Milwaukee Talks: Craig Counsell
Whitefish Bay native Craig Counsell was acquired by the Brewers this winter in a much talked about multi-player trade for Richie Sexson. At 33, he's not a future prospect. Instead he's a proven veteran with World Series experience from both the Marlins and the Diamondbacks.
Counsell, who now lives in Mequon year 'round, brings a work ethic -- and perhaps a quiet leadership -- to a team that has few veterans. He's looking forward to the challenge of playing for the team he grew up around, but most importantly his mission is to help the Brewers win more games.
We caught up with Counsell a few days before he left the frigid Milwaukee winter to head back to Phoenix to begin working out for the upcoming season. Here's what the Brewers sole Wisconsin native had to say, in this latest edition of Milwaukee Talks:
OMC: I've heard a lot about how you practically grew up at County Stadium while your dad, John, worked for the Brewers. They say you spent a lot of time watching Robin Yount, a childhood hero, who eventually became a coach with your former team, the Diamondbacks. How much of that is true and much of this is PR hype?
CG: It's very true. He worked there from '78 to '88, during the stretch that they had good teams. I'd spend weekends there, and get my mom to drop me off after school. I had great experiences (at County Stadium), and I don't think I'd be in the big leagues if I didn't spend all that time there to soak all of it in.
OMC: Did you ever think you'd be in a position where you and Robin would be on the same team?
CG: It was really cool, almost a little strange. Generally, when you're a kid and have a hero, you don't usually become close friends with him. He was my hero, then he was my co-worker, but he's what I thought of him as a kid: the most humble man you'll ever meet.
OMC: Have you been exposed to all the former Brewers who are still working in the organization, like Gorman Thomas, Cecil Cooper and Jim Ganter?
CG: Not yet, but I think it's neat that those people are still involved. Those were who people remember. They create a link, not only for the fans, but for the players.
OMC: Do you remember Ned Yost from your childhood?
CG: I knew him, but I know him more from when he was a coach with Atlanta.
OMC: Did you ever get a chance to play at County Stadium?
CG: I played there when I was with the Marlins, yeah.
OMC: I really miss it, personally.
CG: I agree with you. I have great memories from there.
OMC: You've played for some pretty good teams, but lets be honest, the Brewers won't be contending for a pennant this year. Take the "coming home" stuff away -- is it a letdown to be traded to a team like the Brewers?
CG: You have to approach it in a different way. This team is not going to go to the World Series. The chances are pretty slim. But I look at it as a challenge and something that is new for me. And that's exciting, to be able to come to a city that I grew up in and maybe be a part of something that's on its way up.
OMC: You're 33 years old, which puts you in the latter half of your career. Did that sneak up on you?
CG: Right now, I'm the oldest player on the team.
OMC: Does that seem weird? Do you feel old?
CG: I don't feel like an old guy, no. I don't feel old at all, but I know the end is not that far away, within five years, probably. But I'm not in the twilight of my career. I still have a long time to play.
OMC: Baseball guys within the Brewers organization have been comparing you to Jim Gantner. Are they referring to your leadership skills or your athletic similarities with Gumby?
CG: (As far as leadership skills), it's more important to me to help us win games. Everyone wants to be a labeled a leader, but that stuff just happens. Being great in the clubhouse doesn't necessarily win games, to be honest with you. I think what Jim Gantner was good at was being so tough and hard-nosed, and it rubbed off on other people. Is that leadership? I don't know.
OMC: People always describe him as so overachieving, it sounds as if he's handicapped or something. I never understood that.
CG: I've heard people describe me as overachieving, too. It means, physically, you're not as gifted as some other players, which is probably accurate. But that's what you learn. There's more than one way to play the game.
OMC: When you played for Arizona, did you still live in Milwaukee during the off-season?
CG: I moved back here in 2001.
OMC: Let me get this straight: you lived in Arizona in the summer and Milwaukee in the winter. Did people make fun of you?
CG: Frequently. We were pretty sure that we were the only people who did that. We came back because this is home, and we wanted to have roots somewhere.Page 1 of 3 (view all on one page)
mona daszy said: Hi: First off let me wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and happiest of New Years in 2006. Now secondly I have a comment on why another second baseman last name of Hudson is joining the D'Backs on trade, if according to Bob Melvin that Counsell is "ons of the top defensive second baseman in the league, if not the top second baseman in the league, if something works you don't fix it right?
mona daszy said: Hi: Ok,Ok, World Series is over for 2005, however, Counsell's AVG. rose from 232 when he was first traded to Brewers his AVG 242 when back to D'Backs is now 256. It's progressively going up.I hope Bob Melvin and the rest of the executive administrative over D'Backs will see that and give Counsell another chance next year at starting position for 2006.
Mimi Callison Marmon said: I really enjoyed your article on Craig Counsell. I was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Our family moved to Oconomowoc Lake when I was 8 yrs old and my sister new John Counsell. I dated Don Counsell my senior year in high school. John was Don's cousin. Anyway, when I first saw Craig Counsell playing baseball I mentioned to my husband that Craig looked alot like someone I had known at Oconomowoc High School. His name was Johnny Counsell and he loved baseball. I wondered if Craig was his son. My sister-in-law lived in Phoenix, AZ and has season tickets to the Dimondback games. One Christmas she sent me a "Craig Counsell bobble head". You asked him in your article what he thought of having his own "bobble head". I found that amusing. After reading your article, I'm pretty sure Craig's father is the Johnny Counsell I knew of in Oconomowoc! Thank you for your article. I don't know if you can pull any strings, but it would be wonderful to have a picture of Craig and his signature. Sincerely, Mimi Callison Marmon
Kathryn Lachcik said: Hi: Just want to comment on the ending of the 2005 MLB of D'Backs. "Wow", allright!!. Okay they didn't win world series, they did next best came in second from last year 2004, that's a success. Thanks to efforts of Counsell, Clayton, Shawn Green, Clark, and Troy, I hope they give them all starter positions next year 2006. All above veterans were awesome!!!!
mona daszy said: Hi: I just want to agree with you Daydreamer, in being glad Counsell's back, hope he stays. Counsell definitely is the best. 2006 season for the D'Backs can be nothing but a success if Counsell stays in a starting position. Good ex: 2005.!!!!
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