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Milwaukee Brewers:Bernie Brewer

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 The Milwaukee Brewers are a Major League Baseball team based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They are in the Central Division of the National League. The Brewers were part of the American League through the 1997 season, after which they switched to the National League. The team was purchased on April 1, 1970 by an ownership group headed by Milwaukee auto dealer Bud Selig. The team was renamed the Brewers to honor Milwaukee's beer-brewing traditions. The team was moved from the American League to the National League in 1998 during baseball's realignment in order to make sure that each league had an even number of teams. Major League Baseball wished to keep interleague play in designated blocks during the season.

Making both leagues equal in size would have meant that each league would have 15 teams, an odd number. In turn, this would have required that single interleague games be scattered throughout the season. Therefore, it was decided to have a 16-team National League and a 14-team American League. The Selig family's ownership of the Brewers is the longest continuing ownership in the majors now. Wendy Selig-Prieb, Bud's daughter, is now CEO. However, on January 16, 2004, Selig announced that he was putting the team up for sale, and had retained a New York firm to handle the deal. In September of 2004, it was announced that the Brewers had reached an oral agreement with Los Angeles investment banker Mark Attanasio to purchase the team for US$180 million. The home ballpark of the Milwaukee Brewers is the Miller Park located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

 

Bernie Brewer

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The stadium was built with $310 million of public funds, which was somewhat controversial, particularly due to the fact that the team owner, Bud Selig--also the Commissioner of Baseball--was highly unpopular locally. Construction was subject to numerous delays. Groundbreaking took place on October 22, 1996, in a parking lot behind County Stadium. Construction had already been slowed--the originally planned opening date of Opening Day, 1999 had already been pushed back, and was delayed even further after three construction workers were killed in a crane accident in July, 1999.

The stadium did not end up opening until Opening Day, 2001. Despite the new stadium--and the protestations of the ownership that the influx of hundreds of millions of dollars of public funding would improve the team--the Brewers have continued to slump since the opening of Miller Park, though beginning to show signs of promise in 2004. The stadium has a retractable roof, built in a unique convertible style, with the roof panels opening and closing simultaneously in a sweeping manner from the first base and third base sides towards center field. The huge roof explained a large part of the $400 million cost of the stadium.

Bernie Brewer is the official mascot for the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team. In 1970, the Brewers were still a new team and were having difficulty drawing spectators to their games at Milwaukee County Stadium. In late June, a 69-year-old fan named Milt Mason decided to sit on top of the scoreboard until the team could draw a home crowd of 40,000. He was there for about 40 days. When 44,387 people finally heeded his call and attended a game on August 3, Mason was welcomed back down and he became the original Bernie Brewer. The Bernie Brewer character became the team's mascot in 1973, appearing as a cheerful man with a big moustache. A beer-barreled chalet was built for him inside the stadium where he led the crowd cheering.

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Following each home run and every victory by the Brewers, he would slide down and plunge himself into a huge beer mug in celebration. Bernie Brewer was a fixture at Brewers home games until 1984, when the Brewers re-built the bleachers, replacing the chalet with a sound tower and sending Bernie into retirement. By popular demand, Bernie Brewer came out of his retirement in 1993, when the fans voted for his return. At Miller Park, the current home of the Milwaukee Brewers, Bernie Brewer has his own "dugout" atop the bleachers behind left field, where he continues to lead the cheering at every home game. Aside from his appearances at Brewers home games, Bernie Brewer is available for public functions, working very closely with the Brewers Corporate Affairs Department.

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