'Gratitude and joy' for Braun upon retirement

September 26th, 2021

MILWAUKEE -- hit the go-ahead home run in three postseason clinchers during a 14-year career spent entirely with the Brewers. And yet it was Sunday, standing there in a suit, that he finally felt the magnitude of a moment.

Braun bid farewell to fans at Milwaukee’s regular-season home finale, about two weeks after he formally announced his retirement as a player. He acknowledged regrets away from the field, but on the field, Braun was a six-time All-Star, a five-time Silver Slugger, the 2007 National League Rookie of the Year, the 2011 NL MVP and the Brewers’ all-time leader with 352 home runs.

“You know, I've been in some seriously high-pressure game situations, but the moment was never too big,” Braun said. “This is one of the only moments in my life that is bordering on that.”

He went through a long list of thank yous to family and friends, including his wife Larisa and their three children. Braun thanked principal owner Mark Attanasio and the Brewers’ two front-office regimes during his tenure: the one that drafted him fifth overall in 2005 under general manager Doug Melvin and turned Milwaukee into a contender with Braun’s help, and the one that, under now-president of baseball operations David Stearns, entered a run of success unprecedented for this franchise.

Braun also teared up while thanking the fans, who live in one of baseball’s smallest markets but “over-deliver in their love for the team.”

“My emotions today and over the last few weeks have admittedly been very mixed,” he said. “It starts with overwhelming gratitude and joy. But there's also a real sadness that it's over and this has actually come to an end.”

Here are the highlights from his farewell:

On being denied fan interaction last year because of the pandemic
“I think that was one of the toughest things for me, was not having the opportunity to play in front of our fans or any fans, not have an opportunity to play in front of my friends and family. So, I think that'll make today that much more special to have the opportunity [in front of a] sellout crowd, the biggest crowd of the year, to have to have the chance to experience this energy and atmosphere the way that it should be.”

On talks with the Brewers about playing in 2021
“Yeah, we discussed it multiple times. We discussed it throughout the course of the season, I think both in July and in August we had pretty serious conversations about it. But I think the whole time, we all recognized it would have had to have been a perfect set of circumstances for everybody all the way around. My biggest priority in the discussions the whole time was No. 1, trying to do what was best by the organization, and No. 2, obviously it would have had to have really worked for my family. It never got to the point where I felt like it was imminent, but obviously because of my special relationship with Mark, David and [general manager Matt Arnold] and [manager Craig Counsell], we had the discussion multiple times. I feel like everything worked out the way that it's supposed to. I'm very much at peace with where I'm at.”

On his favorite moments
“I would say it's a series of moments. I think every celebration stands out to me, every time we clinched a postseason spot. You know, having the opportunity to celebrate with the front office, the ownership group, teammates, coaches, managers, I think that that's always what makes the grind of this game feel worthwhile. So, as I reflect back, certainly that's the thing that I will have enjoyed the most that will always stand out the most to me. 

“There's certainly some moments, a handful of walk-off home runs or playoff-clinching moments that I was fortunate to be a part of that will stand out as well. I also think back to just being drafted, you know? Getting to the point where I had the opportunity to pursue the lifelong dream of making it to this level, feeling like I was one step closer, and then having the opportunity to debut in San Diego with a couple of days’ notice, and probably the 35 people here today, the majority of them were able to make it down to San Diego. The fact that that worked out the way that it is something that will forever be a career highlight for me as well.”

On what should be remembered about the low points of his career
“Look, I think baseball mirrors life in many ways. I've said this before, but in life we all deal with challenges. We all deal with adversity. We have the choice to view those as either obstacles or as opportunities that we can overcome, that we can grow from, that we can continue to evolve from as human beings. And that's what I've always tried to do. 

“Certainly, as I reflect on my career, it was not perfect. And I'm at peace with that, you know? If I had the opportunity to go back and do some things differently, I absolutely would. But I don't have that chance. So, the goal is just to continue to learn from those things, grow from those things and continue to evolve as a human being."

On whether he’ll stay connected to the team in the coming years
“Oh, yeah, absolutely. I anticipate doing that for sure. I think near term, I have a couple projects I'm working on. I'm going to take a job in the finance space with an asset management firm, and among other things, help educate athletes on financial literacy. And then I'm also working on a project in the baseball space that will launch in Q1 of next year with about 15-17 current high-profile players, including guys on both of these teams [the Brewers and Mets], actually. 

“So, between those two projects and being full-time parents, those will be my priorities near term. But I absolutely want to remain a part of the organization, contribute in whatever capacity they think I fit, and continue to contribute to the community as well.”