Don’t cry because it’s over…smile because it happened.
The day that most of us expected at some point during this offseason has arrived. Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun has officially retired from baseball at the age of 37.
To some, it may feel like only yesterday when the California kid made his debut in San Diego, where he scorched a double to the left center gap to score Tony Gwynn Jr. for his first major league hit. Fast forward 5,226 days and Braun will hang up the cleats and retire a Brewers legend.
2007 NL Rookie of the Year. 2011 MVP. Six-time NL All Star. Five-time Silver Slugger. However you want to address him, he’s one of the greatest Brewers to ever take the diamond.
To give you even more reference for how important this man was to the Brewers organization, there are 44 team leader categories for the Milwaukee Brewers on Baseball-Reference.
Ryan Braun is on 41 of those 44 ALL-TIME Top 10 leaderboards.
These include: 5th in batting average (.296), 3rd in slugging percentage (.532), 4th in games played (1766), 3rd in at-bats (6622), 3rd in runs scored (1080), 3rd in hits (1963), 2nd in total bases (3525), 2nd in doubles (408), 1st in home runs (352), 2nd in runs batted in (1154)… should I keep going?
It’s hard to believe anyone will ever wear No. 8 for the Milwaukee Brewers ever again. Remember in 2008 when he hit a go-ahead home run against the Cubs to send the Crew to the playoffs for the first time in 26 years?
We could talk about stats and records that Ryan Braun holds all day, but one of the things that made Braun so special during his time with the Brewers was his knack for timely hits.
He was the man you wanted at the plate in a tight game in the late stages and he knew that’s where he thrived. During one postgame interview in 2018 he even said, “This is what I do” after a game-winning hit to beat the Detroit Tigers. He had a flair for the dramatic, and it seemed that he delivered more times than not.
Here’s an iconic clip from 2011 when Braun launched an eighth inning home run to give the Brewers the lead and eventually win the NL Central.
To try to explain the importance that he made to this organization and the city of Milwaukee is simply impossible. With him in the lineup, it just seemed like the Brewers were contenders every year.
But one thing people might not know about Braun was his impact in the community and his willingness to help those in need.
Whether it be: helping feed front-line healthcare workers in Milwaukee during the Coronavirus, donating thousands of dollars to help build affordable, single-family homes, giving millions of dollars towards the California Strong foundation that he and fellow teammates Christian Yelich and Mike Moustakas created, or organizing a celebrity softball game that put money towards California Strong foundation and the families affected by the deadly shooting in Thousand Oaks, CA, Braun was as compassionate and generous as it gets.
Here’s a moment from 2018 where Braun and his fellow Californian teammate Christian Yelich went back-to-back to win the game for the Brewers against the Cardinals in walk-off fashion.
Although we will never see Ryan Braun in a Brewers uniform again, he will hold a special place in the hearts of Brewers fans for all that he did during his time with the team.
From the post-home run handshakes with Prince Fielder, to the eventual ejections that would stem from a strike three call disagreement with the home plate umpire, to the time he tried for an inside-the-park home run but fell rounding third base, we will hold these and every other memory close to our hearts.
According to dictionary.com, the infinity symbol is “a figure eight on its side that variously signifies the concept of limitlessness or eternity, especially as used notationally in mathematics and metaphorically with respect to love” and this makes all too much sense with number 8 that we’ve had the pleasure of witnessing in Milwaukee for the last 13 years.
∞ Ryan Braun Forever ∞