With the renaming of Miller Park officially happening at year’s end, here at Reviewing the Brew, we’re going to remember the top Brewers moments in Miller Park’s history.
Starting on January 1st, the Brewers home stadium will no longer be called Miller Park, but instead will be called American Family Field. Despite fan uproar about the change, it’s going to happen. The stadium has been named Miller Park for 20 years and has brought some incredible memories to Brewers fans.
We are going to be remembering some of the most important moments that came from this stadium and tell the stories of these days. Let’s begin with none other than Game 162 in 2008.
Game 162, the CC Sabathia Game (September 28th, 2008)
I was 11 years old. To this point in my life as a Brewers fan, all I knew were awful teams and the bottom of the standings, questioning why the Brewers were never good. The first season I retained memories of was 2002, the year they lost 106 games. Even as a five year old at that time, I still felt I could make better managerial decisions than Jerry Royster did that year.
Because of seeing only bad Brewers baseball up until this point, going into the game of September 28th, 2008 was incredibly special. The Brewers had a chance to make the playoffs. All they needed to do was win against the Cubs and have the Marlins beat the Mets and the Brewers were in the playoffs.
It was a long time coming. I say that as an 11 year old at the time. It was an even longer time for my dad, who had to sit through the entire 26 year playoff drought. We went to the game together, as we always did and his excitement matched mine for this Brewers team. We were seated in our usual spots; on the loge level, right in front of the press box in the back row so I could easily chase down any foul balls that came nearby.
CC Sabathia was on the mound once again. After coming over from Cleveland, Sabathia had been nothing short of outstanding, dominating on the mound, nearly throwing a no-hitter in Pittsburgh (I still say he did) and pitching on three days rest going into the final game of the season. There was no one else you’d rather have on the mound.
In the second inning, after an error by Prince Fielder, the Cubs scored the first run of the game on a groundout. It was 1-0 Cubs.
Things were tense for a couple innings as the Brewers were losing, but the scoreboard continually flashed updates of the Mets-Marlins game. The Marlins were winning. This provided the energy the fans and the Brewers needed as they saw the opening in front of them to end this 26 year drought.
Flash-forward to the seventh inning. Brewers second baseman Ray Durham doubles to lead off the inning. Prince Fielder was intentionally walked, then J.J. Hardy walked to load the bases. With two outs, future manager Craig Counsell draws the bases loaded walk to tie the game. It’s 1-1 and momentum is on the Crew’s side.
Sabathia is still cruising through this game, having not allowed a thing since that unearned run in the 2nd inning. He mows the Cubs down in order in the top of the eighth. Sabathia strikes out to lead off the Brewers half of the eighth, but that means he’s going back out there for the 9th inning. Interim manager Dale Sveum stuck with his guy instead of going for a pinch hitter in a big spot.
Those watching on TV will never forget Brian Anderson’s voice crack, or Seth McClung leaping into the arms of his bullpen-mates.
I’ll never forget the crack of the bat. Followed immediately by the loudest roar in Miller Park history to that point. It was a no-doubter. I couldn’t stop screaming with excitement.
Another update of the Marlins-Mets game. The Marlins are still up 4-2 and the Brewers just need to close out this game and the Marlins have to close out theirs and Milwaukee is playoff bound.
CC Sabathia would not be one to disappoint in the ninth inning.
The Brewers had done their part, and things were looking good, but the Marlins-Mets game wasn’t done.
All 45,299 fans at that game stayed standing as the Brewers put the feed from the Marlins-Mets game on the jumbotron. The Marlins needed just three more outs to help the Brewers secure their first playoff appearance in 26 years.
The first two outs came quickly and easily with cheers after each out. Then Damion Easley drew a walk, and a groan from the crowd as the tying run was at the plate for New York. Ryan Church hit a fly ball deep into centerfield. I thought our chances were over, I thought it was out of the park. But Cameron Maybin stood on the edge of the warning track and made the catch to end the game.
The stands erupted. Confetti cannons fired from up in the rafters. Blue and gold streamers cascaded down from up above. I remember my dad nearly in tears seeing the Brewers finally make it back to the postseason while I was jumping up and down shouting “We’re going to the playoffs! We’re going to the playoffs!” both of us stopping only long enough for the biggest hug you can imagine.
This was a special moment for both my dad and I, as it was for most of the 45,299 people at that game, and all those who were Brewers fans. The last time the Brewers made the postseason, the parents were around the same age their kids were. A whole generation hadn’t seen this since they were young kids and now they have kids of their own who are able to experience the Brewers in the playoffs. There’s no other way to describe it but special.
I still have one of the streamers from that game. It still hangs up in my bedroom at home. It’s a piece of memorabilia that may not be worth anything in terms of money, but that streamer is more valuable to me than any autographed baseball could ever be.
Baseball is not just a game, and Miller Park is not just a building. It’s a place where some of our most cherished memories took place. The name on the building may change, but the memories will not.
There are many more memories to be had in that stadium. Whether the sign outside says Miller Park or American Family Field doesn’t matter. What matters is the memories you make inside, and who you share those memories with.
Stay tuned to Reviewing the Brew as we share more of our favorite memories of the 20 years of Miller Park.