20 Stadiums in 20 Days – Milwaukee County Stadium
The second ballpark on our 1997 baseball tour was Milwaukee County Stadium, home of the Brewers. This would be the Brewers’ last season in the AL Central – in 1998 they would be realigned into the NL Central.
On August 21, 1997 we rode by bus from Chicago to Milwaukee (if you recall from yesterday’s entry, we had just visited Comiskey Park the previous day). The Brewers were hosting the Detroit Tigers this particular night.
The parking lot of County Stadium reminded me a bit of college football game days – lots of tailgating going on! Of course, Milwaukee is known for its breweries – the team is called the Brewers, after all! And they even have a mascot named Bernie Brewer:
Bernie used to slide down from his little house in the outfield into a large beer mug after a Brewers home run. In the new Miller Park he has a slide, but no mug! Why no beer mug? The ballpark’s named after a brewery, for crying out loud! Anyway, in this picture you can make out the large beer mug in front of the very large keg to the left of the scoreboard:
Milwaukee is also known for its famous Racing Sausages. Unfortunately, in the late ’90s the sausages weren’t quite the sensation they are today, and only raced during Sunday afternoon games. We were there on a Thursday night, so no sausages. :-(
I must say that the people of Milwaukee do take their meat products seriously. I made the mistake of asking at the concession stand what the difference was between a sausage and a brat (I wanted to make an informed decision on my ballpark meal), and the person behind the counter just kind of stared at me. I guess the question gave me away as an obvious non-native.
After the score-fest we had seen the previous evening, this game turned out to be a low-scoring pitchers duel. The starting pitchers, Justin Thompson for the Tigers and Cal Eldred for the Brewers, each gave up a run in the third, but that was the extent of the scoring for awhile.
The official attendance for this game was only 18,117. You can see in this photo that there were a lot of empty seats that night:
The score was still tied 1-1 at the end of nine, so into extra innings we went. This is the drawback to group tours – since we still had to bus back to our hotel in Chicago, we did not get to stay to see the end of the game. Our group left after the 10th inning – the Tigers would eventually win 2-1 in 12 innings.
No home runs in this game, so we never did get to see Bernie slide into his beer.
Although County Stadium was old, and lacking in modern amenities, it did have a cozy ambience to it that I enjoyed. I have not yet been to Miller Park, so I guess I will have to make a return trip one of these days!
Next stop, Wrigley Field!
(Bernie Brewer photo from brewers.com; other photos mine)