MILWAUKEE -- Ryan Braun and John Axford are saying "thank you" to Brewers fans by inviting 5,000 of them to Miller Park on Sunday.
The players footed the bill for 5,000 tickets to Fan Appreciation Day, tickets that will be available exclusively at Brewers.com/fanappreciation
beginning at 10 a.m. CT on Friday. The maximum per person is four.
Fans will only be responsible for a per-order processing fee -- there will be no other costs.
"When we weren't playing nearly as well as we wanted to in June and July, the fans were always there supporting us, and this is our way of saying 'thank you,'" Braun said. "We want them to know how much we appreciate it."
Reliever Eric Gagne extended a similar offer in 2008, buying 5,000 tickets for fans who tried to boo him out of town when he struggled early in the season. Axford was treated much more kindly this year, even during the middle of his midseason swoon, and credits the fans for helping the Brewers stay buoyant during their tough summer, when they traded Zack Greinke and slipped as far as 12 games under .500.
Thanks to a late-season surge, including wins in 19 of their last 22 home games, the Brewers are 46-29 at Miller Park.
"We have such great fans in Milwaukee. Even during the struggles, they were showing up," Axford said. "And now that we're doing the best we can to get back in the thick of it, this seems like a good opportunity to try to pack the house even more."
The Brewers will distribute Rally Towels to all fans at all three weekend games against the Astros. In addition, all fans at Sunday's game will receive a scratch-off card with prizes ranging from 2013 game tickets to seats in a Miller Park suite.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brew Beat, and follow him on Twitter at @AdamMcCalvy. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.