When Tom Skibosh was public relations director for the Milwaukee Brewers, he often participated in a fantasy football league with John Counsell, who worked in the team’s front office.
In the early 1980s, Skibosh wanted to make a trade with Counsell, who said he’d have to contact his son Craig, who was managing his father’s team.
“I had Dan Marino and was trying to get Mark Duper,” Skibosh recalled in a 2018 interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “John told me, ‘Why don’t you call up Craig at school and get him out of class to talk about it?”
John Counsell might have been kidding, but Skibosh indeed called young Craig at Richards Elementary School in Whitefish Bay and had him removed from class to discuss the deal.
“I got called to the principal’s office and was scared to death I had done something wrong,” said Counsell, who would grow up to play for the Brewers and now manages them. “The lady in the office said, ‘You have a phone call.’ I had no idea who it was and just said, ‘Hello.’
“He says, ‘Craig, it’s 'Sky.' We need to make this trade.’ It was in the early days of fantasy football and it was Friday afternoon and we had to get the trade in before the deadline. He got me out of class, and we made the trade. That happened.”
Skibosh, who died Christmas morning at age 72 after a long battle with liver disease, had that same passion for everything he did, particularly in the sports realm. He grew up in Brookfield, where parents Marty and Angela owned Marty’s Pizza.
After graduating from Brookfield Central High School, Skibosh attended UW-Milwaukee, working for the student newspaper, the UWM Post, and graduating with a degree in journalism. He got a job as a radio stringer before becoming sports editor at the West Allis Star.
Skibosh became sports information director at UWM in 1972, when the school fielded Division I teams in football, basketball and soccer. He was hired by the Brewers in 1976, getting the chance to work with boyhood idol Henry Aaron in the Hall of Fame slugger's final season in the major leagues.
While in his role as the club’s public relations director, Skibosh introduced the monthly magazine “What’s Brewing?” He began the practice of inviting statewide sports editors and broadcasters to County Stadium every year for media day, and later expanded it to include college media day.
Under general manager Harry Dalton, Skibosh produced annual statistical analyses the Brewers used in arbitration hearings with players. Armed with that information, Dalton lost only one hearing during his time running the baseball operation.
Skibosh was there when the Brewers finally turned the corner in 1978-82 under George Bamberger and Harvey Kuenn, a surge that included the team’s lone World Series appearance. He was instrumental in conducting pre- and post-game media interviews during Paul Molitor’s 39-game hitting streak in 1987 and Robin Yount’s surge to 3,000 career hits in 1992.
Skibosh gave a number of people their start in baseball. In 1978, he hired Mario Ziino, who worked for years as his assistant before moving on to the Brewers’ publishing department.
“It’s hard to put into words my feeling for a man I first met at UWM, who helped me as a young sports writer on the UWM Post,” Ziino said. “We worked together for almost 19 years and were as close as any family member could be.
“In the press box, Sky always made a point to visit with the writers, both local and visiting, to make sure they had everything they needed. This was back when newspapers would send more than beat writers to town. Sky knew every one of the writers and radio reporters by name. And they knew Sky.”
In 1987, Skibosh gave Jon Greenberg, a fellow UWM graduate, a job as a public relations intern. Greenberg would go on to replace Skibosh as director of that department before later moving on to become president of the Milwaukee Admirals.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today without Sky’s help,” said Greenberg, who had served as a bat boy for the Brewers as a youngster. “I was their first intern; they had never had one. That’s how I got my foot in the door in that department. It was a great experience to work with Sky and Mario. We had this tiny office in County Stadium. My first desk was a couch.
“In ’91, Mario went to the publications side and I became Sky’s assistant. I was just learning the ropes of a major-league PR operation and how to do things. Sky was the one who taught me it’s a relationship business. He was so well-respected by all the media people and visiting PR people. It was an invaluable experience for me.”
While at UWM, Skibosh hired former Brewers player Mike Hegan, who was looking to get into sports broadcasting, to do basketball play-by-play for the school. Hegan would go on to become a television play-by-play man for the Brewers, beginning a long career in baseball broadcasting.
Skibosh was a casualty of the labor war that shut down the game from August 1994 until the spring of 1995, becoming one of many baseball employees to lose his job. He went on to become a successful motivational speaker and author before beginning a 14-year career with CNI Now newspapers covering high school sports.
For his work in that role, Skibosh was elected to the Wisconsin High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2013.
Skibosh continued his passion for fantasy football until the day he died. The quarterback of his 2021-22 team was Aaron Rodgers, who later in the day would throw three touchdown passes to lead the Green Bay Packers to a 24-22 victory over Cleveland, breaking Brett Favre’s career passing TD team record.
“He loved fantasy sports in general,” Ziino said. “Just three days ago, in home hospice, he made a point to call me so he could make a couple of roster moves before the weekend. Incredible. That’s why our fantasy league lasted 38 years with half the charter members still participating. Everyone loved the man.”
Skibosh is survived by his wife of 46 years, Kathy, and children Jessica, Marty, Christina and Scott, as well as five grandchildren.
Visitation will be held Friday, Dec. 31 from 9:30 a.m. to noon, followed by a service at Harder Funeral Home, 18700 W. Capitol Drive, Brookfield, Wisconsin, 53045. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to AngelsGrace Hospic
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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Tom Skibosh, former Brewers public relations director, dies at age 72