Brewers, bratwursts and 50-foot tall New Richmondites

My wife says we can’t go anywhere without me running into someone I know.

That happened again over the weekend, adding a larger than life story to a fun weekend in Milwaukee.

The yearly local sports schedule doesn’t leave much time for vacations and I’m guessing most of the sports editors of weekly papers around the state try to work in their vacation time in July, before high school sports begin anew in early August.

My wife, Deb, and I planned a long weekend in Milwaukee to see our daughter, Sarah, and her family. We chose this weekend because the Milwaukee Brewers were playing at home. That might seem selfish, but we’ve never been to Miller Park in the 10 years it’s been open. It seemed that every time visited Milwaukee in the past few years, the Brewers were on the road. So we arranged for tickets to Saturday’s game against the Houston Astros as one of our main stops for the weekend.

Miller Park is everything I’d heard it was. The roof was open on the hot, sticky evening, but I walked up to the upper deck just to get a close look at the gears and gadgets that make the roof open and close. It was impressive to see the size of the equipment needed to move the roof the width of the ballpark.

We’d barely settled into our seats when we got the larger than life surprise. I was trying to look into the broadcast booths to see Bob Uecker at the microphone when Deb grabbed my arm and started pointing at the scoreboard.

There on the 50-foot tall scoreboard was Sue Bonte Lee, the owner of New Richmond’s Agate Inn, running out to the pitcher’s mound to throw out an honorary first pitch before the game. Sue was chosen to throw out the first pitch because she’s a state officer for the Tavern League of Wisconsin. A full story on Sue’s experiences can be found in this week’s edition of the New Richmond News.

The Brewers put on an impressive show in Saturday’s 6-2 win over Houston. Corey Hart, the Brewers’ first batter of the game, drilled an opposite field homer into the Houston bullpen. Hart’s always been one of my favorite Brewers, so it was nice to see him rack up four hits in the game.

Another Brewer who impressed me was catcher Jonathan Lucroy. He’s a scrappy catcher who isn’t afraid of anything. One of the Brewers’ biggest needs the past few years has been a competent catcher and Lucroy looks like he’ll become a top all-around catcher.

One of the most memorable moments of the game was provided by Prince Fielder. Late in the game the hulking first baseman turned on a pitch. It looked like it should have left a vapor trail, it was drilled that hard. They measured the titanic blast at 475 feet.

I’d always considered a homer hit by Darryl Strawberry, while he was playing with the St. Paul Saints, as the hardest hit ball I’d ever seen. Strawberry was trying to resurrect his career at that point and he showed he still had some of the fastest wrists in baseball. He hit a line drive that was still rising as it cleared the right field fence at St. Paul’s Midway Stadium. The Saints don’t measure homers, but I’m guessing that easily would have been in the 450-foot range.

Fielder’s homer is the one homer I’ve ever seen hit with the same kind of velocity that Strawberry put into his homer.

The day before we went to the Brewers game, we enjoyed the other scheduled event in our weekend plans. We went to Germanfest in Milwaukee. Deb and I are both mainly of German ancestry, so we were intrigued when we heard about the event. It was like attending a German state fair.

There was German food of every size and shape. Most of it came in two food groups: meat or beer. Not that either of those should be surprising in Milwaukee. The food was incredible. It’s no wonder the photos of all my German ancestors showed big-strapping people. They ate well.

We tried a wide variety of foods, from rollbraten to Bismarck herring sandwiches to potato pancakes. They were all good, but a clear favorite was a cream cheese strudel.  My sweet tooth is longing for another bite of the flaky pastry and sweet cheesy filling as I think of it.

It was an incredible weekend and it was a great way to recharge the batteries as we head into the fall high school sports season.