Home is where the heart is: Brewers greats loved living and playing in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The best players in Milwaukee Brewers history were recently enshrined on the team's "Wall of Honor," and they are quick to say they loved representing the team and the city.

The Milwaukee Brewers reached back through the years of their franchise when they unveiled their Wall of Honor.

Each of the men inducted has his own story -- but all of them share a couple of bonds.

Their contributions to the ball club can now be recognized by fans forever, and while it can't be quantified, their life in the city is a part of all of them.

One of the criteria for induction is longevity, so these guys are truly Milwaukee Brewers.

"I thought it was a good fit. You come back and you realize that it's a big city, but it's kind of slow paced and that's kind of what I like. It's easy to play here," Ben Sheets said.

Sheets found that it was even easy to help coach youth baseball here. Like Sheets, Dan Plesac, who grew up in northwest Indiana came up through the organization.

"I used to go home after Sunday day games and have dinner with my mom and dad and they came up every weekend to watch the games, and just a lot of memories, you know. My baseball life went from Milwaukee to Chicago to Pittsburgh to Arizona to Toronto to Philadelphia, and I never realized how great Milwaukee was until I played in the other places," Plesac said.

Darryl Hamilton would go on to play elsewhere after debuting as a Brewers player as well.

"I don't think I ever could have played in New York without playing in Milwaukee first. I think the fact that you don't have to worry about all the crazy stuff that happens to a lot of players now off the field is what made Milwaukee so great. I lived downtown when I lived here, and I mean, to go out in the front of the apartment I was staying in and not get bothered, no one would ask me about this and that. No one would hound me, and that's the neat thing about playing in the Midwest," Hamilton said.

Jeromy Burnitz played a half-dozen places besides Milwaukee -- literally from coast to coast, but he feels this fit was ideal.

"This was the only place I really played a long time. You know, a five-year run. After that, I had a great career, but I bounced around a lot, so Milwaukee is for sure my home. My daughter was born while I was playing here. My first daughter -- now 15 years old, so the memories are flooding back. I really look back at it as a really positive, great time in my career and my life," Burnitz said.

Rollie Fingers resides in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown now, but his stay in Milwaukee was special too. It came after 13 seasons playing in California.

"I enjoyed living here. I lived out in Mequon, so it wasn't a real far drive for me, but I liked living in Milwaukee. The fans were great to me here. I never got bored. I probably deserved to be booed a couple of times, but I never got booed," Fingers said.

Then, there's Sal Bando. He played with Fingers in Oakland before coming to Milwaukee as a ballyhooed free agent signing. He played for the club. He worked in the club's front office, and he remains a part of the community for a reason.

"I think raising my family here -- we have three sons, and when I look around today at what's going on in our society, I'm very thankful that we had the opportunity to grow and to raise them here with a lot of values and because of that, we're a very close family," Bando said.

The family of Brewers greats recognized on the Wall of Honor can all say that Milwaukee was or is their home, and home is where the heart is.

The Wall of Honor was the brainchild of Craig Counsell, who played for the team and now works in the front office.

Not coincidentally, he is a hometown guy -- a native of Whitefish Bay.