My two greatest memories of County Stadium are watching Cecil Fielder hit a home run completely out of County Stadium and, without a doubt, the Don Mattingly Official Toilet — a 5″ image of Donnie Baseball meticulously scratched onto the door of a bathroom stall in the upper level, with the words “Don Mattingly Official Toilet” etched beneath. It became a quasi-tradition to visit it every game and laugh hysterically at its perfect scratched-on mustache. I saved my ticket stub from the night Fielder hit the most amazing home run in County Stadium history, but I still wonder if somewhere in West Allis there’s a church, school or family’s basement bathroom where Donnie Baseball’s rusty mustache is preserved in perpetuity.
Unlike County Stadium, I’ve actually enjoyed a beer or two in Miller Park and tailgated in its ubiquitous parking lots. I watched Randall Simon playfully tap a racing sausage with his bat and on my way home listened on the radio to the ensuing overdone drama. I’ve experienced sheer terror sitting four rows up along the visiting dugout as Geoff Jenkins fouled a baseball into the crowd and elation when Bill Hall (RIP) won over Milwaukee with his pink bat. I’ve also enjoyed watching playoff baseball, in person, for the first time in my life. Now I’m the one taking my dad (and mom) to games; sitting quietly next to my dad, beer in hand, as my mom enjoys the bachelor party fun we’ve unwittingly sat next to. Our roles have shifted since County Stadium gave way to Miller Park, but my memories from both are indelible.
This is the first in our series of places we’ve loved that are not what they once were – for better, worse or just for different. On deck: The Oriental Pharmacy, The Globe East and more. Have a memory to share? From the Avalon Theater to the amazing music clubs of the 80s, we’re looking for people with great stories of landmarks and traditions past. Share your County Stadium memories in the comments section and email Amy Elliott with your own “We Knew It When” idea.