Craig Counsell

Craig John Counsell (born August 21, 1970) is an American former professional baseball player who is the manager for the Milwaukee Brewers of Major League Baseball (MLB). Counsell became the Brewers' manager in May 2015; he became the longest-tenured manager in the National League in 2021, and holds the franchise record for most managerial wins in team history.

Craig Counsell
Counsell at the 2015 Winter Meetings
Milwaukee Brewers – No. 30
Infielder / Manager
Born: (1970-08-21) August 21, 1970
South Bend, Indiana, U.S.
Batted: Left
Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 17, 1995, for the Colorado Rockies
Last MLB appearance
September 28, 2011, for the Milwaukee Brewers
MLB statistics
Batting average.255
Home runs42
Runs batted in390
Managerial record615–555
Winning %.526
As player

As manager

Career highlights and awards

Counsell was an infielder who played 16 seasons in MLB for five teams, and was known for his unique batting stance. He had several notable post-season performances, winning the World Series in 1997 with the Florida Marlins and in 2001 with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Counsell has the distinction of having been on base for the last two times that the World Series ended with a walk-off hit, and was named the NLCS Most Valuable Player in 2001.

Early life

Counsell was born in South Bend, Indiana. He grew up in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin, and attended Whitefish Bay High School, where he played baseball. His father, John, worked for the Milwaukee Brewers of Major League Baseball (MLB) as their director of the speakers bureau and director of community relations. Counsell attended the University of Notre Dame, where he played for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish baseball team.[1][2] He was an infielder for the Irish, with a career batting average of .306, 204 runs, 166 RBI, 50 doubles and twice as many walks (166) as strikeouts (82), graduating in 1992.[3]

Professional career

The Colorado Rockies selected Counsell in the 11th round of the 1992 MLB Draft. He made his MLB debut with the Rockies on September 17, 1995, appearing in only three games that season. The Rockies traded Counsell to the Florida Marlins for Mark Hutton in July 1997. He immediately became the Marlins' starting second baseman. He scored the winning run in the bottom of the 11th inning of Game 7 of the 1997 World Series for the Marlins, on an Édgar Rentería single over pitcher Charles Nagy's head, after tying the game in the bottom of the ninth with a sacrifice fly.[4]

In June 1999, the Marlins traded Counsell to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a player to be named later (minor leaguer Ryan Moskau). The Dodgers released Counsell during 2000 spring training, and he signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks. His stay with the Diamondbacks lasted four years. Counsell batted 8-for-21 in the 2001 National League Championship Series (NLCS), and won the NLCS Most Valuable Player Award.[5] He was hit by a pitch by Mariano Rivera to load the bases for Luis Gonzalez in the bottom of the 9th inning of Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, after which Gonzalez drove in the winning run for the Diamondbacks, a bloop single over the drawn-in infield.[6]

Counsell batting for the Milwaukee Brewers

After the 2003 season, the Diamondbacks traded Counsell to the Milwaukee Brewers, with Chris Capuano, Chad Moeller, Lyle Overbay, Jorge de la Rosa, and Junior Spivey, for Richie Sexson, Shane Nance, and a player to be named later (minor leaguer Noochie Varner). With the Brewers, Counsell started at shortstop in 2004. After one season with the Brewers, Counsell returned to the Diamondbacks as a free agent for two more seasons.[7]

Counsell returned to the Brewers as a free agent for 2007 and filled the role of utility infielder. He recorded his 1,000th career hit on August 16, 2008, against Derek Lowe of the Los Angeles Dodgers.[8] In 2011, he was the fourth-oldest player in the National League, and had the second-best career fielding percentage of all active second basemen (.991).[9][10] In 2009, Counsell gained more regular playing time due to injuries and inconsistent play from other Brewers players, and had a .285 batting average, along with 8 triples, finishing in the top 10 in the National League in the latter category.

In 2010, Counsell was chosen as the 13th-smartest athlete in sports by Sporting News.[11]

From June 11 to August 3, 2011, Counsell tied the all-time record for consecutive at-bats without a base hit for a position player, going hitless over a streak of 45 at-bats as a bench player and spot starter. The record was set by notoriously poor hitter Bill Bergen in 1909, and later tied by infielder Dave Campbell in 1973. It had been reported Bergen's streak was 46 at bats; however, subsequent research definitively established that Bergen's streak stopped at 45, meaning that Counsell tied but did not break the record.[12] The record was broken only a few weeks after Counsell tied it, by Eugenio Vélez of the Los Angeles Dodgers.[13]

Counsell's contributions to the Marlins' and Diamondbacks' championship teams remained well-remembered by the fans of both teams. During Counsell's last season as a player in 2011, when the Brewers were the visiting team at Marlins and Diamondbacks games, the home fans would give Counsell standing ovations when he came to bat.

Counsell's usual at-bat music was Jimi Hendrix's version of "All Along the Watchtower".

Batting stance

For much of his career, Counsell had a batting stance that was very distinctive, usually holding his bat high, with his arms straight above his head. As he reached the end of his career, Counsell lowered his bat more in his stance, though he would nearly have his back to the pitcher where the number on his back was almost completely visible to the pitcher. Counsell also didn't wear batting gloves for the majority of his career, with the exception of his rookie season and his final season.


By the SAFE: Spatial Aggregate Fielding Evaluation method of evaluating defense, Counsell was both the highest-rated 2nd baseman and the highest-rated 3rd baseman over the period from 2002 to 2008, with an average runs saved of 10.18 and 5.86, respectively.[14]

Post-playing career

In early 2012, Counsell retired as a professional baseball player, and took a front office position with the Brewers. Counsell served as special assistant to general manager Doug Melvin.[15] In 2014, Counsell was named a part-time color analyst for Brewers radio broadcasts. He rotated with Darryl Hamilton and Jerry Augustine to call games with Joe Block when primary announcer Bob Uecker was absent.[16]

On May 4, 2015, Counsell was hired by the Brewers to become their manager after Ron Roenicke was fired the day before. He signed a three-year contract with the team.[17] The Brewers, going through a rebuild, went 61–76 and 73–89 under Counsell in his first two seasons as manager.[18]

In 2017, the team went on a surprising run, going 86–76. They finished 2nd in the NL Central, falling one win short of a wild card berth. Counsell finished 4th in NL Manager of the Year voting.

In their 2018 campaign, the Brewers went 96-67 under Counsell in the regular season, and won the NL Central by defeating the Chicago Cubs by a score of 3–1 in a tiebreaker game.[19] In 2018 he was successful on a lower percentage of replay challenges than any other MLB manager with 10 or more challenges, at 20.6%.[20] The Brewers advanced to the National League Championship Series after a sweep of the Colorado Rockies in the National League Division Series. The Brewers won the first and sixth games of the 2018 National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Miller Park in Milwaukee and the third game of the series at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, before falling to the Dodgers in seven games. Counsell thus became only the second Brewers manager to lead the team to the postseason after managing a full season with the team. After the season ended, he finished 2nd in NL Manager of the Year voting, losing to Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker.[21]

On September 18, 2021, Counsell won his 500th game as a manager, a 6–4 Brewers victory over the Chicago Cubs. He finished 2nd in NL Manager of the Year voting, losing to San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler, with one first place vote, 22 second place votes, and four third place votes.[22]

On June 15, 2022, with a win over the New York Mets, Counsell passed Phil Garner (563) for most wins as a Brewers manager. [23]

Managerial record

As of games played on October 5, 2022
TeamYearRegular seasonPostseason
GamesWonLostWin %FinishWonLostWin %Result
MIL2015 1376176.4454th in NL Central
MIL2016 1627389.4514th in NL Central
MIL2017 1628676.5312nd in NL Central
MIL2018 1639667.5891st in NL Central64.600Lost NLCS (LAD)
MIL2019 1628973.5492nd in NL Central01.000Lost NLWC (WAS)
MIL2020 602931.4834th in NL Central02.000Lost NLWC (LAD)
MIL2021 1629567.5861st in NL Central13.250Lost NLDS (ATL)
MIL2022 1628676.5312nd in NL Central

Personal life

Counsell and his wife, Michelle, have four children together. The family resides in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin.[24]


  1. Tom Haudricourt. "Craig Counsell grew up with the Brewers". Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  2. "Craig Counsell in his first full year as Brewers manager, running his very first spring training". March 24, 2016. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
  3. "Irish Alum Craig Counsell Retires After 16 Years In MLB". Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Official Athletics Website. January 17, 2012. Retrieved October 2, 2019.
  4. "October 26, 1997 World Series Game 7, Indians at Marlins -". Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  5. "MVP Counsell looks like a kid, plays like a man". USA Today. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  6. "November 4, 2001 World Series Game 7, Yankees at Diamondbacks -". Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  7. "Craig Counsell Statistics and History -". Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  8. "Craig Counsell career highlights". January 22, 2012. Retrieved June 20, 2016.
  9. "2011 National League Awards, All-Stars, & More Leaders". Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  10. "Active Leaders & Records for Fielding % as 2B". Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  11. "SN names the 20 smartest athletes in sports". Sporting News. September 27, 2010. Archived from the original on May 23, 2013.
  12. "SABR article". SABR article. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  13. "Dodgers' Velez Sets Hitless Streak Record - SABR". Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  14. "SAFE: Spatial Aggregate Fielding Evaluation". Archived from the original on October 8, 2011. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  15. "Craig Counsell retires, will join Milwaukee Brewers' front office". January 17, 2012. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  16. Wolfley, Bob (March 3, 2014). "Craig Counsell and Darryl Hamilton will call Brewers radio games Uecker elects to miss".
  17. Tom Haudricourt (May 4, 2015). "Brewers give Craig Counsell three-year deal as manager". Milwaukee, Wisconsin Journal Sentinel. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  18. "Craig Counsell". Baseball Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
  19. "Yelich, Brewers beat Cubs 3-1 for NL Central title". ESPN. October 1, 2018.
  20. 2018 Major League Baseball Managers |
  21. "Brewers' Craig Counsell named runner-up for National League Manager of the Year". November 12, 2019. Retrieved November 20, 2020.
  22. "Gabe Kapler wins NL Manager of the Year after leading Giants to 107 victories – BBWAA".
  23. "Counsell sets Brewers mark with 564th victory". June 16, 2022.
  24. Lori Nickel. "Craig Counsell opens home to Lakeshore Chinooks player". Retrieved May 4, 2015.
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