Been away from home for a few days and not in the right state of mind to play with my wife’s $2000 laptop. So, I am now catching up on everything I’ve missed.
I slept in the vehicle pictured below…
My vintage 23 foot 1977 Dodge Jamboree motorhome. A true oldie but goodie in all aspects. Normally reserved for Lambeau Field and Brewers opening day, this baby took everything we could give it and is still standing.
I arrived at Miller Park on Thursday around 3 pm and set up my tent in line (I had to save my spot).
No, I did not sleep in this thing. Come on people, this wasn’t my first rodeo.
I’m a seasoned veteran.
While everyone’s tents were tearing and blowing away from the wind, my little fella stood strong in the 30 mph winds that were ripping outside Miller Park over the weekend.
A strategically chosen location and a few sandbags inside anchored this baby down
(I was a boy scout, you know).
So, I waited, I mingled, I waited some more, I ate, I had a few beverages, etc.
Then, the cavalry started to arrive.
The first arrival was Matt. I play summer leagues with him. He’s our 2nd baseman.
Matt was just in time for the free pizza the Brewers were providing.
That’s Matt standing in the pizza line with the white and pinstriped Brewers jersey.
After we grabbed up our free pizza, we headed to the friendly confines (no, not the rat infested, crumbling Wrigley Field…but, my motorhome.
Next arrival was a friend of mine (Brent) that works on the Grounds Crew at Miller Park. Brent’s job is awesome. During games, his assignment is to attend to the visiting bullpen. So, if the players need a mound touch-up, he’s their man. Basically, he gets to stand in the visiting bullpen, watch the game and shoot the breeze with the visiting bullpen arms.
Talk about a sweet gig.
The next to arrive was my childhood friend Justin. Affectionately known as “Juddy” in our circle of friends, Justin and I have been best of friends since grade school. He’s a real stand-up guy (although he fell down a few times over the course of this party).
Our next attendee to arrive was “Ballhawk Shawn.” Shawn is a talented young ballhawk who has what it takes to break some of my records (apparently, he broke my single game baseballs snagged record of 13 by snagging his own 14. That’s a great day of snagging. Shawn has his own blog here. He tells me he will start blogging a bit more once the season starts. I hope so…he has some good ballhawking/autograph stories to share.
They were responsible for the production of my new “Happy Youngster” t-shirts.
Here’s a picture of Ross taking some cuts…
The last to arrive was a very well-known ballhawk at Milwaukee County Stadium and Miller Park. His name is Mike and he has lots of energy. He’s a CPA by day and a ballhawk by night. I believe his career game home run total stands at 26. He has snagged over a thousand career baseballs since 1987. He’s a fun guy to have around.
Here’s “Big Mike” enjoying some heat from the fire…
Mike’s a former college offensive lineman turned accountant. I’ve known Mike and his Dad for over 10 years now. He gave me my first bit of ballhawking advice back in 1998. I remember it vividly. He said, “rule #1 of batting practice…never watch a baseball you can no longer catch.” Great advice. Thanks for all the tips over the years, Mike.
Here’s a picture of me pract
icing my swing for the upcoming baseball season…
Dan and I in need of some sleep…
Here’s a picture of pure party destruction…
More of our party destruction…
I assure you…no one was hurt (physically) in the making of this scene.
A few feelings were probably hurt, though!
Here’s another group shot with a strange lady who stopped by the party…
That’s her in the red coat. We did not know her. She heard a few of “Big Mike’s” stories and I think she was in love. No, not really. But, she did want to skip the line and get in our spot with us. Are you kidding me, lady? We’ve been here since Thursday and you want to get in line with us Saturday morning? Whatever.
I think I will designate the lady pictured below (in red coat) as the first official
“Happy’s yahoo of the day”
I told the lady to hit the road (not those exact words but something to that effect.
As you can see by the picture, “Big Mike” befriended the lady but that was as far as she got. You can see her packing her bags and moving on in the picture above.
It’s all about principle…nothing personal, lady.
Finally, 5 am rolled around and the last three standing were: Dan, Juddy and I. The rest of the fellas had retreated home.
So, we decided to grab a quick nap before the line moved inside the stadium.
pic of us standing in yet another line inside of Miller Park…
Those are the so-called “World Famous Racing Sausages.” (I’ve seen those things run around so many times that it has lost its luster long ago). But, they’re a staple of Brewers home games, so what the heck.
I purchased my max. allowed (4) for Opening Day. Mission accomplished.
I’m a crazy Milwaukee Brewers fan. This much has been established. Many fans claim to be crazy about their sports teams. So, how crazy am I about the Brew Crew?
So crazy that I will be lining up for Brewers individual game tickets to go on sale three days in advance of the actual sale date.
Oh yeah…did I mention my purpose of going is not for the tickets? Nope. It’s for the camaraderie. The chance to party with other diehard Brewers fans.
It’s called “The Arctic Tailgate.”
Starting in February of 2007, the Milwaukee Brewers hatched a plan to generate some extra buzz for the start of individual game ticket sales. So, they came up with this.
They gave out special “Arctic Tailgate” t-shirts to commemorate the event. They brought in Brewers alumni players to greet the fans. They provided complimentary coffee and donuts to those who braved the cold. They even gave out a free hot dog, soda and bag of chips to the first 2000 fans in line.
Pretty cool, indeed.
I was there for the inaugural “Arctic Tailgate” celebration.
Here’s the shirt they gave me commemorating that event on February 23, 2008…
If my memory serves me well, both years the Milwaukee temperatures were hovering in the single digits. People were drinking, people were shivering, people were dreaming of warm and sunny days at the yard.
I was among those dreaming of the smells and sounds of the ballpark months in advance of those becoming reality.
Heck, I was even interviewed by the local news.
Click here for the article. The actual video footage of my interview is trapped on my DVR at the moment until I figure out how to burn it onto a disc (damn technology).
I froze my rear end off both of those years. Alcohol sure as hell didn’t help matters.
I didn’t rub my body down with vaseline. I didn’t use hand or boot warmers. I didn’t take drugs to ease the pain (“I swear to you, I’ve never taken performance enhancing drugs. Ever.
-Rafael Palmeiro -The Happy Youngster). It was so cold, I don’t think it would
I didn’t run laps around Miller Park to keep warm. I didn’t drink hot liquids. I didn’t snuggle up to a stranger. I didn’t snuggle up to an acquaintance.
I relied solely on guts and determination to make it through.
I was NOT on top of my game.
So, what will I be doing differently at the “Arctic Tailgate” this year?
I’m going to bring my heated motorhome.
The Rockpile Ranter has his spiffy MBU.
The Happy Youngster has his vintage MTU (Mobile Tailgating Unit).
It’s a classic 1977 Dodge Jamboree motorhome.
It looks a lot like the one pictured below but not that ugly green.
Instead, it’s ugly white and burnt orange.
Many good times have been had in that motorhome over the last 5 years. I originally bought it for my many trips to the hallowed grounds of Lambeau Field in Green Bay.
I’ve had this thing for 5 years and it never occurred to me to use it for this event.
You can read all about it come this weekend.
That is, if my brain isn’t too clogged with beer and bratwurst.