While our tour was stopped in Milwaukee I made it to three games at Miller Park and had three different experiences. Coincidentally this was my third visit to the city and park, visiting it in 2012 during my 30 stadium trip and in 2014 to see Derek Jeter play in his final season with the Yankees.
The first week we were in town the Brewers were on the road and all we were able to do was look at the ballpark, which is a big tease. I concentrated on learning more about the team from the fans that came through our exhibits and was surprised to find out the fan favorite in town isn’t Hank Aaron, but Robin Yount. A close second was Eddie Mathews. Of course, Hank, Rollie Fingers, and Paul Molitor got mad love, but Robin seems to be the bee’s knees in town. Also learned the fan base loved County Stadium and misses their Braves. It was interesting to see how many people still hold onto the Braves over the Brewers. I can understand a bit as the Brewers haven’t been the best team of late. Though I will say when I saw them play, things are looking up. Aggressive base running and homers made the games I attended exciting!
Cubs were in town for the first home series and since they’re my NL team, I was pumped and gladly paid $30 for an upper deck ticket. I never made it up there of course as there’s plenty of good standing room behind the lower level at home plate. This was my first time seeing Kris Bryant play in person and I desperately wanted a homer, but no such luck. It was Wrigley North in Miller Park and I think it was 80% Cubs fans and 20% Brewers. That changed the atmosphere and made it kinda weird. I love the Cubs and Wrigley, but a home environment in the wrong ballpark wasn’t for me. Stay in Chicago Cubbie fans! I did enjoy the mass booing when Ryan Braun stepped up to the plate, and double enjoyed his first pitch home run at his second at bat. That shut them up real quick.
Despite the nice view from behind home plate, I moved around a little just to remember the ballpark and gauge my feelings towards it. There’s a cool deck off of right field past all the kid’s games that is a different experience from other parks and I stopped there for a couple innings. The view of the batter isn’t great because it’s far away, but once the balls in play, it’s fine. I met a member of the grounds crew and he’s was entertaining. Can’t share his stories, but if you run into a grounds crew member in your travels, ask them about what they get blamed for and who messes up the fields the most.
By the end of the game, I had made a full loop around the lower and upper levels and was sweaty. Despite being a domed park, the roof was open and it was hot as hell. I passed a bunch of shirtless fans and most of us looked pretty miserable. A little AC would’ve been nice and I thought that was one of the advantages to Miler Park, but I stand corrected. Oh well, I’ve “suffered” through way worse for sports. The Cubs won the game, but the Brewers did make it interesting towards the end.
My second game at Miller Park was a Monday night game against the Arizona Diamondbacks and the same ticket I purchased Friday was a mere $6. Gotta love weekday baseball! I went with a group of coworkers and we ended up sitting in the last row of a lower level section thanks to an usher we worked with the week before. Not wanting to waste the seats, I sat still during most of the game. We did take a quick field trip up to the Brewer’s press box thanks to our friend Adam over at Brewer Nation. He gave us a tour which made the other half of our crew pretty jealous. The neatest part of the press box are the dents from fly balls that have popped up there over the years. Instead of fixing the holes and dings, they write down the dates and the batters. There are a few doozies up there!
When we returned to our seats, we almost got nailed by a ball hit by Paul Goldschmidt. It hit the seats right in front of us and I’m amazed by how quickly people snatch those up. I moved away because I’m not trying to get hurt, but there were fans jumping and reaching for it. The guy that dove down prevailed and wouldn’t let one of my coworkers even hold it afterward. Like he’d steal it, but I’m sure that happens! Brewers beat the Diamondbacks in this game and despite the stadium being much emptier, I enjoyed the home crowd experience a bit more. It just felt right.
My third and final game was the most “fancy” of the three outings. One of my bosses received tickets from the Brewers and took me along. Our tickets were 13 rows up from home plate, but before going down to our seats, we stopped in the owner’s box for food. I loved that it was Suite 42 and there was a lot of food for us to enjoy. Alas, I didn’t get to meet Mark Attanasio, but I did have the honor of meeting some of the front office and three are from Ohio, so you know the organization is in good hands. We ate and watched some of the game from the suite before going down to our seats. Both of us preferred to be up close to the action.
The Pittsburgh Pirates were in town and I love Andrew McCutchen and Francisco Cervelli. Seeing both this close up was a thrill! My boss is a huge sports fan and despite his team being the Boston Red Sox, we get along talking baseball with one another. He has some killer stories and has seen four no-hitters in his lifetime. Share the wealth dude, I’m trying to get just one! Our conversations made the game fly by and before you knew it, it was the top of the ninth and the Brewers closer was in to wrap it up. He did the opposite and was replaced by another pitcher, who was then replaced. Brewers need a stronger bullpen it seems. The dramatic ending was fine with me and I was a little sad when the final out was called.
I asked what he thought about Miller Park as it was his first time seeing a game there and he said it had all the bells and whistles, but he didn’t get the feeling he gets in Fenway. Glad he said that because I had the same reaction and was starting to think I was a little crazy… like way too into feeling feelings at ballparks crazy. This stadium has a gorgeous outside facade, unique views, and bonus activities, plus charming ties to Milwaukee, but there’s something missing. I thought in 2014 that I had had my fill of Miller Park and wouldn’t go back unless I had a real reason. Of course this year I had a reason and went to three games. I love the Brew Crew and think the team is on an upswing, but overall Miller Park itself is just eh for me. I suspect it has a lot to do with it having a roof, though a super cool one. Even when it’s open, you still feel enclosed. Indoor baseball, forever a big no-no in my books.
Bonus: Milwaukee is one of the coolest cities I’ve visited and we had an absolute blast during our tour stop. If you’re in town head over to Lakefront Brewery for a tour. They have the original Bernie’s Chalet from County Stadium there as well as great beer. You can’t slide down into the beer mug anymore (darn lawyers), but you can hang out in the clubhouse and overlook their brewery. Enjoy the pictures!