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Selig left mark on Milwaukee childhoods

MLB.com

Little did I know as a teenager watching Brewers games at Milwaukee County Stadium during the early 1970s that the affable owner of the team would become a personal acquaintance and the Commissioner of Baseball.

Now Allan Huber "Bud" Selig is headed to Cooperstown.

Little did I know as a teenager watching Brewers games at Milwaukee County Stadium during the early 1970s that the affable owner of the team would become a personal acquaintance and the Commissioner of Baseball.

Now Allan Huber "Bud" Selig is headed to Cooperstown.

Wow. I mean, WOW!

:: 2017 Hall of Fame induction coverage ::

Wasn't it just yesterday I was eating brats with "secret sauce" at the old ballpark on Milwaukee's west side? There, I cheered George "Boomer" Scott, Joe Lahoud and Rick Auerbach while listening to a relatively new announcer named Bob Uecker on my transistor radio. I enjoyed Bernie Brewer sliding into those balloons after home runs, and during the seventh inning stretch, I marveled at folks dancing in the stands to the Beer Barrel Polka.

The Brewers weren't good. In fact, they were pretty bad, but I mostly cared that Major League Baseball was across the way.

Through it all, I occasionally wondered what would have happened if the franchise that became the Brewers didn't move from Seattle, where they were the Pilots for the 1969 season?

More importantly, what if Selig didn't work like crazy to bring Major League Baseball back to his native city in 1970 after the Braves left for Atlanta four years prior?

Well, here's the answer:

• There wouldn't have been Harvey's Wallbangers, with manager Harvey Kuenn unleashing sluggers Stormin' Gorman Thomas, Cecil Cooper, Ben Oglivie and others to terrorize pitchers.

• The Cardinals would have played somebody else during the 1982 World Series, as the Brewers made their only appearance in the Fall Classic as an American League team that season.

• Paul Molitor and Robin Yount still would have reached the Baseball Hall of Fame playing for somebody, but none of their home games (or road games, for that matter) would have been in Milwaukee.

• We wouldn't have Miller Park among the classic retro places to watch a Major League Baseball game.

• Uecker would have remained Uecker, but it wouldn't have been the same, because he wouldn't have shared his expertise and humor during broadcasts from his hometown. Yes, just like Selig, Uecker was born and raised in Milwaukee, where he played for the Braves at the start of the Major League career he often ridicules.

• Selig wouldn't have gotten the opportunity to become baseball's commissioner along the way to increasing attendance and overall revenue to record numbers while remaining the game's No. 1 fan during a bunch of innovative changes (Wild Card teams, Interleague Play).

* Here's the biggie: I wouldn't have memories with my two brothers, arriving early to the bleachers at Milwaukee County Stadium to catch batting practice balls.

Thanks, Bud.

Vince Lombardi and Bart Starr, the ultimate icons of the Green Bay Packers, are toward the top of the Wisconsin sports heroes list. Al McGuire is up there, too, especially after he helped to turn Marquette into a college basketball powerhouse. Then there is Hank Aaron, but guess what? If you talk about the guy who began his Hall of Fame career in 1953 with the Milwaukee Braves before ending it with the Brewers in 1976 as somebody who is eternally hugged by Cheeseheads, you have to mention Bud Selig soon afterward.

For one, Aaron and Selig have been close friends since the Braves first became the rage in Wisconsin during the mid-1950s. For another, Selig was the Brewers' owner who brought Aaron back to Milwaukee for his final at-bats in the Majors, and I lived through it all with a nearby seat, either at the ballpark or via the airways.

I wasn't an original Cheesehead. My father was a supervisor for AT&T, and he was transferred around the Midwest. We left the middle of Cubs country in our hometown of South Bend, Ind., for Cincinnati in 1968, just in time for the birth of the Big Red Machine. The next move came during the fall of 1971 to Chicago, but that was brief. In the spring of 1972, we were off to Milwaukee, where my parents stayed for the next 32 years. It didn't take long for us to see what Selig meant to that community. He was not only a baseball owner who cared as much about the fans as he did his players, but also a noted philanthropist for causes ranging from the University of Wisconsin, where he graduated and was the roommate of former U.S. Senator and Milwaukee Bucks owner Herb Kohl, to various charities around the state.

Years later, when I became a sports journalist, I encountered Selig often during his days as Brewers owner along the way to taking the commissioner's job from 1998 to 2015. He rarely wasn't available within a brief period of time whenever I made the call to his Milwaukee office. I'm guessing those Wisconsin ties didn't hurt our connection, and we both have strong relationships with Aaron.

Now Selig joins Aaron in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

I'm still smiling.

Terence Moore is a columnist for MLB.com.