Enjoying the view from the best seat in the house
On game night, Miller Park is filled with recognizable faces.
On the home side, you have Prince Fielder, J.J. Hardy, Ben Sheets and Ryan Braun.
On the visiting side, you have Tony La Russa, Dusty Baker, Ryan Howard, Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez. And, of course, Mark Simons.
If that name doesn't ring a bell, you probably haven't ventured into Dugout Box 121. Simons, a season ticket holder known to friends and ballpark neighbors as "Guido" and "The Doorman," has held court from Row 4, Seat 10.
Though they might know him by name, thousands of Brewers fans recognize Simons from his "work" on FSN Wisconsin's broadcasts of the games. Simons' seats, adjacent to the visitor's dugout, put his face on screens across the state almost every time a right-handed batter steps into the box. Almost always decked out in a jersey and cap, Simons has become the unofficial "face" of Brewers fans.
Two weeks ago, this OnMilwaukee.com correspondent sat with Simons during a game against Cincinnati and came away with the following observations:
- In addition to being an intelligent, gregarious and engaging guy, Simons is a very savvy baseball fan who lives and dies with his favorite team. He loves going to games so much that he purchased a home within walking distance of the ballpark.
- The view from Simons' seats is amazing. From higher up in the stands (or the press box), the game unfolds at a languid pace. Up close, you get a more realistic feel for the velocity of pitches, the ferocity of swings and the speed of baserunners. You also see more of the interplay between players, managers and umpires.
- Milwaukee doesn't have a lot of celebrities, so it's great that someone like Simons has a high profile. When you think of prominent fans, you think of people like Jack Nicholson and Dyan Cannon at Lakers games and Matt Damon and Ben Affleck at Fenway Park. Because the Bradley Center is one of few arenas that has the announcers and statisticians seated courtside between the benches, the fans aren't prominently displayed on the camera.
- In order to sit in Simons' second seat, which is usually occupied by his lovely wife, Stephanie, you have to be ready for a constant barrage of phone calls and text messages from friends who happen to be watching the game. This reporter received a dozen calls and texts in the first three innings, with comments that ranged from "Nice shirt," "Get off my TV" and "How are the peanuts?" Simons has the kind of visibility that prompted teams to sell rotating banner ads behind home plate and on courtside tables. Guerrilla marketing gurus and product placement experts salivate about that kind of visibility, which could may lead to Simons looking like a NASCAR driver in the near future.
We talked to Simons, who works in Brookfield, about his seats, his celebrity and his passion for the game.
OnMilwaukee.com: How long have you been a season ticket holder? And, with such great seats?
Mark Simons: I've had tickets for a long time. I'm not sure of our first year (late 1980s or early '90s) but we didn't always have a full season. We started off with a 20-game package and had that for quite some time. The year before Miller Park was supposed to open, we went to a full season to get a good seat at Miller Park.
At County Stadium, we had seats that were in the lower grandstand, they were great seats right by where the beer vendors came out from getting cold beer, so we knew who to ask for a cold one!
When we first got to Miller Park, we had seats nine rows back behind the plate, but the next year a number of people bailed, so we moved to these seats. I've had them since 2001. Once I moved to Milwaukee from Madison, I decided to take more games, so one of the guys that I used to share my seats with now has his own seats two away from me.
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Seems like a pretty cool guy. No "look at me" attitude like a lot of marginal local celebrities
Shary | Sept. 25, 2008 at 11:48 a.m. (report)
HA. Great story. Hey Stephanie! Great pic of you two!
great interview. always wondered what this guy's story was. cheers to a great fan!
Anyone else want to know more about the dude who stood up in their wedding? That sounds like a ridiculous story-to-be.
I can't believe that they've made good friends with players and managers just for sitting there that's quite impressive.
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