Blue and Gold Illustrated

June/July 2023

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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IRISH IN THE PROS BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM JUNE/JULY 2023 43 BY TODD D. BURLAGE W ithout much fanfare and away from the headlines outside of the greater Milwaukee area, former Irish infielder Craig Counsell is quietly cementing his place as the greatest manager in Brewers history. Working his ninth season in the Brewers dugout as the longest-tenured skipper in the National League, Coun- sell had already become the Brewers' all-time winningest manager last June when he won his 564th game. And on April 11 of this season, Coun- sel coached his 1,180th game in Milwau- kee, moving him past former Brewers skipper Phil Garner (1992-99) for most games managed in franchise history. Pretty big deal, right? Not to this humble manager. "I'm just happy to be here, happy to still be managing," Counsell said in a story for The Milwaukee Journal Sen- tinel. "But it's just like any other day." Staying true to form, Counsell was re- luctant to celebrate himself after reach- ing his latest milestone, explaining that he had no idea what to expect when he took the Brewers top job as a first-time MLB manager on May 4, 2015. "I didn't know what I was doing, and some people may argue I still don't," said Counsell, who played the final five seasons of his 16-year MLB career in Milwaukee. "I took on what I thought was a big challenge." And Counsell has more than held up his end. In addition to being the lon- gest-tenured and winningest manager in franchise history, Counsell's .528 winning percentage as of May 1 also tops the Brewers' all-time list. "I didn't necessarily have long-term plans when I took the job," Counsell added. "Other than, the Brewers were important to me, and I thought I'd take my shot at making them important to the people of Wisconsin." Known best for his ability to build a strong culture and maintain close rela- tionships with his players, Counsell has seen his sincere approach to his craft earn him the respect of an entire fran- chise and city. "It's a critical part to it," Counsell said of managing relationships. "I'd argue it's the most important part to it. We're managing people. It's a people job." ROAD TO GREATNESS Counsell — whose father John was a Notre Dame player and an assistant coach during the 1960s and early 1970s — was born in South Bend then grew up in Whitefish Bay, Wis., near Milwaukee. The younger Counsell returned to South Bend in 1988 to play baseball at Notre Dame and graduated from there in 1992. A gifted infielder, he batted .306 during his college career with 204 runs scored and 166 RBI. Also a disciplined hitter, Counsell walked 166 times and struck out only 82 times. His career walk total remains an Irish program record. Counsell graduated from Notre Dame and became an 11th-round draft pick of the Colorado Rockies in 1992. Dur- ing a long MLB career (1995, 1997-2011) that included stints with five different teams, Counsel won two World Series titles (1997, 2001), and he earned the NLCS MVP award with Arizona in 2001. Today, the 52-year-old Counsell still lives his baseball dream at one of the two cities he's always called home. He is in the final year of his contract with the Brewers, but expect an extension to come sometime during or shortly after this season. "I'm in a great place. I love what I'm doing," Counsell said when asked about his pending contract negotiations. "The 'why' is still intact. Why I originally wanted to do this is still front and center for me, and why I love the job." ✦ Counsell set the Milwaukee record for the most games managed in franchise history with his 1,180th on April 11. He also is the winningest manager in team history (633 and counting through May 1). PHOTO BY SCOTT PAULUS/COURTESY MILWAUKEE BREWERS Craig Counsell Is Making Managerial History For Brewers FIGHTING IRISH HEADLINERS Miles Boykin (Played at Notre Dame from 2015-18), WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (NFL) After a non-descript 2022 season when Boykin recorded only 2 receptions for 11 yards in Pittsburgh, the Steelers re-signed the former Irish standout to a one-year contract extension on April 24. A third-round draft pick of the Baltimore Ravens in 2019, Boykin played three seasons there before being released in April 2022. In four NFL seasons, the 26-year-old Boykin has 35 catches for 481 yards and 7 touchdowns. Prentiss Hubb (2018-22), PG, Riesen Ludwigsburg (Basketball Bundesliga League, Germany) Playing his first season in the premier basketball league in Germany, the 24-year- old Hubb has thrived as the starting point guard. Through 38 games as of April 22, the Washington, D.C., native led his team in scoring (16.6 points per game), assists (5.8) and minutes played (30.8). Undrafted to the NBA in 2022, Hubb immediately took his game overseas and is quickly making an impact. Monty Williams (1989-94), Head Coach, Phoenix Suns (NBA) Working his fourth season as the successful head coach of the Phoenix Suns, Wil- liams led his team to a No. 4 playoff seed this season, a 4-1 opening-round series defeat of the No. 5 Los Angeles Clippers in the 2023 NBA Playoffs, and a second- round series date against top-seeded Denver. Williams, 51, earned NBA Coach of the Year honors in 2021-22 after leading his Suns to a franchise-record 64 regular-season wins.

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