Travis Michalski is a lifelong Brewers fan whose favorite memory at a game was always a dubious one -- missing a chance to meet legendary broadcaster Bob Uecker.
"He and some friends had tickets for the Uecker seats," recalled his wife, Kelly, "and Travis had to go to the bathroom so bad, he left the seats. Who came out of his press box to say, 'Hi' to all the boys but Bob Uecker himself ... and Travis missed it. He will forever kick himself for missing that chance, but he loves to talk about it."
Alas, Travis and three others now have a certifiable Brewers ballgame memory, and they probably will be talking about it for a long time. The Michalskis, from Mosinee, Wis., attended a recent game at Miller Park along with their friends Jonathan Backes of Mosinee and Giana Saari of Hurley, Wis. The quartet stars in Episode 34 of the second season of the hit MLB.com game show "Bucks on the Pond" powered by Ford.
Watch the video to see if they add to the $20,460 doled out by MLB.com to fans on the concourses at 25 of the 30 Major League Baseball parks over the past year ... or if they go down swinging.
"The most difficult part of the day was Travis and Jon trying to figure out where we should sit for the game," Kelly recalled in an email to MLB.com, describing the ballpark experience that day. "We always buy our tickets when we get there, and they were holding up the line because they were trying to pick out seats. It was a big discussion on who was pitching that day so they could 'calculate' where the foul balls would be hit. They both wanted to catch a foul ball ... as neither of them has ever caught one at an MLB game. We were only a couple rows up on the first-base line, closer to the outfield, but we didn't come close to catching a foul ball this game either.
"As for 'Bucks on the Pond,' when MLB.com came up to all of us and asked us if we wanted to win money, we thought it was a scam. I think Jon or I may have said we weren't signing up for a credit card just for a chance to win money. That is what we thought the catch was -- having to sign up for a credit card. When we were reassured it was not a credit card but just a chance to win money if we could answer questions, we were game. But we were all worried that the trivia questions would be impossible and we wouldn't answer any of them right."
"Bucks" is hosted by Jeremy Brisiel and you might be a part of this season when you least expect it. Fans at the ballpark interact with MLB.com's studio through the magic of technology in conjunction with game action inside, and shows are released each Tuesday and Thursday.
Contestants are asked a trivia question -- general knowledge and baseball -- on each pitch during a half-inning of baseball. Get the question correct and win money. Get the question wrong, and it's a strike. Three strikes, and you're out.
The questions' difficulty and value increase with the number of outs in the on-field action: $5 easy questions to start, $10 medium-difficulty questions after one out, $20 hard questions after two outs. If the contestant lasts longer than the team's at-bat, they win the bucks in their bank.
Cross the $100 mark during the show, and it's time for "Say the Word" powered by Ford SYNC. You can wager any part of your bank on that next question, which is asked each episode by 2014 Hall of Fame candidate Frank Thomas. Answer correctly and you win, answer incorrectly and you lose that amount ... and it's another strike.
"It was interesting, fun, something different," Backes said. "You've got to give it a whirl."
Topics covered in this episode include standings, milestones, Alanis Morissette, cards, Patrick Swayze movies, units of measurement, Brewers stolen-base leaders, baseball terminology, modern sports, Brewers history, Ben Affleck, '80s bands and Canadian provinces.
Travis works in concrete and also in a steel-fabricating business, and Kelly is laboratory director of Student Health Services at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Backes worked in construction and recently went back to work designing sprinkler systems. Saari just graduated from UWSP and recently started a job at Saint Michael's Hospital in Stevens Point while she applies to medical school.
Travis and Jon have known each other since they played baseball together as kids, and the latter met Giana when she started bartending at a place where the Michalskis and Backes hang out. That's how these four participants wound up together at Miller Park, and an unexpected opportunity to cover the cost of a trip to a game was a nice bonus.
"There's not a bad spot to watch a game," Travis said, describing the allure of Miller Park. "Just the atmosphere of being around fans at a game, everybody having a good time."
In addition to the Brewers, teams visited by the "Bucks" crew include the Angels, Astros, Athletics, Cardinals, Cubs, D-backs, Dodgers, Giants, Indians, Mariners, Marlins, Mets, Orioles, Padres, Phillies, Pirates, Red Sox, Reds, Rockies, Royals, Tigers, Twins, White Sox and Yankees. Bookmark MLB.com/bucks and be on the lookout for the "Bucks" crew at your ballpark.