Peter Zlebek didn’t have a sense of how big the lift was going to be until the rental agency told him he’d need a second person to help get it out of his truck.
“‘Oh, so I’m going to need a truck,'” Zlebek recalled with a laugh. “I thought I was going to throw it in the back of my Crossover or whatever. I had to rent a U-Haul and went over to pick this thing up.”
The good news for the 30-year-old Plymouth native is that his brother, Jan, had just moved to Minneapolis and even lived close enough to walk to Target Field. The plan was easy to hatch from there.
Peter Zlebek made some noise Tuesday night when he elevated himself on a 25-foot personnel lift to catch a glimpse of the Milwaukee Brewers game against the Minnesota Twins. Adorned in Brewers gear and holding a sign that read, “Not in the stands, but you still have fans,” Zlebek caught 2½ innings of the game before he was forced to shut the operation down.
Peter, a University of Wisconsin graduate, works at an ad agency and has lived in Minneapolis for four years. He has been starved for live baseball action since the coronavirus pandemic shortened the Major League Baseball season and ensured games would be played before empty grandstands.
“My thought was, if I could buy a ticket, I would, I’d be the first person in line to go to a Brewers-Twins game if it were safe and something I felt good about in terms of social distancing,” Peter said. “But that’s not possible. I didn’t feel like I was stealing anything from baseball, because there’s no opportunity to buy those tickets. Obviously, parking ramps are made for parking cars, not 25-foot personnel lifts. It wasn’t lost on me that it wasn’t going to fly with everyone.”
Peter has been to his share of Twins games, and he had parked in that particular parking ramp before for work obligations.
Plymouth native Peter Zlebek captured the moment he went up in a lift to check out the Brewers-Twins game Tuesday night at Target Field.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“I just noted that that was a place you could see,” he said. “The wall is kind of high, and you can’t get a great view without straining your back. I thought maybe I could get a ladder; I was thinking about how I can watch baseball somehow. As much as the view is much better on TV — the camera angles are so much better than being 600 feet from home plate — but the live ball experience, I’ve been itching for it all summer.”
He searched for rentals and reserved one two weeks in advance. It was Jan who suggested the brothers make signs and “kind of make it a thing.”
Peter Zlebek captured his view of Target Field on Tuesday night. (Photo: Submitted photo by Peter Zlebek)
“In my head, it was always just, ‘How do I watch baseball?’ and less about being visible,” he said. “But I thought, ‘That’s a good idea, let’s do that, too.'”
On-site security discouraged the behavior but didn’t outright deny the brothers.
“We definitely acknowledged what they were saying but maybe didn’t respond to their immediate requests,” Peter admitted. “I hopped in, taped the sign up and cranked her up, got up right before the first pitch, which was amazing timing. I got to watch 2½ innings up there, and that’s when MPD (Minneapolis Police Department) showed up. They were not happy.
“Security was jovial, maybe appreciated the creativity of it. Everyone has to do their job, so I have no qualms with security or MPD. Security was definitely more lighthearted about it, and MPD was very serious and very stern. … They said the word ‘trespassing’ quite a bit.”
The brothers weren’t cited, and police left once the Zlebeks disassembled the lift and packed it back into the truck.
Before that, Twins radio announcers made notice of Peter’s presence, and reporters at the game caught video and photos.
“I did get to yell, rooting for Yelich and Braun and Keston and all the guys,” Peter said. “I like to imagine they could see us.”
Peter said it wasn’t even the worst seat he’s had for a baseball game.
“Target Field is a great park, too; it’s cool to be there,” he said. “It’s one of the things I miss most about all this. I understand the decision to keep fans out; that was kind of the impetus for everything, to get as much baseball as I can.
“I’ve probably seen 2½ innings more than most people (this season).”
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