Until last night, I thought I understood baseball. My whole life I'd found it to be fundamentally simpler than fast-paced sports like basketball or hockey -- definitely simpler than football. But as I sat in a classroom with the 70 other women attending "Brewers Baseball Basics for Women," I realized there's quite a bit more to the great American pastime than tailgating and the seventh inning stretch.
In a town like Milwaukee, it's easy to get caught up in all the game time extras, especially when you're not a huge sports fanatic. Maybe that's been the County Stadium / Miller Park draw for me all these years? Sure, it's fun to cheer the handful of Brewers I know by name on to victory, but what's better than starting the double-decker wave and throwing peanut shells everywhere?
Perhaps I was the perfect candidate for this class.
In a collaboration between the Milwaukee Brewers and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Continuing Education, "Brewers Baseball Basics for Women" is a two-part instructional program offering insight into professional baseball -- with a Brew Crew focus, obviously -- and an interactive, hands-on experience at Miller Park.
The $140 course (which includes a T-shirt, lunch, two game tickets and the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at a game) begins with a two-and-a-half-hour classroom session, during which several "industry expects" share their knowledge and perspectives.
UWM history professor Neal Pease, who teaches the popular "American Culture & Baseball" course, started things off by fielding our questions, which ranged from "What is the point of a bunt?" to "What are the chances of CC Sabathia playing with the Brewers next year?"
He and UWM's Professor of Baseball Mariann Maris intermixed detailed explanations with fun factoids and anecdotal baseball trivia to get us warmed up for the special guests, including Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, Brewers general counsel Marti Wronski and WISN-12 sports reporter Stephanie Sutton.
The class, which debuted last year with sold-out attendance, was well rounded and good for the sport novice as well as the seasoned athlete and diehard Brewers fan. Organized by Miriam Malone, program director for arts, humanities and science at UWM's School of Continuing Education, the course is informative, yet relaxed and fun enough to allow the students to determine its course of action. No question went unanswered and no baseball tangent went unexplored by the night's end.
Unfortunately, I'm unable to attend what is arguably the biggest draw of the program: A three-hour Saturday session that includes a stadium tour of Miller Park (with inside access to the Brewers clubhouse), a visit to the broadcast booth and the bullpen (where you can practice your pitching), a close up look at the equipment used by Major League players, the opportunity to try on one of the famous Klement's Racing Sausage costumes and lunch with Brewers television announcers Brian Anderson and Bill Schroeder, Brewers manager Ned Yost and a player.
But, there's always next year for that. As for this year, I may not have met Chorizo face to face, but the class definitely helped expand my appreciation for the game, which, prior to last night, had probably peaked with my attendance at the game filmed for "Major League."
how PATHETIC that you would have to take a class in baseball, to learn things like the reason for bunting? how PATHETIC that someone actually teaches a class like that.
i find the name of the class to be horribly exclusive.
why can't it be "baseball for newcomers" and be open to both sexes?
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