Crew to community: Let's #CrushCovidMKE

April 5th, 2021

MILWAUKEE -- Brewers reliever believes he caught COVID-19 at the grocery store. It was a couple of months ago, he said, and he experienced body aches, back stiffness and some inflammation of the lungs that paused his preseason throwing program. Both Suter and his wife lost their senses of taste and smell.

“I've been sicker in my life, but I've never been that out of it for that long,” Suter said. “It was not a fun 10 days.”

It was with that experience fresh in his mind that Suter joined teammates Christian Yelich, Keston Hiura and Freddy Peralta in helping the City of Milwaukee spread the word that all Wisconsin residents 16 and older are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine as of Monday morning. The team created a public service announcement over the weekend, when players and Brewers staff were vaccinated themselves, receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

President of baseball operations David Stearns declined to provide details about the number of players and staff vaccinated. If 85 percent of so-called Tier I individuals are vaccinated, then some of MLB’s COVID-19 safety protocols governing mask usage and freedom of movement may be relaxed, but for now it appears the original rules remain in place for the Brewers, who traveled to Chicago on Sunday night and were scheduled to play their first road game on Monday against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

“I am so excited, because one of the things that we're seeing right now is that a concern for a fourth surge is primarily focused on young people not getting vaccinated,” Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett said. “And so by having the role models, the professional athletes, young men that people look up to, step up and say, 'I'm going to get this vaccination,' it protects themselves, it protects their teammates, but it really sets the bar pretty high to other young people saying, 'Hey look, if professional athletes are getting this thing, and they make a living taking care of their bodies, it makes sense for you to get it as well.'

“So I just think that it sets such a positive example that I'm very, very grateful to all the players who are getting the vaccinations.”

The Brewers set up a system in the athletic training room by which players could anonymously submit questions before this weekend’s group vaccination. Team physicians including Dr. Mark Niedfeldt and Dr. Craig Young then addressed those issues to the group.

Suter, the Brewers’ lead representative to the MLB Players Association, said he has had private conversations with teammates who remain skeptical about getting the vaccine at this time. But Suter himself was convinced of their safety and efficacy after conversations with Brewers doctors and other doctors back home in Cincinnati whom he trusts.

“I just tried to do my best to encourage teammates to take a look at the research, look at the studies,” Suter said. “I encourage other people that, hey, this is a safe and effective way to do our part and beat this thing. The wearing of masks, the distancing, was trying to curb it; now we can beat this thing. … It became a very easy decision to me.”

Said Peralta: "You think about, the team's on the road trip right now -- we would like to be able to go out and spend more time together, go out to breakfast with your teammates, be able to spend that time together away from the field. And also when we're here at home to have our families be able to come and visit, to be able to go out to enjoy the city, to have fun a little bit. And fans, the great support of the fans here, what it would mean to see 35,000-40,000 people at American Family Field.”

Stearns said a “good chunk” of Tier I individuals were vaccinated.

“Players are taking this issue very seriously, discussing it among themselves, and then everyone is making their own individual choice," Stearns said. "I'm very pleased with the initial turnout. This is an effort that is going to be ongoing. It's not over.”

The Brewers hosted restricted-capacity crowds of more than 11,000 fans for each of their three games against the Twins from Thursday through Sunday, and City of Milwaukee Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson said city inspectors were at the game on Opening Day.

For now, the Brewers are selling tickets at 25 percent occupancy through May 2 and hope to get approval from the city for more after that date.

"We were happy with the way things went down on Thursday, for sure,” Johnson said. “I actually had the opportunity to attend the game [Sunday], and I was equally impressed. All of the protocols were being followed, people were wearing masks, there was social distancing. A couple of little tweaks here and there, but I really personally felt safe. I was there with my family and we had a great time. I feel really good about where the Brewers are in terms of their mitigation measures.”

Johnson encouraged City of Milwaukee residents to visit to register for a vaccine. Elsewhere in the state, visit