My earliest memories of Major League Baseball in Milwaukee were attending Braves’ games in the early 1960s with my father and my uncle. If not for Bud Selig, those would be my only memories of Major League Baseball in Milwaukee.
I was reflecting on that during the ceremony unveiling a statue of Selig at Miller Park Tuesday.
The event featured the most star-studded baseball V.I.P list Milwaukee has ever seen. One by one, they strolled down the aisle. Vuke. Simba. Coop. Spike. The Bulldog. Gumby. Molly. The Kid.
This was a national ceremony. I mean just look at the names of the attendees:
U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl; columnist and baseball author George Will; Barry Alvarez and Pat Richter of the University of Wisconsin; Joe and Frank Torre; Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Al Kaline and Frank Robinson; representatives from every Major League club; Rachel Robinson, widow of Jackie Robinson; Dick Ebersol of NBC Sports; former Green Bay Packers president Bob Harlan and general manager Ron Wolf; former and current Brewers, including Robin Yount, Hank Aaron, Gorman Thomas, Sal Bando, Cecil Cooper, Ben Oglivie, Audrey Kuenn, widow of former manager Harvey Kuenn, Don Money, Don August, Bill Schroeder, Jerry Augustine, Ken Sanders, Larry Hisle, Teddy Higuera, Dale Sveum, Ted Simmons, Pete Vuckovich, Rollie Fingers, Trevor Hoffman, Craig Counsell, Jim Gantner and Paul Molitor; and Brewers owner Mark Attanasio and his wife, Debbie.
As each name was called, I thought back to all of the Brewers’ games, all those County Stadium moments, I shared with my father, my mother and our family growing up after Selig brought the team to Milwaukee in 1970. We were blessed.
I think back on all of the Brewers’ games I have shared with my two sons and my wife at Miller Park. We have been blessed.
In his 18 years as the commissioner of Major League Baseball, Selig has caught his share of grief from detractors. Steroids, the unfinished All Star Game and the missed World Series quickly come to mind. But that ledger must be balanced with the successes of interleague play, shared revenue, record attendance, record revenues, a great new generation of baseball stadiums and a robust transition into the digital age.
History is a bottom-line sport. The bottom line for Bud Selig is that the man brought Major League Baseball back to Milwaukee and he kept it in Milwaukee by getting Miller Park built.
For that, the man deserves a statue. Here’s to you, Bud Selig.
(To view a photographic slideshow of the statue dedication ceremony, click here.)
Steve Jagler is executive editor of BizTimes Milwaukee.