Brewers honor groundskeeper with patch

Brewers honor groundskeeper with patch

ST. LOUIS -- The Brewers paid tribute to groundskeeper Gary Vanden Berg beginning Wednesday by wearing uniform patches with the letters "GV" above their hearts.

Vanden Berg, who spent more than half of his life as a Brewers employee, died late Monday after a battle with cancer. He was 59.

"I think it's great that we are [wearing patches]," pitcher Randy Wolf said. "You know, he's a part of the Brewer family and has been for a while. It's very sad. I talked to him quite a bit about certain things. I've always wanted to talk to the grounds crew about things I like or don't like about the mound. And I want to be involved.

"The one thing that you learn throughout the years with the grounds crew guys is that they want to make it right. So if I have an issue with the mound, if I think it's too wet, too dry, he was always great, very receptive toward things."

This season was Vanden Berg's 31st as a member of the Brewers' grounds crew, a department he led for the past 21 years. Last year, he was diagnosed with renal sarcoma, a cancer of the kidneys, but continued to work at Miller Park in 2011 as much as possible.

"It's really sad, because you just see what happened over the course of the year, and [it was] just amazing how you could basically have your life just kind of squeezed out of you that way," Wolf said. "To watch his deterioration over the year was drastic. ... It was pretty sad."

The disease cost manager Ron Roenicke a chance to really get to know Vanden Berg, who was among the club's five longest-tenured employees and one of its most well-liked.

"Hey, he was with the organization for a long time," Roenicke said. "The people that knew him well ... had a lot of respect for him and what he has done for the club, and as a person, too."