The unemployment rate in Milwaukee is 11.2 percent, a notch above the national average. An accordion player at County Stadium said there is little sympathy for the striking Packers up the road. If they have a job and they can walk away from it, he said, they don't have much to worry about. Fie on the Packers.
But, ah, the Brewers.
"Everybody loves the Brewers," said Roman Hanes, whose German band entertains early arrivals.
Milwaukee, the city, is the star of this World Series. Jilted 17 years ago when out-of-town owners moved the Braves to Atlanta, Milwaukee is on a giddy second honeymoon.
A mannequin in a high-fashion shop wore Dior's latest--and a Brewers' cap. Four Series tickets worth $72 were auctioned for $500. A fire and police commission meeting took 12 minutes, the gavel falling before the first pitch of Game 1. A local TV news show did features on the Brewers' trainer, groundskeeper and scoreboard operator.
More than 25,000 people went to a three-hour pep rally at the stadium Thursday night and left only when police turned out the lights. The rally was the biggest story in the morning paper, right alongside the palimony suit against Liberace (he's a hometown boy).
"Everybody loves each other now," said Tony Cade, a taxi driver. "Driving a taxi, I get a lot of angry people. The Brewers, they're taking the evil out of people."
This World Series has only a tenuous connection to baseball's mythic glories. The Braves were a wonderful story winning the Series in '57, their fifth season here. Then they took their carpetbags south, as disgraceful an exit as the Dodgers made from Brooklyn. The Brewers, 13 seasons old, are in a Series for the first time.
The Cardinals are nominal descendants of a dynasty. Only the Yankees and Dodgers have been in more Series. The Cardinals also are beer salesmen. Even George Steinbrenner, the prince of gall, didn't have himself carried into the stadium as Gussie Busch did, riding shotgun on the Clydesdale beer wagon. Instead of the martial music most places play to pep up the fans, Busch's Cardinals play a beer jingle.
The beer-can balloons outside Busch Stadium stand taller than the 20-foot high statue of Stan Musial.
Because Busch wears his beer on his sleeve and because Milwaukee is the city that made beer famous -- a Civil War tax of a dollar on whiskey encouraged Milwaukee's German burghers to branch out from neighborhood bars -- we have the Suds Series.
Man does not live by brew alone, though. St. Louis ranks seventh with 17 Fortune 500 companies (Milwaukee, with six big-deal companies, is 15th). The cities boast of downtown construction ($414.5 million worth in St. Louis last year, $377 million here since '80) and wax lyrically of their symphonies, zoos and concert/theater halls so grand you could go bowling in them.
A dyspeptic St. Louisan, after a year in Milwaukee, was quoted in a St. Louis paper as saying, "Milwaukee is the only city in the country that has a bowling show on educational television." This smart-alecky stuff doesn't much bother Milwaukeeans, to judge by the city's biographer, Robert W. Wells.
"Milwaukee is a place that grows on you, like a beer belly," Wells wrote, adding: "Since it was founded in a tamarack swamp, it has developed into a mighty city with a downtown district fully as impressive as those of many communities half its size . . . It once called itself the German Athens, a description that was half right . . . But such wistful delusions of municipal grandeur are not typical of the Milwaukeean . . . He regards his city (the way) a husband looks on a wife who'll never be asked to pose for Playboy but who's a darn good cook."
What Milwaukee has, the biographer wrote, is Gemutlichkeit , "the feeling a Milwaukeean gets when the food is piled high on the plate, the beer is flowing freely and someone from out of town is there to pick up the check."
Sounds like guys' night out at the bowling alley
Milwaukee has 106,322 league bowlers in a metro area of 1.4 million. There are 86 bowling centers in the phone book. City buses carry TV billboards for "The Bowling Show." It doesn't say if it's on the educational channel.
Unfortunates who live somewhere else believe everybody in Milwaukee makes beer. Less than 2 percent of the work force works in breweries. More than 30 percent work in manufacturing industries, the second highest rate in the country (behind San Jose's Silicon Valley).
Milwaukee is a heavy-metal town, big in automobile parts and electronics. The largest employer is Briggs & Stratton, which makes small engines. Don Dooley of the Milwaukee Association of Commerce estimated Briggs & Stratton has 6,000 workers, three times the number at the Miller brewery.
"Milwaukee has its dynamic qualities," Dooley said, "but largely it's just a comfortable place to live."
Not everyone knows that. "We have the big-city aspects. A world-class symphony, ballet and opera companies, good restaurants. Some executives, when their companies say they're sending them to Milwaukee, drag their heels. But once they're here, you can't get them out."
You know why a touring sportswriter likes Milwaukee? Besides the food piled high and the beer flowing?
Baseball is fun here. It's war in Yankee Stadium, it's a beer jingle in St. Louis, it's a movie in L.A.--and it's a pep rally here.
"I've never been booed in Milwaukee," said the Brewers' third baseman, Paul Molitor.
One last symbol of Milwaukee's unpretentious Midwestern conservative streak: relief pitchers ride in from the bullpen in a four-wheel-drive camper.