Results tagged ‘ Felix Mantilla ’

Former Milwaukee Braves Shortstop Johnny Logan Inducted Into Miller Park Walk of Fame

For those of you who are fortunate enough to know Johnny Logan, you know he is really a special man.  He always has a story, a teaching tip or an anecdote about something and everything.  Today is a very special day at Miller Park as the Brewers formally inducted Logan into the Miller Park Walk of Fame.

In January, the team announced Logan received over 72% of the vote (32 votes) in Walk of Fame balloting, which includes members of the media throughout Wisconsin as well as Brewers executives.  Logan’s election marks the first time since Lew Burdette (2010) that a player has been inducted.

From left to right: Jim Logan, Johnny Logan and Felix Mantilla.

From left to right: Jim Logan, Johnny Logan and Felix Mantilla.

Today, Logan visited Miller Park, as he often does.  But this time, he did so with family and friends who were with him to share in his honor.  Logan also visited the Brewers Media Interview Room where he talked to the press for a very memorable media session with his son, Jim, and former Braves teammate, Felix Mantilla.

“This is the biggest honor I received,” Logan said to open the session.  “I can’t tell you how happy I am to be here with my family and friends.

Logan played in Milwaukee from 1953 – 1961 and appeared in four All-Star Games as a member of the Braves. For his 13 year career, Logan hit .268 with 93 home runs and 547 RBI.  He was a member of the Braves World Series Championship team in 1957 and the National League Championship team in 1958.  Logan was signed by the Boston Braves in 1947 and made his Major League debut with Boston in 1951.  After playing in Milwaukee, he played three seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

"I treat this man like my brother," Mantilla said of Logan.

“I treat this man like my brother,” Mantilla said of Logan.

“The Milwaukee Brewers are honoring one of the top shortstops in the 1950s,” Mantilla said.  “Logan came to Milwaukee in 1948, he liked this city so much that he is still here.  I’m very proud to be here with my friend that I treat like a brother.”

Known for his quick wit and ability to tell a great story, Logan held court for just about 30 minutes in the Media Interview room.

He talked about when he was in fifth game and heard the New York Yankees were playing their farm team in Binghamton, N.Y. in an exhibition game.  There were two obstacles he had that day before attending that game.  The first was the game took place on a school day and the second was that his hometown of Endicott was seven miles away.  That didn’t stop Logan, he “ran” the seven miles to see Joe DiMaggio and his beloved Yankees.  But Logan soon discovered there was another problem he faced when he arrived at the stadium–he didn’t have a ticket.

“You mean you have to pay?!” Logan recalled asking the usher.

Logan found a “knothole” in the outfield wall and saw his childhood heroes that day.  Somehow, he still made it home for dinner.  When his mom asked how school was that day, Logan recalled his reply, “IT WAS GREAT!”  He said to the group today, “Hey, baseball came first!”

Johnny Logan, 1957

Johnny Logan, 1957

Logan later remembered Mantilla trying to take his shortstop position.

“I was scared of Felix,” Logan said.  “He was good, a great athlete.  He had such ability.  I played so hard in competing with him because who wants to sit on the bench!?”

“It was a pleasure playing with Johnny,” Mantilla said.  “He had his own way of doing things, but that is why we all loved him.”

In terms of a favorite memory of his baseball career, he was quick to answer winning the 1957 World Series.

“Naturally,” Logan said.  “What a thrill to beat the Yankees.”

He also recalled how close those Milwaukee Braves teams were to winning other World Series titles.

“In 1958 we had the Yankees 3-games-to-1 and ended up losing the next three.  In 1956 we lost the pennant by one game.  That was the year Don Larsen pitched his perfect game in the World Series.  If we were there, that would have never happened!”

In a pregame ceremony, hosted by Bob Uecker, Logan told “a few stories” and shared many laughs.

“I want to tell you that Milwaukee is my home,” Logan said.  “I want to thank the Brewers for this honor and I want to thank all the sportswriters for voting me in.”

Bob Uecker hosted a memorable on field ceremony.

Bob Uecker hosted a memorable on field ceremony.

Both Brewers and Phillies players lined the railings of each dugout as Logan continued with stories of an Opening Day, the 1955 All-Star Game and the 1957 World Series.  Logan could have gone all night long, but there was a game to play and there was (and is) only one man who could have made sure tonight’s game started on time.

“Johnny, we are getting close to game time, can you just stay here on the field during the game and keep talking?” Uecker joked, to which, of course, Logan replied with, “Yes!”

Uecker closed the ceremony with the following quip: “In honor of Johnny Logan, the Brewers have further informed me that tonight’s game has been cancelled.”

Other past Walk of Fame honorees include Hank Aaron, Rollie Fingers, Paul Molitor, Robin Yount in 2001; Commissioner Bud Selig and Cecil Cooper in 2002; Bob Uecker and Harry Dalton in 2003; Jim Gantner and Gorman Thomas in 2004; Don Money and Harvey Kuenn in 2005; Eddie Mathews, Warren Spahn and John Quinn in 2007 (the first year that former Braves players appeared on the ballot); and Lew Burdette in 2010.

A photo of the Johnny Logan plaque on the Miller Park Walk of Fame.

A photo of the Johnny Logan plaque on the Miller Park Walk of Fame.

Each inductee is honored with a granite plaque that is placed into the terrace area walkway that surrounds Miller Park.

If you are one who appreciates baseball history, this is definitely a day you won’t forget as a special man received a special honor.  You could really see in the faces of the family and friends who attended the ceremony that they too will never forget this day.  Logan did a great job and his friend Mantilla reminded him of that at the end of the press conference.

“Johnny you did a great job today,” Mantilla said.

Logan didn’t skip a beat with his reply.

“What the hell did I say? All I did was sit up here and talk about baseball!  It was great.”

-John and Cait

johnandcait@Brewers.com

Brewers Induct Gene Conley Into Braves Honor Roll at Miller Park

The Milwaukee Brewers and the Milwaukee Braves Historical Association inducted Gene Conley into the Braves Honor Roll today at Miller Park.

Conley pitched for the Milwaukee Braves from 1954 – 1958 and his Major League career lasted from 1952 – 1963.  He was a member of the 1957 Braves World Series Championship team and a three-time MLB All-Star.  In five of his 11 MLB seasons, Conley recorded ten or more wins and finished his career with a 91-96 record and 3.82 ERA.  With the Milwaukee Braves, Conley was 42-43 with a 3.56 ERA.

Although Conley couldn’t travel to Milwaukee to today’s event, there were a number of former Braves in attendance today.  Felix Mantilla, Ray Crone and Frank Thomas were all in attendance in addition to members of the Milwaukee Braves Historical Association: Bud Lea and Bob Buege.

“Gene has been my friend for many, many years and he is a great man,” Mantilla said.  “He was a very gifted athlete as we all know but he was a great teammate.  He is deserving of this honor.”

Felix Mantilla speaks at today's event.

Felix Mantilla speaks at today’s event.

There are now 12 members of the Milwaukee Braves Honor Roll, which also includes Warren Spahn (2004), Johnny Logan (2005), Andy Pafko (2006), Bobby Thomson (2008), Bob Uecker (2009), Felix Mantilla (2010), Eddie Mathews (2010), Joe Adcock (2011), Frank Torre (2011), Del Crandall (2012) and Hank Aaron (2012).

Conley has the distinction of being the only player to win championships in two of the four major American sports.  Conley also played with the Boston Celtics (1952-53, 1958-61) and New York Knicks (1962-64) of the NBA and was a member of three NBA World Championship teams (1959, 1960 and 1961) with the Celtics.  Conley’s wife, Kathryn, wrote a book on her husband’s life called “One of a Kind.”  The book chronicles his unique career, a career that might never be matched.

Here is the video that Conley sent for the presentation.  It features a great interview as well as some unique action footage of Conley pitching for the Braves:

It is great to have an organization that appreciates the history of Milwaukee baseball like the Milwaukee Braves Historical Association.  There were a lot of great stories tossed around at today’s event and I’m thankful to have been a part of it.  The partnership that the Brewers have with the historical group is great and ensures that the memories of that beloved team will never die.  I urge fans to check out the Braves Wall of Honor the next time you are at Miller Park.  It is located on the Field Level between Home Plate and Third Base on the Concourse.

Gene Conley's plaque on the Braves Honor Roll at Miller Park.

Gene Conley’s plaque on the Braves Honor Roll at Miller Park.

–JOHN

johnandcait@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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