Helfaer Field keeps County Stadium memories alive

As the guy who wrote the history book about County Stadium, I naturally have interest in anything that will keep the memory of the old place alive.

Helfaer Field should do a great job of doing just that. More than 3,000 kids will play on the $3.1 million field, which will stand on the former site of County Stadium.

Officials of the Brewers, Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District and the Helfaer Foundation broke ground for the youth ballpark last week.

"Helfaer Field will be the premier youth ballpark in the country," said Brewers' president Wendy Selig-Prieb. "This ballpark will provide an important bridge to our rich baseball past as well as a special bridge to the future as our children and their children lean to play the game of baseball here."

Members of The Little Hitters League, Girls of Summer Softball League and Brewers RBI (Reviving Baseball in the Inner City) League will play on the park, which is scheduled for completion by late May of next year.

The Helfaer Foundation donated $2.1 million for the park, and another $1.1 million came from the baseball district infrastructure budget.

The Evan and Marion Helfaer Foundation was founded in 1974 and is dedicated to charitable, religious and education purposes in Wisconsin. Evan Helfaer was an original investor in the Brewers.

Helfaer Field will include 502 bleacher seats and 220 concourse seats. The foul poles from County Stadium will be used. The area where home plate existed in the old park will be memorialized.

Hunzinger Company, which built County Stadium and was part of the Miller Park construction team, will build the park.

This is a great way to continue the tradition of baseball in Milwaukee and keep the memory of County Stadium alive. It also will be a great addition to the grounds around Miller Park, which includes memorials to some of the baseball greats in Milwaukee history and the men and women who built Miller Park.

A Healthy Priority

GM Dean Taylor said over the weekend that the Brewers' health would be a priority over the off-season.

"When players like (Ben) Sheets and (Nick) Neugebauer, with their talent, go down at their age (23 and 21 respectively), you have to examine what you are doing," Taylor said. "We're going to look at our strength and conditioning program and other factions of the organization that deal with our health. You have to address the situation."

Taylor said he does not believe the Brewers do anything that different from other teams which stay healthier.

"Eight other teams actually have logged more DL time than we have, but we certainly have had too much," Taylor said.

The Brewers' pitching has been especially hit hard. Most of the pitchers' contracts run only through this season. Jeff D'Amico and Jimmy Haynes, two pitchers who have been on the DL, are among those pitchers.

D'Amico, pitcher Mark Leiter and infielder Tyler Houston were activated over the weekend. A couple other players could return before the season ends. "We'll try to assess the players who have been injured and what they can contribute in the future," Taylor said.

Big Daddy's Comeback

D'Amico struggled in his first game back, giving up five runs on seven hits in 3.1 innings in the first game of the doubleheader at Pittsburgh on Monday. Big Daddy's control was off as he looked rusty. He will probably get four more starts before the end of the season.

A Real Heartbreaker

Perhaps one of the most heartbreaking losses of the season was the 3-2 loss to the Astros on Friday night. Jamey Wright pitched a great game until he hung one against Vinny Castilla, who hit a two-run, two out homer in the ninth to give the Astros their win.

Wright struck out a career-high 12 batters and set a franchise record for hits by a pitcher with his 12th of the season. He was set up to be the hero until Castilla's homer.

By the way, the Astros specialize in such wins. The win was their 37th come-from-behind win and their 18th in their final at-bat. Only the San Francisco Giants have won more in their last at-bat. Castilla's homer also was the 10th by an Astro in the ninth inning or later that gave the team a lead.

A Real Thriller

In sharp contrast to Friday's loss was Saturday's win. Richie Sexson's game-winning homer in the bottom of the ninth provided the Brewers with their first such win in Miller Park. No Milwaukee hitter before Sexson had won a game with a homer in the last at-bat.

Sexson also homered in the sixth inning of the game. He is the one Brewer who is going to finish the season with very impressive statistics.

Gregg Hoffmann publishes The Brew Crew Review column on Mondays and Fridays. He also maintains a special news and message board on OMC.


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