Sunday, April 14, 2013

My Day at Miller Park

Miller Park in Milwaukee, WI, opened in 2001, but I never had the opportunity to watch a Brewers’ game there because every time I was home in Sheboygan was either during the off season or the Brewers were on the road. This year, I found myself needing to be in Chicago for work on April 2nd. After talking with my wife, I decided to extend my stay to spend the week with Dad, and I set about the possibility to finally making it to the park.

Easter Sunday fell on March 31st, but I wanted to spend the day with my family in Virginia. I made plans to fly to Milwaukee Mitchell Field for April 1st and talked with my Dad and brother-in-law, Steve, about going to opening game on that same day. At first everyone seem enthusiastic about going; but an on-line check for tickets found that it was sold out or available at five times face value, and winter keeping its grip in the region, soon opening day wasn’t viable. Luckily we decided that early because my flight ended up being delayed twice at Reagan National Airport, and I didn’t land in Milwaukee until mid-afternoon.

Talking that night with my Dad, he told me that with the cold spell going on and with his knee and hip replacement and recent back surgery, he wanted to decline going to the game with me. I understood his plight and tried to get Steve to go, but he’s more of a Packer fan and willing to brave the weather for them than the Brewers. Yeah, I don’t think that even if the Brewers won the World Series would they ever supplant the Packers. However, my two nieces, Abbi and Ashlie, were both enthusiastic about going to a game as long as their boyfriends came along, and we decided to go to Wednesday, April 3rd’s last game of the series against the Colorado Rockies.

After the girls got off of work on Wednesday, we all met up at my sister’s house and headed for Milwaukee by 4:45 for the 7:10 game. We decided not to tailgate because it was a windy 42 degrees, which I think was the high temperature for the week I was there.

What I think is funny was everyone asking if we had tickets for the game. While I wouldn’t try it in a good baseball town like Boston or St. Louis, but with opening day being only two days before, it being a mid-week game, and no promotions going on, I’m used to walking up to the ticket window at a park and being able to get decent seats. That held true to form and we got second level seats on the third base side for $40 a ticket, and didn’t have to pay any handling or Ticket Master fees. I considered the parking in the general admission lot to be a reasonable $10.

We entered the stadium from the center field area and walked around the concourse. I saw the tributes to the Milwaukee Braves World Series win; former Brewer greats like Hank Aaron, Robin Yount, and Paul Molitor; the 1923 Milwaukee Bears team from the Negro National League; and, of course, current players and managers. I quickly found a team store and bought a throw-back Brewer cap with the “MB” glove and ball logo to go with my Robin Yount throwback jersey.
Walking around the park, I saw the Sausages and Bernie Brewer getting pictures taken with kids young and old; and the iconic food courts serving hot dogs, bratwurst, polish and Italian sausages and chorizos.
We found our seats in Section 225 by 7:00 and they were great. With the dome closed and all the steel structures for the retractable roof, the field looks like an airplane or dirigible hanger. The park was clean and the food and stands and restrooms were close to us. An amusing site in the section next to ours was a guy in a Ricky Vaughn “99” Cleveland Indians jersey. Has anyone else seen a jersey like that in other parks?

Of course I had to try one of their Klement’s bratwursts but was greatly disappointed. Granted, we in Sheboygan think we know how to cook brats the best because we’re the home of the vastly superior Johnsonville sausages, which isn’t even the best brat is town, (I prefer Meisfeld’s when in Sheboygan, and don’t get me going about serving it on a hot dog bun); but flat-grilling bratwurst is just sacrilege. I know they have to mass prepare bratwurst for the crowds, but to not even have an option for a charcoal grilled brat is an opportunity lost. I guess that’s one of the reasons people tailgate is to get their brats done right. Oh well, I guess I’m going to have to go back and try some of their other food selections; and I’m sure there’s a lot of hidden gems to discover.

Before going to the game, I reviewed some posts from people who had gone and recommended the Leinenkugel Summer Shandy, a pale and wheat Weiss beer brewed with blackberry juice and natural lemonade flavor. I liked it so much, I had two. Even though it was 42 degrees outside and a comfortable 70 degrees inside, the beer is perfect for summer days especially after yard work. I bought a six-pack last week and had one on Saturday after cutting the grass.

The game? Oh yeah, they played one. The Rockies jumped out to a 2-0 lead but the Brewers fought back to make it 2-2. The Rockies made it 4-2, but the Brewers got it to 4-3 with Rickie Weeks and Ryan Braun hitting back-to-back doubles. However John Axford couldn’t hold it close giving up three runs in the 9th. I think the Brewers are going to be also-rans this year because of pitching.

After the game, I had to run around to the front of the park to see the statues. It was cold and windy with the kids anxiously waiting for me; however, it was too dark to get good pictures, even though I took some.

I’m hoping to catch another Brewer game when they come to DC at Nationals Park during the 1st through 4th of July. But it may be difficult because the first three games are at night and then fighting the traffic on the 4th with all the tourists wanting to see the fireworks. At least the game on the 4th is a day game, but last year I believe the temperature was 105. At least I’ll be able to get my Ben’s Chili Bowl fix.


Zebster said...

Oh man, you had to mention Ben's, didn't ya? Now I want some. That's a great write-up, Rick...almost like being there. Would love to go sometime. Sorry you couldn't go opening day and with your dad but at least you finally got to go. Great seats at a great price. Who are the statues of in front of the park?

tpubgu said...

Hank Aaron, Robin Yount, Bud Selig and Bob Uecker. Man, I forgot how good it felt to sing, "Roll Out the Barrel" during the 7th inning stretch with everyone rather than by myself at all the games out here.

R.J. said...

I wish I were a big enough baseball fan to visit The Litter Box (aka Petco Park) but the team has done everything to turn me off from the game.

Nice writeup!