The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

SCHMIDT: Milwaukee’s Major Tradition

Welcome to the holy sanctuary of sports junkies and post-game party animals. Welcome to a kingdom where food comes fast, greasy and delicious and the service comes with a Midwestern twang. Welcome to the only place in America where Packers fans and Bears fans coexist peacefully, unified by a shared love for cheap double cheeseburgers and beverages served colder than a polar bear’s toenails.

Come in and stay awhile. Kick back with your best buds and root, root, root for the home team all night long — or at least until last call. Welcome, welcome…

To Major Goolsby’s, Milwaukee’s mother of all sports bars. Like the Master’s or Brett Favre’s annual retirement flip-flopping, taking in a sporting event at Goolsby’s is a tradition like no other. For over 30 years, if there was a game worth seeing or a beer worth drinking, Milwaukee’s fandom did it at Goolsby’s. That all changed in 2005, of course, when the Bible of sports fans – Sports Illustrated – declared Major Goolsby’s the fourth-best sports bar in the country. Not bad for a glorified dive bar that has a goofy name and a mascot that looks like an over-the-hill porn star.

But with all the new publicity it was getting, Goolsby’s wasn’t just a local hot spot anymore. It became a sacred refuge for sporting diehards nationwide. The timeless question, “What are you doing for the game?” now has a universal answer: “I’m going to Goolsby’s. And I’m going to party like my team just won the Super Bowl and I just won the Powerball.”

“Getting recognized in Sports Illustrated obviously doesn’t hurt,” assistant manager Marty Petricca said. “We get people from all over the country call and let us know they’re stopping in on their way through Milwaukee.”

The Major’s success can be attributed to a formula that owner Jerry Cohen perfected when he bought the lease for the building in 1972. First of all, he purchased the place from Al McGuire, which is a huge plus in a town that loves Marquette basketball more than two-for-one draft nights (coincidentally, Goolsby’s has two-for-one deals every week).

The rest of the equation reads something like this: 45 high-definition televisions that make it possible to literally see the game from every angle, hundreds of pieces of sports paraphernalia that decorate the walls (the place looks like the interior decorator was a 12-year old kid who just couldn’t resist putting up everything related to Milwaukee sports), and a staff that is one part service with a smile and two parts green and yellow blowhards — except for Petricca, who assured me he was a Bears fan.

Add it all up and you get an atmosphere more electric than a Best Buy. And above all else, that’s why you get off your Laz-E-Boy, brush the Doritos crumbs off your sweatpants and head out to a sports bar — for the energy, the environment and the camaraderie. OK, and maybe for the brews. But there is no place better in Milwaukee, and maybe no better place coast to coast, to watch a Sunday afternoon throw down than Major Goolsby’s.

“It’s all about the atmosphere, there’s no place like it,” Petricca said. “The staff is all sports fans and we get into the games with the customers. We have so much fun with Marquette students. I remember when they made the Final Four a few years back, the street corner was just filled with people.”

And there are other stories, like when Yankee great Reggie Jackson got into a scuffle with an autograph hound. But honestly, taking a beating from a Hall of Famer is a small price to pay for the time of your life.

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