Midnight Batting Practice in Cream City

Well, it was another in a series of weird weeks. I try and try to wrap my head around what’s been happening to me… but I might as well actually be trying to wrap my literal, physical head around something. Time travel. What the hell?

I’m still not entirely sure what my approach should be moving forward. Maggie’s invitation to stop by the press box is so, so tempting. It would be magical. It would also be incredibly dangerous and stupid. I don’t know how to behave in 1953! I’m not even sure what I’d wear. My dad left me a few tweed jackets he had as a college student in the ‘50s. He was even about the same size then as I am now, tall as a tree and thin as a rail. This is a happy coincidence, made all the more improbable by the fact that we’re not actually related. So do I grab some oxfords and a skinny tie and try to pass? People spoke differently back then, too. I guess it’s good that I watch so many old movies. Maybe I should start taking notes.

Of course, this is all assuming that fashion and speech in our universe are comparable to fashion and speech in Maggie’s. There’s a very real chance that they aren’t at all. I’ve been trying to remember details of my close encounter a couple of weeks ago… it’s fuzzy, but I think things generally seemed pretty old-fashioned. With the typewriters and cigars and everything.

Fortunately, I still have some time to get my thinking straight and drum up the necessary courage, should I decide to drop in during a game – the Hops are on the road until Thursday.

Which means that Schlitz Stadium was empty last night.

I know I probably shouldn’t have, but I’ve been so far inside my head lately that I think I needed to do something kind of dumb. So I grabbed my bat and a bag full of balls and took a little trip. I’ve discovered that staying over there becomes a lot easier the farther away I wander from the wormhole’s mouth. It’s kind of like prying apart two magnets. Once you overcome that initial force, it’s really pretty easy. So I hopped through, found the concourse, and headed down into the stands. A few lights were on, but as far as I knew I was entirely alone. It’s a hell of a feeling, looking around at 40,000 empty seats. I jumped a railing on the first-base side and stepped onto the field, and all my childhood dreams returned. Actually, I wonder if they ever left at all.

I don’t know what it is that’s so pleasing about dirt and grass. Rich, red dirt and closely-clipped, dewy emerald grass. I must have spent over an hour swinging out there, mostly for the short right-field fence. Of course nothing I hit actually left the yard. But the physicist in me chalks this up to swinging at balls that are in free fall, as opposed to balls with some forward momentum. I thoroughly enjoyed it, in any case.

On my way back, I stepped outside for a moment to admire the stadium from the street. Red brick, paned glass, and blue and green awnings. A very classic look. I also spied a crumpled up copy of the Cream City Herald sitting in a waste bin. Here’s the latest from Maggie:


Ask Maggie

By Margaret Piper

Have a question about our Cream City Hops? Maggie Piper has answers. Go ahead – just try and throw her a curve!

Q: The Hops are off to another slow start. Any hope of them turning it around this year?

Jimmy C., Racine

A: Jimmy, the season is still young. The Hops’ current record of 11-18 certainly leaves something to be desired, but I’m not prepared to write this team off only one month into the season. The talent is there to win some ballgames. The team just isn’t firing on all cylinders quite yet.

Q: Why does it seem like Gopher Ball Grant always gets the ball in close games? Enough is enough! Time to let someone else pick up a few innings!

Tom D., Deerfield

A: Honestly, I have no idea. His 7 earned runs in twelve innings are good for a 5.25 ERA. He’s given up four long balls already this season, walked six, struck out two, and he’s hit a batter. His fastball is straight as a string, and so is his curve. He did pitch three very effective seasons for Cream City some years ago, though, and has shown glimpses of that form on occasion. Yesterday he worked around a two-out double to strike out the side in an inning of action. He and player-manager Wrench Ruxley also remain close friends and fishing buddies in the off-season, and Ruxley has made it known that he has no plans to shuffle his bullpen just yet. Let’s hope Grant can right the ship!

Q: Wrench Ruxley has struggled so far at the plate. Do you think the pressure of managing is affecting his game? I also wanted to tell you that you inspired me to enroll in a journalism class this semester.

Joan W., Beaver Dam

A: Well, it’s true that Ruxley has a lot more responsibility this season than he has in seasons past. I expect he’s simply adjusting to that new responsibility, and will start to relax at the plate when he feels more comfortable with his managerial duties. In fact, Wrench has smacked three homers and driven in eight so far on the road trip, bringing his batting average up to .265. And good luck in class!

Q: What’s your favorite thing to eat at the ballpark?

Aaron R., West Bend

A: Tough one. I’ve always been partial to soft pretzels and Cracker Jack. With a new Gus Grasshopper mint soda on the side, naturally.

Q: How about dinner next weekend?

– Guillaume G., Cream City

A: I’m flattered. But won’t you be on the mound Saturday night? How about that new pitch you told me you were working on in spring training?

That’s it for me this week, folks! Be sure to check out my daily column for updates throughout the road trip. The Hops return to Cream City on Thursday, when they start a three-game bout with the fourth-place Washington Wigs. First pitch is scheduled for 3:00pm, so ask your boss if you can leave the office early.

See you at the ballpark!

Maggie Piper


I’ll let you know whether I venture over to the press box during the upcoming homestand. In the meantime, go Brewers! Would be awfully nice if we could beat Cincinnati this afternoon.

-- Jake

For those who wish to catch up:
Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five

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