Ten years ago today I was lucky enough to be at a great game between the Chicago Cubs and the Milwaukee Brewers. I happened to be in Milwaukee ten years ago to visit, and was already having a good day when I arrived at the old County Stadium. I had already been to the Miller Brewing Company and the Milwaukee Speedway during the day. We got free tickets to the Cubs game that night so why not go? Our original plan was to watch a little of the game, and catch a little of Summerfest. The only reason we were able to see County Stadium at all was the crane accident the year before that set the Miller Park construction back a year.
We got to the park early, and found out that they did not open it until an hour and a half before the game started. We were way too early, and had to wait quite a while for the park to open. Here were the starting lineups that day:
|Chicago Cubs||Milwaukee Brewers|
|1||Eric Young||2B||1||Ronnie Belliard||2B|
|2||Ricky Gutierrez||SS||2||James Mouton||LF|
|3||Sammy Sosa||RF||3||Marquis Grissom||CF|
|4||Mark Grace||1B||4||Jeromy Burnitz||RF|
|5||Henry Rodriguez||LF||5||Charlie Hayes||1B|
|6||Jose Nieves||3B||6||Jose Hernandez||3B|
|7||Damon Buford||CF||7||Henry Blanco||C|
|8||Jeff Reed||C||8||Luis Lopez||SS|
|9||Scott Downs||P||9||Jamey Wright||P|
The Brewers scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning. James Mouton double in the first run, and then later scored on a Jeremy Burnitz ground out. The Cubs answered the next inning with a solo home run by strike out king Henry Rodriguez to lead off the inning.
The score stayed 2-1 until the fifth inning when Marquis Grissom singled in James Mouton. Grissom is pictured above taking a big swing at the ball. Future Cub Henry Blanco hit a solo shot in the sixth to give the Brewers a three run lead. Things looked bad for the Cubs. They really had nothing going for them all game long to this point.
That is when the middle of the seventh rolled around. I was already pretty tired from a long day when they started playing the ‘Beer Barrel Polka.’ I was singing along with the song, and having a great time. I was having such a good time that I kept singing the song into the eighth inning. That is when the catcher Jeff Reed hit a solo home run to bring the Cubs a little closer. When the ninth inning rolled around the Cubs were still down two. I started up the chant of ‘Roll out the Barrel’ again, and the Cubs started to get something going. Willie Greene walked to load the bases, and then Eric Young walked to bring a run home. Ricky Gutierrez then hit a ball to Ronnie Belliard that he booted to let the tying run score. Sammy Sosa grounded out to end the inning, but my chant was working.
The game was still scoreless when the bottom of the 14th inning rolled around. In between the half innings they played the ‘Beer Barrel Polka’ a second time. By this time I was delirious, and ran up and down the stairs singing the song. My friend Joe who was with me and had wanted to leave since about the seventh inning was not having near as much fun as I was. The stadium was nearly empty at this point, but I am sure that the few who remained had fun watching me make a fool of myself.
Once again in the 15th I started my ‘Roll Out the Barrel’ chant. The Cubs got something going to help me out. Damon Buford and Joe Girardi both singled with one out. Jon Lieber (the pitcher) walked to load the bases. Eric Young was up next, and once again walked to allow a run to score. Gutierrez struck out leaving it up to Sammy to add some insurance. He did not disappoint smacking a double that scored both Girardi and Lieber. Mark Grace flew out to end the inning. Rick Aguilera came in to pitch the bottom of the 15th for the save.
In all 43 players got into this game. Fifteen pitchers on both sides saw action. If you count the pinch hitting appearances of Kerry Wood and Jon Lieber that number goes up to seventeen. If you wanted to see most of the players on each team this was a great opportunity. The game lasted five hours and thirty one minutes. At that point it was by far the longest game I had ever been to. Most of the crowd of 30,000 did not stick around to see the conclusion of the game. My friend Joe still talks about how I wanted to stay every time we go to a ball game together. I loved my time at County Stadium. I thought it was a cool park, but with the new park looming in the background most of the fans their couldn’t wait for it to close down.