MILWAUKEE — It was cold, windy, and the sun had yet to come up. And though it felt more like winter, Sharon Rospenda was determined to get a Polish sausage lawn gnome and free tickets.
The longtime Brewers fan was one of the first to arrive at Miller Park on Monday morning as the Brewers gave away 2,000 Polish sausage gnomes – each having a pouch that includes game tickets for the May 20-22 series with the Los Angeles Dodgers – as part of their “Where’s Polish?” and Spring Madness promotions.
Because the date of the promotion is a surprise to fans, Rospenda – who saw the hint the promotion was coming at Wednesday’s game – arrived at Miller Park at 4 a.m. Thursday just in case. With no luck, she arrived at the same time Friday and braved the pouring rain.
She was determined to come everyday at 4 a.m. until the date of the promotion, which happened to finally be Monday. Rospenda was there and ready to go an hour before the gates opened at 5 a.m.
“When the gates were blocked, I knew,” Rospenda said. “I knew this was the day, this was the day. I waited. Security was great, and I ran for my one.
“I had to be here. I’m a die hard Brewers fan, and I’m 100 percent Polish. I had to get my Polish.”
This is the third year the Brewers have run the unique promotion, starting with “Where’s Bernie?” in 2011 and continuing with “Where’s Chorizo?” last season.
When the Brewers hid Bernie Brewer gnomes throughout various Wisconsin cities in 2011, fans were unable to be monitored, and the promotion got out of hand with fights caused by hoarding. Now all of the gnomes are placed across the grassy areas surrounding Miller Park to make it easy for team officials to enforce the limit of one gnome per person.
It didn’t take long for the 2,000 to disappear, as they were all gone by 6:30 a.m.
On hand to help with the promotion, former Brewers outfielder Gorman Thomas was impressed with the dedication of the fans.
“It is different,” Thomas said of the promotion. “I think different would be a very good word for it. But then again it shows that the club is doing something for the fans. It just shows the fans that the club is here and they are doing anything they can to promote their enjoyment out at the ballpark.”
Fans now anticipate the promotion, as they rushed into the Miller Park parking lot as soon as the announcement was made public. Inspiration for the promotion came from the University of Wisconsin’s student government planting pink flamingos around campus when Brewers chief operating officer Rick Schlesinger was a student at the school in the late 1970s.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Schlesinger said. “It’s a way to promote spring, promote ticket sales and have a little fun at the same time. People look forward to it. We’ve had calls since the beginning of the season saying ‘When are you going to do it?’ We’ve been very coy about it.
“It’s a good promotion, it’s good branding. We’re trying to have some fun and promote the Brewers. Lawn gnomes are becoming very popular and the sausages are incredibly popular. It’s a good combination of promotion, spring and baseball.”