After numerous meetings, public hearings, debates, discussions, and on-the-record votes, it was clear that at Monday’s home opener of the Milwaukee Milkmen in Franklin’s Routine Field, project organizers had one component they couldn’t control: the weather.
Still, there was a noticeable buzz and excitement inside the ballpark, despite cloudy skies, rain showers, gusty winds and cool temperatures.
Four hours and seven minutes after the first pitch the Milkmen lost to the Gary South Shore Rail Cats, 3-2 in 11 innings. That mattered little to enthusiastic fans. Franklin had witnessed what for so long seemed so impossible: minor league baseball in a brand new beautiful facility. What a memorable day, even with the pesky dark clouds.
Around 2:00 p.m. as workers scurried to put on the final touches the day looked promising.
Our daughter Kyla and I had the opportunity to see the stadium before it opened to fans.
Lo and behold, who’s that?
Mike Zimmerman, Owner and Executive Officer of ROC Ventures who is most responsible bringing the Ballpark Commons to Franklin was securing bunting near the entrance of Routine Field.
He had time to take a break from his pre-game preparations.
All systems go!
Fans began arriving as early as 4:00.
But then shortly after 5:00…
The skies opened, and how, for awhile.
There was hope, however.
Time for the opening ceremony.
Van McNeil of Channel 12 served as the on-field emcee.
Plenty of local pols were on hand.
Franklin Aldermen Mike Barber, Steve Taylor, Franklin Mayor Steve Olson, Alderman Mark Dandrea, Alderwoman Kristen Wilhelm, and Alderman John Nelson.
Mayor Olson spoke to the crowd.
So did Alderman Steve Taylor.
Mayor Olson presented a special proclamation to Mike Zimmerman declaring June 24, 2019, as Routine Field Milwaukee Milkmen Day in Franklin.
The scheduled 5:30 ribbon cutting at the entrance to Routine Field had to be postponed because of a torrential downpour. So it was moved to the field.
Next up, the ceremonial first pitch by the mayor and aldermen.
Several Milkmen wait for the tosses.
The idea was to have the balls thrown all at once. We can forgive the mayor who got a bit excited and let his fly early.
Player introductions. The Milkmen line up along the third baseline.
The Franklin High School Choir sang the national anthem.
Now we needed the official ball to get the game going. It came via special delivery.
Catcher Christ Conley looks out from the Milkmen dugout, anxious for play to start.
Starter on the mound for the Milkmen Jordan Kraus lets the first pitch loose and we’re underway!
This event was significant, not just because it was the inaugural game and the home opener, but because for the first time in more than a month the Milkmen had a home crowd to play for.
Congratulations to everyone involved who played a role in making Monday’s opener possible. Best of luck this season. And thank you.