One Time At Milwaukee County StadiumK. Praslowicz
One of my best childhood highlights through the 1980s and early 90s was every year in August when my dad would round up the family and drag us all to Milwaukee to catch a Milwaukee Brewer’s home series at Milwaukee County Stadium. I don’t recall every being a huge baseball fanatic, or even caring all that much about the games, but I still looked forward to the trips and made my own fun every year that we went there. This included a few things such as:
- The Two Fisted Slopper public service address.
- Generally exploring the stadium on my own and trying to catch views of the game from all possible seating areas for the first seven innings. I remember thinking that the people who had the job of a walk-around concessionist had the best job in the world. I mean, getting paid to wander around the stadium?! Golden!
- Hoping beyond hope that I’d get my face on the monochrome big screen during the seventh inning stretch. Never did, but one time noticed the person was only a section over. Ran real quick and did get my arm on the screen. I’m sure you remember that.
- Eternally waiting to catch a foul ball. Always a foul ball, though. We never sat in the bleachers, so catching a home run was out of the question.
- Waiting around for what seemed like hours to leave because my dad never wanted to sit around in the traffic created by the parking lot clearing out after a game.
Those are just the general memories that happened year in and year out at County Stadium but there are a few more specific unique ones in the memory banks.
- Going to a game on commemorative cup night. Nothing special of that in itself, except that as I mentioned above, we would often wait until they started turning out the lights to leave the stadium. On this particular commemorative cup night, we were given the task of collecting as many cups as we could that were left behind by people who didn’t want them. Let's just say that we left with a very large stack of cups. The faces of Robin Yount, Jim Gantner, and Paul Molitor were at the table for many of meals for years to come due to this.
- Never actually catching a damned foul ball. Although my sister did catch one tipped into the stands by Tino Martinez. It took a bounce and then skipped off her forehead, so she earned it.
- I feel pretty certain we were at the game when Jim Gantner suffered his career-threatening knee injury. This old new article puts it as happening at a home game in mid-August, so the timeline adds up. But still, a little bit hazy on that one.
However, there was that one time
Hazy memories aside, the experience at Milwaukee County Stadiums that has stuck with me the most over happened on May 29, 1994.
Actually, I only can include the date because it was easy to find with Google. I haven’t been holding onto the date in my head for the past twenty years. See, May 29, 1994, was the date that the Milwaukee Brewers were retiring Robin Yount’s number in a ceremony before the game. My oldest brother was a Robin Yount die-hard his entire life and wanted to go to the game to see his sports hero’s celebration. I gathered one of my friends up and we all drove to Milwaukee that day.
Tangent memory for a moment. As we passed through Fond du Lac, Wisconsin a kid in the back seat of a car passing up on the freeway gave my friend & I the finger. That car stayed more or less in our vicinity for the next seventy miles and we ended up parking two spots down from them in the parking lot of County Stadium. Nothing happened, I just found that coincidence interesting.
ANYWAYS. We got to the stadium early enough for batting practice. My friend and I went over to the stands near the left-field foul post to see if we could catch a foul ball. I’m still not certain if I ever had managed to be the lucky person to catch on in our years of going to ballgames.
What happened next? WOW!*
I’ve has seen this above video around on the Internet for a few years now. Usually, it is accompanied with a caption along the lines of The worst woman in the world! I, however, do not believe she is the worst foul ball related person in the world as I remember 5/29/94.
Amongst the people near us also hoping to be blessed with a foul ball was a typical looking boy of roughly the age of six, and a trailer trashy kind of man who appeared to be in his late 20s to early 30s.
A foul ball eventually came our way. It landed a few rows up from me, so I had no hope of getting it. However, it did roll to right between The Boy and The Guy. Both of them grabbed it at the same time, and they both wanted it badly.
A struggle ensued.
The Guy starts trying to yank the ball out of The Boy’s hands, but The Boy holds on tight. Trying harder and harder to win the struggle for the foul ball The Guy eventually starts tugging at it hard enough that the kid’s feet lift off the ground. The kid if rattled and is starting to cry as horrified bystanders start yelling “Let the kid have the ball!” to The Guy. He was set on making that ball his trophy.
A few more tugs that failed to get the ball away from the kid and WHAM! The Guy starts throwing kidney shots on The Boy to try to make him break his grip on the ball. The Boy starts crying real hard now, but still holds on tight to the ball as this grown adult is lashing out at him and throwing him around like a rag doll. Everyone around is yelling at The Guy and security quickly shows up to subdue him.
The entire incident was probably a minute top, but it felt like forever. The parents of The Boy and some security calmed him down while checking under his shirt for any wounds, while the rest of security escorted the guy past us on his way out. I recall his head being down and hearing him defeatedly mumbling in a sad little voice “All I wanted was the ball.”
I’m not sure if the guy was drunk or not, but I think he may have been the first time I had actually seen the fabled Milwaukee County Stadium Two Fisted Slopper.
Thinking back about it now, this probably also was the last time I ever was at the stadium before it got demolished in 2001. And it is definitely the last time I ever cared about trying to acquire a foul ball.
*Sorry. My clickbait is slipping out.