Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Commissioner's Effigy Unveiled
A Milwaukee Fly-In for Billionaires
A Couple Laughs from Uecker

Special to the Readers of Plenty of Horne

By Michael Horne

And The Plenty of Horne Hound Dog Team

Hundreds of invited guests gathered inside a large tent in front of the ticket booths at Miller Park yesterday, Tuesday, August 24th, 2010, for the unveiling of a 7-foot bronze statue of 9th Commissioner of Baseball, Allan H. "Bud" Selig.
The enclosed white tent was only partially open to the gaze of the general public, several hundred of whom were drawn to the event whether for reasons of history or just to pass the time. For some, being within a couple dozen feet of Hank Aaron was reason enough. Aaron was joined by Robin Yount, making for a total of three living statues within pigeon-dropping distance of their own bronze effigies.
Apparently the invited guests had been treated to a luncheon prior to the 1:30 p.m. event, and they filed from the stadium into the tent's confines to the accompaniment of recorded music while the actual Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra sat mute on the stage.
The orchestra was arrayed in a semicircle around a shrouded figure that may as well have been an armless crucifix in a Catholic church at lent.


The general public, barricaded from the invited guests, watched as the dignitaries entered the mysterious confines of the tent. One cadre seemed intent upon calling their presence outside the gates to their "friends" inside the gates, who were appropriately mortified.
One woman, dressed in a black suit in the blazing sun, eagerly (and loudly) shouted out to Wendy Selig Prieb.
"Wendy! Wendy! We-e-e-ndy!"After an initial feint, Ms. Prieb approached the woman by a few steps and gave a curious little gesture imitating a cell phone chat. "We'll talk! We'll talk!," Ms. Selig-Prieb said. They won't talk.

[Mr. Greenberg, your limousine is waiting. Right here!]

Local dignitaries, including Common Council President Willie Hines, Jr., Ald. Michael Murphy and Frank Gimbel made their way through the queue along with such folks as Johnny Logan (he could have taken the bus from West Allis), Frank Robinson, Joe Torre, Ernie Banks, Al Kaline, Dick Ebersol and Rachel (Mrs. Jackie) Robinson.

Mixed in were numerous glossy looking men accompanied by their impeccably expensive wives. These were not retired players, but active owners of Major League teams. Their rented limousines were huddled together in a corner of the parking lot, in a sea of exclusive black.
No limousine was parked closer than that with "Greenberg"printed in block letters on a sign in the car's window. That must be Marty Greenberg, a Jim Doyle appointee to the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District board, arriving bright and early for a busy day including a 3 p.m. meeting of the board. Some board! No agenda has been posted, and it may be months until we find out what weighty matters were discussed there.


Once the guests were corralled into their seats, the program got underway, emceed by Bob Uecker.
Owner Mark L. Attanasio kicked things off by saying, "simply put, there would be no major league baseball here in Milwaukee without Allan H. "Bud" Selig."
He then gave a brief bio of the Commissioner and former Brewers owner emphasizing his down-home qualities that so endear him to Milwaukeeans and are so many light years away from those of the typical team owner, judging from the ones on display. (I could not imagine a single one of them waiting in line at Sendik's Bayside. They'd have their chauffeurs dash in for their bananas and oranges.) Still, Bud's tenacity and his academic achievements were also noted. (He went to the elite Washington High School and the University of Wisconsin, attaining two baccalaureate degrees.)
Uecker said, "I have two bachelor degrees. Two. Divorced twice."
Uecker added, to emphasize still more Bud's character, "I never had a contract with Bud. That is unique in professional baseball. I never got paid either."
Childhood friend Sen. Herbert H. Kohl gave an anecdote about how Bud got a much taller substitute to pitch in a championship game with young Herb's team. Apparently the switcheroo still stung, since Herb said, "Imagine. This is the man who is responsible for the integrity of professional baseball."


Regrettably, the event was getting rather tedious, and I wasn't about to jump a barricade to see a tented sculpture that would be exposed to the elements for the rest of time, so I skipped the unveiling to explore the Hank Aaron Bicycle Trail (which is just a fancy name for Canal Street).
Yet here it is, a day later, and there is still no good photograph of Bud Selig's statue, the oeuvre of Yellow Springs Ohio sculptor Brian Maughan. Maughan's biography notes that he was inspired to enter his career after seeing Michelangelo's David, so his subjects tend to be well-hung. (Just ask Robin Yount's girlfriends!)
Sports sculpture occupies an aesthetic realm somewhere between waterfowl decoys and miniature golf course gnomes, and the great museums of the world accordingly have shunned his prolific output. However, Maughan's works are in the collection of President and Mrs. Jimmy Carter, take that for what it's worth.
Miller Park now has three of his sculptures, and they capably express their subjects.
As Maughan notes in his "Artist's Philosophy":

For me the process of figurative art is to imbue the abstract elements (the stuff we’re really working with: lines, shape, volumes, textures…) with emotional qualities—strength, joy, tenderness, bravado, etc.—that express the character of the subject matter.

Strength, joy, tenderness, bravado. Such are the lines, shapes, volumes and textures of Bud Selig, cast in bronze for the ages.
Here's a video of the unveiling. .

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