MILWAUKEE — The Brewers look to replicate the success of last season today. They start the 2019 journey with their first step against the St. Louis Cardinals. First pitch was at 1:10 p.m., but fans were ready well before that.
"I know from past experience, if you don't get here early, it's hard to find parking," Chris Yerkey of Racine County said.
"We got here pretty early," Ken Glackin of Sun Prairie said. "About 8:20 a.m. They advertise the gates open at 10, but they always do it a little earlier."
A little after 9 a.m., cars, trucks and reinforcements started to trickle into the lots. With a sun-kissed Miller Park as their backdrop, they unloaded all of the essentials from the backs of their vehicles.
Grills, chairs, tents — everything to make a perfect set-up.
But it's the family and friends they look forward to most.
"The camaraderie with the people," Glackin said. "I've been here tailgating with people who forgot stuff and you chip in. The sound of the baseball bat, you know summer is right around the corner."
From the pros in the parking lots to the pros inside the stadium, it's a day everyone enjoys.
"I still get excited," said Rick Schlesinger, the Brewers' president of business operations. "Huge fan. Nervous energy. Anticipation of the season. The unknowns. I get up at 2 a.m. and have the same breakfast. The same coffee. Get here at the same time."
"I've been here tailgating with people who forgot stuff and you chip in. The sound of the baseball bat, you know summer is right around the corner." — Ken Glackin of Sun Prairie
"You were a very happy person for being out of Arizona," former Brewers legend Gorman Thomas said. "Wanted to come back and start the regular season. It's a very important day."
Thomas, of course, never had the luxury of playing in the comforts of Miller Park. County Stadium was where teams had to play through the wild elements in Wisconsin during late March and early April.
"I don't think our grass was ever that green," Thomas said. "If we were outside, with the wind blowing, it was a different animal. The weather didn't mean anything to us. This is what we were accustomed to. It was always a plus for us to have other teams come here and play in bad weather. A little snow, a little sleet. Something like that."
But it looks like Old Man Winter has lost his match this year as fans were sporting sweatshirts at most in the parking lots.
"Warm thoughts, man," Dale Prisk of Fort Atkinson said. Opening Day, nice out for the first time in years. Opening Day is the best."