7/29/2013 8:24 P.M. ET
Voucher program begins Brewers' 'Fan First' initiative
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Brewers principal owner Mark Attanasio promised recompense for fans enduring a difficult season on and off the field, and on Monday he delivered.
The club announced it would distribute a $10 voucher to every fan who passed through the Miller Park turnstiles in August, good for concessions, merchandise or tickets through the end of the season.
"This has been a challenging season for all of us, but the one thing that has never wavered has been the tremendous support we have received from fans who love the Brewers," Attanasio said. "We wanted to do something meaningful to show our appreciation, and we will strive to provide the best fan experience possible."
The Brewers expect to average better than 30,000 fans per game in August, so the first-of-its-kind program will cost the club in excess of $3.6 million. That exceeds the salary the Brewers would have paid Ryan Braun had he remained active for the remainder of the year.
In the wake of Braun's season-ending suspension without pay, Attanasio said the club was considering ways to give back to fans. The voucher program is the first of a series of initiatives, according to Monday's announcement.
"Different teams have done different things for their venues and fan base, [but] we have not found anyone who has done something this dramatic," Brewers chief operating officer Rick Schlesinger said. "This is a lot of money to give back to the fans. It's a lot of food, beverage, beer, merchandise and ticket discounts absorbed by this voucher. We haven't seen another team do this for an entire month, let alone a busy month.
"When Mark first challenged us to come up with something and proposed this concept, my initial reaction was we do something in September because it's the end of the season, and obviously from a financial perspective, its smaller crowds. But Mark said no, let's do something a little more dramatic and impactful. The best way to do that is do it in August when we have bigger crowds and has the benefit of being immediate. The Ryan Braun announcement is still fresh and raw in the minds of many fans. It's the first step in what will be a series of initiatives to reward our fans."
Groups of fans can combine their vouchers and use them toward everything from brats and beers to tickets to future games. They can be used anywhere in the ballpark with the exception of Friday's Front Row, portable merchandise stands, Miller Park Suites, the Johnson Controls Stadium Club and all-inclusive entertainment areas.
The Brewers are expected to announce more givebacks in what they are calling their "Fan First" program over the season's final two months.
Former teammates remember late slugger Scott
CHICAGO -- True story about George Scott, the former Brewers slugger and slick-fielding first baseman who passed away in Mississippi this week at 69:
"True story, as I remember it," clarified Jerry Augustine, a left-handed pitcher who was teammates with Scott in 1975 and '76, and now works as an analyst for Fox Sports Wisconsin.
"We're in Oakland, and we're sitting on the bench with Hank Aaron, and being on a team with Hank Aaron was just enormous," Augustine said. "So we're sitting there, and George Scott comes down the bench and says, 'Hammer, you see this bat? You're too old to handle this thing! Way too old. It's too heavy for you.' So Hank just took it and held it, then gave it right back to him.
"It comes late in the ballgame, and Hank wasn't in the ballgame [to start]. We're down one run, and it's about the eighth inning and Alex [Grammas, the manager] says, 'Hank, get a bat.' So Hank went over to the bat rack and pulled out one of George's bats and goes to the on-deck circle like he always did and kneeled down with it. Then he went to the plate and hit one about 420 [feet] for a two-run homer. Went back to the rack, stuck the bat in, and George's jaw dropped."
It was a rare quiet moment for a player whose nickname -- Boomer -- fit both his bat and his big personality. Scott hit most of his 271 home runs for the Red Sox and Brewers, winning a pennant in 1967 with Boston and five of his eight Gold Glove Awards during his five seasons with the Brewers from 1972-76.
Another true story: In 1975, Scott tied the Athletics' Reggie Jackson for the American League home run crown, hitting 36 despite playing half his games in pitcher-friendly County Stadium. Every day when he boarded the team bus, someone would ask, "Boomer, did you talk to Reggie today?"
And every day, Scott came up with a farcical answer.
"He'd say, 'Yeah, today I called Reggie, and I said, Reggie, I'm up by one, so all I have to do is hit a tater a day to keep you far, far away,'" Augustine said with a laugh. "It was always stuff like that. He never talked about hitting a home run. It was always a 'tater.'"
Scott had other favorite phrases. His glove was "Black Beauty."
"He cared so much about his defense and worked so hard at it," Augustine said. "He would tell me, 'Don't worry about where you throw it. Get it close to me and I'll go get it.'
"He was a great competitor. A lot of fun to play with. He loved to put on a uniform and he really enjoyed the game."
In 1976, the Brewers traded Scott back to Boston in a deal that brought Cecil Cooper to Milwaukee.
One more true story: Brewers bench coach Jerry Narron remembers catching a Spring Training game against Scott and the Red Sox. On a play at the plate, Narron tagged out Scott and inadvertently tripped him, sending the big man sprawling face-first to the ground. Scott lay there for a moment, then began swimming in the dirt, to the delight of fans.
"He was a showman," Narron said.
The Brewers honored Scott with a bobblehead day earlier this season. The club released a statement after learning of his death.
It read: "This is a very sad day for all of us connected to the Brewers. George Scott was charismatic, an early star of the team and one of the finest defensive players in the game. 'Boomer' -- as he was affectionately known to fans -- will be remembered as a colorful player on and off the field and his five Gold Glove Awards as a Brewer are an accomplishment that will be difficult to top. The entire Brewers community wishes to express their condolences to the Scott family."
Aramis' left knee progressing slowly
CHICAGO -- Injured Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez tested his left knee in batting practice again Monday, so there was progress.
"I'm not healing as well as I thought I would," said Ramirez, who has declined all along to put a timetable on his latest comeback from a sprained left knee that has caused him trouble all season. "I don't know why. I'm doing everything I can, but it's not coming out like I hoped.
"It's probably going to take the offseason for me to get back to where I was. It's not going to happen during the season. But I'm going to try to get as close to 100 percent as I can before I come back. I don't want to be out there playing hurt if I can help it."
Ramirez has been on the disabled list twice this season for the injury. He returned to the DL before the All-Star break for what he and the team hoped would be the minimum 15 days, but discomfort has lingered longer than that. Ramirez said he did not know whether he would return to the Brewers' lineup "tomorrow or a week from now."
Was the team's place in the standings influencing the aggressiveness of his rehab?
"Not really," Ramirez said. "You still want to be out there and try to contribute. The guys, they're still going out there and playing. You want to be out there. Personally, I don't look at the standings. I just want to be out there and play, but right now I can't."
• Major League rules allow teams to activate a 26th player for scheduled doubleheaders, and the Brewers selected second baseman Scooter Gennett for Tuesday's twinbill. He is expected to start one of the two games against the Cubs so second baseman Rickie Weeks gets a break.
• Yovani Gallardo will start Game 1 of the doubleheader and Tyler Thornburg will pitch Game 2.