Welcome to Miller Park!
Milwaukee was buzzing with excitement on Opening Day April 6, 2001, as Miller Park was officially open for business. More than a decade of planning and four and a half years of construction culminated into the Brewers’ new state-of-the-art home. The signature fan-shaped convertible roof, a color replay board measuring 48 feet wide and 37 feet tall on top of a matrix scoreboard measuring 76-feet by 32-feet, and four choices of front-row seats on four different levels. Apparently Miller Park is one of the largest construction projects in Wisconsin history, has a retractable roof, built in a unique fan-shaped style, with the roof panels opening and closing simultaneously in a sweeping manner from the first- and third-base sides toward center field.
I really enjoyed visiting Miller Park and enjoyed all the attractions that happen during the game. Since they weren’t playing my Angels, I was happy when they got a home run. This is because Bernie Brewer, the team mascot, has a club house above the left field seats, and following every Brewers home run and victory, he slides into a home plate shaped platform called the The Kalahari “Splash Zone.” Sadly I heard this tradition was discontinued for the 2012 season.
Another fun thing to see is the Sausage race which happens during the middle of the 6th inning. The current “racing sausages” are the Bratwurst, the Polish, the Italian, the Hot Dog and the Chorizo. They even keep track of how many wins each sausage wins each season. It’s silly, but fun. Then during the 7th inning stretch, in addition to “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”, fans at Miller Park sing “Roll Out the Barrel”, in salute to Milwaukee’s beer-making history. It is a fun stadium to visit and take in a game.
I found out something new when I was working on this post. I learned that Pacific Northwest Sports, Inc., organized to seek a Major League Baseball franchise and purchases the Triple-A Seattle Angels from the California Angels. On October 25, 1967 they announce it will operate the franchise in the Pacific Coast League and is set to begin play in 1969. Then on March 31, Pacific Northwest Sports, Inc. announces that the team will be called the “Seattle Pilots.” Later that year, in August, the Pilots unveil their team logo. The design features gold wings flanking a red ship’s wheel which surrounds a white baseball, all trimmed in blue…..the name “Pilots” appears on the “sweet spot” in italicized lower-case letters. Their inaugural game was on April 8 at California and they won, 4-3. However their season ended with a 64-98 record during their only season in the Major Leagues, finishing in last place in the American League West.
On April 1st of 1970 the Milwaukee Brewers, Inc., an organization formed by Allan H. “Bud” Selig, acquired the Seattle Pilots and renamed the team the “Milwaukee Brewers” as a tribute to the city’s long association with the brewing industry. The new Brewers play their first game on April 7 as a member of the American League West before 37,237 fans at County Stadium.
During the 70’s there were a few general manager changes, they host the Major League All-Star Game on July 15 as 51,480 fans see the National League win, 6-3, The Royals’ Steve Busby hurls a no-hitter on June 19, the first American League no-hitter ever pitched at County Stadium, the team unveils the new pinstripe uniforms and a new team logo, the now famous “MB” ball-in-glove design, and secure their first winning season as they go 93-69 and finish in third place in the American League East. However one of the more notable things that happened in the 70’s happened in 1975. Baseball’s then all-time home run leader, Hank Aaron, returns to Milwaukee as a member of the Brewers where 48,160 fans salute him on “Welcome Home Henry Day” for the home opener on April 11 vs. Cleveland, a 6-2 victory.
In 1981 the Brewers clinch their first postseason spot in franchise history as they defeat Detroit, 2-1, on October 3 at County Stadium, however they fall to the Yankees. Rollie Fingers becomes the first relief pitcher in Major League history to win both the Cy Young Award and Most Valuable Player in the same season. During the 1982 campaign the Brewers did quite well and made it to League Championship Series, then earned a spot in their first World Series. However they fall to the Cardinals in seven games. Later in the 80’s Juan Nieves records the first no-hitter in franchise history in a 7-0 win on April 15 at Baltimore, making him the first Puerto Rican-born pitcher to accomplish this feat.
The Brewers celebrate their 25th anniversary as they join the realigned American League Central with new uniforms and a new logo. 1995 was an exciting year as the begin making plans for their new stadium. Along with the new stadium the Brewers officially become a member of the National League Central on November 6 1997. A couple of years later, retired player Robin Yount becomes the first player to be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame wearing a Brewers cap on July 25.
There was a lot of activity during the 2000 decade in Brewers history, but I wanted to point out that Prince Fielder becomes the first Brewer to win the Hank Aaron Award, and Ryan Braun is named National League Rookie of the Year. Also Carlos Zambrano tosses the first no-hitter in Miller Park history with his 5-0 win on September 14, 2008.
The Brewers make it back into the post season in 2011 but fall to the Cardinals, four games to two, in the NLCS. As of the date of this post, they are still looking for their first World Series win. Will this be the year? We will have to watch and see how the season develops. I know I am ready for baseball to start again. Good luck to the Brewers during the 2017 campaign. Hope you enjoyed my visit to Miller Park.
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