McCalvy's 2024 Crew Walk of Fame ballot revealed

December 15th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Adam McCalvy’s Brewers Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

MILWAUKEE -- I’m a big-ballot voter when it comes to the Brewers Walk of Fame. 

As you’ll see, a really big ballot.

I enjoy walking past the home plate-shaped granite slabs encircling American Family Field with names from Hank Aaron, Robin Yount and Paul Molitor to this year’s inductee, Ben Sheets. The Walk of Fame is the Brewers’ highest honor short of number retirement, true. It’s also true that there is the Brewers Wall of Honor to recognize players who weren’t the very best of the best to wear the uniform, but wore it for a long time, or won an award, or otherwise left their mark on the franchise. (If you’re already confused, take a minute to read my story about the difference between the Walk of Fame and the Wall of Honor.)

But that doesn’t mean the Walk of Fame has to be treated like it’s Cooperstown. 

If you ask me, George Bamberger, the manager whose expletive-fueled toughness transformed the Brewers from an expansion team into a contender, should get his granite slab. So should Ted Simmons, who is in Cooperstown, for goodness' sake. And definitely Jeff Cirillo, the franchise batting champion who earned his hits during tough years for the franchise. 

I voted for all of them.

On the same day that Jackson Chourio, Milwaukee's top prospect (No. 2 overall) per MLB Pipeline, had his press conference in Nashville, Tenn., after signing an eight-year contract, the Brewers distributed ballots to media and current and former club executives who vote for the Walk of Fame, which includes 22 inductees to date. We don’t know the full list of voters, but we know Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio is one of them. My fellow beat writers and I are also on the list along with your favorite television and radio personalities.

Here are our instructions, with my bolding for emphasis:

A candidate must receive “yes” votes from 65% of the responding electors to be inducted. In addition, if a nominee does not receive at least 5% of the vote, they will be removed from the ballot in future years. As an elector, you may vote for any number of individuals you believe deserve to be honored. You may also elect to cast no votes. If you do not believe that anyone deserves the honor, we ask that you still return a blank ballot to us for tabulation purposes.

The ballot includes names of those who have worn a Milwaukee Brewers or Milwaukee Braves uniform as a coach, manager or player for at least three seasons; have been retired for a minimum of three seasons, and received a minimum of 5% supporting votes if they were on last year’s ballot.

Hence, my oversized ballot. More on that in a bit.

Here are all of the names on the ballot, with my selections bolded:

Jerry Augustine (1975-84) P
George Bamberger (1978-80, 1985-86) MGR
Sal Bando (1977-81, 1991-99) INF/GM
Ryan Braun (2007-2020) OF
Mike Caldwell (1977-84) P
Bill Castro (1974-80, 1992-2009) P/Coach
Jeff Cirillo (1994-99, 2005-06) INF
Craig Counsell (2004, 2007-11, 2015-2023) INF/MGR
Yovani Gallardo (2007-14) P
Scooter Gennett (2013-16) INF
Carlos Gómez (2010-15) OF
J.J. Hardy (2005-09) SS
Corey Hart (2004-12) OF/1B
Larry Hisle (1978-82) OF/DH
Sixto Lezcano (1974-80) OF
Charlie Moore (1973-86) C/OF
Ben Oglivie (1978-86) OF
Dan Plesac (1986-92) P
Francisco Rodríguez (2011-12, 2013, 2014-15) P
Bill Schroeder (1983-88) C
George Scott (1972-76) INF
Ted Simmons (1981-85, 2008) C/INF/Coach
Jim Slaton (1971-77, 1979-83) P
Greg Vaughn (1989-96) OF/DH
Pete Vuckovich (1981-86) P
Rickie Weeks, Jr. (2003, 2005-14) INF

Milwaukee Braves
Bill Bruton (1953-60) OF
Bob Buhl (1953-62) P
Del Crandall (1953-63, 1972-75) C/Brewers MGR
Fred Haney (1956-59) MGR

I can’t say I have a hard and fast system for making those selections, but here’s my general thinking: I’d like the obvious, deserving inductees to get in -- Braun, who is new to this year’s ballot, plus the candidates like Bamberger, Simmons and Cirillo whom I already mentioned -- before we consider some others, whether based on their statistics or their contributions to baseball in our city.

For example, I’m voting for any player who is in the Top 20 hitters or Top 10 pitchers in franchise history in fWAR. That’s why players like Caldwell, Lezcano, Hart and Weeks got my vote.

But I also think the Walk of Fame would be a way to recognize the sort of person who gave their whole life and career to the organization. Men like Castro, who pitched for the Brewers and then was a coach for decades. Slaton, the all-time franchise leader in wins and starts. Hisle, the Brewers’ first MVP candidate who is still a fixture at the ballpark as part of his important work with Milwaukee youth. Bando, the Brewers’ first big free-agent signee who later was the club’s GM during the period we all started to think and talk about a new concept called “payroll.” Schroeder, the former catcher who is going into his 30th year in the television booth. And from the Braves’ list, the late Crandall, whose career in Milwaukee spanned franchises.

I’m glad Sheets finally cracked the Walk of Fame last summer after years on the ballot, and Prince Fielder the year before that. The honor meant the world to those players, and just as importantly, to their kids. Fielder, flanked by his sons, ended a dry spell in which only Geoff Jenkins earned induction during a five-year span from 2017-21.

I say we should have more days like that in the coming years. 

Ballots are due Monday. How big would yours be?