January 2012

Brewers’ Werner makes ’40 under 40′ list

Congratulations are due Brewers senior director of business operations Teddy Werner, who won a spot on the Milwaukee Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40” list for 2012.

Werner, 35, will be entering his seventh season with the Brewers and his second under his current title. He’s best known to fans as the Brewers’ point man on salary arbitration players, but Werner also works behind the scenes on business affairs, with particular attention paid to construction projects and other enhancements to the Miller Park experience. Projects that have been completed under his guidance include the new scoreboard, the renovated team store and upgrades to Miller Park’s club level and founder’s suites.

“Teddy has been a versatile and highly-valued member of our front office staff since he joined the organization in 2006,” Brewers COO Rick Schlesinger said in a statement from the Brewers. “His hard work and creativity have helped develop numerous projects and initiatives that have enhanced Miller Park for all fans. He is very deserving of this honor and we are happy to have him here on our team.”

In addition to his work with the ballclub, Werner is a board member of the Milwaukee College Preparatory School and is co-founder of the Miracle League of Milwaukee, the city’s first universally-accessible baseball league for children with physical and mental disabilities. The group opened a complex in August 2011 at the John C. Cudahy YMCA in Milwaukee.

(Edit: Here’s a link to the Miracle League’s website for those who want to learn more.)

Werner is a Los Angeles native who graduated from Yale University in 1998 and from Duke University Law School in 2003. He is the son of Red Sox chairman Tom Werner.

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Worthy honor for Vanden Berg

Late Brewers groundskeeper Gary Vanden Berg’s name will grace a trophy presented to inductees of the new Major League Baseball Groundskeeper Hall of Fame.

The Hall’s inaugural inductees were announced Wednesday by an association of MLB groundskeepers and they are Emil Bossard and George Toma. They will be recognized on Sunday in Anaheim during the 14th annual meeting of baseball’s turf crews.

Vanden Berg’s colleagues voted unanimously to name the Hall of Fame trophy in his honor. He died Oct. 10 while the Brewers were playing in the National League Championship Series, after spending 30 years with the team including more than 20 years as the team’s Director of Grounds. Vanden Berg, who died after a battle with cancer, was instrumental in the Brewers’ 2001 move from County Stadium to Miller Park, where the convertible dome created unique challenges for growing and maintaining grass.

“Gary was a fixture of the Brewers — one of the faces of Miller Park for a lot of people,” infielder Craig Counsell said after Vanden Berg’s death. “He would ask frequently, ‘How am I doing? What can we do better? He definitely wanted input.”

Vanden Berg continued visiting Miller Park in 2011 even though he was ill. Brewers director of baseball operations Tom Flanagan, whose tenure with the club began as a batboy in 1990, last saw Vanden Berg at Miller Park on the afternoon of Sept. 23, hours before the team clinched the NL Central.

“You could tell that being at the park was his passion,” Flanagan said.

The Brewers wore uniform patches to honor Vanden Berg for the remainder of their postseason run, and players and fans observed a moment of silence before Game 3 of the NLCS in St. Louis and Game 6 in Milwaukee.

Bossard and Toma were nominated by the groundskeeper Hall of Fame Committee and approved by membership. The group plans to continue to recognize individuals who have made a significant impact on baseball, the sports turf industry and their communities by inducting new members each year.

Bossard, who died in 1980, enjoyed a 70-year career in baseball including a long stint with the Indians and had three sons who went on to be Major League head groundskeepers.

Toma learned his craft from Bossard while working in the Indians’ Minor League system. His 60-year career included jobs with the Kansas City Athletics (1957-1967) and Royals (1969-1997), and duties for the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs. While he’s now semi-retired, Toma still works each Super Bowl and tends the Spring Training fields in Ft. Myers, Fla. for the Twins.

In 2001, Toma was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame as the recipient of the Daniel F. Reeves Pioneer Award.

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Condolences to Migliaccio family

I’d like to join in offering my condolences to the family of Joe Migliaccio, a longtime Brewers employee and the father of the club’s equipment manager, who passed away this week at 91.

I met Joe in 1999, when I spent a summer working for the Brewers and he was running the employee dining room at County Stadium. Tom Haudricourt wrote it best this morning when he described Joe as a “good and gentle man.” That’s exactly how this lowly, unpaid intern remembers being treated — with kindness.

Joe was the father of Jennifer, Joanne and Tony, who is the Brewers’ director of clubhouse operations and equipment manager.

Visitation is Thursday from 5-8 p.m. CT at Schmidt & Bartelt Funeral Home, 10121 W. North Ave. in Wauwatosa, with a vigil service at 7:30 p.m.  A funeral mass is scheduled for Friday at 9:30 a.m. CT at The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, 812 N. Jackson St. in Milwaukee.

In lieu of flowers, the Migliaccio family said memorials to Zilber Family Hospice are greatly appreciated.

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T-Rats to play at Miller Park in April

Brewers prospects will get another opportunity to swing for the fences at Miller Park.

The club on Wednesday announced plans for an April 27 Minor League matchup between the Class A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and the Dayton Dragons, a Reds affiliate. It’s the fourth straight year and the sixth time overall that the Brewers will host the Timber Rattlers, who usually play their home games north of Milwaukee in Appleton, Wis., at Miller Park.

“Our partnership with the Timber Rattlers provides a terrific opportunity to host a Midwest League game at Miller Park and allows some of our Minor League prospects the chance to display their talents in a Major League ballpark,” Brewers COO Rick Schlesinger said in a statement. “We are pleased to host this game and to familiarize fans with some of the future stars within the organization.”

Reserved seats are $10 each and hot dogs and sodas will be priced at just $1 apiece. Tickets will go on sale on Jan. 9 at 9 a.m. CT at Brewers.com.

The Timber Rattlers have been a Brewers affiliate since 2009. They also played at Miller Park in 2003 and 2004 against a then-Brewers affiliate from Beloit, Wis. that featured prospects Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks.

Since beginning their affiliation, the Timber Rattlers are 2-1 at Miller Park. Last season, they earned a 5-1 win over the Peoria Chiefs on June 29.

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40 days, 40 Brewers prizes

The Brewers are bringing back their “Fan-Tastic Forty,” promotion for season seatholders, again offering40 days of prizes including a one-day Major League contract to fans who renew or purchase a ticket package of at least 20 games.

Last year that grand prize went to Larry Schaefer of Fond du Lac, Wis., who earned $2,274, a press conference with general manager Doug Melvin to announce his one-day deal and the chance to throw a ceremonial first pitch. Here’s good news for 2012: Under baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement, the Major League minimum salary will rise 16 percent in 2012.

Other prizes this year include a $1,000 shopping spree in the team store at Miller Park, a spot on the grounds crew, a game with Melvin in the GM’s suite, a private party in the clubhouse and a chance to buy 2003 season at 1982 prices. Oh, and one very unlucky fan will shadow me for a day, which entails loitering on the field during batting practice, spitting sunflower seeds at Haudricourt and eating brats all night up in the press box.

A winner will be drawn each day from Jan. 16-Feb. 24. Fans who have already renewed or purchased ticket packages of 20-81 games have already been entered in the contest. Purchases made within the 40 days will be eligible for the next day’s drawing and the remainder of prizes.

“This program debuted last year with some incredible, unique prizes and it was extraordinarily popular with our fans,” Brewers COO Rick Schlesinger said. We are always looking for opportunities to reward season seatholders for their ongoing support, and this promotion is a fun way to start the New Year.”

You can see the list of prizes in a handy calendar at Brewers.com/fan40.

Here’s the rundown:

January 16 – Team Store Shopping Spree. Win $1,000 to spend in the Brewers Team Store by Majestic during a private shopping session.

January 17 –Your Very Own Ticket. For one game during the 2012 season, your photo will be printed on every season ticket.

January 18 – Signed Bat & Jersey. Win an autographed bat and jersey from your favorite current Brewers player.

January 19 – Free Parking for the Season. Enjoy complimentary Preferred Parking for every game in your 2012 ticket plan.

January 20 – Timber Rattlers Experience. Be in uniform as a member of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, the Brewers Class A Affiliate during their 2012 game at Miller Park.

January 21 – Gehl Club 4-Pack. Enjoy the luxurious Gehl Club experience with three friends for four games during the 2012 season.

January 22 – Pizza for a Year. Win a one-year supply of Palermo’s Pizza.

January 23 – Slide Down Bernie’s Slide. Get a chance to go down Bernie’s slide, just like the Brewers mascot.

January 24 – Party Suite for you and 29 Friends. Take in a 2012 home game with 29 of your friends from a spacious Party Suite, complete with food and beverage.

January 25 –Owner’s Seats at Miller Park. Sit in the owner’s seats for a game with three friends and enjoy a visit from Brewers executives.

January 26 – Shadow a Brewers Beat Writer. Shadow brewers.com beat writer Adam McCalvy from pregame through the 9th inning for a 2012 home game.

January 27 – You in the Team Photo. You will be included in an unofficial team photo with the 2012 Brewers roster and coaching staff.

January 28 – Private Party in the Clubhouse. Host a fully-catered party for you and 19 guests during the offseason in the Visitors’ Clubhouse at Miller Park.

January 29 – Signed & Framed Greinke/Gallardo 200 Ks Print. Receive a one-of-a-kind autographed 200 strikeout commemorative print of Zack Greinke and Yovani Gallardo.

January 30 – Keeper of the Grounds. Be a groundskeeper for one game during the 2012 season.

January 31 – Miller Lite Beerpen Experience. Enjoy a 2012 home game in the Miller Lite Beerpen on a Friday night with 29 of your friends.

February 1 – Tour the Roof. Take a tour of the Miller Park roof and experience the best view of Miller Park.

February 2 – Throw Out the First Pitch. Throw out the first pitch prior to a 2012 Brewers home game, plus receive a personalized Brewers jersey.

February 3 – Hitting Lesson with Brewers Hitting Coach. Win a private lesson from Brewers Hitting Coach Johnny Narron while you and a guest take batting practice before a game at Miller Park.

February 4 – Signed & Framed Braun MVP Print. Receive a one-of-a-kind autographed commemorative MVP print of Ryan Braun.

February 5 – $500 in Concession Vouchers. Receive $500 in food and beverage vouchers, courtesy of DNC Sportservice.

February 6 – Press Pass. Enjoy pre-game dinner and take in three innings from the Brewers Press Box. Enjoy the remainder of the game from Field Diamond Box seats.

February 7 – Manage the Mini Sausage Race. Win all five spots as Mini Racing Sausages in the Sunday relay race during the 6th inning of a 2012 home game, plus eight Field Level tickets to the game.

February 8 – You in Control. Watch three innings of a 2012 home game from the Scoreboard Control Room and see firsthand how the scoreboard works.

February 9 – Club Suite Party with Doug. You and nine guests will sit in a Club Suite for a game complete with food and beverage, and enjoy a visit from Brewers General Manager Doug Melvin.

February 10 – Autographed Baseballs. Take home a set of baseballs autographed by each member of the 2012 Brewers starting rotation.

February 11 – Movie Night on the Big Screen. You and seven friends will enjoy a private movie screening on the scoreboard at Miller Park.

February 12 – Catered Tailgate Party. Enjoy a Pavilion party prior to a 2012 Brewers home game, catered by DNC Sportservice. Includes 20 game tickets.

February 13 – Game of Catch with a Brewers Reliever. Play catch with, and receive pitching insight from a Brewers relief pitcher.

February 14 – Watch the Action with Bernie. Enjoy the life of Bernie Brewer and watch three innings of a 2012 Brewers home game with him in his dugout.

February 15 – Owner’s Box Seats at Wrigley. Sit in the Visiting Owner’s Box at Wrigley Field. Includes transportation and tickets for two on the Amtrak Hiawatha Service.

February 16 – Klement’s Sausage for a Year. Receive a one-year supply of Klement’s sausage products.

February 17 – Club Suite with a Brewers Alum. You and nine guests will sit in a Club Suite for a 2012 home game, complete with food and beverage, and enjoy a visit from a former Brewers player.

February 18 – VIP Luncheon. You and a guest will sit at the head table during the 2011 Season Seat Holder Luncheon in the NYCE Stadium Club with two Brewers players and/or coaches and Brewers executives. Take home an autographed baseball from each player and/or coach.

February 19 – View from the Bullpen. You and five friends will sit in the Brewers bullpen as the Brewers take batting practice prior to a 2012 home game.

February 20 – You in the Brewers Radio Booth. Spend an inning in the Brewers radio booth during a 2012 home game.

February 21 – Signed Opening Day Baseballs. Take home a set of nine baseballs each autographed by a member of the Brewers starting lineup on Opening Day.

February 22 – Signed and Framed NLDS Photo. Receive a signed photo of the celebration following the Brewers NLDS Game 5 win.

February 23 – Turn Back the Clock Pricing. Receive 1982 pricing for your 2013 season tickets.

February 24 – Welcome to the Big Leagues. Sign a one-day Major League contract, complete with full uniform plus one day’s pay at the MLB minimum salary.

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Braun saga into Spring Training?

Newsday’s Ken Davidoff suggested in a blog post this morning that Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun’s status for the 2012 season may not be resolved until after the start of Spring Training. Brewers pitchers and catchers report Feb. 18 and position players about a week later.

Is it possible that the matter won’t be resolved until so late a date? I don’t know. As GM Doug Melvin told me yesterday (check Brewers.com for the story), the club hasn’t been given any information at all from MLB about Braun facing a suspension under the league’s drug testing program. Those closer to the process say they cannot or will not divulge a timeline. As Davidoff wrote, lips are sealed exceptionally tight on this one. It will be very interesting to see how Braun handles a scheduled appearance at a Baseball Writers Association of America event in New York on Jan. 21.

The Brewers have said it’s business as usual, but you can bet they are on edge about the prospect of losing the National League MVP for 50 games, especially considering the team, with starters Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum entering contract years, has another window to win.

Everyone simply must patiently wait for the process to play out.

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Brewers enter New Year unsure of Braun’s status

Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said the club entered the New Year with no word about the status of outfielder Ryan Braun, who faces a 50-game suspension under Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention & Treatment Program. If a date has been set for Braun to appeal, the club has not been informed about it.

“We’re not involved with it. We can’t do anything about it,” Melvin said. “Everything comes from the Commissioner’s Office.”

That’s the biggest Brewers story to watch in the early part of 2012.

Another is Norichika Aoki, the Japanese outfielder to whom the Brewers won negotiating rights last month. The sides have until 4 p.m. CT on Jan. 17 to work out a contract, or Aoki would return to the Tokyo Yakult Swallows and the Brewers would be returned their posting fee.

The timing could be interesting. If Braun is suspended the season’s first 50 games, the Brewers would have more playing time to offer Aoki, a three-time batting champion in Japan. The Brewers already have in place a center field platoon of Nyjer Morgan and Carlos Gomez, and Corey Hart is set in right field.

But the Brewers will have to proceed with Aoki even though Braun’s status is unsettled. Melvin is hoping to early this week finalize arrangements with agent Nez Balelo — who, coincidentally, also represents Braun — for a workout with Aoki at Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke would attend what could be a multi-day affair designed to give Brewers officials their first look at Aoki, and to give Aoki his first opportunity to meet club officials and hear their vision for him.

That meeting could come later this week or at the beginning of next week, Melvin said. After that, the Brewers would determine whether to pursue a contract with Aoki.

“We’re going to reserve judgement,” Melvin said. “We want to wait until after we get a look at him.”

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