Comparisons are inevitable when visiting Major League ballparks for the first time. Our maiden voyage this summer to Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers, certainly had us making many such observations, reminiscent of that TV jingle for a dog commercial…
“My Petco Park is better than your park…”
For starters, Petco’s view of downtown San Diego is infinitely more pleasing than a fully enclosed stadium. Here’s Miller:
Full disclosure: it rains a bunch in the Midwest, thus the need for a retractable roof.
Moving on: The jumbotron video at the Padres park is considerably larger than Miller’s and its programming is more entertaining. But the home run celebration goes to Miller Park. Can’t beat Bernie the Brewer slide in left field. The old school feels totally tops Petco’s high-tech digital.
Petco, looking downtown:
When it comes to comparing playing field sight lines, looks like a tie, giving Petco a slight edge.
Miller wins by a nose. Not only is bratwurst at concessions, you can also gorge on tacos. Not exactly a Midwest delicacy, but they tasted fine. Parking: Miller scores big here. Think San Diego stadium. Miller’s parking doesn’t go completely around the park, but comes close. Petco, of course, is landlocked.
Miller Park wins hands down in developing interest and skills in baseball.
Helfaer Field (right) is a youth baseball facility located closer to the edge of Miller’s sprawling parking lot. Located on the same spot where the Brewers County Stadium once stood, the groundbreaking took place in August 2001. Named in honor of the Evan and Marion Helfaer Foundation. Evan was an original investor in the Brewers.
History repeats itself: During the first of two Miller Park games we took in, Bernie went bonkers when first baseman Eric Thames hit the Brewers first walk-off dinger of the Brewers season – in the tenth. In 2006, Brewer Bill Hall opened the bottom of the tenth with a walk-off home run to give the Brewers a win against the Padres in Miller Park. Ouch!
Brewers greats from the past
All-Star closer Rollie Fingers closed out games for the Padres (1977- 80), followed by the Brewers (1981-85).
More Brewers All-time studs (career stats):
Robin Yount (with Brewers 1974 – 1993) 251 HR, 1,406 RBI, 1,632 R, 790 RBI, 2281 H, 271 SB, .275 BA. Began his MLB career at age 19. Is the only player in Major League history to win the MVP award at two different defensive positions. Led Brewers to their only World Series appearance (1982).
Paul Molitor (a Brewer 1978 – 92) 234 HR, 1,307 RBI, 3,319 H, 504 SB, .306 BA. A seven-time All-Star selection, four-time Silver Slugger and the 1993 World Series MVP, Molitor is undoubtedly Milwaukee’s most successful home-grown talent of all time.
Geoff Jenkins (1998-2007): .277 BA, 704 RBI, 212 HR, 1221 H. One of the most overlooked, under-appreciated all-time greats in Brewers history.
Ryan Braun (2007 – to present): .302 BA, 987 RBI, 302 HR, 1,696 H, .905 OPS, 193 SB. Five-tool player.
Miller Park History Marred by Tragedy
Miller opened April 6, 2001. Petco opened three years later at 19 Tony Gwynn Drive near San Diego’s downtown harbor. Originally scheduled to open in 2000, Miller’s construction was delayed after three construction workers were killed in an accident.
In July 1999, a 567-foot crane lifting a 400-ton section of a retractable roof bent in half and collapsed inside Miller. An estimated 1,200 tons of concrete and debris fell, killing three iron workers and injuring five others, including the crane operator.
Jerome Starr, 52, Jeff Wischer, 40, and William DeGrave, 39, were in a cage that was being hoisted by another crane when the disaster occurred. Nearly all of the other 700 construction workers at the site had been removed as a precaution during the roof lift.
They have a bronze statue honoring the trio.
Late last June, when we saw back-to-back Brewers night games against the Padres. During the second game, impending rain prompted Miller Park officials to order the roof closed. At first, it was exciting to us San Diegans. Petco Park has been rained out only three times since opening in 2004. Not exactly surprising.
But once Miller’s roof completely closed, I flashed on the statue of the three construction workers just outside the park.
The tragedy delayed opening of the Miller Park by a full baseball season. Designed as North America’s only radial, retractable roof, the roof is the signature feature of the ballpark, which opened in March 2001.
Three years later, Petco Park opened at 19 Tony Gwynn Drive near San Diego’s downtown harbor.
Book event held recently at Barnes & Noble in Grossmont Center in San Diego’s East County quite the success. Bookstore staff asked that I return for yet another book signing.