Saturday, April 29, 2017

Touring County Stadium through mid-1990s Stadium Club

There were a lot of reasons not to love Milwaukee County Stadium: the concourses were cramped, the seats were small, the bathrooms were far too few, it was cold, it was grimy, it had that god-awful scoreboard... but for a kid who went to his first game there when was five years old and kept going back until he was 18 and they closed it down, that big old battleship of a ballpark was nothing short of a palace. 

But the old girl doesn't get a lot of love outside of the Brewers and older Braves faithful. Which is why the Brewers team sets from 1993-1996 Stadium Club are some of my very favorite. These sets feature some of the best photography among Brewers cards ever and are some of the only cards ever to vividly use County Stadium in their composition. 

Let's start with the 1993 Rickey Bones. First, Bones is wearing what might be my favorite Brewers uni top of all-time, the early '90s BP/workout shirt. It's a bold look and perfectly captures the best color scheme the club ever used. We also get a nice sweeping view of the third base-side grandstands. That little square on the facade next to Bones' shoulder is the 40 second clock used during Packers games at the stadium.  

Next up is the 1993 Cal Eldred. "Cornfed" was one of the most promising young pitchers in baseball heading into the '93 season and had all the makings of a true ace. He poses here by the lower box seats, with those rails covering them to prevent people from cutting across an entire row of people (I guess?). 

Here is John Jaha showing off his mean-guy stance near the first base camera pit. Note how far away the top row of the upper granstand sits. Sitting up there felt like you were about three miles from the field. 

Always a childhood favorite of mine, "Hambone" appears to be in roughly the same spot as Jaha. On windy days at the stadium, those outfield light standards would sway like crazy. 

Aussie Dave Nilsson poses here with the press boxes behind him. Or maybe the two (yes, just two) luxury boxes the stadium featured. That whole row beneath the upper grandstand was some sort of special seating. I got to sit there once, for a game that Randy Johnson pitched. You sat on a folding chair with a little metal table in front of you that ran the length of the row. It was... kind of weird.

I really, really love this 1994 Ricky Bones. He is standing in one of the ramps that led from the concourse to the lower grandstand. The field sat roughly at ground-level, so when you used these ramps, you actually walked up to get to the seating bowl. This gave the effect of the field "rising" into your field of vision as you walked, something that never got old for me. Those old brick corridors were always dark and cold and the concourses were musty and crowded. But at the end of the tunnel was sunlight and green grass and the greatest game ever created. I love everything about this card, right down to the grunge-ass design. 

Greg Vaughn was a bad-ass masher back when 25 homers was a very big deal. He's on the top step of the Brewers dugout here. 

Ricky Bones again! This is 1995, so they've changed over to these horrifying baseball costumes. Between his arms, you can see the big, enclosed ramps that were installed at the far end of each side of the grandstands. A lot of people mistook these for offices. 

Vaughnie looking tough, once again. You get a nice view of the bleachers here, which were actually entirely disconnected from the grandstands. Bleacher ticket holders had their own entrance and concession stands and bathrooms, etc. It actually kind of had a minor league feel to it, out in the bleachers. There was plenty of room to walk around behind the seating with grassy areas and trees. 

Nilsson again. Although the Packers had, by this time, already played their last game in Milwaukee, you can still the little football camera hut on the roof, just to the right of the stadium club logo. 

Here's a nice one of JJ, standing in the right field corner as they set up for BP. Nice use of the shadows behind him.

And we'll close with another card I absolutely love. This shot was taken while Matheny was standing in the extreme right field end of the upper grandstand, probably most of the way towards the top. It's a dizzying angle and illustrates just how far away from the action you could sit. We can also see many of the highlights I've already pointed out, but there are a few new ones as well. You can see a banner on the top of the bleachers just next to Matheny's shoulder - that is the "Vaughn's Valley" sign that marked where Greg Vaughn's left field domain. You'll also notice a series of buildings past the bleachers on the horizon. That would be the Miller Brewery. 

No comments:

Post a Comment