Results tagged ‘ Craig Counsell ’

Our Special Make-A-Wish Guest Kelci Visits Miller Park

Some of you may recall that back in March, thanks to Make-A-Wish Wisconsin and Arizona, we hosted Kelci’s Wish Day at Maryvale during Spring Training.

Kelci, 9,  and her family traveled from Milwaukee down to Arizona to take a behind-the-scenes tour of Maryvale where she had the chance to meet with several Brewers players & coaches during batting practice (including her favorite player, Carlos Gomez) and also threw out the first pitch–to another favorite, Jonathan Lucroy. 

Today, we were happy to have Kelci out to visit us again, this time at Miller Park. She was here today to film a video with Time Warner Cable Sports:

While here, Kelci and her mom, Karen, were interviewed and in between filming, Kelci found time to work on her homework… with a little help.

Kelci gets help on her homework from Mike Fiers, Matt Garza and Kyle Lohse.

Kelci gets help on her homework from Mike Fiers, Matt Garza and Kyle Lohse.

Mike Fiers, Matt Garza and Kyle Lohse “pitched in” to help her list off the state capitals. (For those scoring at home, Kelci told me later that Matt Garza was the most helpful at this task).

Kelci also got a giant hug from  her favorite player, Carlos Gomez, after reuniting with him:

Kelci & Carlos Gomez

She even pitched a little pitcher’s batting practice to Kyle Lohse:

Here are a few more photos from Kelci’s afternoon at the ballpark:

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As I write the Brewers are leading 5-0 in the first, including home runs by Scooter Gennett and Adam Lind, so it looks like her special day is going to be capped off by a pretty good game, too.

Cait

@CMoyer

Craig Counsell Named Brewers Manager; Signs a Three-Year Contract Through 2017 Season

The Milwaukee Brewers have named Craig Counsell the 19th manager in franchise history, signing him to a three-year contract through the 2017 season. Counsell replaces Ron Roenicke, who was relieved of his duties last night. The announcement was made by President – Baseball Operations and General Manager Doug Melvin.

“Craig has many years of Major League playing experience, and his three-plus years of learning all aspects of baseball operations helps prepare him for this managerial position,” said Melvin. “There will be challenges, but Craig has never shied away from leadership responsibilities on the field as a player or in his most recent role. I believe his on-field success as a player and his awareness for preparation should resonate in the clubhouse. Growing up in Milwaukee, it is very important for him to bring a winning culture and team success to Brewers fans.”

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Counsell, 44, joined the front office on January 17, 2012 as special assistant to the general manager. The former infielder enjoyed a 16-year Major League playing career, batting .255 with 42 HR, 390 RBI and 103 stolen bases in 1,624 games with Colorado (1995, ‘97), Florida (1997-99), Los Angeles (1999), Arizona(2000-03, 2005-06) and Milwaukee (2004, 2007-11). He was a member of World Series championship teams with Florida (1997) and Arizona (2001), and was named Most Valuable Player of the 2001 National League Championship Series.

“I am grateful and honored to have the opportunity to manage the team that I rooted for, played for and worked for in the front office,” said Counsell. “In the 10 years that I have been a member of the organization, I have grown to feel a great responsibility to baseball in the city of Milwaukee. This has been a difficult time for the Brewers, and we all share the responsibility. I understand the work ahead to be the team our fans deserve. We have challenges ahead of us and I look forward to working tirelessly to achieve our goals.”

Counsell, a 1988 graduate of Whitefish Bay High School and 1992 graduate of the University of Notre Dame, resides in Whitefish Bay with his wife, Michelle, their sons, Brady and Jack, and daughters, Finley and Rowan. His father, John, worked in the Brewers front office as director of the speakers bureau (1979-85) and director of community relations (1986-87).

A press conference will be held this morning at Miller Park.  Click here to watch it live. FOX Sports Wisconsin is also televising today’s press conference starting at 10:30 a.m.

11:20am CT Update: Here is a link to this morning’s press conference.

"He has a lot of passion, great energy and an edge for preparation." - Doug Melvin on Craig Counsell, the new Brewers Manager  (Photo courtesy of Scott Paulus/Milwaukee Brewers)

“He has a lot of passion, great energy and an edge for preparation.” – Doug Melvin on Craig Counsell, the new Brewers Manager
(Photo courtesy of Scott Paulus/Milwaukee Brewers)

ALL-TIME BREWERS MANAGERS (* Seattle Pilots)

Manager Years W-L PCT

Joe Schultz* 1969 64-98-1 .395

Dave Bristol 1970-72 144-209-1 .408

Roy McMillan 1972 1-1 .500

Del Crandall 1972-75 271-338 .445

Alex Grammas 1976-77 133-190 .412

George Bamberger 1978-80, ‘85-86 377-351 .518

Buck Rodgers 1980-82 124-102 .549

Harvey Kuenn 1975, 1982-83 160-118-1 .576

Rene Lachemann 1984 67-94 .416

Tom Trebelhorn 1986-91 422-397 .515

Phil Garner 1992-99 563-617 .477

Jim Lefebvre 1999 22-27 .449

Davey Lopes 2000-02 144-195-1 .426

Jerry Royster 2002 53-94 .361

Ned Yost 2003-08 457-502 .477

Dale Sveum 2008 7-5 .583

Ken Macha 2009-10 157-167 .485

Ron Roenicke 2011-15 342-331 .508

Craig Counsell 2015 – –

Brewed for Her Event in Full Swing

Today, prior to and during the Brewers vs. Mets game, we are hosting a special “Brewed For Her” event in the Gehl Club at Miller Park, an event geared toward women showcasing multiple products that are sold in the Brewers Team Stores, along with fashion tips, and interactive beauty stations highlighting new Brewers hair and nail accessories.

The event began at 2:30 p.m.today, 2 hours  before gates opened to the general public. This allowed attendees to time to shop the stores, visit vendor booths, and take part in additional activities before the game began. Over 30 vendors participated in this event and attendees received a special 20% savings on merchandise purchased during the event.

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The event kicked off with a Fashion Show in the Gehl Club featuring FOX Sports Wisconsin Girls and Brewers Wives--emceed Craig Counsell and Rick Schlesinger.
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Gone are the days of wearing men’s t-shirts to games and ill-fitting tank tops. The Brewers Team Store is chock-full of a variety of gear to suit any woman’s taste and almost any occasion such as attending a game, working out, or just being a weekend warrior.

Here are a just a few photos of some of the offerings on display at Brewed for Her:

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And, speaking of the Brewers Wives, did you know they have their own line of clothing from Majestic Threads, made with Swarovski rhinestones. A portion of the proceeds from these items goes to the Brewers Community Foundation.

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Hank the Ballpark Pup was also on hand for a special meet and greet with the fans.

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In addition, attendees could enjoy a beer and wine tasting and beauticians were on hand during the event to offer advice and give demonstrations–the station to have your nails painted and/or hair styled with purchased Brewers accessories was very popular.

Attendees also received a Brewers vs. Mets game ticket in the upscale Gehl Club at Miller Park, which included Hors d’oeuvres such as Roasted Chicken Crisps and Caprese Skewers; an all-you-can-eat buffet featuring a special menu that included Shrimp Scampi, a variety of salads and main courses of Prime Strip Loin, Chicken Stir Fry and Lamb Osso Buco; and two complimentary beverages.

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Each attendee also left with a special Brewed for Her swag bag containing a variety of items; items varied in each bag, but  here’s a sample:

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Kudos to Jill Aronoff, Chris Barlow and all of the staff that helped bring this event together. This was  the second year of the event and they really set the bar high for any events like this in the future!

-Cait

johnandcait@brewers.com

 

6th Annual Davey Nelson Celebrity Golf Classic a Hit Again!

Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to play in the Davey Nelson Celebrity Golf Tournament at the beautiful Irish Course at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin.

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This was the sixth year of Davey’s tournament, but just the second at the Irish Course (in previous years, it’s been played at  Blackwolf Run).

Upon check-in, participants were provided with assorted goodies, including a pullover, duffel bag and umbrella (which fortunately we didn’t need out there on the course!)

Then, the morning started off with golf pros walking the line at the driving range and a putting contest, along with a buffet brunch.

Each foursome in the tournament was paired with a celebrity golfer  to make up a five-person team. Team play consisted of a Scramble Format with team prizes awarded to the top finishers.

Among the many celebrities in the tournament were current Brewers personnel and alumni players: Craig Counsell, Robin Yount, Ken Sanders, Gorman Thomas, Jay Aldrich, Jerry Augustine, Jim Gantner, Paul Wagner, Mike Caldwell, Scott Podsednik, Greg Vaughn, Wes Obermueller, Brady Clark, and Willie Mueller;  Randall McDaniel, Former NFL player; Greg Matzek, radio personality; Greg Meyer, NFL Referee; Tony Smith, a former Milwaukee Bucks player; and Craig Coshun, sideline reporter for Fox Sports Wisconsin

It was fun to mix and mingle with everyone, including having the opportunity to catch up with Scott Podsednik and Brady Clark:

Scott Podsednik and Brady Clark catch up at the Davey Nelson Golf Tournament.

Scott Podsednik and Brady Clark catch up at the Davey Nelson Golf Tournament.

 

My group consisted of our celebrity, Greg Meyer, a NFL referee and longtime friend of Davey’s and Mike, Dan and Joe Stanislawski, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

L-R: Greg, Michael, Dan, Joe and Cait

L-R: Greg, Michael, Dan, Joe and Cait

The tournament was a shotgun start, so our group began on hole 8, a par five. We got off to a great start with a birdie, but we never really got into a great rhythm after that. Aside from a couple that Greg sank for us, it was one of those days where the putts just wouldn’t drop.

But, we had a ton of fun, which is the most important thing! We finished the day at -3 (69), which was good, but not good enough to win the tournament.

My drives were decent yesterday, but my short game and putting left much to be desired--sorry team!

My drives were decent yesterday, but my short game and putting left much to be desired–sorry team!

Each hole also consisted of different challenges with opportunities to win various prizes for things like longest drive, longest putt, or closest to the hole. Someone even had a hole-in-one on one of the par-3’s!

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We didn’t mind at all because despite an early threat of rain (and a downpour on the way home!), we had wonderful weather, a fun day, the chance to play a beautiful championship course and, most importantly, we were helping a great cause: Open Arms Home for Children in South Africa and Brewers Community Foundation. Open Arms is a non-profit organization that provides shelter, clothing, protection and basic healthcare for what is now home to many children orphaned due to the Aids epidemic in South Africa. Davey has served as Board of Director for over four years.

Following golf, there was a reception and silent auction, followed by a live auction.

Looks like brat is going to put in a bid on one of the prizes!

Looks like brat is going to put in a bid on one of the prizes!

During dinner, we learned more about Open Arms and heard stories about the children whose lives we were helping, all by taking a day off of work to play golf.

My boss, Tyler Barnes, VP of Communications, was on hand to speak about his personal experience at Open Arms as he and his family had visited South Africa over the holidays.

Tyler tells of us of his life-changing trip to Open Arms.

Tyler tells of us of his life-changing trip to Open Arms.

The entire presentation was very touching and moving and I’m so happy that this event has been able to raise money to support the organization, which Davey and many others have dedicated a lot of time and energy into making a success.

For more information on Open Arms, please visit the website at http://www.openarmshome.com.

Here are some more photos from the day and I hope to see you out at the tournament next year!

-Cait

johnandcait@Brewers.com

Record Crowd Packs Wisconsin Center for Brewers On Deck

The Wisconsin Center was home to nearly 30 Brewers players today and a record crowd of 14,138 braved fresh snow and cold temperatures for the Club’s annual winter fanfest, Brewers On Deck Presented by Time Warner Cable.

The crowd surpassed 2012’s prior high mark of 12,118, and last year’s total of 11,722.

“We can’t thank the fans enough for coming out to warm the atmosphere downtown and helping move everyone’s thoughts toward baseball and the 2014 Brewers season,” said Brewers Chief Operating Officer Rick Schlesinger. “It was a great opportunity for players, coaches and staff to connect with the fans, and we look forward to seeing everyone again at Miller Park throughout the year.”

The afternoon’s highlights included an announcement that the Brewers had completed negotiations and signed free agent pitcher Matt Garza to a four-year contract. The announcement was made on the Main Entertainment Stage by Brewers Chairman and Principal Owner Mark Attanasio, who was joined by President of Baseball Operations Doug Melvin, Assistant General Manager Gord Ash, and Special Assistant to the General Manager Craig Counsell.

“That was definitely a great piece of news to break at the event, and the response from the fans was tremendous,” Schlesinger said.

Brewers pitchers and catchers report to Marvale, Ariz., for Spring Training on Feb. 15.

 -Cait

JohnandCait@brewers.com

 

Brewers Community Foundation Week Activities for Today – Alumni Photos

The Brewers are back from a long road trip and that means Brewers Community Foundation Week kicks off at Miller Park tonight!

The Brewers are set to face the Reds tonight to start a four-game set and fans will have the opportunity to take a photograph with various Brewers alumni starting when the gates open until 7:45 pm. Photos will be available for $10 per person, per session (for example you can take photos with all eight alumni in the four separate sessions for $40), at the BCF Week tables on the Field Level concourse next to Guest Relations (outside section 116). Fans will need to provide their own camera for their photos. The schedule of alumni is as follows (subject to change):

5:45 – 6:15 p.m.

Paul Wagner and Ken Sanders

6:15 – 6:45 p.m.

Craig Counsell and Larry Hisle

6:45 – 7:15 p.m.

Gorman Thomas and Jim Gantner

7:15 – 7:45 p.m.

Jerry Augustine and Dave Nelson

Don’t forget, the Ultimate Auction is open for bidding all week.  Check it out for some wonderful, one-of-a-kind opportunities!

–JOHN

johnandcait@brewers.com

Boys & Girls Clubs, Milwaukee Brewers and Brewers Community Foundation Announce Revitalization Plans for Sherman Park Baseball Field

Last night, Milwaukee Brewers front office staff, including President of Baseball Operations-General Manager Doug Melvin and his wife, Ellen, along with Craig Counsell, Special Assistant to the General Manager and his wife, Michelle, attended the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee’s Salute to Youth MVP Dinner & Celebration at the Pfister Hotel. Approximately 500 guests were in attendance at the event, which was co-chaired by Brewers Chief Operating Office, Rick Schlesinger.

At the end of the evening, Brewers Community Foundation presented a check in the amount of $100,000 to support the revitalization of Sherman Park baseball diamond, located in Milwaukee’s central city.The Sherman Park field will be one of only five fields in Greater Milwaukee that can accommodate multiple types of play.

“The mission of Boys & Girls Clubs’ Youth Sports programs is to provide members with access to youth sports that impart valuable life lessons such as teamwork and good sportsmanship as well as develop their leadership skills,” says Vincent Lyles, president & CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee. “This support from Milwaukee Brewers and Brewers Community Foundation will help do just that. ”

“On behalf of Brewers Community Foundation, the Sherman Park baseball field revitalization is consistent with our mission to positively impact the lives of children and their families in Greater Milwaukee and Wisconsin,” says Cecelia Gore, Executive Director of the Foundation. “This revitalization project will make Little League baseball and softball accessible to Boys & Girls Clubs and other local residents, especially those who live in the inner city.”

In addition to the revitalization project, Milwaukee Brewers and Brewers Community Foundation have been long-time supporters of Boys & Girls Clubs’ RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) Program  [Read more on how you can help support the RBI program here.] as well as Little Brewers softball, which is a statewide program that teaches young children the fundamentals of the game.

Milwaukee County Department of Parks, Recreation and Culture is also a partner in the project. It will be responsible for the field’s maintenance. Boys & Girls Clubs will have exclusive field access for the first two years. Construction will begin this year and the field will be playable for the start of the 2014 baseball and softball season.  It will include a new scoreboard, field fencing and dugouts, infield landscaping and paint field infrastructure.

Located on the corner of N. Sherman Blvd. and W. Burleigh St., the baseball field was highly used and known for its immaculate condition. The revitalized baseball field supports the growth of baseball and softball among central city children. The reconstructed field will be built with adaptive diamond dimensions to accommodate Boys & Girls Clubs baseball and softball programs for young people.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee celebrates 126 years of service. Known as the oldest and largest youth-serving agency in Milwaukee, the Clubs offers high quality after-school and summer programming for children ages 5-18, focusing on those who have major life obstacles, most often poverty. The Clubs operates 36 sites, which include six primary locations, 29 school sites, Camp Whitcomb/Mason in Hartland in Hartland. Membership to the Clubs is only $5 per year, per child, but no one is ever turned away based on inability to pay. For more information, visit www.boysgirlsclubs.org.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig grew up in the area and played baseball on the field.

 -Cait

JohnandCait@brewers.com

Cait’s Summer Reading List: Reviewing Haudricourt’s “100 Things Brewers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die”

I recently finished reading a new book about the Milwaukee Brewers entitled, “100 Things Brewers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die.” The book was written by Tom Haudricourt of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, with a foreword by Jim Gantner.

100 Things Brewers Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die

Haudricourt, who has covered the Milwaukee Brewers and baseball for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (and Milwaukee Sentinel) since 1985, has witnessed many of these items firsthand. This is his third book about the team (he is also the author of Brewers Essential and Where Have You Gone ’82 Brewers?) and “100 Things Brewers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die” covers everything from Brewers Baseball arriving in Milwaukee (1970) through recent triumphs such as the 2011 NLCS appearance.

Mixed in among seminal and paramount moments in Brewers history are funny and bizarre items, along with things that true Brewers fans find essential to the game experience, like the Famous Racing Sausages, Bernie Brewer, tailgating and more. [John is even mentioned in a sidebar within the book, how cool is that?!]

With an average of 2.5 pages dedicated to each “thing,” the book is a quick and easy read. And, although I very much like Haudricourt’s style of sports reporting, this book is a welcome departure from that objective point of view.  Instead, each item reads like its own little vignette, complete with quotes—either directly from the person or people mentioned within it, or from another source, such as a newspaper or interview at that time.

In his introduction, Haudricourt notes, “The Brewers…do not have 100 years, or even half that, of history,” which is true, with the Club in just its 44th season–but that does not mean it does not have 100 (or more) items that merited inclusion in this book. And, although I am in my eleventh season with the Club (wow, I’ve been here for one-quarter of its existence!) and I was born and raised in Milwaukee as a Brewers fan, there are still many of these key moments of Brewers history that occurred before I was born (i.e. the 1982 World Series) or when I was too young to remember (1987 Team Streak).

And then I think about all of the Brewers fans who are younger than me, or those who have moved to Milwaukee in the last few years and this is really a book that needed to be written.

Whether you’re a die-hard fan from the days of Harvey Kuenn and Paul Molitor or a new supporter of Ron Roenicke and Ryan Braun, this book contains everything Brewers fans should know, see and do in their lifetime.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that if you want to call yourself a True Blue Brew Crew fan, you should have to read this book and be tested on the contents, the most important facts about the team, traditions and what being a Brewers fan is all about. Players should be provided with a copy when they sign their contracts. What’s that saying? In order to know where you’re going, you have to know where you’ve been? In only 44 seasons, we have a rich history and I’m confident that in the direction we’re headed, it’s only going to get richer.

I don’t want to give too much of the book away, but I can tell you that I crunched some numbers to get my personal “stats”:

  • Of the 100 Things Brewers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, there are 14 “Things To Do” and I’ve done them all.
  • Of the 100 Things Brewers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, there are 86 “Things to Know” and, of course, after reading the book, I now know them all, but:
    • Of the 86 “Things to Know,” I was alive for 71 of them.
    • Of those 71, I remember being aware of 46 of them at the time (i.e. some happened when I was too young or wasn’t following as closely).
    • Of those 46, 29 of them happened since I started working here (2003).
    • From there, I tried to make a list of the ones for which I was actually physically present, but it got difficult to do, so I’ll just call out a few of the more specific things mentioned that I’m proud to say I witnessed in person:
      • April 27, 2004: Chad Moeller’s Cycle
      • April 28, 2004: Brewers huge comeback win against Cincinnati Reds
      • May 16, 2004: Ben Sheets’ 18 strikeouts vs. Atlanta Braves
      • September 28, 2008: Brewers Clinch the Wild Card
      • September 23, 2011: Brewers Clinch NL Central Title

I’ve also included a photo gallery of some of the “Things” included in the book, but you’ll have to read it then come back to place which ones I’m referencing!

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The book is currently available for sale in the Brewers Team Store by Majestic and at other booksellers.

Once you’re done, I’d be curious to know what you think. Did Tom leave anything out? Let me know in the comments field below.

Finally, I’ve got a copy to give away to one lucky blog reader who is the first person to email me (johnandcait@brewers.com) with the correct answer to the following trivia question:

What team did Doug Melvin swing a massive nine-player deal with on December 1, 2003, which six players did we acquire from that trade AND what was the common name Brewers fans used to reference those collective players at the time?

UPDATE: We have a winner! Congrats to Michael from Iowa who knew that this was a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks in which the Brewers received: Wisconisn native Craig Counsell, second baseman Junior Spivey, first baseman Lyle Overbay, catcher Chad Moeller, and lefthanders Jorge De La Rosa, and Chris Capuano, players collectively known as the “Six-Pack”. [Note: I would have also accepted “Brewerbacks”!]

Happy reading!

-Cait

JohnandCait@brewers.com

Tim’s Tips: How Important is Batting Stance in Hitting Effectively?

Last month, I introduced to you Tim Rappé, Executive Director of our new Brewers Baseball Academy presented by Kwik Trip, eight separate week-long baseball/softball camps open to youth (ages 6-14) that will be held in various cities across Wisconsin this summer.

Along with signing up for the camps and getting excellent baseball instruction there, every so often, Tim will provide some baseball tips here on John and Cait…Plus 9 as well. See below for his insight on the batting stance!

Enjoy!
-Cait

JohnandCait@brewers.com

How Important Is Batting Stance in Hitting Effectively?

One of our favorite and most effective ways of demonstrating correct hitting mechanics is to point out how the Major Leaguers, the best hitters in the world, go about their business. Video and photos make believers out of even the most stubborn pupils. But what happens when our professional role models seems to be teaching all the wrong stuff?

Here’s the scene: Our best hitter steps into the batter’s box and assumes a stance that looks like he’s been possessed when what he’s really doing is channeling his favorite player. Probably something he saw in last night’s game or on SportsCenter. Remember the “horror” when our young players decided to mimic our own Craig Counsell?

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Here’s my advice to coaches when that happens. Relax. With the exception that I will point out in a minute, what the hitter does with the bat and/or his body prior to the “heel down” position is style and will not necessarily impact his hitting success at all. You might consider letting this part of the hitting process belong to his unique personality. Big leaguers use their stance and pre-swing movement primarily to relax, find a rhythm and prepare for the explosion that’s to come. Kids often get creative in their stances because they think it looks cool. As a coach, you have to decide if this is a battle you choose to fight.

To help make the best decision for your player, keep in mind the three things we must accomplish in every at-bat:

1)      Get the “sweet” part of the bat to the hitting lane as directly and as quickly as possible and keep the bat in the hitting lane for as long as possible

2)      Generate maximum power at the point of contact

3)      Eliminate anything in the pre-swing or swing that prevents #1 or #2

Hitting is so darn tough that our position at the Brewers Baseball Academy is summed up in the question we ask our hitters: “Why would you do anything that might make hitting tougher than it already is?”  Sometimes asking that question works. Sometimes it doesn’t.

So, exactly how do we determine if there is a problem? If the stance and pre-swing movement are considered “style,” when do we start getting serious about hitting mechanics? The answer is at “heel plant.” While we allow creativity in the stance, once that front heel lands, we are very particular about a whole laundry list of key points. If any of them are compromised because of what the hitter has done previous to that, it must be fixed. I could do a whole chapter on what we look for in this position but I’ll save that for a future post.

If the hitter’s stance and pre-swing movement don’t get in the way of the three absolute requirements, you may want to let your hitter “express” himself. However, and this is a BIG “however,” if it does cause him to be out of position at “heel plant” or it causes him to get there at the wrong time, then it must be corrected.

Circling back to our major league role models, what we have found through video analysis is that regardless of pre-heel plant styles, once the front heel lands the position of 95% of big league hitters is remarkably similar. Take a look at where Craig Counsell is when his heel lands. Rock solid.

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So, here’s what we know. The best hitters in the game may exercise their own creativity which, to the untrained eye, can give the impression that hitters have widely different mechanics. But a closer analysis reveals that when that front heel hits the ground, the absolutes are present with just about everyone…certainly with all the best hitters. And also keep in mind that Major League hitters are ridiculously gifted athletes who can afford to get a little crazier with their pre-swing approach because their talent can overcome that craziness…sometimes. Our advice to all hitters, especially the young ones? Keep it simple. Develop your own comfortable approach that serves to prepare you for the very difficult challenge that’s hurling toward you, but don’t let style ever get in the way of getting the job done. Ever.

Until next time remember, “If you’re gonna swing, might as well swing hard.”

-Tim Rappé

Tim.Rappe@Brewers.com

9th Annual Evening with Hank Aaron a Success

The 9th Annual “Evening With Hank Aaron,” presented by Brewers Community Foundation and the Forest County Potawatomi Foundation, was held last night in the NYCE Stadium Club at Miller Park.

The exclusive event with the Hall-of-Famer, husband, philanthropist and businessman included a dinner with notables Hank’s former teammates Felix Mantilla and Johnny Logan, as well as former Brewers player Craig Counsell, now Special Assistant to the General Manager; a silent auction and a Q&A session with Hank hosted by Bob Costas, broadcaster with NBC Sports and the Major League Baseball Network. Each guest also received a professional photo with Hank, and a special gift autographed by him.

“My week goes from the sublime to the ridiculous,” Bob said in his introduction, referencing the fact that not only did he have the opportunity to interview Hank Aaron during the event, but that he will also be the emcee for Bob Uecker’s statue dedication on Friday.

The riveting interview touched on some of the adversity that Hank experienced en route to becoming the Home Run King.

Growing up in Mobile, Ala. Hank was told by his own father that he couldn’t be a pilot, something that he aspired to do as a young boy. “Forget about it boy, because there ain’t no colored pilots,” Hank recalled his father saying. When Hank told his father he would focus on baseball instead, his father told him, “You can forget about that too. Your only options are to become a school teacher or blow a saxophone.”

Hank didn’t let that stop him, though. And, when, as an 18-year-old, he attended a baseball camp with the Dodgers in Mobile and he was told, “Listen son, you’re too little, go home. You can’t play baseball,” he didn’t let that stop him either.

Coming up in the Negro and Minor Leagues, Hank started out as second baseman—batting cross-handed nonetheless—before he grew into the powerful home run hitter we remember him as.

And, even as his professional career flourished and he was chasing Babe Ruth’s home run record, there were a lot of people who wanted to see him break it, but there were also a lot of people who didn’t.

“The two years that I spent chasing Babe Ruth’s record were two years that I don’t talk about much because I have mixed feelings about it, really,” Hank said. During that time, he received a lot of hate mail and his family had to be protected.

In spite of those barriers, Hank prospered and is, as Bob noted, one of the two greatest players living today, along with Willie Mays.

“So, which one of you was better?” Bob asked.

Without missing a beat, Hank said, “I was! I say that jokingly. We played in many All-Star Games together and he truly was a great ballplayer, no question about that. But when I had a bat in my hand, I didn’t fear anybody. I didn’t think that anybody could get me out. I felt like I was in complete command of everything. I wasn’t worried about playing the outfield. I could steal a base when I wanted to; I felt like I had enough knowledge of how to run the bases. I didn’t have the strongest arm in the world, but I didn’t make too many mistakes throwing from right field. I felt like my baseball career was second to none and I didn’t take a backseat to anybody. I just played baseball. “

Hank talked about his two stints in Milwaukee, the city that bookended his career.  He hit his first home run as a Milwaukee Braves player and his last as a Milwaukee Brewers player.

“This is the greatest city in the world. I loved playing here in Milwaukee… I don’t remember ever being boo’ed  here….I always felt like I was treated fairly in Milwaukee. I was one of the first players to come through the system from Eau Claire to Jacksonville and I felt like I belonged in the city. I felt like people appreciated what I was doing.”

Throughout the night, fans were treated to a walk down memory lane as names like Joe Adcock, Wes Covington, Warren Spahn, Don Drysdale and more were bought up in a conversation that spanned a wide range of topics like pitchers Hank enjoyed facing, his greatest rivals and regrets, and how Hank and Bob each initially fell in love with the game.

And, while Hank’s statistical record speaks for itself, when Bob closed by asking him how he wishes to be remembered, Hank said,

“Not for whatever I did in baseball, but as someone who cared about other people. Baseball came easy to me, but I felt like there were other players who were capable of doing the things that I did.  The most important thing is how I tried to treat other people. I’ve tried to live my life that way.”

And indeed, Hank is already living this legacy with the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Foundation, created by Hank and his wife, Billye. The foundation’s goal is to help children with limited opportunities and financial barriers develop their special talents and pursue their dreams.

All proceeds from the event benefit the fund and are administered locally to help children in the Milwaukee area.

A slideshow from the event is below. I hope you will join me in 2013!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

-Cait

johnandcait@brewers.com

To learn more about Brewers Community Foundation’s Evening with Hank Aaron and how you can support both BCF and the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Foundation, click here or contact Meredith Malone at meredith.malone@brewers.com.

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