PHOENIX, Ariz. — So many baseball organizations consider themselves tight-knit and really a good group of people. For the Brewers, it’s more than that. It’s about family and treating everybody like they are part of that family.
“One of the beauties about baseball is it’s, I think, uniquely human and personal, and a group of guys who come together can do something great, so if I can in anyway help that, you know, I want to be a part of that,” said Mark Attanasio, Milwaukee Brewers’ owner.
At the beginning of every spring training, Attanasio walks into the clubhouse.
“First of all, as a fan, what’s more fun than to actually get to walk into a Major League clubhouse and connect with, you know, ballplayers? As a fan, I get excited about that. Even having owned the team for 14 seasons I think that,” said Attanasio.
He then opens camp with a message:
“Every year I talk about our appreciation for the players, their families — so this year we talked about that, which we always do, and community,” Attanasio said.
It’s something the players welcome and feel is important, and it was noticed by Attanasio early on as an owner.
“Jeff Cirillo played for us, you know, many years ago, and I was surprised when I first bought the team to hear from him that the guys cared. You know? If you’re a professional athlete why would you guys care? He worked in some places where ownership didn’t care and a place in particular, at that time, that was corporate ownership and it was a very sterile feeling — whereas this isn’t,” said Attanasio.
This clubhouse has a much warmer feel, and for Jimmy Nelson, it starts with the Attanasios.
“We’re with each other so long, this is a family within itself, so they recognize the dynamics with our actual family and all the guys in here — so they understand that taking care of our family off the field too, has a huge impact on how we get our work done here,” said Jimmy Nelson, Brewers’ pitcher.
That family feeling is also something that Zach Davies believes will impact the club for years to come.
“It started with their belief that it is a family — that one central group plays together and hopefully plays together for a long time, so it’s nice that both sides are on the same page with that,” said Zach Davies, Brewers’ pitcher.
Some Major League owners don’t often mingle with their players. However, that’s not the case with the Brew Crew.
“He’s a down-to-earth guy. He’s fun to talk to. He cares about each person individually — mainly their families and how he can accommodate them. It’s just really nice to talk to a guy who’s not just sitting up in the suite just watching the game. He’s actually, he’s invested in this group — not just monetarily, but relationally. It’s awesome to have an owner like that,” said Chase Anderson, Brewers’ pitcher.
“So when you first buy a ball club, you don’t know what to do with it, right? How do you be a sports owner? So I tried to take some lessons from what I know from the corporate world and one of them is trying to set a tone. I can’t pitch, can’t catch, actually can’t even sell tickets, but I can set a tone, so I felt that by speaking every year at the start of spring training, I could help set a tone from the top and I think it does,” Attanasio said.
Attanasio believes, if he does treat his organization like it is one big family, everybody in it will run through a wall for everybody else.