Prince Fielder single-handedly turned this All-Star Game into the greatest one in the history of the Milwaukee Brewers. Now Brewers fans are hoping he does the same thing come October.
Fielder captained the National League team in the Home Run Derby Monday, July 11 before earning All-Star Game MVP honors by crushing a three-run homer — the first All-Star Game homer hit by a Brewers player in the franchise’s 42-year history — that gave the National League a lead it would not relinquish in its 5-1 win Tuesday, July 12.
The homer capped an upbeat first half for Fielder, who leads the NL in RBI (72) and ranks second in homers (22), and the Brewers, who entered the break tied for first place in the NL Central with the St. Louis Cardinals with a record of 49-43. The Brewers’ high-powered style of baseball — they rank first in the NL in homers and third in runs scored — and return to contention after two sub-.500 seasons has resulted in brisk business, as well, at the Miller Park box office.
The Brewers rank 11th in the majors in attendance with an average of 35,436 fans per game through 47 home dates at 41,900-seat Miller Park, where the Brewers are a robust 33-14. They are drawing 946 more fans per game than last year, the ninth-biggest increase in the game and the third-biggest surge among teams in the top 11 behind only last year’s World Series clubs, the Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants.
That’s quite a departure from last year, when the Brewers averaged 3,221 fewer fans than in 2009 — the season after the Brewers’ first trip to the playoffs in 26 years. The Brewers wasted little time laying the foundation for a better season at the gate, first by announcing in October they would freeze ticket prices for 2011 and then by making a pair of blockbuster trades for pitchers Zack Greinke and Shawn Marcum that turned their rotation into one of the best in the league.
While Greinke and Marcum remain under the Brewers’ control through the 2012 season, Fielder is eligible for free agency after this season and, with Scott Boras as his agent, isn’t expected to stay in small market Milwaukee. So there has been a particular sense of urgency for the Brewers and their fans alike this season.
Fielder’s home run wasn’t the only good news Brewers fans got Tuesday: Shortly after the All-Star Game, the Brewers announced they’d acquired former All-Star reliever Francisco Rodriguez from the New York Mets — another sign the Brewers are preparing for a World Series or bust run this season.