Marquette Wire

KELLY: Wrong colors at Miller Park

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On Friday night, I donned my St. Louis cap and red Cardinals jersey, and took my seat in the hostile territory that is the Miller Park upper deck to watch my birds battle the Brewers.

I’d been to Miller Park before, but this time I wanted to pay special attention to how the hometown crowd received me when I was dressed in Cardinal red.

I had my buddy who’s a Yankees fan with me in case any dim, bullish ‘Sconnies got the wrong idea and mistook my bright red jersey as a matador’s cape. I’m not dumb enough to do this alone, despite what the picture above might indicate.

As we took our seats before the first pitch, I got an idea of how the night was going to unfold.

An overweight, mustachioed fellow sporting a retro Brewers’ Robin Yount jersey sat to my right, and he immediately became my favorite person there. This gentleman chanted anything he didn’t like with a singsong insult.

“Card-inals su-uck!” his pudgy face sang whenever he looked at me.

“Beer guy su-ucks!” he said after getting the bill for his 11th $7 beer.

“Glass-es su-uck!” he yelled at my four-eyed friend Steve.

And on and on it went.

He wasn’t the most clever man in Milwaukee that night, but he had everyone in our section rolling. His insults were beautiful in their simplicity.

Brewers fans brought it strong. The Cards were down most of the game, and the fans never let me forget it. As the game went along and the Brewers got closer to a win, the insults got louder and more personal, making fun of my “wussy red shirt,” not-so-politely letting me know I “have an ugly face,” and more than few times calling into question my sexual orientation.

Walking to the concessions or restroom was also a treat. Every time I got up, without fail, I got peppered with insults, which ranged from the lazy, “Cards blowwww!” to the clever, “Is 23 your third baseman’s number or his BAC?” to the hilarious fifth-grade-level, “Hey, how about you go clean out your Pujols?” (For the non-baseball fan, the phonetic pronunciation: POO-holes. Get it? Ha.)

But the game ended up being worth the abuse. Our rookie outfielder managed to slug the game-winning homer off baseball’s all-time saves leader. And all was right with the world.

Heading to the parking lot after the game, we wound up walking against the grain of a horde of angry fans. Big mistake.

The pissed-off crowd doubled as a gauntlet we had to navigate, with me trying to yell “Go Cards!” while dodging the Milwaukee faithful’s “accidental” wayward elbows. But two versus 2,000 is never a smart fight.

Laughing and shrugging it off was the only way to get out of there in one piece.

And as is so often the case, the turd in the punch bowl belonged to Cubs fans. On the bus back downtown, a bunch of Chicago fans broke into an impromptu version of that awful anthem, “Go Cubs Go.”

I spend the night getting pelted with peanuts and taking a forearm or six to the chest, but somehow that offense to eardrums upset me the most. Oh, Cubs fans, you never disappoint.

My postgame conclusion was that Milwaukee, in general, is full of beer-drinking, cheese-curd-eating, Sendik’s-bag-toting Harley riders. And Miller Park is to this fine crop of citizens what the Wailing Wall is to devout Jews.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way. People care about their baseball here, just like they do in Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis. Fans defend their home turf. Cardinals fans act much the same when we see a Brewers or Cubs fan trespassing in St. Louis.

That’s what rooting for your team is about — cheering on your boys while degrading the opposition.

All in all, it was a great time. Jawing between rivals is always welcome in my book. I met plenty of nice, colorful characters. I took my share of screaming insults.

But hey, that’s what you get when you wear the wrong colors to an opponent’s house.

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