MILWAUKEE, WIâ€”When, exactly, did it happen that going to a ball game became the perfect time to enjoy an ice-cold beer? When youâ€™re a kid, you needed nothing but the game itself as well as a couple of those syrupy cokes covered with cellophane and a hot dog or three. Back then a big part of the fun was the adventure of getting to and from the stadium with a group of your friends. An even bigger part was buying the cheapest tickets and sneaking down into the good seats. Sometimes you got kicked out of those seats, but on those magical nights when no one came to check your ticket stub, the game was all that much sweeter.
Anyway, back to beer. Except for maybe Rex Oâ€™Rourke, as a kid you really didnâ€™t give it a second thought during a baseball game. If adults wanted to spend their bucks on that rancid-smelling stuff, that was up to them. The only thing you liked about that beverage was those catchy jingles and commercials. There were so many back then. â€œWhatâ€™ll you have? Pabst Blue Ribbon!â€ â€œWonâ€™t you try extra dry Rheingold Beer?â€ (For some reason the folks at Rheingold thought that people wanted their suds to be dry.) And who could forget that stalwart Mets sponsor, Schaefer. â€œSchaefer is the one beer to have when youâ€™re having more than one!â€ As weâ€™ve discussed here before, youâ€™ve got to hand it to the ad exec who made Schaefer the beer of choice for binge drinkers. The beer commercials on television during the games were just as prevalent. Miller High Life spots seemed to dominate almost every break in the action with this classy song played across imagery of the day winding down: â€œWhen itâ€™s time to relax, one beer stands clear (beer after beer). Miller tastes too good to hurry through. So if youâ€™ve got the time, weâ€™ve got the beer, Miller Beer!â€ Again, the suggestion being, if youâ€™re watching the game, donâ€™t just enjoy one Miller, crack as many as you need in order to relaxâ€¦ just so long as you have the time. But, of course, the all-time cheesiest beer commercial and song was: â€œHereâ€™s to good friends. Tonight is kinda special. The beer youâ€™ll pour, must say something more some how. So tonight. Tooonight. Let it be Lowenbrau.â€
Somewhere along the way some of this stuff must have finally sunk in because sometime around college, you just had to have a brew at the game. It became one of lifeâ€™s great pleasures. A cold beer on a warm day or night along with baseball just seemed to be perfection. There were those that thought it was a little too perfect though and proceeded to get so annihilated that they ruined the game for everyone around them. Unfortunately these chuckleheads still exist. Theyâ€™re the oneâ€™s cursing a blue streak and running over little kids in an effort to get one last brewski before they stop serving in the seventh. Despite what the folks at Schaefer and Miller would have us believe, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. I suppose that one positive of todayâ€™s ridiculous ballpark beer prices is that they seem to encourage moderation.
Speaking of those prices, one final thought on the subject. Wouldnâ€™t it be a good idea to include some cheaper beer options at concessions stands, like the aforementioned Pabst and Schaefer? How about Busch or Natural Light? These kitschy brands seem to find fans in dive bars and BBQ joints, why not ballparks? You canâ€™t tell me that you wouldnâ€™t find a whole bunch of people happy to shell out five bucks for a Schlitz over eight bucks for something else? And thereâ€™s nothing wrong with a nice Schlitz, itâ€™s the beer that made Milwaukee famous. Right Walt? Plus five dollars would be a tremendous mark-up for that particular brand. Not your favorite? How about a nice Piels? As Jimmy Breslin used to say in the commercials: â€œItâ€™s a good drinking beer.â€ Again, we donâ€™t want to encourage over-consumption, just more options. The last thing you want to do is ruin the experience for those youngsters (of all ages) who still enjoy baseball without the liquid comedy. So, the next time youâ€™re at the game celebrating being with good friends and feeling that the night is kinda special, go ahead and let it be Lowenbrau, just make sure that your antics donâ€™t get too low brow. Iâ€™ll close by simply saying Budweiser. Because when you say Budweiser, youâ€™ve said it all.