MILWAUKEE (WITI) — When school resumes in the fall and teachers ask their students what they want to be when they grow up, plenty of boys will answer that they want to play in the Major Leagues. Several Milwaukee-area children can now say they’ve lived out their dreams in a big way — by playing in a Major League stadium!
When the Brewers are away, the kids will play — at least those on one of eight teams that participate in this year’s Big League Dream Day at Miller Park.
Longtime area coach Todd Peterson is responsible for getting the true boys of summer on the field.
“I’ve always felt that I had a keen eye on the game and talent and want to do it right. I love, not like — I love organizing stuff. This is big. I get phone calls early and often — who wants to play at Miller Park? Any time the kids hear about it in their classrooms or in their communities, it’s really a big deal — which is exciting for the kids,” Wisconsin Wildcats Coach Todd Peterson said.
“I’ve been imagining for the past few days — just standing out there in the outfield and looking at all the seats and all the scenery around me. It’s just really exciting and overwhelming,” Zach Kessler with Hitters Academy said.
This is the second year this opportunity has been made available for 13 and 14-year-old players from southeastern Wisconsin. The teams in the field held fundraisers or sold Brewers tickets to secure their spots.
“This is absolutely fantastic. This was a wonderful experience for the boys and all the families. As a coach, I get to follow these guys all throughout the country playing high-level baseball. This was the best experience we’ve had on a field,” Great Lakes Elite Coach Ron Rezach said.
“There’s obviously a commitment that we make to the Brewers in order to make this happen. We have a full understanding of our responsibility and they reward us with really, a beautiful day at Miller park. Everybody says this is well worth it. It’s just a great opportunity,” Peterson said.
“I’m happy for him. This is a moment he’ll maybe never have again. He’s hit the ball. He had a double. He ran all the bases. He scored. He got to pitch. He was in the bullpen. You know, everything! Some kids will never be able to do this. We are really lucky that our kids have had the opportunity. It is amazing that the Brewers do this for them,” Luke Blaha’s mom Susan Blaha said.
The odds of making it to the Major Leagues are stacked against any young player from any part of the country, but that has never stopped kids from hoping and imagining — so being in the same dugout as their heroes and having their friends and family in the same stands and actually playing the same game on the field figures to stay with these guys for a lifetime.
“Like I said, it’s pretty overwhelming. Something that’s once-in-a-lifetime,” Kessler said.
There are no multi-million dollar contracts waiting for the performers, but the rewards are still quite rich.
“Sportsmanship is important. This is an exhibition game, a chance to play an opponent in your age group that you probably don’t play throughout the year, and they just love coming here. I mean, Miller Park is a great place to play baseball,” Peterson said.