Counsell thought he’d figured out exactly what he wanted to do with his life.
After a 15-year major league playing career that included two World Series victories, Counsell now finds himself back on that path. Counsell announced his retirement as a player Tuesday, taking a front office job with the Milwaukee Brewers.
“For me, it was like, ‘Well, that’s what I’m going to do when I grow up. I’m going to be a GM. That’s what I want to do. I want to do what Sandy Alderson does,’” Counsell said. “You know, 20 years of playing got in the way, which I’m really fortunate for and happy to happen. But I thought back to it a couple of days ago and realized I’m doing what I thought I was going to be doing when I was 19 years old.”
Counsell becomes special assistant to Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, and already has started working on projects for him.
Counsell joked that the decision to retire wasn’t as hard as it might seem, especially after his 0-for-45 hitless streak last season.
“It’s easy when you’ve got more softball teams calling you than baseball teams,” Counsell joked. “And those softball teams want to DH for you.”
Although I waited a while in the offseason, this is kind of what I expected to happen and I’m glad this is the way it happened.”
Counsell is a native of the Milwaukee area, and follows his father into the Brewers’ front office. John Counsell worked there from 1979-1987.
“I’ve always said, the Brewers are important to me,” Counsell said. “There is a sense of loyalty for me here because of a lot of the memories I’ve created. They’ve been important to me.”
The 41-year-old Counsell completed his 15th season last year. His last five seasons were spent in Milwaukee.
Counsell also played for the Colorado Rockies, Florida Marlins, Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks, winning World Series with the Marlins in 1997 and Diamondbacks in 2001.
Playing second base, shortstop and third base, Counsell compiled a .255 batting average with 42 home runs, 647 runs and 390 RBIs.
He was part of two dramatic World Series Game 7 rallies. In Florida’s 1997 World Series victory over Cleveland, Counsell hit the tying sacrifice fly in the bottom of 9th, then scored the winning run in 11th.
In the Diamondbacks’ 2001 victory over the New York Yankees, Counsell was hit by a pitch, loading the bases for Luis Gonzalez to hit an RBI single off Mariano Rivera in the bottom of the 9th.
“I think you think of the World Series first, for sure,” Counsell said. “I mean, if you play in Game 7s of World Series, tell me what’s above that? And you win both games? There’s not much.”
Now Counsell is looking forward to learning new aspects of the game from a different point of view.
“At first, it’s going to be a lot of learning what goes on in a front office,” Counsell said. “I’m going to be helping evaluate players, helping in the minor leagues, hopefully being a resource as a guy that just got done playing that can maybe kind of help the front office with what players are thinking.”
Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash said Counsell has the work ethic required to succeed in the job.
“He’s prepared to put in the time necessary,” Ash said. “Some players transition into this role and think they’re going to come in at 11 (a.m.) and leave at 1 (p.m.) and play golf that afternoon. And I can assure you, that’s not the way we work here. I think Craig’s ready for that. He understands that. And it’s going to serve him well.”
Melvin joked that the Brewers will send Counsell on whatever road trips he and Ash don’t want to do.
“Guess I’m going to Pittsburgh,” Counsell joked.