Spring means so much, it’s the change from winter weather to sunny days, longer nights and the return of Milwaukee Brewers baseball.
For thousands of Milwaukee Brewers faithful, the trip from Wisconsin to Phoenix is a once in a lifetime adventure. Getting a chance to meet your sports heroes face to face for a photo or autograph is worth the cross-country flight.
For myself and my wife, this was our second trip to Phoenix to partake in the spring tradition. While our first year was full of excitement and intrigue, this year we had a plan and a better idea of what was happening.
First thing you need to know
So, if you haven’t gone before to the newly renovated American Family Fields of Phoenix, take note, it’s different, a lot different.
While last year the minor league camp was a bit of a ghost town, the new walkways require you to pass by the future stars of the franchise. Another significant change was the walkway from the fields to the gates, which now has plaques of Brewer legends along your path. Other than the look, and feel of the stadium, along with seating upgrades (thank you for that one), the overall experience of the park is still the same.
One thing that didn’t change was the price. I am a bit of a bargain shopper and hate paying a lot for tickets. While many teams have raised their ticket prices over the last year, we paid only $18 a ticket for right off the first base line. This is a credit to the Milwaukee Brewers organization and when I got the chance to meet David Stearns during the trip, I definitely thanked him for making the upgrades happen so quickly but for keeping the prices the same as the year prior.
Spring Training Trip – Day 1
After waking up early, the first day of the trip for off to a fast start. Before I had taken 200 steps into the facility I ran into Mauricio Dubon, Troy Stokes Jr., and Quintin Berry as they prepared for their morning workout. As players began taking the fields, the areas between the fields are a perfect place to play catch. My stepson is preparing for his second season of little league and we went back and forth playing catch. Players and coaches would come and go, talking with him and throwing him balls as they walked by.
The first of our three games at AFFOP was against the Angels, and the lines at the gates were the longest of the weekend. Every Angels fan was hoping to get a chance to snag a photo or autograph from Mike Trout. AFFOP might give visiting fans the best access to their favorite players, as they must walk from the visiting clubhouse, through the concourse and down a stairway to the field.
While the visiting side was full, the home dugout side was jammed packed. Fans hoping to snag a prized autograph from National League MVP Christian Yelich line the aisles. Milwaukee Brewers players will stop and sign as they walk from the clubhouse to the dugout.
What started as an uneventful game, ended in a 7-7 tie. Yelich hit a home run and a double and was pulled from the game by the end of the 3rd. Most starters began coming out by the middle of the 4th allowing for the younger players to gain valuable experience. After the game, top prospect Keston Hiura stayed to sign autographs for fans, every fan.