Fathers know best: Famous Milwaukeeans discuss their dads
From Homer Simpson to Al Bundy to deadbeat dads and the guy in "The Great Santini," fathers have gotten a bad rap in the media for years. With Father's Day weekend approaching, we decided to ask some prominent Milwaukeeans (and one San Diegoan) about their fathers and half-expected to hear horror stories of black socks, sandals and backyard barbecues gone awry.
Instead, we heard tales of admiration, appreciation, love and respect.
Enjoy the following conversations with prominent Milwaukeeans talking about their fathers and feel free to use the Talkback feature to add comments about your own.
Mark Attanasio, principal owner of the Brewers
Father: Joseph Attanasio
I always thought my dad was pretty smart. He taught me the value of family. He taught me the value of being a strong father and always being there for your kids. He's always been enormously supportive of me in anything I wanted to do. That was a good role model for me. I try to do that for my kids.
This past weekend, of all things, my older son who is in a rock band has been studying piano. I found myself at a piano recital. There were 6-year-olds there. My son, the rock and roller who is studying piano to aid his songwriting was playing a few Beatles songs. It was great. We'll always be there to support our kids.
My dad always had an entrepreneurial spirit. He went into a series of businesses and he was always open to trying new things and that's one of the reasons I very quickly after being in a Wall Street law firm for two years veered off and started doing things differently.
It's more just the fun and excitement of starting your own business and developing something from scratch.
My father has sung the National Anthem at the home opener the past two years, and it's a great highlight. I have to say, my dad is blessed with this great voice. At a minimum, it skipped a generation. None of us have it.
He did it this year and we won again, so Ned (Yost, the Brewers' manager) came to me and said, 'We've got to have him again next year.'
Bud Selig, Major League Baseball Commissioner
Father: Ben Selig, who was in the automobile business
My father was easily one of the kindest, gentlest human beings I've ever known. Only other person I've known like that was Lee MacPhail, who was the president of the American League and the father of Andy (the current president of the Chicago Cubs). They had the same kind of personality. My dad liked to kid people a lot. I inherited that from him. He was very smart, very wise. I still quote my dad to this day.
My kids would tell you that he was just a wonderful human being.
My favorite quote from my dad, I'd hear it 100 times a day. 'Buddy, nothing is either good or bad, except by comparison.' That's so true. There were a lot of things he used to say to me. The other one that he used was, sometimes life would be perplexing and he'd say 'Buddy, the longer you live, the less you're going to understand about life.' He was right about that, too.
We had a wonderful relationship. I can't remember in all the years we were together -- in business or even before – ever really having a disagreement with my father. We got along beautifully. He was wonderful. He taught me a lot about business and a lot about life.
He influenced me in a myriad of ways, so many I don't know if I can describe them. My dad taught me patience. He got along with people great. He was great to watch. My father was my mentor in almost every way. Whether it was a passion for doing what I was doing, because he had a passion for what he was doing. He was able to bring the most out of the people around him.
My trait of perseverance came from both my parents, but certainly my father.
I'm one of those people, I can tell you my parents played a dominat influence on my thinking and what I became.
I kidded a lot with my dad. We spent a lot of time together. Someone once said to me that I was very secure, that I seemed very confident in what I was doing. That came from my parents. From the day I can remember, my parents had confidence in me and instilled that in me. It was almost in-bred.
I raised my kids virtually the same way I had been raised, never hollering, no screaming, always trying to explain and understand. As a result, I've had a great relationship with my kids, much like I had with my parents.
I think of my parents so often. I quote my father all the time.
My dad would go to games with me. My mother was the baseball fan, but my dad would go to Chicago a lot, just so we could spend time together. We'd go especially when the Yankees were there before the Braves came to town. My father wasn't really a great fan. He'd have Time Magazine there with him and he'd be reading the magazine. Once, he dozed off in the middle of the second game and we had Whitey Ford was pitching against Billy Pierce. I was probably 15 and I was stunned.
First, I wanted to be a history professor. My father said to me at one time, 'Just give me one year.' In those days, you just did what they asked. He turned out to be right, just like always. When I first got into baseball, my dad was very concerned that I wasn't going to spend the time on the family business that he wanted me to. In the end, he knew that's what I wanted to do. I kept the lease company. People have asked, 'Why did you do that?' it was out of respect to my father. That was his favorite part of the automobile business. He was one of the first two or three people in America in that business.
My father was the ultimate in entrepreneurship. All the patience, I learned from him. He influenced me in so many ways.
Eugene Kane, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Father: Eugene Albert Kane, Sr., construction worker
My father was a real strong, no-nonsense kind of guy. He was very outspoken about his life and what he'd seen in his life. It's not surprising he was interested in black history and race relations in America.
He had those John Henry forearms. He wasn't all that tall. But, he was a solidly-built guy. In his later years, he carried a gun all the time. No one would mess with him.
What I learned from him was about work ethic. He wasn't about anybody just laying around and not working. Also, the fact that he didn't put up with a lot of people complaining about stuff. He always used to say, 'Rather than complain, you should just go ahead and do what you can do to change it. Nobody wants to hear you complain, anyway.'
I always felt, even more so than my mother, he always got a bigger kick out of me being a journalist than my mom did. Mainly, that was because we had the same name. He read my stuff. He always told me he was glad I came on as strong as I did. He always seemed to think I was doing a good job. He used to always say, 'Don't worry when people talk about you.' When people talk about you, that means they're thinking about you. I always remembered that.
Carrie Wendt, newswoman from the Bob and Brian Morning Show on 102.9 the Hog.
Father: Ken Wendt, retired chemical engineer with Miller Brewing Co., master brewer
My father is tall. Very tall. He's about 6-feet-4 or 6-5. But, he was never intimidating. He was very Ward Cleaver-like. He was very soft-spoken and very kind.
The biggest thing I learned from him is that calm heads prevail. In a crisis, you need see right through and keep on going. When they're bleeding all over the place or when they're hysterical and you don't know what's wrong and you're alone and they have a 105 fever, just be calm.
Daron Sutton, Brewers TV play by play announcer
Father: Don Sutton, Hall of Fame pitcher and Atlanta Braves announcer
Outside of him being gone a lot during the season, there were never minuses (of having a father who was a big-league player). In a job like he had and the current players have, it's up to the father to make sure that there aren't minuses. He never was in any way, shape or form pushing me to be a ballplayer.
The biggest influence he had on me was when I got into high school and he read my writing and watched me speak and do things behind a microphone. He encouraged me to do that more than he pushed me toward baseball. I think that's where fathers come into play. If they're good at what they do, they see strength in their children.
Baseball-wise, it was cool because I was a different personality. He was totally driven, while I was all about having fun at the ball field.
Hanging around the ballpark had advantages. I learned my forkball from Rollie Fingers, learned my arm angle from Marcel Lachemann.
I can remember the college games that he attended. He still played, even when I was in college. I can remember the place, the setting, the weather. There were only a handful he could come to. It was special.
Being a father in 2006 is different than being a father than in the 1970s and '80s. My dad golfed a lot in the winter, but he could pick us up at school and drop us off at school. While it was great to have him home for the winter, I missed baseball season. I was at the ballpark every day. That was my punishment. If I was acting up or bad-mouthing my mom, I didn't get to go to the game. When I was young, I'd rather take a spanking and go to the game.
I had the best of both worlds. I got to go to dinners with adults and travel to a lot of amazing cities. But, as long as I kept my nose clean, I was in the locker room having Johnny Oates jam my face into a cake. When I was a teenager, a lot of the players were more comfortable with me than anybody else.
Kathy Mykelby, Channel 12 news anchor
Father: Dick Wold, advertising executive
The last couple of years, his personality has exploded. The way everyone in my family describes people is the kind of actors they are and who they would be on-screen. My father is a mix of Clark Gable, Bogart and he'd like to think he has sort of a suave nature of a Cary Grant.
He let me date when I was about 35. I had to sneak out before then. He didn't notice the cars coming up.
He used to always say, 'Don't panic.' That's very good advice to this day. I was in college and I was informed by one of my professors that the journalism school was going to lose its accreditation and this seemed to be something really huge. I really didn't know what it meant, to be honest with you but I called my dad and said, 'Oh, my gosh. I'm three years into this and the school is losing its accreditation.' And he said, 'Don't panic. Just create your own major.' And, I did. The major still exists at the University of Iowa.
He's a baseball man, too. To this day, he still coaches Little League and does some umpiring. I remember he met the former Brewers greenskeeper, Harry Gill. They talked baseball and dirt and sand and what the perfect mixture is and how high the pitcher's mound should be, how to mow the grass so it works for your team. My dad is crazy. He loved Harry.
A few years ago, a friend had Brewers general manager Doug Melvin call my dad on Father's Day. My dad started telling him who to trade and who to keep. He's fun. My mom passed away about five years ago, suddenly you get to know your dad. It's astounding.
Michael Redd, Bucks guard
Father: Rev. James W. Redd, former Pepsi bottling plant worker and current pastor
My father is very genuine, very down to earth and very passionate about people.
Hopefully, what I inherited from him is being a good father and a good husband. I saw the way he treated us and the way he handled things. We had a few (conflicts), but it wasn't all the time. There had to be some discipline.
He was a great athlete. He played basketball in college and he was good. He really tested me early as far as whether I was going to be competitive or not. He tested how much I loved the game. I think I was probably 14 the first time I beat him. That's major for a 14-year-old to beat his father.
He is just a great person and a huge influence on my life.
John Steinmiller, Jr., Brewers media relations associate
Father: John Steinmiller, Bucks vice president business operations
He always was sure to include his family in what he did. That was kind of special. He didn't really hide his family. He included us. That was influential.
I remember Saturday night games at the Bradley Center, I'd go with him early and goof around and do whatever. He included me in his job and the things that he did. It made me want to (work in sports). That was important to me, because it showed that as busy as he was with his job, he always had time for me and my sister.
That rolls into other parts of life, too.
Larry Harris, Milwaukee Bucks general manager
Del Harris, Dallas Mavericks assistant coach
When we got to Houston, we were in eighth grade at the time. Going through high school was a very interesting time, because we'd go play basketball games and they would kind of know what our last name was and he would come watch us play, so you always got the taunting that came with it.
Dad always taught us to appreciate what we have. We tried not to act like we were more fortunate than other people. We went to public schools. We were always surrounded by good people and good friends.
One thing he tried to teach us was to try to be as humble as you can. He said, You never know when I may not be the coach of the Houston rockets any more. Sure enough, it came to fruition. When I was a freshman in high school, he was on top of the world in '81 going to finals and he was out of a job got fired. I remember going to college for four years and he didn't have a job. He wasn't a coach. He was doing consulting here and there. We had filed for bankruptcy and he got back with Milwaukee and became the head coach here. Of all the kids, I grew up with two brothers and a sister and then my dad got remarried and now I have three brothers and a sister. Of my two brothers and my sister, I'm the only one that really was involved in basketball since we graduated in college. There has always been a connection between me and my father because of the business we're in.
When he came to Milwaukee and invited me to start working with him in '88 and I came on full-time in '90 that's really when our relationship took off. There was a mutual respect for one another. I understand how hard it is to coach. I have a lot of respect for coaching and know how difficult coaching can be and how precious wins are and how emotional it can be and how you deal with the ups and downs.
I understand how fortunate I am to have the position I have. Yes, I played college ball, but it was his position here that allowed me to get here. Now, I've been able to stand on my own two feet. I've been here 16 years We talk about everything. I would say as far as everything that goes on in my life, I refer to him. Everything, and that includes personal, spiritual, financial, professional. Everything. There isn't anything that I do that is of a significant nature that he doesn't know what is going on.
When I was a kid, he was gone quite a bit. He tried to be around. In today's society, you've got cell phones. It's different than when we grew up. The good thing about my kids is that they've been exposed to a lot of things. My son and daughter have been put in more of an adult environment at times than they have in their own environment. With what I do, you go to the game -- it's all adults.
They've had to grow up a lot quicker. That's the one thing I had to do when I was little. We were in an adult environment. We weren't able to act as kids all the time. We had to act a certain way, stand up and say Hi, and Mr. This, and Mr. That. We were greeting people when we were 8-9-10-11 years old that we probably wouldn't have met until we were 18 or 19 years old.
When Dad could make it to our games and things, it was great. We never got extra nervous. We knew he was making an effort to be there. I remember calls from the west coast or the east coast, 'How did you do?' I was like, 'I scored 12 points and we won.' He was saying, 'How did you score? What kind of shots did you make?' And, I'd say, 'Dad, I don't know.'
Here is a great story: He got thrown out of a game my senior year he came to an afternoon game against a team who was very physical. My brother, who is 13 months younger than me, he was the starting point guard and I was the small forward. It was getting real physical. One of the players on the other team took my brother down. my dad came out of the stands and the cops took him out of the building. He went after the coach and the player for hurting his son. When he was there, he was there. There were no Blackberrys then. When he could be there, it heightened the experience. We knew that when he could be there, he could.
Matt Vasgersian, San Diego Padres announcer
Father: Ed Vasgersian, actor and former law enforcement officer
My dad recognized that I loved baseball so early on that he was able to look past some behavioral issues as a kid because he knew I was emotionally invested in the game. I grew up in Oakland. I remember the first time I used the F-word in front of my dad. It was the 1975 playoffs between Boston and the A's. (Oakland outfielder) Joe Rudi fouled out to end the series. My dad was from Boston, and he was a big Red Sox fan, and he was jubilant. I didn't understand the pain of a lifelong Red Sox fan. I was mad that the team lost. My dad said, 'We beat your team! We're going to the World Series!' And I said, 'The Red Sox are a bunch of f---.' I even misused the word. The look on his face went to from joy to horror, but instead of beating the tar out of me -- which he should have done -- he quietly dispatched me to my room to think about what I had done.
I was crying. If I had used the word in some other, non-baseball capacity, he probably would have dropped me right there like the ex-marine that he was. But, he recognized that I was totally disturbed by what happened to my team.
He's always been very supportive of what I do even when I was working in Double-A baseball, making $12,000 a year and working on an AM radio station that didn't leave the trailer.
My dad was home a lot. He used to say no to a lot of work. We were always the priority. Guys asked my dad, 'Ed, don't you want to make more money. Don't you want to better your career?' and he'd say, 'I made a decision not to do that.'
He worked in law enforcement and was a part-time actor. Could have moved us to L.A. in order to get more work and he chose not to. He's also exceedingly patient. He didn't take any s---. He's a much bigger, stronger version of what I turned into, begging the question: 'Just when did the milkman come around?'
Craig Karmazin, president Good Karma Broadcasting, which includes Milwaukee's ESPN Radio 1510 Days / 1290 Nights
Father: Mel Karmazin, CEO, Sirius Satellite Radio
My dad is loving, thoughtful, honest, intelligent and funny. I have inherited his gray hair and, hopefully, some of the admirable qualities.
My dad greatly plays into (my success). He is currently the CEO of Sirius Satellite Radio. He had managed and grown Infinity Broadcasting, had run CBS and Viacom, and he's a great mentor and person I can lean on. How he doesn't fit into the business is that he's not involved in any way financially, management-wise, decision making, or in any other way.
I certainly think (the Karmazin name) didn't hurt (to find financing), but it was still about putting together a business plan. We were really lucky that the first acquisition we made was in Beaver Dam of very, very successful existing stations with a lot of cash flow -- which is what banks are looking for when we made (the additional) acquisitions.
Cozen Beguile said: My dad is so cool, he is taking me to the Admirals game tonight! PEACE!
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