for Crew

'Tony Plush' recalls moment of glory for Crew

MILWAUKEE -- "Still chasing the dream," Nyjer Morgan said via text from Venezuela on Friday, five years to the day after he made Miller Park shake with joy.

Can you believe it's been five years? It was Oct. 7, 2011, at Miller Park, with the Brewers and D-backs tied at 2 in the bottom of the 10th inning of Game 5 of the National League Division Series. J.J. Putz was on the mound for Arizona and Carlos Gomez was at second base for Milwaukee when Morgan "tickled" -- his word -- a ground ball single over second base, sending Gomez sprinting home for the Brewers' first postseason series win in 29 years.

Morgan is 36 now, still playing professional baseball. He last appeared in the Major Leagues with the Indians in 2014 before a stint in South Korea in 2015 and in Mexico this summer, where Morgan won a championship with the Pericos de Puebla. Morgan hit .306 and made the All-Star team, helping the Pericos win their first championship in 30 years. Next up is winter ball in Venezuela for the Leones del Caracas, where one of his teammates will be Brewers infield prospect Javier Betancourt.

In Milwaukee, Morgan will always be remembered for the biggest little hit since Cecil Cooper waved his go-ahead single down to the left-field grass in Game 5 of the 1982 American League Championship Series against the Angels.

Five years later, Morgan was asked what comes to his mind when he thinks about that moment.

"The memory for Milwaukee Brewers fans and the children that will be able to remember that moment for the rest of their lives," he wrote in a text message exchange with MLB.com.

It was a thoughtful answer, especially from a guy who rarely stood still long enough to reflect during his two years at Miller Park. Morgan was then-GM Doug Melvin's final addition to the roster in 2011, acquired in a late-Spring Training trade with the Nationals.

He won over fans by batting .304 during the regular season while introducing a colorful cast of alter egos. The most prominent was Tony Plush, a swashbuckling showman whom Morgan said helped him overcome a natural shyness.

"The opponents didn't like him," Gomez said with a smile when the Brewers visited Texas last month. "But he was a really good guy to be around every day. Energizing, positive. When you're on the other side, it's like, 'Oh, look at that guy."

Does Gomez know anyone else like that?

"Like me?" he said, laughing.

They formed a perfect duo to push the 2011 "Beast Mode" Brewers to the NL Championship Series, where they fell in six games to the Cardinals. In the champagne-soaked aftermath of their NLDS win, Morgan wore a S.W.A.T. Team helmet, reflecting his nickname for a high-powered Brewers offense.

"This is one of my favorite moments ever," Gomez said. "You're so emotional, you want to cry. You want to jump. You want to scream. It's why you're working hard every day, to get to that point."

Five years ago, the Brewers lived it.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.