There is No Offseason for…Miller Park Tours
Last Friday morning, I made my way over to the Press Box to speak to a group of students from a high school in Jackson, Wisconsin, a city about 30 miles away from Miller Park.
As part of an educational field trip, the students’ teacher had scheduled a tour of the ballpark and had requested to hear from someone on the topic of marketing for a Major League Baseball Club.
This type of request is actually more common than one might think, but really, it shouldn’t be a surprise, given the volume of tours that our good friends in Brewers Enterprises churn out.
In my last article, I briefly mentioned Cory Congemi, Coordinator of Helfaer Field and Miller Park Tours, but then, after a special e-mail request from a reader and my experience on Friday, I decided to dedicate another post specifically to Cory and the Tour Guide that day, Lou Montgomery.
Let’s start with Cory.
Cory is entering his fifth season with the Club. Having started out as an Intern/Helfaer Field Staff/Tour Guide, Cory is now in his second season in his current role with Brewers Enterprises.
Cory Congemi, Coordinator of Helfaer Field and Miller Park Tours
Cory oversees a staff of about 15 Tour Guides and 15 Helfaer Field Staff.
Helfaer Field, for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, is the beautiful youth baseball and softball facility built in the shadow of the Brewers’ Major League home and on the exact site of old County Stadium.
Reservations for the field went on sale last Monday and that’s kept Cory busy.
“Roughly 70 percent of the reservations are for Little League teams. Then, we’ve got other events, like Corporate Outings,” Cory said.
The Brewers Front Office even reserves Helfaer Field every year for our staff Kickball Tournament.
For Little League games, the popular timeslots are in the evening, when the kids can play under the lights.
On Brewers game days, there is a tailgate timeslot, three hours prior to the Brewers game, which is when a lot of Corporate Events take place.
While the Miller Park Grounds Crew also takes care of Helfaer Field, Cory’s Helfaer Field Staff handles everything else. They are jacks-of-all-trades, from running the scoreboard and sound system to serving as Guest Relations Staff and Ushers.
Surprisingly, Tours are keeping Cory busy right now, too, even in January.
While Walk-Up Tours are only available during the season, Group Tours can be booked all year long, even in 30 degree weather, like it was on Friday morning, when I put on my coat and headed over to the Press Box.
Tour prices range from $5/person for educational groups to $10/adults, $6/for children and senior citizens for the Walk-Up Tours.
The tours typically last about 70 minutes and include the Dugout, Luxury Suites on the Club Level, Visiting Clubhouse, Press Box, the Home Radio Broadcast Booth and other behind-the-scenes attractions.
Cory’s Tour Guides gave tours to over 300 groups and thousands of people on walk-ups last year.
“Something that’s really become popular is the specialized group tour,” Cory said.
There are three specialized group tours that run a little longer and will cost you a little extra–$15/person for regular groups, or $10/person for educational groups–but they are well worth it.
“There is the MVP Tour, which includes the Batting Cages, Media Interview Room and the Party Suites. Then there is the Technical Tour, which takes you into the Boiler Room, Chiller Room, Stadium Control Room and more. Finally, there is the Scavenger Hunt Tour, which had definitely been growing in popularity,” Cory explained.
The Scavenger Hunt Tour is a great team-building activity. After a regular tour, the group is split into teams. Each team gets a worksheet filled with questions, which, when answered correctly, gives the team a final hint, which leads them to their final destination, where they will receive a special surprise supplied by the Brewers.
Over the course of a year, I find myself speaking to many of the educational groups.
Cory confirmed that many of the groups request a speaker from someone in the organization. When asked which departments were requested most often, Cory told me that groups often like to hear from Accounting and Human Resources but…
“You are definitely the most popular by far,” Cory said.
“I’m quoting you on that,” I said, smiling.
I know that by “you,” he really meant the Consumer Marketing Department as a whole, since I am not the only one in Marketing who gets recruited for these speaking engagements.
It seems that lots of groups are interested in Consumer Marketing because what we do is so visible. They want to know who is behind the advertisements they see on the digital billboards, in the newspaper, or online. They are interested in what a typical day is like in our department.
On Friday, this particular tour group was interested in not only what the Marketing Department does, but also in what it takes to get a job or internship with our organization.
Having started my career as an intern with the Brewers, this was something I could speak to personally. I told them that internships provide invaluable experience while one is still in school, helping students narrow down what they would like to do once they graduate, and just as importantly, internships can help them figure out what they don’t want to do as well. I also stressed the importance of excellent communication skills in this and any field they were interested in pursuing.
I hope that I made a positive impression and that they enjoyed their tour of the ballpark.
Even if I bored them, how could they not enjoy their tour with Lou Montgomery as their guide?
Like many of the folks I’ve spoken to for this series, Lou has been working at Miller Park for many years. The 2010 season will be Lou’s 24th season with the Club, but the difference with Lou is that he didn’t start working for the Brewers until he was 64 years old.
The year was 1987. Lou had recently retired from his career as an Industrial Engineer for GE. He and his wife, Marian, were eating at a fast food restaurant one day when some younger people started harassing an older couple.
The man in the booth next to them could see the situation from where he was sitting and he got up, went over there, talked to them and got a hold of the manager.
When he returned to his seat, he said aloud to no one in particular, “I work at County Stadium and we don’t put up with stuff like that.”
Lou, who had been a baseball fan all his life, couldn’t help asking, “You work at County Stadium? What do you do there? “
The man replied, “I’m an Usher and we don’t put up with behavior like that.”
Lou and the man struck up a conversation. The man mentioned that the Brewers would be hiring new people in a couple of weeks.
“Just go down there and tell them that Al, an Usher at the East Gate, recommended you,” the man told Lou.
The rest is history.
Lou Montgomery, Miller Park Usher and Tour Guide
Lou began working at County Stadium as an Usher on the Mezzanine Level and has loved every minute of it.
“One of my fondest memories was seeing Robin Yount get his 3000th hit,” Lou said. “It was an exciting time, too, when Paul Molitor had his hitting streak.”
After working as an Usher for nearly 11 years, Lou took on an additional role as a Tour Guide at County Stadium.
Joyce Paulson, one of the other Ushers who is also a Tour Guide, knew that Lou and his wife were very involved with their church as Tour Hosts for trips to the Holy Land and Europe and she thought he’d be perfect for the job.
As Tour Hosts, Lou and his wife organized and recruited people for the educational trips. They made sure the travelers got to their destinations on time and kept everything on schedule.
With that kind of experience, Lou easily qualified for the Tour Guide position at County Stadium. He gave tours there for three years and then transitioned over to Miller Park in his dual role as an Usher and Tour Guide.
“Here at Miller Park, everyone is interested in going into the Visitor’s Clubhouse and many of the fans are interested in the Press Box and Home Radio Broadcast Booth because Mr. Uecker is such a popular guy,” Lou said.
Fans taking a Miller Park Tour will get to step inside the Home Radio Broadcast Booth.
Being a former Industrial Engineer, it is no surprise that one of Lou’s favorite things to talk about is the roof.
“The roof is the only one of its kind and many people are interested in hearing about that,” he said.
Miller Park’s roof is a popular tour topic.
Lou turned 88 years old last Sunday, and at his age, one might expect him to have some cool stories about the Milwaukee Braves and their historic run here in the late ’50s.
Lou never saw the Milwaukee Braves play, though, because he didn’t move to Milwaukee until 1966, the year after the Braves left Milwaukee.
Lou was born and raised in a small town called Tell City, Indiana, where he was a Sports Editor for the school paper and Student Manager for the football, baseball and basketball teams.
“I went out for football and baseball, but I weighed about 130 lbs. The coach said he was going to have to cut guys, but he would need some Student Managers. I thought about it overnight and figured I was going to be cut, so I volunteered to be a Student Manager,” Lou said, laughing at the memory.
Later, Lou also kept high school sports stats for a local radio station and got more involved with baseball when he co-managed a Little League team and even became the Business Manager of a semi-pro baseball team, the Tell City Grays of the I-K League.
“The I-K League stood for Indiana and Kentucky. It’s no longer in existence, but my job as Business Manager was to ask for donations for uniforms and equipment,” Lou said.
With no local Major League team to follow, Lou had grown up a Cubs fan in part because of the powerful WGN radio signal.
“My dad and his younger brother were Cubs fans, and we’d listen to the games as kids and I became a Cubs fan as well,” Lou said.
Even after Lou moved to Wisconsin and the Brewers franchise came to Milwaukee in 1970, he figured he could still be a Cubs fan in Milwaukee because the Brewers were in the American League.
“Then they did me a disservice, putting Milwaukee in the same league,” Lou joked, talking about the Brewers move to the National League in 1998.
“So you had to choose a loyalty…” I pressed.
“Oh, that wasn’t too difficult,” Lou laughed.
Although he was never a season ticket holder, Lou went to many games as a fan between 1970 and 1987, when he started working for the Club. He was even fortunate enough to have attended the 1982 playoffs and World Series.
Over those years, Lou fell in love with the team and that love only increased once he started his job at County Stadium.
Lou’s current Usher position at Miller Park is inside the Press Box, making sure everyone has the proper credentials. I asked him if, as such a big fan, it’s been difficult for him to adhere to the old adage, “No cheering in the Press Box,” especially during the 2008 Wild Card season.
“Sometimes you do have to restrain yourself a little bit,” Lou agreed.
Like all of us, Lou can’t wait for the baseball season to get underway. He’s ready to listen to the Spring Training Broadcasts and he’s looking forward to Opening Day and the official start of his 24th Season.
“I am very thankful to work for the Brewers. I never dreamed as a kid from a small town in Southern Indiana that I would be doing something like this,” Lou said.
I know both Cory and I are thankful for Lou and so are the many satisfied fans who have been fortunate enough to take one of his tours or interact with him in the concourses of Miller Park over the years.
Is there someone you’d like to see profiled in this feature? E-mail us at email@example.com.
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