(Image: Artist Eduardo Kobra's "Mount Rushmore Mural" in L.A. via designboom.com)
I saw a post about a hypothetical “Mount Rushmore” of Golden State Warriors players via the blog Golden State of Mind, and apparently that discussion was brought on by some really interesting comments by the narcissistic but undeniably great LeBron James of the Miami Heat. James was asked who he saw on the NBA’s version of Mount Rushmore, and he listed Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and…finally, Oscar Robertson, after some hesitation. That’s a solid four and it’s pretty hard to come up with a top four for any one franchise, let alone an entire sports league. The confident and talented James also forecasted that he would find his way onto that scenic mountain eventually, too, adding “They’d better find another spot on that mountain. Somebody’s gotta get bumped, but that’s not for me to decide. That’s for the architects.” It’s all very heady stuff from LeBron, indeed.
After the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln were sculpted at the real Mount Rushmore, under the direction of sculptors Gutzon and Lincoln Borglum, Congress reviewed a bill to add civil-rights leader Susan B. Anthony to the mountain, but that was squashed. All of this gobbledygook got me thinking: what would the Brewers’ Mount Rushmore look like? For a franchise whose history has seen more lows than highs, it should be easy, right? Nope. Still kind of hard, so hard in fact, that I had to devise a concept, a lens through which to view the question. So I turned to the general purpose of Mount Rushmore: it represents the history of the United States and features its most important and prominent presidents. Up to a point, of course. Mount Rushmore was completed in the early 1940s, and much of American history has followed since. As a result, I didn’t want to include any active players in my Brewers Mount Rushmore. It would be too soon.
Did you know that Mount Rushmore was originally designed to feature the presidents from head to waist? That vision drastically changes the image of the monument we all have in our minds. Apparently the presidential-torso carvings were largely scrapped due to budget concerns. Figures.
So George Washington is to the United States what Bud Selig is to the Milwaukee Brewers, the patriarch, the creator, the man (formerly) in charge. Former used-car salesman Selig purchased the bankrupt Seattle Pilots and brought a second coming of major league baseball to Milwaukee. Thus, he is my Washington.
Robin Yount is my Thomas Jefferson. A reality without this career-Brewer is unthinkable. He did so much to establish the franchise’s brand and legitimize its existence. He excelled on the field and with the fans. In a long career from 1974-1993, Yount crushed 251 homers, over 3,100 hits and drove in over 1,400. He stole 271 bases, hit .285 in his career, etc. He is the ultimate producer, leader, and spokesman of the Brewers.
After those two, I struggled mightily. Do I go with a player from each decade henceforth? I came to the conclusion that while I kind of wanted to include Hank Aaron, he only played for the Brewers franchise for two years. Harvey Kuenn, the great manager of the Brewers during their legendary 1982 season, had medical troubles somewhat reminiscent of Mount Rushmore’s Theodore Roosevelt, who was shot in Milwaukee by a saloonkeeper in 1912. Just as Roosevelt gave his speech anyway with a bullet in his chest, Kuenn returned to coaching only months after having part of his right leg amputated.
In the end, I had to choose Paul Molitor for my Teddy Roosevelt on the Brewers’ Rushmore. A Brewers top four without “The Ignitor” would be kind of like have a Beatles Rushmore and forgetting Paul McCartney. Though he is somewhat marginalized in Brewers history today due to his successes with the Toronto Blue Jays and the fact that he later played and now coaches for his hometown Minnesota Twins, Molitor played 15 seasons with the Brewers and was a powerhouse player for the franchise. Though his #4 is retired by the Brewers, I think Molitor deserves a statue outside Miller Park along with the other pillars of the franchise. That statue is eerie in its absence.
(Image: Harvey Kuenn, Molitor as Teddy Roosevelt, Robin Yount; jsonline.com)
As for the Abraham Lincoln on the Brewers’ Rushmore, I am going to change course on this one. Originally I had settled on Geoff Jenkins, who played for the team from 1998-2007 and is in the top three on the Brewers all-time home run list behind Robin Yount and Prince Fielder, with 221 dingers as a Brewer. But in retrospect, excluding “Mr. Baseball” Bob Uecker from this equation would be like forgetting George Harrison’s mammoth contributions to the Beatles catalog. (Got enough Beatles references yet? By the way, yes, Bug Selig is Ringo). Uecker has been calling Brewers games since just about the beginning of the franchise’s diaper days in the early 1970s. Uecker is the grand unifier, a voice bringing uncommon baseball sense to the masses. Brewers Rushmore without him doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
(Image: Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images)
So there you have it, the Milwaukee Brewers’ Mount Rushmore:
I thought of others as well, of course, including George Scott, Cecil Cooper, Rollie Fingers, Greg Vaughn and others. But these are my presidential four, the indispensable ones.