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 continue with the very first moment in Miller Park history.
The very first Opening Day (April 6, 2001)
It’s impossible to go down a list of best moments in Miller Park history without mentioning the very first moment in Miller Park history. That would be Opening Day in 2001.
The stadium was originally scheduled to open in 2000, but the unfortunate and tragic collapse of one of the cranes building the stadium led to the deaths of three construction workers and the delay of opening the stadium for another year.
Miller Park opened its doors to a full crowd for the first time on April 6th, 2001. Despite the Brewers not having a great team at the time, 42,024 fans filed in for the first time at brand new, beautiful Miller Park for the Brewers to take on the Reds.
It was a very special moment and was marked as such by the ceremonial first pitch.
The President of the United States of America, George W. Bush came out to Milwaukee to throw the ceremonial first pitch! Has any other President come to Milwaukee to throw out a first pitch? I don’t think so.
They had a bald eagle flying around the stadium, a huge flag in center field. It was quite the moment indeed.
The game is scoreless for the first few innings before the Reds push a couple runs across in the top of the 4th inning to take a 2-0 lead as Michael Tucker hit the first home run in Miller Park history. However, that lead wouldn’t last for long for the Reds as the Brewers came up strong in the bottom half.
Jose Hernandez would come up with the bases loaded in the 4th and rip a bases-clearing double into the gap to give the Brewers a 3-2 lead!
Fast-forward to the 6th inning and the Brewers are still looking for their first home run in the new stadium. Jeromy Burnitz delivered.
Bernie Brewer gets a chance to break in his new slide! That would make this a 4-2 Brewers lead.
But the Reds would answer in the top of the seventh inning as Dmitri Young hit a solo home run to lead off the frame. Then Mike DeJean came in to relieve D’Amico and Aaron Boone hit an RBI single up the middle to tie the game at 4.
Heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, the game was still tense as the Brewers wanted to break in their new stadium with a victory.
That’s when the big man, Richie Sexson, came up to the plate.
Brewers fans got used to seeing big home runs from Richie Sexson over the next few years. That double finger point to the dugout after the big bomb was probably the 2001 version of pimping a home run. Nowadays we have bat flips and all sorts of crazy ways to celebrate homers, but in 2001, that was about as much as you’d see.
Richie Sexson gave the Crew the 5-4 lead. It was a lead they would not relinquish as closer David Weathers slammed the door shut on the Reds with a 1-2-3 inning in the 9th to put the first game in Miller Park history in the books.
It was a long time coming for this franchise, as the team battled through politics and funding and tragedy to get this stadium built with the retractable roof and have a new home for the Milwaukee Brewers for years to come.
While it’s sad that the name “Miller Park” won’t be on the outside of the building, we should remember that the real important part of the stadium is not the corporate sponsor on the outside, but the memories that are made on the inside. Memories like Sexson’s go-ahead home run, or Nyjer Morgan’s walk-off, or CC Sabathia’s complete game are going to be what is remembered most fondly. Not the name of the ballpark.
We’re almost towards the end of our list of top moments in Miller Park history. Stay tuned to Reviewing the Brew for the final few moments.