Brewers to build “Wall of Honor”

Craig Counsell remembers visiting AT&T Park in San Francisco some years ago and seeing a group of former Giants honored for their contributions to the franchise, even if those contributions fell short of consideration for Cooperstown. Counsell thought the idea would play in Milwaukee, where the Brewers’ Walk of Fame has in recent years become a most difficult club to crack.

Counsell’s idea came to life on Thursday, when the Brewers announced plans to build a “Wall of Honor” on a prominent space outside Miller Park, just like the one in San Francisco. Fifty-eight former Brewers players and executives, from Hall of Famers to Mike Fetters, will be inducted prior to a June 13 game against the Reds.

“Maybe they’re not Hall of Famers, but they are players who spent some time here and achieved certain standards,” Counsell said. “When I saw it in San Francisco, I thought it was great for the fans, seeing some of the players they had watched when they were kids, or when they brought their own kids to the games. It’s a way to document the history of the franchise.

“I always think that the teams that can create a history are the teams that connect with their fans better. That’s why I liked this.

Because his own name is part of that history, Counsell abstained from the tricky part — setting the criteria for induction. The idea was to make the Wall of Honor different than the Walk of Fame, which is debated by all and voted upon by media and Brewers officials each winter, and instead, as COO Rick Schlesinger put it Thursday, to recognize “the many individuals who either spent a significant portion of their career with the Brewers, or have a significant legacy with the organization through various achievements.”

After some debate, the Brewers chose players who met any of the following standards:

  • 2,000 or more plate appearances as a Brewer
  • 1,000 or more innings pitched
  • 250 appearances as a pitcher
  • Winner of a major award (MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year or Fireman of the Year)
  • Manager of a pennant-winning team
  • Individuals memorialized with statues on the Miller Park Plaza
  • Members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame who played for or managed the Brewers

Home-grown Counsell, who was raised in a Milwaukee suburb before finishing his career with his hometown team, will be part of the inaugural class by virtue of his 2,063 Brewers plate appearances.

Here is the full list of inductees:

Hank Aaron, Jerry Augustine, Sal Bando, Chris Bosio, Johnny Briggs, Jeromy Burnitz, Mike Caldwell, Bill Castro, Jeff Cirillo, Jim Colborn, Cecil Cooper, Counsell, Chuck Crim, Rob Deer, Cal Eldred, Fetters, Rollie Fingers, Jim Gantner, Moose Haas, Bill Hall, Darryl Hamilton, Teddy Higuera, John Jaha, Geoff Jenkins, Harvey Kuenn, Sixto Lezcano, Pat Listach, Mark Loretta, Davey May, Bob McClure, Paul Molitor, Don Money, Charlie Moore, Jaime Navarro, Dave Nilsson, Ben Oglivie, Dan Plesac, Darrell Porter, Ken Sanders, George Scott, Kevin Seitzer, Allan H. (Bud) Selig, Richie Sexson, Ben Sheets, Ted Simmons, Jim Slaton, B.J. Surhoff, Don Sutton, Gorman Thomas, Bill Travers, Bob Uecker, Jose Valentin, Greg Vaughn, Vina, Pete Vukovich, Bill Wegman, Bob Wickman and Robin Yount.

Seven active Major Leagues already meet the criteria and will join the Wall of Honor after they retire: John Axford, Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Yovani Gallardo, J.J. Hardy, Corey Hart and Rickie Weeks. Other current Brewers like Jonathan Lucroy (1,691 plate appearances) and Carlos Gomez (1,618 plate appearances) are already getting close.

“These are all players who played enough that fans have a story about them,” Counsell said. “You’ll remember a game he played in. You’ll share it with your son or daughter. That’s what this is supposed to be all about.”

The permanent exhibit will be installed on an exterior wall at Miller Park adjacent to the Hot Corner entrance, where fans enter year-round for access to the restaurant and team store. Honorees will be recognized with a bronze plaque affixed to the wall, with their image and a brief synopsis of their Milwaukee baseball career etched onto the marker.

The plaques are designed by Matthews International, designers of the plaques for the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

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