Gate Crash

Waking up to find a horde of tailgators creeping past my backyard always makes it difficult to leave Miller Parkland and actually go to, you know, work. A couple, three weeks ago, I devised a way to head back to the Convertible Confines on a Thursday afternoon. I’d write a story about the stadium tax, which actually sort of kind of affects people on a daily basis (i.e., they have to pay like, 5 cents on every $4.50 latte — or pint of beer).

To make it work, I’d need some photographs, which meant I’d have to get to the ballpark before the end of the game. I went into a meeting at 1 p.m., with the Brewers taking the Dodgers into the 5th with no score. I left the meeting and listened to the game as I sped to the park — Ben Sheets was being blown up for a 6-run 7th inning. You might remember it as the depressing loss suffered the day Ryan Braun signed his contract.

I needed those photos — was I going to make it there before this shitshow was over?

I got to the ticket window in the bottom of the 8th, just as Jason Kendall scored on J.J. Hardy hitting into a double play to make it 6-1, Dodgers.

“One ticket, please.”

“All right, for what day?” the man in the ticket booth asked me.

“This game — today.”

“Man, the game’s almost over.”

“I know, I just want to go in.”

“Man… Do you see all these people leaving? They’re not happy!”

From the Brewers radio network trailer outside the park, I could faintly hear Uecker yakking that “Ryan Brraaaaunnn” was coming up to bat.

“I know. Just give me the cheapest available.”

The guy bristled and typed in a few things. Ueck said Braun tips it foul. He turns to me.

“All right, we got late-game sales… 8 bucks.”

I put a $20 in the window slot, and put on an “aw, shucks, mister” face. Ueck says Braun took a ball, the count is 1-1. The guy gave me the “Are you really making me do this, kid?” look.

“Man… Aw, man! Just… Just meet me over there by the door. Just meet me over there!”

I rushed over to the side door just as Uecker’s voice picked up an octave and a rush of sound spilled out of the entrances.

“Ryan Braun takes this one deep,” Ueck shouted. “Get up! Get up! Get outta…”

“Just go, man,” the guy said over roar of the crowd.

“… here! Gone! Ryan Brraaaaunnn just hit one outta here, to center!”

The guy waved to the older folks at the turnstiles who have been standing around with no tickets to take for the last hour.

“Hey! It’s cool — he’s my cousin!”

The 30,444 fans were still screaming for Brauny, the newly minted $45 million man. I was able to document a 12-pitch Prince Fielder at-bat, which ended in a grounder through the gap to center for a single. He was stranded, and the Dodgers tacked on a run for the 7-2 win. But I got my shots and pulled off the story.

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