Two brothers went to great lengths — or heights — to watch their favorite team take on the Twins at fan-free Target Field, only to be caught and ejected from atop a nearby parking ramp after a few innings.
Pete and Jan Zlebek rented a portable aerial lift Tuesday and drove it to Level 6 of the B Ramp in time to peer from far behind center field at the Milwaukee Brewers game against the Twins.
Just like at every other major league stadium, Target Field is devoid of paid spectators in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic during this vastly shortened 2020 season.
Pete Zlebek, 30, recalled from previous trips to the municipal ramp that there is a clear view of home plate.
“I wanted to get pretty high, so I found a reasonable lift rental that was movable by two people,” he said Wednesday. “That’s when I recruited my brother to help out.”
The brothers, who both live in Minneapolis, brought the lift into the ramp in a truck bed and set it up.
“Not in the stands but you still have fans,” read a sign that joined Pete Zlebek on his ascension as he held a Brewers flag.
Down below, 31-year-old Jan Zlebek mugged for a video that revealed the bird’s-eye view from afar.
But they were soon approached by a pair of police officers who explained that the two were trespassing and “asked us to leave” during the middle of the third inning, Pete Zlebek said.
“And we did,” he said. “They weren’t happy, but I get it. … They have much bigger issues to deal with.”
Police spokesman John Elder confirmed that ramp security called police on the brothers, and added that others this baseball season have been trying to get a live glimpse of the Target Field action. City spokesman Casper Hill said “the public is not allowed [on the ramp’s highest level] for security reasons.
“The entrance to that top level is roped off, and a security guard is there watching for any violators.”
Twins spokesman Dustin Morse said the Zlebek brothers’ ingenuity “obviously shows the strange season that 2020 really is and the passion that fans are showing … to watch and listen and pay attention to Twins baseball.”
Morse said no fans have found a way to sneak inside, but, “We’ve heard some chants from outside the gates. [Outfielder] Eddie Rosario heard a father and son outside a gate chanting ‘Eddie, Eddie,’ and he chuckled and said that it made him feel good.”
Pete Zlebek said he grew up in Wisconsin as a Brewers fan but “I wouldn’t say I’m a rabid Brewers fan; more of a guy who loves being at the park. … I also love Target Field. I’ve been to quite a few MLB parks, and Target Field is one of my favorites.”
For the $140 he spent on the lift and “a few beers,” Pete Zlebek said that “catching even a few innings seemed worth it. And it was.”
Pete Zlebek also said it was probably all for the best that he returned to terra firma when he did.
“I’m glad I got to watch the rest from my couch,” he said. [Kenta] Maeda pitched a great game and [it] was probably better not perched up 500 feet away.”
And what about the rest of the Brewers’ three-game series with the Twins this week?
“The police didn’t arrest us or anything,” Pete Zlebek said, “[but] they were clear: Don’t come back.”