The previous day I had been at Target Field for Opening Day. Immediately following the Twins game I packed for Wisconsin. My family and I left our house the next morning (Tuesday) on our way to Wisconsin. We were staying near Milwaukee at our relatives’ house for a few days. After eating an early dinner at my grandparents’ house, my dad and I drove to Miller Park, the home of the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers have been my favorite baseball team since I was very little, so I kind of adore Miller Park.
We arrived at Miller Park at 5 (2 hours early) because I was going to go into Friday’s to talk with Shawn Bosman while my dad bought a new Brewers hat from the team store.
I noticed two things as my dad and I walked up to the stadium from the parking lot:
- The roof was closed because the temperature outside was no higher than 30 degrees.
- For the second day in a row I saw ice on the ground outside the ballpark (the previous day at Target Field) as I walked to a gate. This was a little depressing.
Friday’s Front Row Grill is located in left field of Miller Park.
There is a “Front Row” that actually overlooks the field. Friday’s has an hour time limit on those tables, and you also have to spend a minimum amount of money to sit there.
I got in free by saying that I was meeting Shawn, who was already inside. In the picture above, he is standing up facing the camera. Shawn is Milwaukee’s number 1 ballhawk. He has snagged over 1,650 baseballs over the last 9 years and 23 of them are game home run balls. Shawn had already been there for an hour or two, and had caught a bp homer on the fly that was hit by Ryan Braun. This is the view from behind the tables:
The Left Field Loge overhangs to the right:
There is also a bit of an overhang to the left from the Harley Davidson Deck, so in order for a ball to be hit here it has to be placed perfectly. Unfortunately, the Ryan Braun homer was all the action either of us were going to get while at Friday’s.
Shawn gave me a few tips to use around Miller Park and we talked until the gates opened. In case you are interested you can follow Shawn on Twitter by following @BallhawkShawn. Shawn also writes the blog The Inherent Dangers of Watching Professional Baseball, so you should probably check that out! We were already inside the park, but were contained to a small area of the concourse in left field until the other gates opened.
When the gates finally opened, the Rockies were just getting in the cage so we both went to the left field loge. Shawn caught two home runs in the first 5 minutes, but that was most of the action. After the first 10 minutes had passed, the sun was shining in through the windows on the first base side in the 400 level onto the left field loge. The sun was so bad that even when I used my glove to block the sun, I could still barely see the field. Just to give you an idea of how bright the sun was, here is a picture that I took 30 minutes later:
One of the reasons I like Miller Park so much is because of the left field loge. Unlike Target Field, Miller Park offers outfield seating that is somewhat ballhawk friendly. I would much rather go for hit balls over toss ups any day of the week. But because of the sun, there was no way I could see the ball.
Every time the sun pierced my eyes, I felt my chances of getting a baseball were deteriorating. So, a few minutes later I decided to relocate here:
I got my first ball of the day there from this member of the Rockies:
I’m fairly certain that it is the same ball that he was holding in the picture above.
Since I know I’d be pushing my luck by trying to get another ball in this same spot, I decided to move to the Rockies dugout. I got my second ball from another “member” of the Rockies:
Just before batting practice ended I got my third ball from Rick Matthews – the Rockies Baseball Operations Assistant. Here is that ball:
I typically don’t like mooching off the dugouts because I know there are other baseballs to be snagged in other parts of the stadium. However, much like the day before, this was a very slow batting practice. Even though I prefer hit balls rather than asking for toss ups, I’m still fine with asking for toss ups. If I need to mooch off the dugout to get a ball, then I probably will.
When bp ended I moved to the Rockies bullpen, but was unsuccessful in my quest for ball #4. I met my dad back at our seats – on the aisle of section 218, directly behind home plate on the second level.
This was PRIME foul ball territory. Unfortunately, the moment I got up to stand in the giant cross aisle I was yelled at by an usher. This usher was extremely jumpy and aggressive. He said (yelled), “STOP ROAMING, YOU CAN’T ROAM THIS AISLE! Let me see your ticket! Go sit down, you can’t stand here!” He was very unreasonable and I didn’t want to deal with him so I went to talk to the other usher near my section. This usher was NOT aggressive or jumpy. Yet, our conversation didn’t really go anywhere. I explained that I was hoping to catch a foul ball and that I had read the rules for Miller Park. There was no rule that said there was no standing in the cross aisles. This usher didn’t get mad at me, but he didn’t know how he should respond. When I asked why I couldn’t stand there he responded, “There are little signs on the wall that say no autographs.” I wasn’t talking about autographs. I clarified myself by saying, “I’m not trying to get the broadcasters’ autographs. I’m trying to catch a foul ball.” Again, he responded, “You can’t be here because there are no autographs.” This was really frustrating me so I decided to let it go. I’m not exaggerating about the ushers either. I was never rude to either of the ushers but they still thought that they should be grouchy and angry with me. The first usher seemed genuinely furious.
In the third inning something incredible happened. As Ryan Braun settled into the box, my dad leaned over to me and said, “Watch this, he is going to hit a home run!” Less than 5 seconds later Braun sent the ball to right field for a 2 run blast. That was the only specific baseball prediction I have ever heard my dad make. Wow, just wow. I just sat there and didn’t know what to say.
I sat with my dad for the first 5 innings and then watched the next inning and a half from the right field bleachers directly behind the Rockies bullpen. While I was there I encountered the most drunk and obnoxious people I have ever seen in my life. There were 5-7 guys who must have been just passed legal drinking age. They were absolutely hammered. I had already seen a bunch of really drunk people at the game, but these guys had to the most to drink by far. They had been heckling the bullpen catcher the whole time:
They kept yelling crude and sexual insults at him – insults that I won’t share with you because they are so messed up. I really have no idea why they didn’t get ejected because a security guard talked to them twice, and the usher talked to them on at least 3 different occasions. On top of that, the few other people who were actually in the section were getting very annoyed with them. I don’t know why I stayed there for an inning and a half, because I couldn’t wait to sit by my dad instead of those idiots.
At the beginning of the 9th I went to stand at the top of the aisle nearest to the Rockies dugout in order to get to the dugout as soon as the game ended.
While I was standing there I met a kid named Cole. Let me just say that I knew right off the bat that Cole was going to be a cool kid to talk to. I was right! Cole is 14 and is a grapher (autograph collector) at Miller Park. He has collected autographs since he was 4 years old and now he has hundreds of them.
He goes to as many Brewers games as he can with his family. Last year he attended 35 games. We also talked a little about myself and ballhawking. I gave him my card and told him we should say in touch. Later that night he emailed me and told me he made an MLBlog called Cole’s Hot Corner. Don’t hesitate to check out Cole’s blog. He is a great writer! You can also follow him on Twitter by following @coleshotcorner.
Once the game ended we hurried to the dugout. I tried to get a ball from the umpire while Cole tried getting autographs from the same spot. We were both unsuccessful because the ushers pulled us both aside. The first usher yelled, “What the hell do you think you’re doing?!” Cole and I looked at each other in confusion. The ushers continued, “That’s the ownership right there!” I said, “Yeah, ok?” The usher seemed to get way more furious when I said that. He responded, “You two just hopped over his row of seats and you’re scaring the ownership away! You are pissing him off!” I defended Cole and I by pointing out that we weren’t even in the same row as the owner. The owner was 2 rows ahead of us. They were yelling at the wrong people. Instead of yelling at Cole and me, they should’ve been yelling at the fans who actually did something wrong. Because of this, I had missed my 1 chance at getting one final baseball.
On our way out my dad and I had an usher take our picture.
Cole and I said goodbye and planned on seeing each other the next day at the game. Just like the previous day, the game was very long. The Brewers lost 8-4. Here is the box score:
A Piece of The Game MVP:
Player of The Game:
Carlos Gonzalez: He went 2-5 and had 2 RBI. He helped his team win.
Here is my final haul from the game:
Those booklets were left over from opening day, so I grabbed a few on my way out of the stadium.
- 3 balls at this game
- 9 balls in 2 games this season = Avg. 4.5 balls per game
- 12 consecutive games with at least 1 ball
- 12 consecutive games with at least 2 balls
- 6 consecutive games with at least 3 balls
- 3 consecutive games @ Miller Park with at least 1 ball
- 3 consecutive games @ Miller Park with at least 2 balls
- 2 consecutive games @ Miller Park with at least 3 balls
- 1 consecutive game @ Miller Park with at least 4 balls
- Gotten at least 1 ball from 12 different teams
- 53 total balls