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Vince Vitrano: Not For Broadcast

IN MY DAY...

GRUMPY OLD MAN TAKES KIDS TO BALLPARK

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Driving by Miller Park a couple weeks ago my son said, as he always does, "There's Miller Park."

If you've had many conversations with three year olds, you know they become fairly routine. It's the same dialog every time. This one always goes:

MAX: There's Miller Park

DAD: Yep. There it is.

MAX: That's where the Brewers play.

DAD: You're right Max.

MAX: Can we go there?

DAD: Yep... we'll go soon... the whole family.

This last time around, he added a new line. "Can we go there, and stop, and then go inside?"

Yeah. Time to take the kids to their first game. Older sister Ella had been to a few already, but this would be the first trip for Max and Olivia. It was exactly as expected.

Miller Park is the stadium of the future. Kids love to go, because there is so much to do and see. It's exactly the stadium we always wanted in Milwaukee, and the one it needs to be.

The kids had an absolute blast, particularly the two innings we spent in the concourse letting them run around an indoor jungle gym. Bernie's clubhouse was full of happy kids, and disappointed parents who wonder why they paid to see a baseball game... only to have their kids spend the whole time in a hallway on the playground.

As I am now a middle aged man dragging my own kids around the ballpark, I long for the old days.

Please imagine the rest of this rant expressed in my best "Grumpy Old Man" voice:

In my day... we didn't have Bernie's Clubhouse!

Your old man parked on Bluemound Road because God forbid he coughed up 3 bucks to park. You walked a mile into the stadium, the last part of which you stumbled on a loosely outlined dirt path down the 65 degree incline at Story Hill. You fell down, skinned your knee, narrowly avoided having some drunk land on you, and you better not cry... or you get hollered at.

You didn't pick where you wanted to sit. Approaching the ticket window was like a lottery. The guy in the window had a handful of seats. Some were box seats, some weren't. How about General Admission... upstairs or down? There's your choice.

You watched all of batting practice, so you could beg for a ball. You better hope you got one, 'cause it wasn't like dad was buying souvenirs. Remember, this is the guy who wouldn't pay to park. You really think you're getting a hat at the yard? Maybe a freebie day... we got a couple real, full length, wooden baseball bats. Those were winners.

Kicked out of your ball retrieving position at the rail (I hate when the people with front row seats arrive) you retreated to your seat... which may or may not be directly behind a pole. 

Better hope it wasn't cold, cause the only thing to keep you warm was the slightly elevated temperature in the nasty bathroom, and a Styrofoam Sports Service cup of luke-warm hot chocolate.  

And while we're on concessions... you got a hot dog and a soda and you liked it. There were no pizzas, no ribs, no chicken fillet, no fancy nothin'. Maybe you got a box of Cracker Jack or a licorice rope if you were real good. There was not walking endlessly looking for the Dippin' Dots guy. You know why? First, 'cause there were no Dippin' Dots. Second... 'cause every stand had the same thing. You got, what you got, and you liked it!

When all that fun was over... you sat. You watched baseball, because there wasn't anything else to watch. Sure, you waited anxiously for the 2-fisted Slopper "cartoon" on the scoreboard. Maybe you got to see a streaker... or some guy get arrested by County Sheriff's Deputies. For the most part you watched baseball... and if you complained you were bored... you didn't get to come next time.

That's what a trip to County Stadium was and you liked it!

Exit Grumpy Old Man voice now.

Don't get me wrong. Miller Park is exactly what it should be. My kids had a blast, and can't wait to go back. I just hope one day we'll be able to actually watch the games.

GO BREWERS!

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