It was the last week of the ’06 season. I drove down to Wrigley to
catch the Brewers vs. the Cubs. At the time, I thought this was going
to be my last road trip of the season. I was among the first fans in
line to get a spot on the basket (I’ve always had good luck at Wrigley)
for batting practice.
Gates opened. I ran up the ramp to the
top of the bleachers. I sprinted down to the front row and claimed my
usual spot in left center field right on the basket.
were finishing up their portion of BP and the Brewers pitchers started
making their way out to left field. Brewers pitcher (former) Matt Wise
was standing in left field. I yelled out his name and gave him a fist
pump. He acknowledged recognizing me from Miller Park. I asked him if
he wanted to trade caps (like he wanted mine, right?). He said he
needed it for a couple more days. He then said if I wanted it, I would
have to come to St. Louis (the Brewers were finishing their season in
St. Louis). I responded by saying, “alright, I’ll see you in St.
I went home that night and told my wife what had
transpired. A couple days passed before I finally asked her
(tongue-in-cheek) if we could road trip to St. Louis for a day. Being
her spontaneous self, she said, “let’s do it.”
So, we left
Milwaukee Saturday and drove to St. Louis to attend the final game of
the 2006 season. We got into town late and checked into our hotel. We
were staying at the Hyatt Regency in downtown St. Louis. It was a
beautiful hotel not far from the stadium.
Sunday morning came,
we ran into Bob Uecker at the continental breakfast bar (not your
ordinary complimentary continental breakfast) and we knew it would be a
great day…by the way, Uecker was not staying with the rest of the
Brewers team due to a stalker…in case you’re wondering.
breakfast, we walked over to the new Busch and camped out where we
could say hello to the Brewers players and still be in a spot to get
some scalped tickets.
Getting tickets to this game proved to
be difficult. First of all, it was the last regular season game of the
year for both teams. Second, the Cardinals had not yet clinched their division. Lastly, it was still the first year at new Busch Stadium.
ended up getting scalped tickets about 20 rows up from the field by 3rd base for nearly double face-value.
Whatever…we didn’t come all this way to not go to the game.
we were waiting outside, we had the chance to congratulate many of the
Brewers players on a job well done that season (whether they deserved
it or not).
When the gates opened, I went down to the Brewers
dugout for batting practice instead of trying to ballhawk. This proved
to be a great decision.
By the Brewers dugout, we were
congratulating every player on a job well done and to enjoy the
offseason. This is when things got interesting.
One of my
favorite young players on the Brewers, Outfielder Corey Hart popped out
of the dugout. He acknowledged our fanfare and walked to the batting
cage to hit. After he was done hitting, he walked over to our spot
above the dugout and gave me a head nod. After he nodded, he pushed
his game bat to me over the top of the dugout. Sweet!
Here’s a couple pictures of the bat Corey Hart gave to us October 1, 2006.
catcher Mike Rivera jumped in on the action, tossing up a game bat (not
shown) with the batting gloves (below) strapped around the handle of
It gets weirder…
About 20 minutes later, Brewers Infielder Jeff Cirillo took his turn in
the batting cage. After he was done hitting, he started walking toward
us with two bats in his hands. He chose one of the two and looked up
at me from about 20 feet away. He gave me a head nod and faked as if
he was going to throw the bat to me! I pointed at my chest as if to
say, “me?” He nodded once again and let the bat fly. Now, I’ve caught a
baseball a zillion times, but a bat? A bat proved to be a little
harder to catch…but I caught it.
The Jeff Cirillo gamer.
The Brewers ended up winning the game 5-3 but the Cardinals still clinched the Central Division with an Astros loss. They had the Astros game on the big screen while this one was still being played. It was sorta cool to witness the stadium going nuts when the Cards clinched.
But, before the Cards came to bat in the bottom of the 9th, April and I went down to the Brewers dugout and found two seats near the front row. Francisco Cordero closed out the game and the season for the Brew Crew. We stood up and cheered as the Brewers came out of the dugout to congratulate each other. It was important that they got the win because that meant the entire team would come out of the dugout. Maybe some more souvenirs?!
I was right.
Brewers pitchers Matt Wise (like he promised), Doug Davis, Chris Capuano and Francisco Cordero all tossed up their game hats to me. Wow…what a day!
The Doug Davis # 49 game hat.
Chris Capuano # 39 game hat.
That ended one of the greatest days I have ever had at a Major League baseball game. We walked out of that stadium with so much stuff in our hands that people probably thought I was a thief.
It pays to follow your team on the road!