In a matter of a few short seasons, I’ve gone from a girl that only mildly cared about sports in general to a diehard Milwaukee Brewers fan that only mildly cares about sports other than baseball.
I’ve always liked the Brewers because my family has always liked the Brewers. I recently saw a photo of myself when I was about 3 years old. I was wearing nothing but my older brother’s Brewers shirt playing in my front yard. I remember having a teeny Brewers hat as a kid and have vivid memories of running up and down the ramps at County Stadium. My parents were always big baseball fans and I’m quite thankful that they’ve passed that on to me. In the more recent past, I’ve dug up some mementos of theirs from the 80s, the Brewers heyday. I have my dad’s beer stein commemorating the 1982 World Series, a pennant from the ALCS that year and just today I walked in to my room to find an obviously used bleacher cushion emblazoned with the image of Barrel Man. My grandmother gave me her Brewers collectible glasses, bearing the likenesses of Robin Yount, Cecil Cooper and Gorman Thomas, among others. I park my car (appropriately named Bonnie. Diehards understand why) underneath a pennant my dad tacked to the rafters in the garage. You know, just in case I forget which side my car goes on. My mom recently gave me an ornament she’d painted the first year she and my dad were married. That ornament? A porcelain Brewers hat.
There’s one item I found amongst the rest, however, that has convinced me it’s my destiny to always love the Milwaukee Brewers: a calendar from 1983, the year I was born. In this calendar are pictures of various players. Robin Yount, who’s always been my favorite, is pictured in July, the month I was born. And Yount wore number 19, the day I was born. It’s kismet.
You’d never know it, though. As a kid, my family took me to a fair amount of games. I remember tailgating in the parking lots at County Stadium and always going with huge groups of people. I remember being there in 1992 when Yount got his 3000th hit and the crowd just standing and cheering for what seemed like forever. I remember going on a class fieldtrip in 7th grade and sitting in the bleachers, yelling at Greg Vaughn that he had a nice butt. I remember thinking I was going to miss the old stadium when they broke ground on Miller Park, even though I hadn’t been to a game in years.
What I wish I could pinpoint, however, is when I decided I was too cool for baseball. It had to have happened sometime between 1996 and 2001. I distinctly remember yelling at Vaughn and I distinctly remember going to my first game the year Miller Park opened, but why I didn’t care all those years in between, when I care so much now, is a mystery to me. And it’s not like 5 years without baseball is a long time in the grand scheme of things, but looking back as the fan I am today, I can’t believe I could go that long without attending a single game.
What I can pinpoint is the day I fell madly in love with the game of baseball, Brewers baseball in particular. April 9, 2004. How can a girl not fall in love on Opening Day? You will never experience the feeling you get on Opening Day any other day of the season. Even post season baseball doesn’t have the same feel. There’s something about the brisk air of spring inviting you in to the world of excitement and thrills and emotions that is baseball. Even though it was a last-minute decision to go to that game, I felt as if I’d been waiting for years for that day to come. It felt like the first time I’d ever been to a game, like I had no idea what to expect, my stomach full of butterflies, like I was the one walking out onto that field in front of 40,000 people. Even though I’d been to many Brewers games up to that point in my life, that game in particular made me realize what it meant to be a fan and I’ve never looked back.
Don’t ask me to recount details of that game. I couldn’t tell you who was in the starting lineup, who pitched, who had hits and scored runs–I can recall no stats whatsoever. I was so overwhelmed with just being there, caught up in the buzz of the crowd, that I barely paid attention. I cheered when they cheered and booed when they booed. I remember walking around Miller Park that day just soaking it all in. This was a day I would never want to forget. I may not be able to recount the actual game, but I remember the sights and sounds and smells. I remember that feeling in my stomach and I still get it every season when Opening Day rolls around. Ever since that day, Miller Park has branded itself in my adult memory, much in the same way that County Stadium did when I was a kid. When the baseball season starts, I need to be at the ballpark as often as I possibly can. No matter what, I can’t quell those feelings I get when I step through those turnstiles and why would I want to? I have yet to find something that can give me as much happiness that baseball can. It sounds a little sad, but it’s absolutely true. Baseball and the Brewers are my passion, one that’s found its way to me slowly but surely over the years. It’s something that I couldn’t imagine life without. I mean, why else would I suffer through these long Wisconsin winters if there wasn’t some sort of light at the end of the tunnel?
Completely unrelated, I’m guessing the majority of the commenters I’ve had recently failed to read the part of that post that said “I guess being a fan means different things to different people.” Still, I don’t like ballhawks and it’s pretty clear that they don’t like me. Let’s just leave it at that, as we all have to live with each other since we’re all baseball fans.