In Travel & Visitors Guide Commentary

The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, a Class A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers play in Appleton. (PHOTO: Steve Kabelowsky)

In Travel & Visitors Guide Commentary

Bob Brainered leads the Time Warner Cable SportsChannel broadcast of a number of Timber Rattlers games this season. (PHOTO: Steve Kabelowsky)

In Travel & Visitors Guide Commentary

Minor league games can be a lower cost alternative for families. (PHOTO: Steve Kabelowsky)

In Travel & Visitors Guide Commentary

The crowd cheers for free T-shirts during the game. (PHOTO: Steve Kabelowsky)

In Travel & Visitors Guide Commentary

A new club level was built during the off season at Fox Cities Stadium. (PHOTO: Steve Kabelowsky)

Baseball road trip to Appleton worth it

If the backyard has lost its luster and you've visited every Milwaukee attraction at least once already this summer, then you're ready for a quick and easy nearby family getaway. It's Family Vacation Week here at OnMilwaukee and we'll bring you suggestions every day for great jaunts perfect for a day, weekend or week-long getaway. Bon voyage, Milwaukee!

There's something about summer in Wisconsin that always makes me think of baseball. Maybe it was the games I got to go to at County Stadium with the tickets the team made available to schools awarding students for good grades.

Or it was the memories that flood me when I smell peanuts, as I remember my Dad and I peeling them open and letting the shells hit the ground.

Now, as I'm older, and get to drive, I enjoy retreating to the ball park whenever I can. Lately, that's meant going to Appleton, to catch Wisconsin Timber Rattlers games. The team is a Class A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, and the games are at its purest form. You get to see some of the players that will be the future big league all-stars.

Sometimes, you get the opportunity to see Brewers themselves. Last week Monday, I caught pitcher Johnny Hellweg take the mound, after being sent down to work through his game. The 6-foot-9 tall, right-handed hurler threw 98 pitches and 65 strikes in five innings of work.

I wasn't the only one who takes advantage of the cheaper price tag for tickets to watch baseball. Amy Williams, known as @FrontRowAmy on Twitter, was at the game, as well.

"I got these tickets a while ago," Williams said, telling me that she likes to bring her children to the Timber Rattlers games because they can go about and take in the activities around Time Warner Cable Field while she takes in the game from the best seats right behind home plate.

"At Miller Park the seats are elevated," she said. "I thought he had a good outing. You can tell how much of the game is mental. (Hellweg) was working on his pitches. It was nice to see he actually has a curve ball."

You can read about Hellweg's performance in the Appleton Post-Crescent.

The beautiful thing about taking in a game at this smaller venue, is that it is easy to strike up a conversation with just about anybody.

"I love talking about baseball," Williams said.

Bob Brainerd loves working at Timber Rattlers games.

"It doesn't get better than this," he said during a short break between innings while doing the game play-by-play on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel.

A week earlier, I took in the game with my wife and a small group of work colleagues. We sat in the stadium's newest addition, a second floor viewing area. The large space can be rented by groups for games and other events. A number of wedding parties booked the space for game-day receptions this summer.

The best part of the space, was that the windows open up to the sides, and people can sit on stadium seats or on stools next to tall tables. On "bang for your buck" night where beer, soda and hot dogs are only $1 each, those stools can be some of the best seats in the house.

If you like baseball and are searching for family entertainment, the Timber Rattlers can be a very cost-effective option. If you haven't been there, it is worth the road trip north on U.S. 41 to Appleton to catch a game or two before the season ends.

You may also run into Fang, the team's mascot, current and future big leaguers and local celebrities like the Feldco commercial guy, who I saw at the game too.

Find the team schedule and travel information here.

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