Well-Equipped: There is No Offseason for Tony Migliaccio
Tony Migliaccio sure knows his way around the clubhouse.
And he should. He’s the Director of Clubhouse Operations and the
Equipment Manager for the Club and he’s played an integral role in the
clubhouse since Opening Day of 1978, when he started as a batboy and
clubhouse attendant for the visiting side of things.
“It was Paul Molitor‘s first game for the Brewers. I always look back
and kind of laugh that at the time, Molitor made the team and started
the season as shortstop, nobody had really heard of him. Robin [Yount] had some
health issues so he didn’t start on Opening Day, but Molitor did. There
was a picture in the paper back then of Molitor making a play and there
I was, the ball boy down the left-field line, just sitting there, you
know? His first day and mine,” Tony recalls.
third from the left in the bottom row. Paul Molitor is second from the
right in the fourth row.
The next season, Tony switched over to the home clubhouse, where he was a
batboy and a clubhouse attendant three more years before he became the
clubhouse assistant to then Equipment Manager, Bob Sullivan for
approximately four years. When Bob passed away, Tony was given the head
job as Director of Clubhouse Operations and Equipment Manager and he’s
had that ever since.
Tony describes his role as having dual responsibilities:
“You work as the Equipment Manager and in that role, you order all the
equipment the players need to play the game–bats, balls, shoes, clothes, etc. On the
other side of it, we manage and operate the clubhouse, running the
day-to-day operations of that.That part of the job entails clothing
them and providing another service by feeding them breakfast, lunch and
dinner. We do what we can to get them on the field. Everyone has a role.
The trainers’ role is to keep them healthy on the field, the coaches’
job is to teach. Here, we keep a nice house, clothe them, feed them and
make sure they’re happy, play the game and have a good time.” he
“I think everyday is unique. That’s kind of the neat part of it. You can
come in here and every day there is a different challenge or need. Our
role is to make the guys as comfortable as possible. They have enough
hurdles in the game, on the field, and so many other things going on
around them in their lives that we try to make it as comfortable for
them as we can and to create an enjoyable environment.”
Tony and I talked about the change in the uniforms over the years. As
time has progressed, the uniform specifications have gotten a little
more complicated, keeping Tony and his staff on their toes.
“You look at the guys on the field now and compare it to the late 1980s,
where it was all just cookie cutter- you know, 34″ waist pants and a
44″ jersey. Now we’ve got many options, for example, pants can be open
bottom, or more tapered. Some players may wear things bigger,
looser…The marketing of the game has changed as such that there is a
lot more variety–a couple of different jackets, a couple different
Tony told me that the team never had BP tops in the 80s, they just wore
game jerseys. Now in essence, there are six different jerseys and each
player has to have more than one as a backup in case something happens.
When you multiply that times a 25-man roster, plus a few guys that Tony
knows will move up and down in the organization due to injuries,
pitching, etc. that he’ll also need to carry uniforms and equipment for,
you can see he has quite a bit to handle and monitor for inventory.
And, when it comes to Spring Training when a team has such a large roster, you can imagine that Tony is a very busy man.
“In Spring Training you are doing a lot of the same things as you would
during the regular season, but you have twice as many players. We have
53 players here now and we’ll leave here with 25. So that’s the
difference with Spring Training, the magnitude, more people to take care
of, more to feed, more to clothe, more equipment to provide,” Tony
Tony remembers years ago when it seemed like Spring Training was looked
upon as the time that players would use to get in shape. They’d come
down to camp, play 20 games and then go back ready to start the season.
It was much lower key and the days were shorter.
“Now,” Tony said, “Players come down in shape, we play 30 games and
there are more services required. Sometimes, there are two games a day.
It is a little more intense than it used to be.”
“I have been fortunate that I’ve worked in all three facilities that
we’ve been in: Sun City, Chandler and here in Maryvale.You look at the
progression, even just in our area, at the space we’ve had and what
we’ve provided. In Sun City, we had a very tiny equipment room, but you
made it work, you adjusted things. We didn’t provide as much stuff for
the guys. Then we moved to Chandler and it was a little bigger, but now
we have this space, which is twice as big and we’ve already outgrown it
into renting storage facilities to house a lot of the equipment,” Tony
Just like the rest of us, there is no offseason for Tony Migliaccio and
Starting in January, trucks will leave Milwaukee bringing
everything down to set up for camp. Tony and his staff will arrive, help
take part in the Brewers Fantasy Camp, work through Spring Training and
then travel back to Milwaukee for Opening Day and play through the
summer. Then when all the games are done, while their hours are a little
more regular and they have weekends free, they still have to prepare
for the following year, taking inventory, working on the budget, and
Tony also travels with the team.
“I do 90% of the travel. I made every trip for probably about 15 or 16
years and then, 10 to12 years ago, we started breaking up the trips a
little bit so Visiting Clubhouse Manager Phil Rozewicz or Home Clubhouse
Assistant Jason Shawger will make a trip or two. Out of Spring
Training, I will pretty much stay with the team throughout the first
month of April and wait until the middle or end of May to take a trip
off to stay at home, catch up in the office and at home,” Tony said.
In his job, Tony also has to be prepared for anything.
“When we travel throughout the year, part of our extra equipment stock
is carrying blank jerseys and numbers, everything you need to make a
jersey. In each city, we have a reciprocal relationship with the
visiting clubhouse staff that take care of us. They have a seamstress on
hand that they work with so if we get into San Diego late one night and
Vice President-Assistant General Manager Gord Ash calls and says ‘Hey,
we’re bringing up so-and-so,’ I can get to the park early that morning,
pull out everything I need, call our contact, have them come out and put
our jersey together within a couple hours,” he explained.
“Knock on wood, we’ve always got it there in time. I have heard there
have been situations with some teams where they make a move so quickly
that they have to have a player wear a jersey with another name on the
back just to get out there on the field. We’ve been lucky where its
worked out. That’s one great thing about Majestic Athletic being the
licensee and having all of the team for uniforms–they have a good bank
of knowledge as to everyone’s sizes.”
Tony takes extra precautions to be prepared and make sure he’s ready for
anything. When it became likely that we would make the trade for CC
Sabathia in 2008, it was Fourth of July weekend and he knew that
Majestic shuts down for the holidays. Knowing CC’s size and that he had
such unique specs on his gear, Tony took the initiative to order his
uniforms the week before, to have them on hand just in case.
“I figured hey, you know what, if we don’t make the trade, it will be a collector’s item. It all worked out,” he recalled.
Speaking of 2008, making the Postseason that year ranks in the top 10 of Tony’s favorite memories in his time with the Club.
“It pretty neat, the way it came down to the last day.The way it played out was pretty cool,” he said.
“I was also fortunate to be around during the World Series in the early
’80s. I was a young kid then,” Tony said. “Molitor’s 39-game hitting
streak was pretty neat, Robin’s 3000th hit, 1987, that whole start of
winning 13 in a row, Nieves throwing a no-hitter. That was a pretty
unique thing, to start off that hot,” he said.
It was great catching up with Tony and taking a tour of his world, but
with his phone buzzing during our interview and guys stopping him along
the way, I knew I had to let him get back to work.
Here’s to hoping the 2011 season makes Tony’s list of favorite memories!