In hindsight, we probably could have been arrested for trespassing. But it wouldn’t have been an adventure without a little risk.
I was bummed when I saw this week that the Mets were asking $869 for a pair of Shea Stadium seats once the season ends. That close to double what other teams have been asking, and light years beyond what I’d be willing to pay.
That means there won’t be an adventure to pick up the chairs like Will and I had in 2000 in Milwaukee.
Stadium seats were a very reasonable $100 if you were able to swing by County Stadium to pick them up. Milwaukee’s only about five hours from Grand Rapids, so Will made a baseball weekend of it and we planned a one-day roadtrip.
The letter from the Brewers said to pick up the chairs at Miller Park, which I thought was odd because the stadium was still under construction. Seemed odd that the team would remove the seats from County Stadium and haul them into the new building just to have fans take them back out.
But I follow instructions, so we pulled up to the team offices at Miller Park, kind of surprised to see only a couple cars in the parking lot.
The door opened, and it was apparent that the offices were not yet fully in use. There was cardboard on the floor to protect the carpets, and only a couple items scattered on desks.
So we started walking around, looking for some kind of sign to point us to the chair distribution point.
“Hello? Hello?” No one responded, so we kept walking and opening doors.
We pulled open on heavy door and discovered we were standing on the concourse of the new stadium, at that point still heavily under construction. Will quickly and smartly grabbed the door before it closed behind us — it would have locked us out.
There were no chairs to be seen, so clearly this was not where we were supposed to be. But after taking our time to get a closer look — and snapping off some photos — we went back inside.
Finally we encountered an employee, who was not happy that we were where we were, but not openly hostile, either. I showed him my letter, and he said the seats were available in the parking lot — way on the other side of the stadium.
And sure enough, there were all the chairs in neat rows and a drive-though lane where if you rolled down your window and showed the letter, an employee would run up and drop the chair in your trunk.
Miller Park rises above County Stadium.
There also were large tents off to the side with items that were both for sale and available through an auction. The Brewers did a nice job of making something available at every price point, so any fan could walk away from something. Far as I know, they’re still selling bricks in the Miller Park gift shop for $10 as they were when I was back two years ago.
After picking up a vial of infield dirt, we headed over to the auction section. Most of the items here were way out of our price range, especially since we’re not Brewers fans.
But the team was allowing everybody to have a good look — and touch — of everything there. We had great fun climbing into Bernie Brewer’s chalet, his outfield perch from which he’d slide into a giant beer stein after a Brewer hit a homer.
And, of course, no visit to Milwaukee is complete without some brats. The Brewers have an elaborate concession stand in the parking lot to cater to all the tail-gaters, and it was open during the seat dispersal. The brats are great, and the Secret Stadium Sauce is essential.
After that, we walked around both stadiums. Miller Park towered over County Stadium, which almost seemed to blend into its neighborhood, at least as much a stadium surrounded by parking lots could. Miller, however, could be seen from the interstate heading into the city, miles away.
I had seen one game at County, back in 1988 on our ballpark tour, and liked the friendly atmosphere and all the tailgating — best-smelling parking lot ever!
And we’ve been to Miller twice since then, including one trip that featured an audience with Bud Selig himself. Of course, it’s not quite as fun without the risk of being branded a trespasser.
The Milwaukee County Stadium chair in its new home, the baseball room.