MILWAUKEE -- The Walk of Fame and the Wall of Honor. What’s the difference?
The similarly-named installations outside the home of the Brewers sometimes create confusion among fans. Think of it this way: If the Walk of Fame is like the exclusive and deliberative U.S. Senate, then the Wall of Honor is the vibrant and diverse House of Representatives. One is essentially the Brewers’ version of a Hall of Fame, the other is “Hey, remember that guy?”
Here’s an explanation of each:
WALK OF FAME
An original feature of Miller Park when it opened in 2001, the Walk of Fame consists of granite slabs in the shape of home plate, set into the plaza surrounding the stadium and bearing the greatest names in the history of Milwaukee baseball. Through the end of 2020 there have been 20 inductees, starting with the original class of Hank Aaron, Rollie Fingers, Paul Molitor and Robin Yount.
Through 2007, only men and women associated with the Brewers were eligible. In 2007, the Brewers expanded to include alumni of their Major League predecessors in Milwaukee, the Braves. But induction remained elusive.
Each slab is inscribed with an inductee’s signature, uniform number (if applicable) and years of service. Inductees are selected via a vote of media members and club executives, who receive a list of eligible individuals each fall and are allowed to cast as many votes as they wish, or vote for no one. A candidate must receive “yes” votes from 65 percent of the responding electors to be inducted, and if a nominee does not receive at least 5 percent of the vote, they will be removed from the ballot in future years.
The ballot includes names of those who have worn a Brewers or 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 percent supporting votes if they were on last year’s ballot. If an individual played at least three years as a player on the Brewers and moved on to a coaching position, the three-year retirement rule will be applied to his playing years only. Thus, Craig Counsell has appeared on the ballot.
There is also space for write-in candidates. An internal committee of Brewers executives is responsible for election of non-uniformed personnel who are nominated by the voters.
As of the end of 2020, inductees included Aaron, Fingers, Molitor and Yount (2001); Cecil Cooper and Bud Selig (2002); Harry Dalton and Bob Uecker (2003); Jim Gantner and Gorman Thomas (2004); Harvey Kuenn and Don Money (2005); Eddie Mathews, Warren Spahn and John Quinn (2007); Lew Burdette (2010); Johnny Logan (2013); Teddy Higuera (2015); Joe Adcock (2016) and Geoff Jenkins (2018).
WALL OF HONOR
In his playing days, Counsell’s stroll from the team hotel to the home of the San Francisco Giants took him down King St. to the players’ entrance at the corner of King St. and 2nd St. Along the way, he passed an external brick wall of the ballpark covered by dozens of plaques featuring former Giants players, everyone from Willie Mays to Atlee Hammaker, with a brief explanation of each man’s career.
Counsell loved it. The intention was not to be exclusive, like a hall of fame, but to be as inclusive as possible with players, executives or broadcasters who spend some meaningful period of time with the Brewers. It’s where Yount can coexist with Fernando Vina, and Fingers with Mike Fetters. The more plaques, and more conversations as fans walk by with their children, the better.
In 2014, the Brewers brought the idea to life during a ceremony that brought many of the 58 initial honorees back to Milwaukee. Plaques were installed on the external wall of what is now called American Family Field at the “hot corner” entrance to the ballpark.
"I thought it would be a good way to keep alive the tradition, to honor the significant players, the core players of the franchise,” Counsell said then. “And it's for fans. Something they could walk by and share stories with different generations of fans.
"They did a great job and it turned out great. What's most gratifying is just the reaction of the players, standing in there and looking at their plaques. It means a lot. They spent significant time here and meaningful time here as Brewers."
The criteria for inclusion has been amended over the years. As of the end of 2020, here’s what it took to get in:
• 2,000 plate appearances with the Brewers
• 1,000 innings pitched
• 250 appearances as a pitcher
• Winner of a major award (MVP, Cy Young Award, Rookie of the Year or Fireman of the Year/Reliever of the Year)
• Manager of a pennant winner
• Individuals with a statue at American Family Field
• Hall of Famers who played for or managed the Brewers
• Those who donned the Brewers uniform and then served as a primary broadcaster for 20 or more seasons
• General manager for 10 or more years with a postseason appearance
In 2020, outfielder Carlos Gomez and pitchers Yovani Gallardo and Francisco Rodriguez were added, bringing the total number of names on the wall to 69. A number of active players are already eligible and will be added upon retirement.
There’s also a Milwaukee Braves Wall of Honor nearby, with a similar mission. The late Wes Covington was added in 2020, bringing the number of Braves honorees to 19.