PHOENIX -- There is a locker in the Brewers' Spring Training clubhouse with a name you won't find on any roster. The navy blue jersey with "RITTNER" stitched across the top serves as a quiet tribute to Matthew Rittner, the fallen Milwaukee Police Department officer who was laid to rest
PHOENIX -- There is a locker in the Brewers' Spring Training clubhouse with a name you won't find on any roster. The navy blue jersey with "RITTNER" stitched across the top serves as a quiet tribute to Matthew Rittner, the fallen Milwaukee Police Department officer who was laid to rest on Wednesday, on the same day his favorite team reported to camp.
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Rittner, who also served in the U.S. Marine Corps, was by all accounts a big Brewers fan. The season-ticket holder married his wife, Caroline, in a rare gameday ceremony at Miller Park on Sept. 16, 2017 -- the weekend a Brewers-Marlins series was moved from Miami to avoid Hurricane Irma. The Rittners took their wedding photos on the field that day with thousands of fans as unexpected attendees, and Matthew threw the ceremonial first pitch.
Rittner was shot and killed on Feb. 6 while executing a search warrant on Milwaukee's south side. The next day, a procession carrying his casket detoured to pass through the Miller Park grounds.
He was 35.
"I thought it was important that we do something in Spring Training to recognize him, one," said Dan Larrea, director of team travel, who came up with the idea. "And two, I want players to ask, 'Who's this?' Then they get the answer that this man died protecting the City of Milwaukee. I want it to be something for players and staff to talk about so they know what the City of Milwaukee is all about."
And that's exactly what is happening. Two lockers down is top pitching prospect Zack Brown, who wondered about the jersey with the name he'd never heard.
In a conversation in the training room, he got the answer.
"It's an honor just to be close to it," said Brown.
Larrea pondered different uniform numbers before choosing No. 10 as a play off the "12th man" concept in football.
Rittner is the Brewers' ceremonial 10th man this spring.
"It was a tragedy," said manager Craig Counsell. "It was somebody who died serving the community, and he was a Brewers fan. It's just a simple gesture that hopefully has some impact. If we can do these things in the right way, I think it's kind of our job.
"We can't do everything, but there are the ones that are just right to do. This one seemed right to do."
Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.