Brewers fans partying like it's 1982
Club pops cork on 26-year vintage with postseason berth
MILWAUKEE -- When the corks popped, 26 years of bottled-up emotion sprayed throughout Miller Park.
While Brewers players partied with bottles of champagne and cans of, what else, Miller Lite, fans let it all out, too. The wait is over. For the first time since 1982, the city of Milwaukee has playoff baseball.
"It's like winning the lottery," said Milwaukeean Rob Boese, 23.
Boese and most of the 45,299 at Miller Park on Sunday stuck around after CC Sabathia closed out the Cubs. They anxiously watched the final inning of the Mets-Marlins game on concourse TV sets and the main stadium scoreboard in center field.
During the game, they held their breath to the rhythm of the out-of-town scoreboard in left field.
"That's what made it great, was having both games tied, going on at the same time," Boese said. "The crowd erupted when the [Mets-Marlins] numbers changed."
The Mets and Marlins played a back-and-forth game, giving Brewers fans an up-and-down experience.
"Anxious to see if [the Marlins] would pull it off, but nervous when it looked like they weren't going to," said Eric Thomasson, 27.
Florida finally pulled ahead for good in the eighth. The stadium watched the final outs in unison, waiting and hoping. Bernie Brewer held his hands to his chin, prayed and stroked a stuffed fish for good luck. When Ryan Church flew out to eliminate New York, chaos ensued. "Get Down Tonight" by KC and the Sunshine Band blared over the loud speakers. A banner sign hanging over the right-field stands read, "CC you in the playoffs."
For long-time fan Sharon Charles, it was a full-circle experience.
"I was here at County Stadium and we'd have 7,000, or 8,000 people, but I still came to watch them and support them," said Charles, a 65-year-old fan with season tickets for the last dozen years. "Last year was terrific. This year is awesome."
The Wisconsin Badgers and the Green Bay Packers both lost their football games this weekend. In fact, the Packers battled the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the Brewers' final win. Isn't Wisconsin a football state?
"Didn't even think about it," Boese said.
For once, football didn't own autumn in southern Wisconsin. The Brewers' and Packers' joint radio station was broadcasting baseball on Sunday, and deservedly so. Miller Park housed the fifth largest crowd in its history.
"Nobody really fell off the bandwagon this time," Boese said. "Every other year, it gets hazy, people usually stop coming to games."
How crazy are they about this team? About an hour after the final out, a line formed outside the team store behind home plate. It swerved in rows like something out of a Six Flags roller-coaster wait, about 100 people deep. The NL Wild Card apparel was not long for the shelves.
"You think they get a little excited around here?" said Hall of Famer Robin Yount, an MVP on that 1982 American League champion team. "I've seen this [celebration] one other time, and I hope we can see it some more."
Nick Zaccardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.