Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Miller Park (Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

On September 6, 2016 we visited our 24th baseball park, Miller Park in Milwaukee, to watch the Brewers beat up the Chicago Cubs. Miller Park is fairly new, completed in 2001, replacing the previous Milwaukee County Stadium, and of course as the name suggests, and the city almost demands, the title sponsor is the Miller Brewing Company. The final score that day was Milwaukee 12, Chicago 5, and it was easy to see that most people in the park were very happy. 

Miller Park features North America’s only fan-shaped convertible roof which can open and close in less than 10 minutes when bad weather comes into play. (In fact, only six ball parks of the 30 have retractable roofs at all.) The weather was nice the day we attended, so we didn’t get the chance to see this in action. Seating capacity is 41,900 and attendance on the day we were there peaked at 32,888, almost a full house.

A couple of fun facts about the Milwaukee Brewers:

  • The Brewers organization is currently celebrating their 45th season in Major League Baseball.
  • The Brewers have been to one World Series. They lost in seven games to the St. Louis Cardinals in 1982.
  • That 1982 Brewers team was known as Harvey’s Wallbangers, named after manager Harvey Kuenn and his team’s more than 200 home runs walloped in that season.
  • Although the Cleveland Indians were the team portrayed in 1989’s comedy “Major League,” many of the film’s scenes were shot in and around Milwaukee, including Milwaukee County Stadium.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

More by chance than design, Summer 2016 turned out to be our time to tour the Midwest. With five baseball parks nestled within striking distance of each other in the heart of the country, and no pressing schedule for the remainder of the summer, we took advantage of this opportunity to get to know this area a little bit better. We left Chicago on September 5th, and traveled to Milwaukee with plans to catch a Brewer’s game at Miller Park, and whatever else we could fit in between. Although Milwaukee is the largest city in Wisconsin, and the 5th largest city in the Midwestern United States, it didn’t have that Big City feel to me. Maybe having just spent the last 10 days in Chicago had something to do with that. Or, maybe it’s just a Big City with a friendly and welcoming home town personality.

Milwaukee was once home to four of the world’s largest beer breweries – Schlitz, Blatz, Pabst, and Miller – and was the number one beer producing city in the world for many years. Miller Brewing Company is still a key employer in the city with over 2200 people still employed there today. Because of Miller’s position as the 2nd largest beer maker in the U.S., the city remains known as a beer town. Even the Laverne and Shirley television show from the 1970’s – 1980’s help immortalize this city’s reputation with a story line about two single women who worked in a (fictional) Milwaukee brewery in the 1950’s era.

Besides being known for its brewing traditions, a major new addition to the city in recent times is the Milwaukee Riverwalk. Intended to increase public access to the waterway, it has grown to include art displays, festivals, caf├ęs, and brewpubs. In 2008 a life-sized bronze statue of Fonize from the Happy Days television show was unveiled along the Riverwalk. (Milwaukee was also the setting for Happy Days as well as Laverne and Shirley.) As we walked a portion of the Riverwalk, we were lucky enough to find Urban Beets, a vegan restaurant, less than ¼ mile off the walkway.  

The Milwaukee Public Market located in the Third Ward neighborhood is an indoor market selling fresh food, candies, and flowers from local businesses. I was expecting something more along the lines of Seattle’s Pike Place Market (the signs for both places are just about identical), but it was actually quite small. However, the offerings were unique, the neighborhood very eclectic, and customer loyalty among the local populace is strong.

Here are a few pictures from the four days we spent in Milwaukee (I will have separate posts for the Brewer’s game, a tour of the Miller Brewery, and a beautiful botanical garden we visited).


Sunday, October 9, 2016

Wrigley Field (Chicago, Illinois)

September 4, 2016 – our last day in Chicago, our 13th wedding anniversary, and our visit to Wrigley Field (23rd Baseball Park) to see the Cubs play the San Francisco Giants. (Of course we were hugely rooting for the Giants, and considered ourselves quite lucky to be in town for this occurrence!) The stadium was built in 1914 as Weeghman Park, but chewing gum magnate William Wrigley Jr. acquired complete control of the Cubs by 1921, and by 1927 the park became known as Wrigley Field. Located on the north side of the city, in the Lakeview community (part of the Wrigleyville neighborhood), Wrigley Field is now just one of nine parks whose name isn’t reflective of corporate sponsorship.

Getting tickets was a little tricky; with none to be had from the Cubs website, we had to resort to third party sources. Seating capacity for Wrigley Field is 41,268 and attendance that day was around 41,000. We ended up getting a couple of good seats using StubHub, and although we paid more than normal, I guess you could say we got our money’s worth – the game went 13 innings! It looked like the Giants might win it, but at the bottom of the 9th, the Cubs tied it up at 2-2, finally wrapping it up in the 13th inning with a final run. Call me superstitious, but might there have been any connection between this day being our 13th wedding anniversary, and the game going 13 innings? Nah, probably not!  

Here are some fun facts about Wrigley Field:

  • The famous ivy in the outfield was planted by former Chicago White Sox owner Bill Veeck in 1937
  • No baseball has ever hit the Wrigley Field scoreboard (installed, like the ivy, in 1937)
  • There’s a big gate in right field commonly called the “elephant’s gate,” because it was built to bring elephants into the field for the circus
  • Wrigley was the first park that allowed fans to keep foul balls
  • On June 13, 1956 a fan’s car, parked outside the ballpark on Waveland Avenue, was hit by by TWO home run balls. Cubs Eddie Miksis and Giants Willie Mays both hit the parked car—while the fan was inside watching the game.