2010 Regular Season at Miller Park and the Milwaukee Brewers are hosting the Minnesota Twins. There are other stadiums with retractable roofs. But this one is fan-shaped that starts at midpoint and extends out to the perimeter of the structure. Completed in 2001, its one of the largest construction projects in Wisconsin history, great place for a ball game. Casey McGehee and Rickey Weeks hit home runs for Milwaukee which means “Bernie Brewer” went down his slide beyond left field. Prince Fielder was still roaming first base before the career ending injury in 2016. This was my second visit and the Twins were in town both times. Milwaukee is about a 7-hour drive to from Minneapolis. The trip is not long at all for the Twins faithful who turned out for the game. Milwaukee baseball is one of the best kept secrets in the sport. It’s a long tradition that traces back to 1901 at the start of the American League (AL). That team would move to St’ Louis to become the St. Louis Browns. For the early 20th Century, Milwaukee Brewers were a Minor League Team. Milwaukee Chicks of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League played a single season in 1944 and won the Championship.
Before Miller Park, the Milwaukee Brewers played in Milwaukee County Stadium Where the Milwaukee Braves also once played. That Braves era captured the rising stardom of future Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, becoming the NL MVP and a part of the World Champions in 1957. The Milwaukee Brewers were originally the Seattle Pilots. In their only season of 1969, the Pilots finished last in the AL West with a record of 64-98, as expected with any inaugural expansion team. Bud Selig, who was the eventual Commissioner of Baseball, led a group that purchased the Pilots, then moved them to Milwaukee as Brewers just days before the start of the 1970 Season. Milwaukee Brewers were in the AL Division, in the same division with Chicago White Sox, until 1998. Now they are a thorn on the side of Chicago Cubs in recent years. Miller Park is a couple of hours from Chicago so Cub fans migrate here to support their team. In fact, its safe to say teams in the Midwest have a loyal fan base willing to take that road trip to a tail gate.
Hall of Famer Paul Molitor played on both the Brewers and Twins teams. He is remembered more for his 1993 MVP year with the World Champion Toronto Blue Jays. Yet, he left an indelible mark on the Milwaukee Brewers and the A.L. Championship run in 1982. Hall of Famers Robyn Yount and Rollie Fingers were also part of that historic 1982, better known in Milwaukee as “Harvey’s Wall Bangers” (named after their Manager Harvey Keunn), a colorful cast of characters that went on to face the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1982 World Series. Robin “The Kid” Yount who was called up out of high school played his entire career in Milwaukee (1974-1993), still the last 18-year-old to hit a home run in MLB history. “Fingers” who defined the value of a relief pitcher was at the tail end of his career. He was able to get 29 saves for the “Brew Crew” before the injuries. Paul Molitor, Robin Yount, and Bob Uecker have their numbers retired here. There’s a punchline in there somewhere. Only Bob Uecker can deliver on that. He’s been in baseball for 50 years and Milwaukee would not be the same without him.
2011 regular season at Turner Field. The day before was Jackie Robinson Day; when everyone wears No. 42. But the game was rained out. There was also a tornado outbreak in the Carolinas just north. The next day, I traveled from Florida for the weekend and was lucky enough to catch a double-header on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Atlanta. So, in game one, his No. 42 was on the uniforms of all the players and coaches. That alone made this trip well worth the time and effort. But, having dinner between games over centerfield and watching the sunset at the old ballpark was an added bonus. The history of the Braves is perhaps the longest existing thread where we can trace back to the origins of Major League Baseball. The Braves are the oldest professional franchise in sports; starting with the 1860’s Cincinnati Red Stockings that went 57-0. Harry Wright moved his team to Boston.
The Boston Red Stockings were one of eight charter teams that established the National League in 1876. New England enjoyed having two baseball teams with the Boston Americans (Red Sox) established in 1901. Braves then moved to Milwaukee in 1952 and this mid-west era, for the Braves, saw attendance records, the 1957 and 1958 NL. Pennant, 1957 World Championship, and finally a rookie named Hank Aaron bloom to greatness. He was part of that historic move to Atlanta in 1966; the first professional team in the south-east region.
What makes a ballpark great is how it remembers the Legends. Many reminders around Turner Field of the great Hank Aaron, among other greats, who broke the all-time home run record in Fulton County Stadium, which once stood just yards from Turner Field. The Braves moved here in 1966; although construction of Fulton County Stadium was completed in 1965. Due to obligations with City of Milwaukee, 1965 was a lame duck year in Milwaukee County Stadium.
In 1997, Turner Field became the second venue in Atlanta for the Braves. From 1966 to 1996, Fulton County Stadium was their first home in Atlanta. Later, Turner Field would be built as Centennial Olympic Stadium in 1996 as the City of Atlanta was host for the Games of the XXVI Olympiad. The Atlanta Braves had just won the 1995 World Championship in Fulton County Stadium. They were in the post season, in one form or another, for 14 consecutive seasons. Considering how busy it was, the move from Fulton County Stadium to Turner Field was seamless.
Turner Field is now used by Georgia State University. As of 2017, the Atlanta Braves now play at Truist Park, not to be confused with SunTrust Park; the original name when it first opened just three years ago. It’s hard to keep up with the naming rights business. It’s at a newly developed area in Cobb County; about 10-15 miles north of here. It’s expected to spur-on more development. You would think that this park could sustain the Braves another 20 years. Apparently, the demographic trends have moved away from downtown Atlanta; part of an effort to expand the south-east beltline. The 2020 Atlanta Region’s Plan is a 20-year vision for the future with the hope of adapting to technology and change in the area. The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) has $85.1 billion behind this plan.