This is pretty long... if you want to do a TL;DR, just scroll down to the end bit.
I've been a city kid my whole life. Aside from one year in adulthood, I've never had an address that didn't read "Milwaukee, WI." My earliest memories of the Milwaukee Brewers was the excitement & electricity of the '82 playoffs & World Series. I remember my parents talking about it (neither of which are baseball fans, but were caught up in the hype) and my older brother bringing home newspapers from his paper route (Journal), which I'd flip through and find the photos of the games. During the '82 season, I was able to go with my brother's Boy Scout Troop on a tour of County Stadium... we got to go out on the field, see behind the scenes, etc.
You'd think that this early introduction in 1982 would lead me immediately into fandom, or at least really fuel my interest level in Milwaukee baseball... but it didn't. I only became a fan after seeing a doctor...
In 1983, I was diagnosed with tinnitus, which affected my sleeping since I wouldn't doze off because the ringing in my ears was too loud in the quiet of my bedroom. My dad brought me his Realistic AM radio from his basement workshop and tuned it to the Brewers game. It helped me fall asleep because the radio distracted me from hearing the high-pitched squealing in my ears. It was just a remedy... but from there, it became routine. Every night when going to bed, I'd tune in to 620 and listen to the game, except for the West Coast games which usually started after I'd already been in bed for an hour... but sometimes I'd stay up long enough to hear the game start.
During the winters I'd listen to the Bucks games, but it was just a stop-gap until the baseball season started.
So, it was easy to start following the team, the players, even as a little kid, since nearly every spring/summer/early fall night had me tuned in for the games. The newspapers used to put a whole page of players at the start of the season... all the guys, their stats, where the lived, where they were from, nicknames... and I used to hang that on my wall next to my bed so that I could visualize what a player looked like. I collected baseball cards for a few years & I'd sit in bed with cards of the opposing team to see who they were, too.
Of course, once I was old enough to stay up and watch games on Super 18, I realized something was different in the household. I was the only one watching the games. My family was not a baseball family. With my parents, I only went to 3 games at County Stadium. BUT, for a few years during that time, I convinced my mom to sign me up for the Pepsi Kids Fan Club. A few schoolmates did the same & we used to take our bikes down to the stadium during the summer for day games with our Kids Club tickets. Sometimes one of the guy's dads would get day game tickets and let us have them. We'd always have a great time & someone's mom usually packed a bag of snacks for us. It was a very "pure" boyhood era...bikes, baseball, peanuts and cracker jack. It was the late 80s, so the Brewers teams weren't super great, but I was finding it more and more important that I stay current on what was going on with the team & around the league.
I spent many nights glued to the TV in Jr. High and High School. I watched the no-hitter in 1987 live. I watched Yount's 3000th. I remember sitting in the basement alone, watching the games, and when a great play was made, through the window I could hear our neighbors cheering and clapping in their house. I felt like they were real fans & I knew that when I grew up, I'd be the same way.
In the 90s, as a teen, I had more personal freedom and was able to get to County Stadium more often... and it was during those games (it was during some terrifically dark years for the Crew) that I realized something very important: Sitting in the stadium, I was at peace. It was a very peaceful experience. Granted, lean years = vacant seats and smaller attendance numbers, so that played into it with no one crowding me... but it also came to me while listening to the radio as I had as a small child... .as I watched games on TV. I realized baseball was comforting to me. There was so much more than meets the eye & I started really picking up on the intricacies. I marveled at how something relaxing was also very engaging and full of nuance, with moments of pure action.
That's when I knew I was a hardcore Brewers fan. I'd always kind of assumed Brewers Fandom was... if not commonplace, at least consistent. But when people around me would respond with a Gas Face and a "Ew, why?" when I mentioned going to a Brewers game, I realized I was in deep. They were my team, that's "why." They're something I've followed nearly my whole life. When it was no longer fashionable to be a Brewers fan, I was. They've never been a glamorous choice... they don't have deep historical roots as a franchise (Though MKE is steeped in baseball history going back to the mid-1800s)... and when they did field a competitive team, there weren't many, if any, "pretty boy" superstars... they were blue collar guys. They were characters. Milwaukee is forever the underdog, and that's fine by me.
When I was 24, I was a full-time single parent. One of my few moments of indulgence was being able to watch & listen to Brewers games. It was the summer of 2002. It was not a good year for me. It was not a good year for the Brewers. I was on food stamps. Jose Hernandez swung and missed like it was a talent. But this was MY TEAM. I was struggling and they were struggling. Their victories, and even moral victories, meant something to me.
As we started hearing about the rebuild...about these guys named JJ, Rickie, Prince, Corey, Yovanni, etc... there was hope coming. It mirrored the rebuild of my own life. I was able to start going back to school to get a degree; the Crew had a .500 season... I got married; the Crew has a winning season for the first time since I was in Jr. High. I finally had someone to share Brewers baseball with, the highs and lows.
We all know what happened from 2008 until now, the good and the bad. But I'm very excited to be experiencing another rebuild, especially one done right. "Stay on target... Stay on target..."
My wife was a peripheral baseball fan when I met her. She latched on quickly once I was around & is a pretty big Brewers fan now & follows MLB pretty closely. She has strong opinions on the "neighborhood play", bullpen usage, changes to intentional walks, people who leave in the 7th, or even worse, people who leave with 2 outs in the 9th, broadcasters who use the words "no hitter" during a no hitter, etc... she has a deep love for Brewers baseball.
We watch games every night & plenty of MLB network programming. I like that I'm no longer alone watching the Brewers. I like that in our house, we clap and cheer when good things happen. I still have my old Realistic AM radio that my dad gave me.. it's a tangible link to the birth of me being a life-long Brewers fan & I still find peace watching my favorite team take the field.