“He got to share this with me for 10 years:” Mark Attanasio emotional on first Opening Day without his father

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Mark and Joe Attanasio

MILWAUKEE (WITI) — Mark Attanasio has been the right owner at the right time for the Milwaukee Brewers. One of the keys to his popularity is that he’s just a regular guy who happens to be successful and wealthy.

There are many sides to Attanasio. There was the emotional one following last season’s historic collapse which catapulted his team out of the playoffs, the analytical side that led to the return of Brewers Manager Ron Roenickie and keeping the team intact.

“We’ll wear out saying this, but we were in first place for 150 days, so that means we had a good team. We had four All-Stars last year. If we can stay healthy, we’re going to compete,” Attanasio said.

Attanasio, a big baseball fan who’s learned the ins and outs of the game in his over 10 years as Brewers owner knows that the National League Central could be the most talented from top to bottom in the big leagues.

“It’s a really tough division. We’ve got 500 teams that could be 500 or better. Every one of those teams is a legitimate contender for a playoff spot. I love the competition. I love that the division is tight and we’re going to be in the mix,” Attanasio said.

Not only does Attanasio love competing, he has a passion for owning the Milwaukee Brewers, and he loves Opening Day — although last Monday, April 6th, even the big boss felt like just any other fan.

“The first thing I experienced today actually was frustration because it’s already so backed up — the roads, that I couldn’t get in myself! I missed my interview spot with Bob Uecker on the radio,” Attanasio said on Opening Day.

Then again, being the Brewers owner does have its advantages.

“Three or four years ago I jumped the fence, right over in left field where now we have the Wall of Honor and whatnot. The only problem is the embankment, there’s a little bit of a corner there that if you miss, there’s a drop,” Attanasio said.

This year’s Opening Day was emotional in a different sense for Attanasio. It was the first time since buying the team that he couldn’t share the experience with his father Joseph, who’s singing of the National Anthem became a rite of spring. On Opening Day, the Brewers played the senior Attanasio’s performance from last year. Joe died in January, but his son is carrying with him memories of his dad that will last a lifetime.

“He got to share this with me for 10 years, and that was a real blessing for me and my family. Had he lived to 79, which is still a bit of a ripe old age, he would have not known any of this, so I’m trying to focus on that and all the good times we shared rather than the pain of not having him here,” Attanasio said.

Those good times included Joe sharing the joy of seeing Mark’s Brewers make the playoffs in 2008 for the first time in 26 years, and in 2011, when the Crew won a post-season series and came to within two victories of making it to the World Series.

Attanasio says he would like nothing more than to experience a World Series some day with his father in a front row seat — smiling down.

Joe Attanasio

Joe Attanasio

Mark Attanasio is so highly-regarded that his name was in the mix to replace Bud Selig as MLB Commissioner.