Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fathers, Sons & Baseball

I always kept score when I was a kid.
My Dad taught me how.
Some my fondest memories growing up were summer days spent with my Dad in the upper deck of County Stadium watching the Milwaukee Brewers, somehow always expecting a win no matter how bad the team was that year. And there were plenty of bad years back then.

My Dad was a schoolteacher so he was around more in the summer. Fortunately, the Brew Crew moved to town in 1970, when I was 11. It was the perfect age to form a bond. It didn't matter that for the first several years that the team was never close to being a contender.

We generally sat high above home plate in the upper grandstand. I don't recall the exact price, but I know it was less than $3 (I found a ticket in the lower grandstand on eBay with a face value of $3). Whatever the cost the memories are priceless.

Warm afternoons and evenings with my Dad learning how to watch a game and try to out think the managers. Unlike some of my friends who liked to roam around the stadium, I never wanted to miss a pitch.

And then there were the odd things that happened in the stands. Fans too drunk to know where they were or what they doing, with beer cups (yes, vendors used to pour beer into wax cups from glass bottles) stacked at their feet. Dad would tell me stories of the old Brewers, a Triple-A team owned for a time by Bill Veeck.

The Milwaukee baseball tradition was passed down. And it was extended with new stories. One favorite was the time the fan next to us, disgusted with the Brewers' play made a costly error. That game we were sitting in the mezzanine, which provided you with a counter to set your food, drink and scorecard down. It was the closest thing to skyboxes back then.

The fan, reacting to the play, picked up what he apparently believed was his peanut wrapper and sent it sailing, then floating on the box seats below. Only trouble was, he tossed the bills he had received in change instead. It cost him more than $10. A lot of money then.

Of course, with a bad team there were low moments, too. But even they turned out OK. I always remember a game against the Cleveland Indians ( tells me it was June, 21, 1973). Buddy Bell and the Tribe slaughtered the Crew. It was 8-0 in the third. It's the only time I remember us leaving a game so early. But we were both bored. Instead, we played catch at home. It almost seemed like playing hooky!

As time went on, the Brewers grew to be a contender. But the early memories in the Upper Deck with my Dad are still my favorites.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for such a good father's day story. I too have fond memories of baseball games with my dad. He too, taught me to keep score, which I still enjoy doing to this day (mostly on TV now). When my son was old enough, I started taking him to baseball games. I let him decide how much time we spent in our seats vs walking around and exploring the stadium. As he got older we watched more and more of the games. One of the biggest thrills came when he was a winner in the "Major League Moments" contest, and got to stand in right field next to Jeremy Bernitz during the National Anthem. Although he lost interest as a teenager, I hope someday, if he has children, they will be baseball fans together.

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