Today was the big travel day, and it could not have gone better if we had tried. We got up and got ready, took a route around the already-ongoing Wheaton 4th of July parade, and wound our way through surface roads to I-94 northbound to Milwaukee. We stopped for Starbucks and White Castle, the latter of which neither of us had ever had (and frankly, was a good snack, I don’t care what kind of intestinal distress jokes may be made), and hit the road for the last 20 miles to the city.
Milwaukee is a small-but-major city. Lots of brickwork buildings and a few skyscrapers. The highway leads straight to the field, and we were guided into lot G for General Parking by some helpful fellows in neon vests. Much like at Guaranteed Rate, the personnel there told us exactly where to park, down to the space; it has just occurred to me that this is extremely helpful for tailgaters, and Milwaukee is also good at this event, maybe better than Chicago.
This picture was taken before the lot was full, and does not give any idea of the burning charcoal and cooking meat smells that permeated the air. People were blaring music, drinking, and playing that ubiquitous midwest game, cornhole. Everyone seemed friendly and relaxed.
The general parking lot is a river away from the stadium; the Menomenee River, to be exact. You get to walk over a bridge that connects the lot to the field grounds.
I had tried to make a plan so that I could see stuff that I wanted to see, buy stuff that I wanted to buy, and still make it into our seats by or around first pitch. Ninety minutes isn’t a long time to make all of that happen, and there are a lot of distractions along the way. We decided to walk along the left field/third base side of the park to the home plate entrance. This allowed us to see the Wall of Honor. There are also many plate tiles along the outside of the stadium, honoring important figures in Milwaukee Brewers history. I’d be remiss if I didn’t grab a shot of Bob Ueker’s plate. Or anything with Hank Aaron, really. Also included in this wall were Richie Sexson and Jeff Cirrillo right next to each other. But that will have to wait for me to be able to get the pictures off my iPhone.
We had planned to go into the home plate entrance, but we still had a good 15 minutes before the gates opened, and the line was stretching out into the parking lot on that side of the field. Under the clock tower, however, was a very short line of people. We walked up and asked if we could still get into the park there. They told us that yes, we absolutely could, and that it was sort of their “secret”. We thanked them, and spent the next 10 minutes in the shade, watching Orioles fans and Brewers fans alike chatter amongst themselves. Even got into a pleasant discussion about the Hall of Fame with a guy in a Brewers shirt behind us.
Once inside, we were basically on the main concourse. Miller Park is not as open as a lot of other parks I have been to. There are points on the main floor where you get a view of the field, but mostly you are walking through a bit of a tunnel with windows on the one side that look outside the park. We wound our way towards left field, and eventually to the open bit of the concourse around the outfield, and into one of the team stores, where we looked around until the crowd became a bit prohibitive numbers-wise. Walking around the main level, we found a wall of autographed baseballs, collected for quite some time by one fan and donated to the field. It is touted as a chance for ordinary fans to be featured amidst players. The attendant there had a map available for us to look up the players, though we did peruse the fans as well. Some of the balls featured had art of people’s babies, a tiny footprint, and the scrawly writing of children thanking their fathers for a first ballgame. Among these (and others) were the signatures of none other than Casey Stengel, Wade Boggs, Willie Mays, and the great Satchel Paige.
On the other side of the entrance the autograph wall is on, is an area featuring players from Wisconsin, and a great small exhibit about the All American Girls baseball teams from the area. Karen’s favorite baseball movie is A League of Their Own, so this was a cherry on top of what was a pretty decent day already.
Having done a bit of research on food and whatnot, I had decided that I was interested in having a Mudpuppy Porter. Miller has done some updating of their food and drink park-wide. The Local Brews bar stand in section 207 has a ton of local beers, and seemed like the place we needed to head to get a taste of Wisconsin. So we kept on walking around the outfield. Ran into some Orioles taking batting practice along the way.
A ramp leads up to the Loge Level, where there is a sort of Terrace Club-style level that is open to the public. The decks in Miller are much more shallow than at Safeco, and there are more of them. This makes for some really good views of the field at the lower levels. We hung out there long enough to drink one pint and grab another. My two choices were the Mudpuppy Porter, and something called Bat$shit Crazy, which was a coffee brown ale (and very good as well). After hanging out a bit and taking in the scene upstairs, we walked back downstairs to make our way around the lower concourse, where I bought a good amount of Hank the Dog merchandise, and we found our seats in section 132. Row 15 put us really close to the action, and it was time to play ball.
Spoiler alert; the Orioles lost this one 2-6. Additional spoiler alert, I did not quell my Orioles love. So I was the weirdo down front cheering for both teams. But we were sitting on the visitor’s side, so it sort of worked out, and nobody got weird about it. It was a really fun game to be at, and the Brewers got four home runs, so Bernie Brewer had to go down the slide in his Uncle Sam outfit as many times. I have a photo I managed on the iPhone, but again, that will have to wait until a later post. Ubaldo Jimemez was starting for the Birds, and Eric Thames was ready for him. Also, Adam Jones got a few hits and of course is just great anyway.
The Brewers also have a good number of numbers retired. This strikes me as odd, as if memory serves, they have been around just as long as the Mariners have…and are, in fact, spawned by a Seattle team. The Brewers have also have had a greater number of more well-known players, so perhaps this would explain the retirements.
It is getting late as I finish this up, and we have to be up bright and early to make a train to get back into the city for our first leisurely day at Wrigley. Long story short, the Orioles lost, I had a lot of good food and drink (we did split a brat and an order of cheese curds with Stadium Sauce), we got a lot of sun (but not too much), and everything I wanted to do at this park I totally did. It was a great day. The drive back was nice and easy, and we wrapped up the day with some salad (my poor midwestern-food-filled guts) and continued watching GLOW on Netflix (watch it if you haven’t, it’s great), and I really just can’t talk enough about how much fun I’ve been having.
Oh yeah; the sausage races! Chorizo won.