I’m a die-hard Brewers fan, born and raised. I was born in the summer of 1982, which if you’re also a Brewers fan you will recognize the significance. If you’re not a Brewers fan, it was the year the Brewers went to the World Series, and lost. However, to Brewer fans it’s still a big deal considering it’s the only time we’ve ever made it there. Over the last decade or so the Brewers have come close a few times to getting back to the World Series, but have fallen short, but maybe this year could be different?
Despite the 39 years of waiting for another shot at a championship, I’ve still enjoyed my time at County Stadium, Miller Park, and now American Family Field immensely. There’s something about heading out to the ballpark with your family and friends and enjoying the national past time together. I have many great memories of attending Brewer games, and many of those memories don’t have anything to do with wins or losses. It’s the time spent with loved ones that really make me want to go back, regardless of the Brewers current competitive status.
So it’s obvious that the Brewers are a passion of mine, as is spending time with family and friends. Another passion of mine is traveling to new places and exploring the sights and culture. I’d like to share with you a way that I’ve been able to combine these passions. The annual Brewers road trip! 16 years ago my family started a tradition that we’ve been able to keep going in some form most every summer since. We select a road game that the Brewers are playing, and we travel to that city to watch the game. Attending the game is just the tip of the iceberg though, really what it becomes is a 3–5 day adventure in a U.S. city that we may not normally have had a reason to visit. So far we’ve been all over, our list includes: Philadelphia, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Houston, Los Angeles, San Diego, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Denver, Cincinnati, and Washington DC.
Each trip is different. Usually the next year’s baseball schedule is released during the last month of the season, and it’s always been fun to look over it and see what next year’s possibilities may include. We like to stick to weekend series if we can, it’s easier for getting time off of work, but if possible we try to make it a long weekend. Everyone attends as many or as few days as they can.
The cities are a lot of fun to explore. We make sure to research restaurants that are unique and famous, historical sites that we can check out, and local breweries to sample something new. Independence Hall in Philadelphia. The Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta. Pike’s Peak in Colorado. I can go on and on. Depending on the size of the group going and the options, we’ve either stayed at hotels or rented a house. We’ve rented cars, or just walked and Ubered. In some of the locations we have had friends and family that live nearby, and always try to either visit them at their place, or meet them somewhere nearby. Each city has surprises and often are not what you may have expected. The city I was most surprised by was Pittsburgh. I always imagined the Steel City to be dark and dreary. However, I’ll never forget driving through a tunnel from the airport towards the city, and as we emerged and I saw Pittsburgh for the first time, I was shocked at how beautiful it was. I can guarantee you I’d have never have thought to go there if it wasn’t for this trip, and I had an amazing experience!
It’s been really fun to see all the different ballparks. You may think they’d all be the same, but each one has their own character, their own specialties. We bring home many different souvenirs, but our family’s favorite are the ice cream sundae helmets. Every ballpark we’ve been to sells them, and our kids not only love getting ice cream at the game, but to take home the little plastic helmet bowl as a reminder. We make sure we get to each game right as the gates open. The visiting team always takes batting practice last, so the Brewers are on the field hitting and throwing when we arrive. We’ve gone out to the outfield bleachers and caught home run balls. Often the players shagging the hits that don’t make it out will see our Brewer attire and are way more likely to throw us a ball or two. We also like to hang out by the dugout before the game. Again, our Brewer jerseys in a visiting park make us stand out, and I’ve been amazed how friendly the players have been, I think they appreciate having some friendly fans there to support them. We go to one game for sure, sometimes that’s it, sometimes we’ll do more. It often depends on how much time we have in the city, as well as what the price of tickets are. You’d be surprised how cheaply you can get into some of these games!
Whether you are a fan of the Brewers, another baseball team, or even a team from a different sport, you should definitely consider combining your fandom with travel. Take a look at schedules when they are released, and plan early, that’s often how you can find a better value for airfare and lodging. Don’t worry about purchasing tickets until you are within a few weeks, there is always something available, although depending on the team and the sport, it may be pricier. Don’t let stereotypes about a city impact your decision too much, like I said earlier if I had done that I never would have saw Pittsburgh. Once you’ve selected your city and dates, start researching what they are famous for. You can hit the normal tourist locations, but also look for the hidden gems, those are often the most memorable. No matter if your team wins or loses, you will have a trip you and your family will remember forever, and maybe even a new family tradition.
Pete Monfre is the founder of Midwest Travel Club. If you are interested in following the Brewers, or your favorite team, on the road, you can contact him at www.midwesttravelclub.com