Rob Vosters
We Knew It When

County Stadium

By - Aug 7th, 2009 07:30 am
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county stadium

My memories of County Stadium are probably much more innocent than most people’s.  In the late ’80s and early ’90s, my dad would take my friends and me to games, where we would harass my dad for as many Robin Yount collector’s cups as possible and then sit in hyperactive awe of Bart Simpson doing the Bartman in all its monochrome glory. We’d drag my dad to the speed pitch booth and beg him to let us hurl weak-armed 45 mph fastballs and then, toward the end of every game, we’d try to move to closer seats.  On one occasion, we moved into seats in a closed section of the upper deck and were jeered at by drunk fans until my dad, out of embarrassment, made us move to a different section. County Stadium felt like a playground to me, but for most of the adults that we sat next to it was the world’s greatest bar. During an unimportant game against the Cleveland Indians, we sat next to a group of guys in their 20s who proceeded to get faced on Lite, deliberately splash beer into the rows ahead of us (then blame it on fans in the upper deck directly above us) and heckle Candy Maldonado with the most creative and obscene remarks I had ever heard. All the while my dad would sit silently, passively sipping his beer as we had relatively harmless fun with our new friends; besides, the drunks were giving us their Paul Molitor seat cushions.

seat cushion

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.

county09950

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.

Categories: Sports, VITAL

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