May 25, 2003: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
After spending the previous two days in Chicago, Mike and I were looking forward to exploring a new city: Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The home of the Milwaukee Brewers is only 90 miles north of Chicago. Mike and I found a Greyhound bus that arrived in Milwaukee before the 1:05 pm game, but it meant leaving our Chicago Travelodge at 6:00 am. Arriving in Milwaukee at 9:00 am, we had 4 hours to fill before the game, so Mike and I took a walk through downtown Milwaukee.
To say that downtown Milwaukee was quiet at 9:00 on a Sunday morning would be an understatement, but it was nice to see all the churchgoers walking to their Sunday services. Mike and I ended up walking into a firehouse to ask what we could experience while in Milwaukee. They suggested taking a walk down to Lake Michigan. Once the firefighters heard we were from New York they shared their sympathy over what happened on September 11th and offered to drive us to Miller Park. However, Mike and I decided to continue our walk through Milwaukee and take a few pictures. We ended up stopping in Juneau Park, which is on Lake Michigan. It was cool to see Lake Michigan from another perspective. After spending the past two days in Chicago, it was nice to sit and relax. While at Juneau Park, Mike and I read about a shuttle bus that traveled from downtown Milwaukee to Miller Park. We were on our way! Mike and I were on the first bus, arriving at Miller Park before entrance gates opened. Miller Park, built in 2001, was the primary factor keeping the Brewers in Milwaukee. It had all the modern amenities that its predecessor County Stadium did not: Wider concourses, improved sight lines and a plethora of fun family activities. But what makes Miller Park unique is its retractable roof, which is sectioned in half on each side, and meets in the middle. This “butterfly” approach gives Miller Park a futuristic feel.
I was looking forward to the game. The Brewers and Ben Sheets were getting ready to face the Los Angeles Dodgers and Kevin Brown. At the time, Ben Sheets was an underrated ace, but has since dominated the National League, when not injured. The Dodgers came out ahead that afternoon 5-1 on the heels of eight strong innings from Brown, and home runs by Fred McGriff and Paul Lo Duca. Mike and I were part of the 22,354 who experienced the game with the roof open and the sun shining. The grounds of Miller Park also offer many memorable sites. Statues of Home Run King Henry Aaron and Hall of Famer Robin Yount appear on Miller Park’s outside concourse, but what adds to Miller Park the most (in my opinion) is Helfaer Field. Helfaer Field is a youth baseball and softball facility just outside Miller Park’s gates, on the same site as County Stadium, the former home of the Brewers and the Milwaukee Braves.
Baseball is, at heart, a kid’s game. In many families, it is the first bond that is shared between a father and son. This idea can best be summed up by former Brooklyn Dodger great Roy Campenella, who said, “Baseball is a man’s game, but you have to have a lot of little boy in you, too.” Having that feeling of a little boy, as I travel throughout these great cities, seeing these great ballparks for the first time, is worth all the time and resources spent making this Ballpark Tour a reality.