When the Chicago Cubs and their fans visited Miller Park for a series against the Brewers over Easter weekend it was, at times, difficult to discern which was the home team.
That made a perfect prelude for what is going to happen this week.
After watching four straight home games cancelled due to cold, snowy weather, the Cleveland Indians asked Major League Baseball officials about the possibility of playing a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Miller Park.
After a flurry of phone calls, an announcement was made just before noon Monday.
While the Brewers are in Florida taking on the Marlins, the Indians will borrow Miller Park for three games against the Angels. First pitch Tuesday and Wednesday is at 6 p.m. Thursday is at noon. Tickets will cost $10. Parking is $8. Unlike a "normal" game, the Brewers have little idea how many fans will show up.
"Our expectations are realistic," said Rick Schlesinger, the Brewers executive vice president of business operations. "You've got two teams not in the market playing, and you have essentially 24 hours notice for the fan base to come out here after we just played six games here.
"If we have 5,000 people here, I don't view it as a failure of the marketing. If we have 25,000, I don't view it as success of the marketing. I think it has its own dynamics. The novelty of it will be relevant. On the other hand, as much as Milwaukee fans love baseball, there are probably not a lot of hardcore Angels or Indians fans living in the Greater Milwaukee area.
"I view this as sort of a special outside the lines. I'd love to see as many people as possible here."
So would the Indians and Angels.
"It is what it is," Indians slugger Travis Hafner told MLB.com. "There's bad weather and snow, and there's really nothing you can do. It's a bad time to have a 10-game homestand. I guess we'll have our home opener in Milwaukee."
Although the Brewers will foot the bill for things for everything from heating the ballpark, which could cost up to $20,000, to paying ushers, security personnel and cleaning crews, the club likely will neither lose nor make money on the endeavor. Schlesinger declined to address financial specifics.
"We'll worry about expenses and revenues later," he said. "We're all partners in an enterprise called Major League Baseball. We're competing with teams, but at the end of the day if we can help other teams out in a situation -- if the situation were reversed, we'd get help from another team.
"We look at it as we're partners and this is what it's all about; helping our partners."
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the games this week will represent the second time since 1961 that major-league games have been relocated due to weather. The other instance was Sept. 13-14, 2004, when Hurricane Ivan forced the Marlins and Expos to move a series from Miami to Chicago's U.S. Cellular Field.
Aside from the Brewers-Cubs affairs, Milwaukee has had some "neutral" games in the past. In the late 1960s, the Chicago White Sox played regular-season games at County Stadium.
The Indians, snowed out of four straight games against Seattle in what was supposed to be their opening series at home, hope to return to Jacobs Field for a home game Friday night against the Chicago White Sox.
"It would be Friday the 13th," Schlesinger said, noting the coincidence of the date.
In the meantime, Cleveland will be the home team at Miller Park and will occupy the visitor's clubhouse and third-base dugout. Anaheim will use the home clubhouse, but the Brewers will lock up manager Ned Yost's office and the video room.
"They won't be able to get any of our secrets," general manager Doug Melvin said.
During spring training, the Brewers didn't make a secret of the fact that they were upset with Angels management for sending "minor-league" teams to play games at Maryvale Baseball Park.
"I told (manager) Ned (Yost) that this (series) will give me a chance to scout the Angels' big-league club," Melvin said.
The Indians have a special link to Milwaukee. In 1989, the baseball scenes for the movie "Major League," which featured the Indians, were shot at County Stadium, which was decorated to be Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Brewers announcer Bob Uecker portrayed Indians announcer Harry Doyle in the flick.
In a strange twist, a special edition of the "Major League" DVD is to be released today. The Indians had planned to give out Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn glasses at the game Tuesday to mark the occasion. Vaughn was the Cleveland closer (played by Charlie Sheen) in the movie.
Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at OnMilwaukee.com. Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.