In 1957, my father was in utero when the Milwaukee Braves triumphantly won the World Series. 25 years later, I was in utero when the Milwaukee Brewers tragically lost the World Series in 1982. Both of my children were born into the current rebuilding era of the Brewers, which will hopefully lead to the first World Series championship by the franchise in the not-too-distant future. Milwaukee baseball has been a family affair for at least 60 years. It’s in our blood.
Though I was a casual fan of the Brewers and baseball in general as a kid, my love for the Brewers has grown exponentially over the past 10 years. I don’t just see the team as a sports organization from the metropolitan area that I was born and raised in. I see it as a social fabric for the community, an ongoing narrative about underdogs rising up, a relationship builder and sustainer, and a constant during the trials and tribulations of life. And if Miller Park is like a second physical home to me, then Brew Crew Ball is like a second virtual home to me. I check out the site multiple times a day, enjoy the camaraderie of the contributors to the page, and have even written a handful of posts… mostly about bobbleheads (here, here, here, and here). However, the two posts that I’m most proud of are the ones that illustrate the emotional connection I have with Brewers and baseball: A Love Letter to Craig Counsell and Baseball is a metaphor for life.
Last Saturday, I attended the game against the Diamondbacks where Chase Anderson had a no-hitter going into the eighth inning. Sitting next to my wife, 18 rows behind home plate, I was on pins and needles with each pitch he threw.
I turned to my wife and said, "I’m not going to lie. If he throws a no-hitter, I’m probably going to cry."
She responded, "You didn’t cry at our wedding." (In my defense, I did get misty-eyed.)
I shot back with "Well, I was a monster back then." We laughed. But it was true… sort of.
Becoming a father for the first time in 2014 has really turned me into a sap. I never used to cry at anything. Now whenever I go to The Selig Experience (7 times now!), I almost bawl my eyes out every time I watch that video. And I’m not ashamed of it. Brewers baseball is part of my core and it deepens as the years go by. And that brings me to this date…
September 23, 2011.
2011 was a big year for my love of the Brewers, culminating in my wife (fiancé at the time) and I attending the September 23 game against the Marlins. We sat in section 129 and though I don’t remember what inning it was, I do recall how it all played out:
Yovani Gallardo pitched the ball. Some Marlins player fouled it off past the left field foul line. Ryan Braun picked up the ball and tossed it into the stands. After it was batted around by eager fans, the ball landed under the seat directly behind me. No one was sitting in the seat. I nonchalantly reached back and grabbed the ball. The people around me started losing their minds. I put the ball in my pants pocket. The fact that I got a ball tossed up by Braun on the day that the Brewers might win the division for the first time in 29 years still hadn’t clicked in my brain. The woman who occupied the seat where the ball landed returned to her seat. Her friends told her what happened. She yelled, "Aww, man! And it’s my birthday!" I felt no sympathy for her and pushed the ball deeper into my jeans pocket. It was all still so surreal to me.
Then the Brewers won and nobody left Miller Park. Everybody stayed to cheer on the Cubs as their game against the Cardinals was played on the scoreboard. A Cardinals loss was a Brewers NL Central Division championship.
St. Louis lost and Miller Park went insane. "Electric" is sometimes an overused cliché, but gosh darn it, was that place electric that night. You could feel it in your chest. I didn’t cry that day, but I did get misty-eyed. And I shared it all with the love of my life.
I know what 4 of the 5 best days of my life are: my wedding day, the birth of my daughter, the birth of my son, and September 23, 2011. I’d like to think that the fifth best day of my life will be when the Brewers win the World Series for the first time. I can’t imagine how hard I’m going to cry when that happens.