7/13/98 at County Stadium

Last week I blogged about a game I attended at the Kingdome in 1999. The week before that, I blogged about being at Tiger Stadium in 1998, and the week before THAT, I blogged about snagging my 1,000th ball at Shea Stadium in 1996. Now let’s take a little trip back in time to Milwaukee in 1998 . . .

Wanna see ugly? Take a look at the monstrosity that was known as County Stadium:



Back in 1998, I pretty much thought that every old stadium was ugly, and now of course I miss them all.

Here’s another photo of the exterior:


Did you notice the large green banner that says, “We’re taking this thing national”? Well, this was the first season that the Brewers were in the National League. (Show of hands: who remembers them as an AL team?)

After wandering all around the stadium, I bought my ticket here . . .


. . . and had lots of time to kill before the gates opened for BP at 5:30pm.

As soon as I ran inside, the Brewers were clearing the field, so my first ball of the day came from the Phillies. Two pitchers were playing catch. One of them had thrown it wildly. The ball ended up on the warning track in the left field corner, and it just sat there. The wall was only about three feet high in that spot, and the ball was roughly five feet away from me. My solution was to use the “half-glove trick.” That’s what I call it when I use the string on my glove, but not the rubber band or Sharpie. All I had to do was swing the glove out and tug the string as it landed on the ball. Easy! I knocked the ball closer on my first attempt, and whaddaya know? Just after I leaned over and grabbed it, the nearest usher flipped out and started yelling at me. Given the fact that he’d scolded me one minute earlier for standing in the wrong spot, I figured he’d overreact to the glove trick, but man, I had no idea he’d get *so* pissed off. Long story short: we had a huge argument, he went to get security, I ran to the other side of the stadium, and that was the end of it. Dammit, Brewers! WTF?!

Out in right field, I got Yorkis Perez to throw me my second ball by asking him in Spanish. Then, after the Phillies finished taking infield/outfield practice (yes, major league teams actually used to do that), Mark Parent tossed me ball No. 3 at the third-base dugout.

When there was a lull in the action, I had my picture taken (with Miller Park, then in the early stages of construction, looming in the background):


(I was 20 years old, in case you’re wondering.)

I headed down to the front row for a closer look at the field:


While I was there, I got Phillies pitcher Mark Leiter to autograph my ticket:


Before the game, I wandered a bit and took a photo of . . . I don’t even know. The batter’s eye? The construction? Check it out:


I’m not sure what I was thinking, and it doesn’t really matter. I’m just glad that I had enough sense to take some photos and write all the details in my journal.

Just before the game started, I got my 4th ball from Phillies infielder Desi Relaford at the third-base dugout (and nearly got into it with a different usher).

Here’s where I sat for the first couple innings:


As you can see, I had lots of empty seats to work with, but of course there weren’t any balls hit near me.

In the 3rd inning, I headed toward the upper deck and stopped briefly to take this photo along the way:


This was the view once I got upstairs:


Here’s what it looked like to my right . . .


. . . and look! Here’s a “panorama” of the previous two images Photoshopped together:


I don’t remember where I sat or what I did for the rest of the game. All I can tell you is that I didn’t snag any more baseballs and that Brewers beat the Phillies, 4-2.

On my way out, I got a bunch of ticket stubs . . .


. . . and when I had some free time the following morning, I wrote about the game in my journal. Here’s the first page of my entry:


The entry continues here . . .


. . . and here . . .


. . . and if you want to hear more about the evil usher in the left field corner, keep reading here:


That usher really pissed me off . . .


. . . which is part of the reason why so many words are bleeped out.

Aren’t these old journal entries fun?! This one continues here . . .


. . . and here . . .


. . . and ends here:


So, uh, yeah, I was madly in love with Alli, but enough about that. Let’s talk about happier things, shall we? See the name Joe Kelly in the 4th line above? He was the groundskeeper when I worked for the Boise Hawks in 1995, and we’re still in touch! He’s one of my all-time favorite people in the world. You might remember him (wearing the brown jacket) in this unglamorous photo of me that was taken on 6/14/11 at Safeco Field.


  1. tc

    u go to the astrodome?1999 was the last year there or altlantas fulton county in 1996? those 2 ive been to in 1992. Did you see mile high stadium and candlestick?

  2. Cook & Son Bats

    I still consider the Brewers to be an AL Team. I think they should have sent them back to the AL instead of moving the Astros to the AL…but, unfortunately, I don’t have a say in that type of thing. I predicted that picture of Joe would feature my folks, and I was right. That was the foul ball that tagged my mom. As for County Stadium, it didn’t seem like you went to the OF seats. Did you need an OF ticket to get out there?

  3. jere80

    Ah, Milwaukee’s County Stadium, home of the Cleveland Indians. (In the movie Major League.) Z, I wonder if we ever crossed paths in those days, I did Detroit/Pitt ’99, Wrigley ’98, New Comiskey ’01, the Vet and new Pitt ’03… Probably more likely we were at some of the same Mets or Yanks games though, in pretty much any year.

  4. Zack Hample

    Unfortunately I didn’t know the Happy Youngster back then. You can see my complete list of stadiums here:
    I was at the Astrodome in 1999. I’m thinking of blogging about that place next. Or maybe Cinergy? Hmm. I was at Candlestick in 1993 and Fulton County the year before that — got one ball at each. Never made it to Mile High.

    Your mom did indeed get nailed by that ball. If I hadn’t been so gimpy, I would’ve just stood up and caught the damn thing. Sorry. You’re right about the outfield seats at Country Stadium. I never went out there (to the bleachers). I think I needed a separate ticket.

    Ha, good call about the Indians. Have you cross-referenced my mega list(s) of games that I’ve attended? You might find some games from back in the day that we both attended. Hell, maybe we’ll be able to spot you in my photos?

  5. Ray Burton

    Ah memories Zack. Did you prefer the ” old” stadiums like Mile high and Candlestick for snagging or their more modern counterparts ? Can” t believe it was last century. FTY that girl in your Shea stadium blog was so up herself she was almost inside- out !!! But when you’re young and impressionable ………Love the young Zack look.

  6. James Lee (@esigs)

    These TBTC (turn back the clock) entries are very interesting, as they show your dedication to this hobby and writing. Looks like your pre-blogging journals served as practice to your currently blog, making your current writing crispier and more interesting to a wider audience as you wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote (like Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour rule). And your calligraphy is very readable, which is impressive, yet nostalgic and so 20th century!

    How about taking your blogging to a different level (and 21st century) next season by adding regular video footage of the more interesting catches? I know it would be expensive to have a videographer in tow at every game, but have you considered wearing a small camcorder on your hat while ball hawking?

    One of them is the Looxcie which has some interesting features in a tiny size. http://www.looxcie.com/products/

    Another one is the Countour Roam 2, which has better reviews but a larger (but still small) size. http://store.contour.com/ae/us/contourroam2/icat/contourroam2/

    Looking forward to more TBTC entries!

  7. Zack Hample

    Ha, so true about the girl. But damn, from a *physical* standpoint, she WAS cute. That’s all I’m sayin’. As for the old stadiums, some were worse because of the limited outfield seating and strict rules. Some were better because of better outfield seating . . . and no rules. It’s hard to say.

    Thanks! Really glad you’re enjoying them, though I’d say that the old journals served more of a purpose to prepare me for writing books than a blog. I like the idea of wearing a hat-cam and/or having a videographer with me at every game, but holy-schmoly that’d be expensive and time consuming. The main thing that I hate about baseball is that it takes over my life for seven months a year. Every season I ell myself that I’m not gonna let it happen — and then it still does. If anything, I want to scale back my blog this year, not add another element. But we’ll see.

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