Results tagged ‘ Craig Counsell ’

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?

Counsell stance 1

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.

CounsellC10RS035

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!

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-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.

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:

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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.

–JOHN

johnandcait@brewers.com

On to October! Brewers Fans Attend Playoff Rally to Send Division Champs to Postseason

Today, thousands of Brewers fans gathered at the Summerfest grounds for the Brewers Playoff Rally, a special event to help give our National League Central Division Champions a proper send-off into the Postseason.

The Brewers Playoff Rally began at 4:00 p.m. at the Miller Lite Oasis with an appearance by The Good Rebels (formerly Pan Am), a band out of Los Angeles led by Dan Attanasio, son of Brewers Owner Mark Attanasio. The band succeeded in getting the fans appropriately pumped up with lively original tunes, a few cover songs and some “Let’s Go Brewers, Let’s Go!” chants. And, as if he didn’t already have enough to celebrate, it also happened to be Mark Attanasio”s birthday today, so the band also led the crowd in a rousing sing along of “Happy Birthday” to him.

After The Good Rebels performance, Bernie Brewer and the Klement’s Famous Racing Sausages made an appearance on stage, followed by Brewers Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Uecker, who was hosting the event, along with other Brewers broadcast personalities Bill Schroeder, Cory Provus and Craig Coshun; Hall of Famer Robin YountMark Attanasio; and General Manager Doug Melvin. Each received a warm welcome from the crowd.

Then came the moment everyone was waiting for– the crowd went wild as the Division Champs filed onstage to thank fans for their support and, at the same time, get everyone excited for what we hope will be a long run into October.

For those that were there or who were watching on Fox Sports Wisconsin, you know that there were many memorable moments as the players were individually introduced and interviewed.

There was the raucous cheer for Brewers Manager Ron Roenicke; the spontaneous chants of “One More Year” and “M-V-P” that erupted from the fans  when Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun, respectively, were introduced; the extra-loud receptions for hometown hero Craig Counsell; and of course, the energetic Nyjer Morgan, who was the perfect player to lead off the rally and incite the fans with the “beast mode” gesture.

As the We Energies High-Energy Player of the Year, Morgan quickly became a fan favorite this year, due in part to his outgoing personality, passion, hard work and aggressive approach to playing the game.

“Is America ready for Tony Plush in the World Series?” Bill Schroeder asked him in an interview.

“I’m proud to be a Brewer right now! Ahhhhh!” Morgan exclaimed.

Fans were assured that Morgan is going to continue to be himself (and Tony Plush) by bringing that energy and spark to the team throughout the Postseason as Jerry Hairston, Jr. revealed this to the crowd,  “On the bus over here, Tony Plush said that if and when we win the World Series, he is going to do a Michael Jackson dance in front of all of you guys!”

And speaking of things Brewers fans have to look forward to, Mark Kotsay also gave the fans something to cheer about when he said that he hopes to be standing back on the stage in “three and a half weeks with a ring.”

And it was Kotsay who also said to the crowd, “I thought you guys would chant ‘one more year’ for Craig Counsell!”

Then they did.

“I was a 12-year-old in 1982. I waited with the rest of you. Now we’re going back almost 30 years later and we want to take it one step further than they did!” the Wisconsin native and fan favorite Counsell exclaimed.

He also gave well-deserved credit to the fans: “All you have to do is look at our home record and you know how much our fans meant to us,” he said.

Ryan Braun was the last to address the crowd.

“I hope today is the first of many celebrations for us,” he said.

After the players departed to more cheers, Five for Fighting took the stage.

Five for Fighting performs at the Brewers Playoff Rally on Thursday Photo: Scott Paulus

Five For Fighting, like The Good Rebels, is also out of Los Angeles. The band is fronted by singer/songwriter John Ondrasik and has multiple critically-acclaimed and award-winning records to their credit. Their breakthrough came in 2001 with the Grammy-nominated song “Superman” from the Platinum certified “America Town” (Aware/Columbia) CD.  In 2004, Ondrasik and the band recorded the Platinum-certified album, “The Battle For Everything,” which yielded the retrospective hit, “100 Years.” Other recent records include “Two Lights” (2006) and the first live Five For Fighting CD titled “Live” (2007).

Earlier in the afternoon, I had the chance to speak with Ondrasik.

John Ondrasik of Five for FightingJohn Ondrasik of Five for Fighting

A born-and-raised native of the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles, Ondrasik’s interest in music and sports began at a young age. A fan of the L.A. Kings (NHL), Ondrasik named the band after a punishment in hockey–five minutes in the penalty box for fighting.

When it comes to baseball, Ondrasik admits that he is a Los Angeles Dodgers fan, but told me that it is easy to jump on the Brewers bandwagon.”

“It’s very exciting. It’s a fun team” he said.

As a California native, Ondrasik is also familiar with many names on the Brewers roster including pitcher Randy Wolf who spent two seasons with the Dodgers, Manager Ron Roenicke who spent 10 years with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on their coaching staff, and Ryan Braun, who coincidentally attended the same high school as Ondrasik, Granada Hills High.

Ondrasik Tweets about fellow Californian Ryan Braun, post-rally.

As a big sports fan, Ondrasik says he has been fortunate to have the opportunity to play many special sporting events.

Prior to the Brewers Playoff Rally, his most recent sports-related appearance was a September 11th half-time tribute during the Cowboys vs. Jets game.

“It was a very respectful and very moving ceremony. There were a lot of survivors there, so that was an honor to play,” Ondrasik said.  “I’ve also had a lot of fun, too, whether it was the Daytona 500 or the NHL All-Star Game–again, as a sports fan, these kinds of things are really fun to do. My guitar player is also a huge baseball fan. He was actually born in Milwaukee, so he’s very excited to be here.”

Five for Fighting also has a song about baseball.  “The Best” was featured on the soundtrack for Everyone’s Hero a 2006 computer-animated film about the sport.

“A lot of the dads and moms out there who have Little Leaguers will appreciate that song about playing catch with your little ones,” Ondrasik said.

His interest in sports has also led to him writing a column for Sports Illustrated and a blogging job with the Kings.

So, as a self-proclaimed sports aficionado, where does Ondrasik think the Brewers will net out in Postseason play?

“Hopefully you win the World Series and we can play your victory party!” he said with a smile.

Fans at the event also had the chance to purchase the latest Brewers Postseason t-shirts, hats and other souvenirs at the Rally as the Brewers merchandise trailers were on site.

The Brewers merchandise trailers were on-site at the Playoff Rally today; they will also be in the parking lots at Miller Park for all home games during the Postseason!

Just as a reminder, if you’re still looking to gear up before the home games against Arizona this weekend, you can visit the Brewers Team Store by Majestic at Miller Park, which has extended Postseason hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

For more information on all of the Brewers Postseason information, check out brewers.com/postseason, which will be continually updated with information on everything pertaining to the Brewers Postseason.

–Cait

johnandcait@brewers.com

New Brewers Player Tees Exclusive to Miller Park

With a new Brewers season upon us, there is always a lot of new things around the ballpark that you have been hearing about.  A new manager.  The new scoreboard at Miller Park.  Some new delicious concession items.  If you have visited the Brewers Team Store by Majestic in the last couple of days, you might have seen some new player t-shirts that debuted this week.

I first saw the shirts about a month ago during a photo shoot with the players at Spring Training.  We asked the players to model the shirts and those pictures are below.  The shirts were designed by Majestic and give unique twist on the traditional player jersey t-shirts that have been extremely popular at Miller Park.

The Ryan Braun and Casey McGehee shirts have a little “America’s Dairyland” touch to them while the “Jersey Shore” shore boys might put on Yovani Gallardo’s tattoo-inspired shirt when “T-Shirt Time” comes around.  Closers in baseball are often referred to as “Firemen” and Brewers closer John Axford’s shirt looks like something you would see at at Milwaukee Fire Station.

Available now are Axford, Braun and Prince Fielder.  Throughout the season, other players will be rolled out.  On May 1, the McGehee and Rickie Weeks shirts will be made available.  On June 1, the Zack Greinke and Corey Hart shirts will go on sale and the series will conclude on August 1 when the Craig Counsell and Gallardo shirts debut.

These shirts are available exclusively to the Brewers Team Story by Majestic and will look great in your collection of Brewers player t-shirts.  This shirts will sell for $30 each and are available in adult sizes.

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Which shirt is your favorite?  Let us know by placing your vote.

– JOHN

johnandcait@brewers.com

You Never Know Who Will Drop By Your Tailgate Party

As a gesture to say “Thank You” to fans for their continued support throughout the season, Brewers players and coaches rode golf carts through the Miller Park parking lots this afternoon shaking hands, saying “Thanks” and tossing t-shirts to tailgating fans.

I was lucky enough to hop on one of the carts and capture some photos along the way.  I rode with Craig Counsell, Joe Inglett and Kameron Loe.  These guys were having a fun the entire ride through the Yount and Uecker lots at Miller Park. They didn’t want to come back in!  The fans were caught off guard and were definitely surprised, but were cheering as we drove by.  It was a great experience and unforgettable for the fans and players as well.

Here are some of the pictures I snapped while riding along in the cart.

 

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The golf carts were lined up in the South Dock in the service level.  Around 30 carts took six different routes through the various parking lots at Miller Park.  Kudos to Katina Shaw, Erica Bowring and the volunteers around the Brewers Front Office who helped make this a smooth operation.

 

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Jonathan Lucroy waves to the camera as he and Brad Fischer get ready to depart.

 

axford.jpgJohn Axford waves and he speeds away.  He said he was going to throw mostly fastballs when throwing t-shirts to the fans, but hoped to sneak in a curveball or maybe a cutter.  I don’t know how that turned out for him, but regardless, I’m sure the fans were happy to see John and the t-shirts.

 

zackgamelkara.jpgZach Braddock, Mat Gamel and Kara Kabitzke of the Brewers front office get ready to depart.

 

group1.jpgA very energetic group of Brewers tailgaters enjoyed the visit from Brewers players.  This group encouraged our cart to stay for some brats and burgers, but we had more fans to visit.  It was pretty hard to resist the offer, the smell of the grill at a Miller Park tailgate party is something that I haven’t experienced in a long time!

 

inglettandyoungster.jpgJoe Inglett slaps a high five with a young Brewers fan.  The look on the faces of the fans as we drove through was great.  They were very surprised, but when they figured out what was going on, the cheers kept getting louder.

 

counsell.jpgCraig Counsell gets his picture taken from all different angles.

 

counsell2.jpg

Joe Inglett called Craig Counsell, a Whitefish Bay native, “The Mayor” as we drove through the lots.  He was shaking everybody’s hand to say thanks this afternoon.  Throughout the ride, fans yelled Counsell’s name and asked for “One more year.”  Truly a fan favorite, Counsell was enjoying himself as we rode around and talked to fans.

 

kamloe.jpgKameron Loe gets his picture taken by a couple of fans.  Loe said he had a great time driving through the parking lots and didn’t know the tailgating atmosphere at Miller Park was this much fun.

 

band.jpgThe Oconomowoc High School Marching Band received a special surprise as we pulled back into Miller Park.  Not only were they cheering loudly as we drove by, but I also heard the deep base of a tuba, smooth sound of a saxaphone and beat of some drums.   It was a great way to end the ride.

 

I hope this becomes a tradition at Miller Park.  I could see on the faces of all involved that everyone enjoyed themselves. 

With one more game left at Miller Park tomorrow afternoon, this was a great way for fans to show their support for the Brewers and the players to say “Thank you” to the great fans of Milwaukee. 

–JOHN

johnandcait@brewers.com

 

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