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Monument, statue honor Miller Park workers

By Candace Doyle

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A monument will honor the workers who built Miller Park, including the three ironworkers who died when a crane collapsed at the baseball stadium. The Milwaukee Brewers will call the 26,500-square-foot site Workers Walkway, which will bear the names of 6,000 workers on a wall similar to the Vietnam War Memorial. It will include a three-figure bronze statue, titled Teamwork, honoring Jeffrey Wischer, William DeGrave and Jerome Starr, who died in the July 1999 crane accident that delayed completion of the stadium for a year. “The true heroes of the ballpark are the workers,” said Mike Duckett, president of the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District Board. Construction of the wall will begin as soon as the weather improves, Duckett said Tuesday. Dedication is planned Aug. 24. Sponsors will pay for the wall, which should cost $150,000, Duckett said. The $250,000 sculpture was donated by the Habush, Habush, Davis and Rottier Charitable Foundation. Attorney Robert L. Habush represented two of the three widows of the ironworkers in their suit over the accident. A jury awarded the widows more than $99 million. “The statuary that we have commissioned will celebrate and memorialize all the workers who helped build Miller Park,” said Dan Rottier, foundation president. “But most importantly, it will be dedicated to the memory of three ironworkers who gave their lives during the construction-Jeffery Wischer, William De Grave and Jerome Starr.”

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Frank Busalacchi, secretary/treasurer of the Teamsters Local 200 and construction chairman for the Southeast Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District, said the Workers Wall will include bronze plates that list each of the 5,000 workers who contributed to the construction of Miller Park. “Perseverance and teamwork are words often associated with the Miller Park construction project,” said Busalacchi. “It did take a team to construct this ballpark — a team that worked 53 months, often in the face of adversity, to complete this state treasure.” “It is fitting that one of the largest construction projects in Wisconsin history be the site of the largest permanent tribute to workers and unions in the state,” added David Newby, president of the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. “We also appreciate the recognition of those workers who died while building this magnificent stadium.” Candace Doyle can be reached at 414-276-0273, Ext. 125, or by email. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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