Craig Counsell Joins Brewers Front Office
Last night, I attended the Dugout Club’s annual banquet dinner in Madison with Brewers Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Melvin. After Doug addressed the group of over 500 people, he took some questions and was very candid with his answers. There were a lot of the “usual” questions, but Doug was a little sheepish when he was asked a couple times about the status of Craig Counsell.
Doug didn’t want to give away the news of today’s announcement of Craig joining the Brewers front office as Special Assistant to the General Manager. Counsell was introduced at a press conference this afternoon at Miller Park.
“I’m excited for this opportunity,” Counsell said. “I’m excited for this challenge and I’m excited that I have a lot to learn. That is what I want to do, I really want to learn. I’m also excited that I won’t have to try and get hits anymore, that became a bit of a challenge at the end.”
Craig didn’t come out to Jimi Hendrix, but his new co-workers at One Brewers Way welcomed him by filling the media interview room. Doug Melvin presented Craig with a new sport coat and a framed “Counsell” jersey to hang in his office.
“When I was 19, I met Sandy Alderson when he was general manager of the A’s,” Counsell said. “For me, I thought to myself, that this is what I want to do when I grow up. I want to be a GM, I want to do what Sandy Alderson does. Twenty years of playing kind of got in the way–which I am fortunate to have happen. I thought back to it the other day and now I’m going to do what I wanted to do when I was 19 years old.”
What exactly is a “Special Assistant?” It seems at first, Counsell will get his feet wet involving himself in as much as possible. Counsell’s role with the club will involve a lot of “learning” and he said he will be in the office at Miller Park on a daily basis–after all, his wife, Michelle, said “he needed to get a job.”
“At first it is going to be a lot of learning,” Counsell said “I’m going to help evaluate players, help in the Minor Leagues, hopefully, being a resource as a guy who just got done playing that can help the front office. And then, I have to learn the baseball calendar. Spring Training, the Draft, the trading deadline, the rhythm and flow of what the front office does everyday.”
Counsell, 41, completed his 15th Major League season as a player in 2011. He owns a career .255 batting average in 1,623 games with Colorado (1995, ‘97), Florida (1997-99), Los Angeles (1999), Arizona (2000-03, ‘05-06) and Milwaukee (2004, ‘07-11). He played on four teams that qualified for the postseason, including World Series championships with Florida (1997) and Arizona (2001). He was named Most Valuable Player of the 2001 National League Championship Series after batting .381 in the Diamondbacks’ five-game victory against Atlanta.
Craig talked today about his favorite memories as a player were being able to play in two World Series Game Sevens–and coming out on the winning end of each one. The Whitefish Bay native also talked about his love for the Brewers.
“The Brewers are important to me, there is a sense of loyalty for the memories we have created here,” Counsell. “This allows me to work for an organization that has been important to me.”
Brewers.com beat writer Adam McCalvy asked if Counsell had officially signed his retirement papers or if he was waiting and leaving the door open to playing.
“This closes the window, I’m done for sure,” Counsell said. “It was time (to retire). I’m not planning on playing.”
Counsell follows in the footsteps of his father, John, who worked in the Milwaukee front office as Director of the Speakers Bureau from 1979-85 and Director of Community Relations from 1986-87 following a five-year playing career as an outfielder in the Twins organization (1964-68). Counsell, a 1988 graduate of Whitefish Bay High School, currently resides in that same town with his wife, Michelle, their sons, Brady and Jack, and daughters, Finley and Rowan.
Here are a couple of photos from today’s press conference along with some of my favorite Craig Counsell photos from his career:
I’m very fortunate to have worked with Craig as a player over the last five seasons and I look forward to working with him as a member of the Front Office.