It was party in Milwaukee, and one of the team’s newest players, Kolten Wong, and youngest fans, Kash Kaha Wong, were at the center of it all.
Confetti littered the field and Brewers’ fans rejoiced in another NL Central crown Sept. 26 as proud papa cradled his infant son and danced delicately around the diamond and soaked in the atmosphere.
“It was awesome,” Wong told KHON2 TV. “Just so cool looking back at the pictures and seeing that, just looking back maybe 10, 15 years down the line when he looks at that, he’s gonna be like, ‘Holy smokes, that was me.’ Just creating those moments right there with him and then my wife (Alissa Noll) being there, just having a cool time together, something I’m gonna cherish and hope to have a couple more celebrations with them down the line, so we’ll see.”
Maybe even a few more this season?
Hilo’s Wong is the only major league player with Hawaii ties remaining as he gears up for his sixth postseason appearance and first with the Brewers, who open their NL Division Series Friday at home against the Atlanta Braves. Signing in the offseason after spending eight years with the Cardinals, Wong hit a career-high 14 home runs as Brewers took care of business early. They clinched a playoff berth on Sept. 18 and wrapped up the division title eight days later. They won the division by five games after leading by as many as 14.
“It was awesome to be a part of, and I kind of expected it,” Wong told KHON2 TV. “I’m not going to lie. This year, we’ve been balling all season long. We had a rough stretch here and there, but it’s been pretty smooth sailing, and you don’t do that too often when you’re playing 162 games.”
The Brewers (95-87), with their exceptional rotation, and the Braves (88-73), with their potent lineup, split six games this season.
Atlanta has three of the NL’s top four RBI producers in Duvall (113), Austin Riley (107) and Ozzie Albies (106). Freeman had an NL-leading 120 runs scored.
Milwaukee struck out an MLB-leading 1,618 batters with a rotation featuring All-Star right-handers Corbin Burnes (11-5, 2.43), Brandon Woodruff (9-10, 2.56) and Freddy Peralta (10-5, 2.81).
“Our pitching staff has been our rock and you watch the tendencies of every postseason, pitching always wins when it comes to it so we’re excited with who we got man, and we played all the best teams already, so we’re pretty confident where we’re at right now and we’re not going to talk about it, we’re going to be about it,” Wong said.
He’s endured three trips to the injured list earlier this season as manager Craig Counsell had to navigate the Brewers through a season in which they used a franchise-record 61 players due primarily to injuries.
The Brewers said Counsell – who played on World Series-winning teams with the Marlins in 1997 and Diamondbacks in 2001 and has led the Brewers to four straight playoff appearances – deserves much of the praise for guiding a team that maintained a healthy division lead even after putting nine players on the COVID-19 injured list this summer.
“I’d run through a wall for that guy,” Wong said. “No matter how I’m playing, he’s always going to have my back.”
The feeling is mutual. During a news conference Wednesday, Counsell gushed about his two-time Gold Glover’s handiwork at second base.
“It gives me chill, honestly,” Counsell said. “He does it in such a graceful way and unique way, it’s cool.”
Along with those three trips to IL, Wong also made a trip to the paternity list in early September. He shared more about the birth of his son – intimate details about the delivery, in fact – in a letter he wrote to the Brewers’ fans on the The Players’ Tribune titled “Milwaukee, I’ve Got Our Secret Weapon for the Playoffs.”
Wong, who brought an iPad to the delivery room as the Brewers were playing the Cardinals, was holding his wife’s leg down to help her push and count. However, he couldn’t help but sneak a peek at the iPad just as Luis Urias hit a home run.
Wong wrote: “So now, Luis has just hit a bomb, and I’m holding onto one of my wife’s legs and screaming, “Oh gosh. Oh man! OH MY GOSH!!!!’
“Alissa, she’s just looking at me. Staring. Dead in the eye.
“She’s like: ‘What? What is it? Tell me!’
“I knew right away that I’d messed up.
‘“Well, um, it’s just that, um … Luis, he just hit a homer to start the game. So, you know … we’re already up 1–0. Pretty cool.’
“And Alissa, in that moment, God bless her … she doesn’t pop me in the mouth, or give me the stink eye. She understands. Alissa, she knows me.
‘“Oh, nice!’ she says with a smile.
“Then, after about a two-second pause, she says….
The Associated Press contributed to this report
To read Wong’s letter, visit www.theplayerstribune.com/