That's not Carlos Gomez in center field...
Hardly recognized the place.
Miller Park transformed Tuesday night from a palace of baseball to a way-back machine, transporting a full house through years of hits and memories from one of the greatest musicians ever, Sir Paul McCartney.
Yes, we who lined up promptly at six p.m. waiting for the gates to open had to wait some 45 extra minutes for a sound check to wrap up but, if you've never seen a Beatle before after walking the planet for more than five decades, what's an extra hour?
The show was fantastic, leaving casual fans to wonder what hit song McCartney DIDN'T play during his near-three-hour non-stop set. That's right--no breaks. Dude is 71 years old. I'm 56 and was hard-pressed to finish 18 holes of golf earlier that hot steamy day. I had beverage carts to supplement me. I didn't see Paul take so much as a swig of Aquafina.
Then again, I wasn't exactly in the musician's lap. I was down the third base line on the club level and such details were lost. It was just fun to be in the presence of a legend, one who led us in a "Hey Jude" sing-a-long. This old fan can now die happy.
At one point, McCartney asked who was from "Mil-wallll-kee" and then who was from "Chicago", driving home the fact that our town had the show and the Windy City didn't. Miller Park is more than a fantastic place to watch baseball--the Brewers are doing their best to make it a concert venue, too, getting back into the business of hosting big-name acts after standing down on such efforts in recent years. Miller Park is a place where both Carlos Gomez AND Paul McCartney can cavort in center field while fans can watch in comfort, with tons of bathrooms, eateries and amenities, plus loads of parking.
Miller Park continues to pay dividends, even when the Brewers are out of contention. We won't be seeing any National League playoffs this fall, much less a World Series in Milwaukee but we've already witnessed world-class shows in the persons of Kenny Chesney and Sir Paul. That doesn't happen with a crappy venue. Performers have options and they go where the goin's good. Let that lesson not be lost as we debate the future of the Bradley Center and the city's need for a new indoor venue.
But this is not a political screed. This is part homage to an off-the-chart performer who gave fans of all ages a memorable summer night. This is a thank you to a singer who many of us watched from afar most of our lives but who got to bask in his glow for an evening--during the few dead spots, you could almost hear "See McCartney" being scratched off thousands of in-house bucket lists. There will be other games at Miller Park, to be sure. There may not be another night like Tuesday. That said, let's hope the Brewers keep using their home for things other than baseball, not just to fluff the bottom line but to keep Milwaukee a major concert destination, where the biggest of names are glad to play center field when Carlos Gomez is otherwise disposed.