Veteran infielder Craig Counsell made his retirement official this week. Also official is his brand new position in Milwaukee, as he was introduced by Doug Melvin as the Special Assistant to the General Manager – he donned a sport coat instead of a jersey, but he looked every bit as excited as the Whitefish Bay native has ever been. Like a rookie getting his first Major League deal. The coat swallowed Craig like a kid wearing his dad’s jacket.
I was always a fan of Craig Counsell, and I know front office work has been a goal of his, so I’m glad that he gets to do it in Milwaukee. What’s even better than that, however, is the way he handled himself in front of the press during the meet-and-greet session about his new job. That perfect self-effacing way that has Wisconsin written all over it. Don’t take it from me, though – I’ll let Craig handle that.
On his aspirations:
(When Counsell was 19, he met the Oakland A’s GM)
“For me, it was like, ‘Well, that’s what I’m going to do when I grow up. I’m going to be a GM.’ [...] You know, 20 years of playing got in the way, which I’m really fortunate for and happy to happen. But I thought back to it a couple of days ago and realized I’m doing what I thought I was going to be doing when I was 19 years old.”
On his decision to retire:
“It’s easy when you’ve got more softball teams calling you than baseball teams. And those softball teams want to DH for you.”
On what he’s looking forward to in his new job:
“I’m excited I don’t have to get any hits anymore.”
That’s a fantastic attitude when you ended your career with one of the most profoundly awful streaks of poor plate discipline in history.
It’s one of the reasons (besides that batting stance) I’ve always been so interested and enamored with Counsell. He wasn’t one of the best players in the game – and you knew that he knew that. But he got to play everyday (or close to it) for nearly two decades, and for him that was enough. In the process, of course, he got two World Series Rings and the respect of thousands of fans across the country.
Craig Counsell was a guy you pulled for. Mostly because he looked like he belonged in the bleachers as much as he did home plate. One gets the feeling that growing up Counsell was the last kid picked for dodgeball, but you just know he was the one diving out of the way of the ball. He was a hard-working, scrawny kid from Whitefish Bay who never grew up. That’s probably why the jacket didn’t fit.
Personally, I couldn’t happier that Counsell got the job. He was always a leader in the locker room and he knew how to work with younger guys. He’s going to be working with minor league teams and evaluating players. Assistant GM Gord Ash joked that Counsell would be taking on road trips that he and Melvin didn’t want to go on.
“Looks like I’m going to Pittsburgh,” Counsell quipped. Welcome to the Show, rook.