August 2010

An Event of Their Own: Cait’s Brewers Baseball Basics for Women Recap

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of speaking at Brewers Baseball Basics for Women, presented by Associated Bank, an event designed especially for our female fans who are interested in a behind-the-scenes look at Miller Park and the Brewers front office, as well as additional insight into some nuances of America’s Favorite Pastime. 

In short, the women taking part in the event put on by Brewers Enterprises had signed up for an entire day of fun at Miller Park, beginning at 9am and lasting through the game that evening.

To start their day, the ladies congregated behind the visitor’s dugout, where they were greeted by Vice President of Brewers Enterprises, Jason Hartlund and Penny Foust, Associated Bank CTP Vice President of Treasury Management.

They then heard from Vice President-Assistant General Manager, Gord Ash and Coordinator, Administration- Amateur Scouting, Amanda Kropp. The session covered information on day-to-day operations and the different tiers within the department–scouting, player development and the Major Leagues. The participants had the chance to ask questions and they took full advantage of the opportunity, inquiring about such baseball intricacies such as the infield fly rule, options and waivers and the draft process.

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Gord Ash speaks at Brewers Baseball Basics for Women.

Next, the women were split up into five different “teams” and headed off to different areas of the ballpark for sessions with women in the Brewers front office.

The teams rotated to visit each of the five sessions, traveling on a behind-the-scenes tour of Miller Park along the way, including a visit to the home clubhouse and a walk around the warning track to the home bullpen, where they reviewed different pitches with Bullpen Catcher Marcus Hanel.

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Tours of Miller Park usually feature a visit to the visitor’s clubhouse, but the ladies had a rare treat– a special trip through the home clubhouse, where they got to see the lockers, weight room, training room and dining room.

The teams heard about the Brewers philanthropic efforts and community events and programs from Cecelia Gore, Executive Director of the Brewers Community Foundation and Katina Shaw, Director of Community Relations and Family Liaison.

Over in the Press Box, the teams learned about broadcasting, in-game entertainment and what it takes to pull-off 81 homes games and a major event like Brewers on Deck from Aleta Mercer, Senior Director of Entertainment and Broadcasting. (For more on Aleta, click here.)

The session with Marcie Pasbrig, the Catering and Sales Manager for DNC SportService and Leslie Bishop, the NYCE Stadium Club and Gehl Club Manager for DNC SportService took place in the NYCE Stadium Club where the teams learned about the catering and hospitality. They also had a chance to sample some of the delicious fare offered at Miller Park.

Miranda Bintley, Grounds Manager was supposed to speak about her job overseeing the playing fields in both Miller Park and Helfaer Field, but she was unavailable because she is soon expecting her first child, so her boss, Grounds Director, Gary Vanden Berg, pinch hit for her and “covered that ground”. (For more on Gary and his crew, click here.)

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Gary Vanden Berg speaks to a team in the home dugout.

As Senior Manager of Advertising and Marketing, I also had the pleasure of hosting a session about our advertising, ticket promotions, social media efforts and general marketing strategy.

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Our session took place in the Media Interview Room, so fans like Julie Hanrahan had fun posing in front of the backdrop.

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I could tell all of the women in attendance were  big Brewers fans. In fact, I had been asked to touch on the topic of retail in my sessions and  I jokingly said to each group, “Well, I was supposed to talk about retail, but just looking at this group, I see you’re all very familiar with our retail operations!”  Almost every woman there was wearing Brewers gear and it was great to see.

Because I was speaking to the different groups as they rotated through this high-powered lineup, unfortunately, I was unable to attend the other speakers’ sessions. However, the feedback I did receive later from both my colleagues and the attendees was very positive across the board.

“I was impressed with the questions the women asked,” Amanda Kropp commented to me. I agreed. All of the women who attended my sessions came prepared with plenty of great questions and also, valuable feedback.

The groups reconvened for a question and answer session with Brewers Manager Ken Macha, outfielder Joe Inglett and his wife, Kelly, emceed by Brewers TV Analyst Bill Schroeder.

Topics covered in that session ranged from what a typical day looks like for a player versus a manager and why the Brewers have been hit by pitches so many times this season to how many games the players’ wives typically attend during a season and what they do while their husbands are traveling on the road.

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Joe Inglett, his wife, Kelly and Manager Ken Macha take questions from the fans.

The morning concluded with a drawing for special prizes such as holding the finish line for the Klement’s Sausage Race and throwing out the first pitch at that night’s game. Each woman who attended the event also received a gift bag that included a bobble head, a 2010 Brewers Yearbook, a copy of the book, Down in the Valley by Gregg Hoffmann (a history of Milwaukee County Stadium), and a pink Brewers hat from Associated Bank.

The group was then released for a couple of hours before they returned with a guest to Helfaer Field for a special tailgate which included food and drinks, photo opportunities with the Klement’s Famous Racing Sausages and appearances by John Axford, Randy Wolf, Zach Braddock, Chris Narveson and George Kottaras. 

The participants and their guests then attended the Brewers-Pirates game at 6:10 pm, where their day of fun was capped off with an 8-7 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

I’m thankful for this great opportunity to spread my love of the game (and my job!) to this group of women and I hope that they had as much fun as I did. 

I also hope that next year, we get even more women to come out to get a glimpse at the women behind-the-scenes at Miller Park and to learn more about the sport that Milwaukee has embraced for years.

 

-CAIT

johnandcait@brewers.com

Many Happy Campers Attend Field of Sweet Dreams Event at Miller Park

 

If you’re not familiar with it, Field of Sweet Dreams, presented by Copps, Pick ‘n Save and Kemps, is a giant slumber party for 350Brewers fans of all ages, put on by Brewers Enterprises. You get to set up your tent on the field, watch the game and a movie on the video board, play games, enjoy great food and more. Last year was the first year of the event and it was a smashing success. Being in the Consumer Marketing department, I helped promote the event, so I thought I should see for myself what it is really like. I asked Sarah Chmiel, Manager of Brewers Enterprises and Queen of the Field of Sweet Dreams, if she’d be open to my covering the event for John and Cait…Plus 9. She was all for it.

In fact, when I told my husband, Brian what I was planning on doing, he laughed. Then, when he realized I was serious, he laughed even harder. And, since we don’t own a tent (Did I mention, I am not a camper?), I had to ask our next-door neighbors and good friends, Tim and Jana, if they had a tent that I could borrow. They asked who it was for and when I told them it was for me, they also laughed. However, I will say that when I explained what I’d be using the tent for and the premise of the event, they thought it was a very cool thing and hooked me up with an Eddie Bauer Backpacking Sport Dome Tent. Perfect, I thought. A Sport Dome Tent for my night in a sports dome.

Those alternatives simply would not do. I wanted the full Field of Sweet Dreams fan experience. Also, I didn’t like the fact that he was implying that he didn’t think I could do this on my own.

“Okay, well, I am not coming down there to bring you anything you’ve forgotten or to help you set up that tent then,” he said.

So, I went on my merry way, leaving Brian to his own devices for the night (no doubt pizza delivery, the Brewers game and season six of Entourage on DVD).

Yep. Sure thing-I will get right on that.A lady and her children walked by, “How’d you get stuck setting up the tent?” she called.

Nope, it really was just me. So, when one of the directions read, “With a person at each front corner of the tent, flex the fiberglass poles into an upward position, forming two arches,” I looked around.

I decided to channel my inner Girl Scout. Yes, I was a Girl Scout and before you ask, no, we didn’t go on many camping trips; and the ones we did take did not involve tents, thank you very much.

Since I’d worked up quite the appetite setting up my tent, I headed up the steps to the Field Level Concourse where a smorgasbord featuring BBQ pulled chicken, Italian beef, hot dogs, baked beans, salad, corn on the cob, chips, pickles, brownies and beverages awaited me and the other hungry campers.Many fans were engrossed in the Brewers game, which was being shown on the video board and piped over the sound system. Below the video board, personalized scoreboard messages ran in a loop.

He had heard about the event too late last year, so he made sure to get his tickets early this year. They were having a great time, hanging out and watching the game when I checked in with them.

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When I caught up with Jessica and Luther Himsel and their children, Elijah and Ruby, they had just returned to their tent after a jaunt at the Associated Bank Kids Zone.

Following the game, fans were treated to Shrek the Third on the video board and had the chance to grab some “midnight snacks,” of nachos, chicken tenders, ice cream, popcorn, peanuts, Cracker Jack and candy.

Note: I do not want this little vignette to discourage anyone from taking part in next year’s event; I take full responsibility for what I am about to disclose to you.

And that’s when I noticed that the flap for the tent’s “side room” wasn’t fully closed. Using my hand, I tried to do my best imitation of Ryan Braun in our TV spot (where he swats the fly into the wall with his hand and the tag reads “Ryan Braun. Yeah, the guy can hit.”). Well, clearly, this girl can’t hit, so I grabbed the notepad I had been using to jot notes for this post and began taking some stronger cuts, trying to move the bugs in the direction of the open vent. After about ten minutes or so, I was tired.

I laid back, resting my head on my brand-new, rolled up Brewers blanket. (Okay, so maybe in all the excitement of going camping, I had forgotten my pillow, but as I noted above, there was no way I was calling Brian to ‘fess up.) I marveled at the view from my tent, the open roof providing a superb view of the night sky. I considered what a fun evening I’d had and all of the cool Brewers fans I had met.

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As I felt myself surrendering to sleep and my own sweet dreams, I breathed a sigh of contentment in being able to survive on my own (okay, me and 349 others) in the great outdoors (okay, great outfield … at Miller Park … which just happens to be my place of employment), despite my misadventures in entomology.


I watched as the little tent city sprang to life and fans began heading to the restrooms to wash up, packing up and disassembling their tents before enjoying the breakfast buffet, which featured scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, mini-muffins and bagels, fruit, juice, coffee and tea.

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Despite the sleep crusties and bleary-eyedness of some of the kids–for most of whom, I am sure staying up so late was a rare treat– I saw a lot of smiles on the faces of the fans. It had been a wonderful outing to cap off the summer and everyone, including me, was going home a…well, happy camper.

As a side note, I was so proud of myself for sticking it out and not spending the night in my air-conditioned, bug-free office, or just packing it in at midnight and going home, that I was thinking I just might plan on taking in the real Arctic Tailgate experience by camping out prior to the on-sale next February. Gives me plenty of time to work on attaching that fly to the tent.

johnandcait@brewers.com

Update: Information on the 2011 event can be found here! Tickets go on sale Tuesday, July 12 at 10am.

Smile! 2010 Brewers Team Picture Wrap Up

Remember when you were on your Little League team and it was photo day?  You always made sure that your uniform was crisp and clean.  Big Leaguers go through the same thing.  Yesterday was Team Photo day for the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park as Brewers players, coaches and field staff put on their best for the 41st Brewers Team Photo, a photo that will go down in the history books like the previous 40 photos. 

For some Brewers, the Team Photo is old hat, they know the drill and have been through it before.  For others, it marked another Major League first.  It was the first Major League Team photo for Brewers rookies Lorenzo Cain and Jonathan Lucroy.  It was the first full day as a Brewer for Chris Dickerson who found himself in a Brewers uniform late Monday night following his acquisition from the Reds.

The team photo was scheduled for 3:15 p.m. and here are some of my behind-the-scenes shots of what happened during the photo session.

 

Thumbnail image for Video 30 0 00 03-09.jpgEveryday, the coaches post the schedule for the day.  As you can see here, the schedule includes the Team Picture at 3:15.

 

Video 29 0 00 01-19.jpgMedia Relations Director Mike Vassallo writes an additional reminder to players about the Team Photo.  He is ensuring that all players are wearing the white uniforms along with the blue long sleeve undershirts.  We sure heard it from the everyone about making them wear long sleeves on a hot and humid August afternoon. 

 

Video 31 0 00 02-02.jpgWhile outside on the field, Brewers Team Photographer Scott Paulus (left) works with his two assistants in preparing the field for the Team Photo.  Yesterday marked Paulus’ “8th or 9th” team photo, he couldn’t remember.

 

Video 32 0 00 00-01.jpgSoon, these chairs and bleachers will be filled with the 2010 Milwaukee Brewers. The Miller Park Grounds Crew sets up the bleachers and chairs.

 

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Video 36 0 00 00-12.jpgThe players file in as Paulus directs them where to go.

 

Video 38 0 01 02-13 (2).jpgTrevor Hoffman invited me up for the team photo, but I didn’t make the final cut.

 

Video 36 0 00 06-09.jpgDave Bush offered me his hat so I would fit in better for the photo.  It didn’t work, I stuck out like a sore thumb.

 

Video 38 0 02 08-02.jpgRandy Wolf was cracking a lot of jokes throughout the photo session, he was definitely on a roll Tuesday afternoon.  Wolf also won the “Last One Out For the Team Photo Award” given annually by the Media Relations Department for the player or staff member who is the last person to join the Team Photo. 

 

Video 38 0 04 25-15.jpg“Are we done yet!?”  The entire process took about ten minutes.  Not bad for gathering and organizing 45 people!

 

Video 38 0 03 37-18.jpgPaulus making sure he has a great shot.  Again, Wolf looks like he is up to no good.

 

Video 38 0 04 33-10.jpgA little preview of what fans might see on Fan Appreciation Night when they receive their 2010 Team Photo Cards.  Nobody looks like they are blinking!

 

Here is a little bit of the video that I shot during the team photo:

 

 

 

Another successful Team Photo in the books!  Thanks to the players, coaches, staff, Scott Paulus and the Miller Park Grounds Crew for their help in making sure it was a painless operation.  Everything went well yesterday and I cannot wait to see the finished product. 

–JOHN

johnandcait@brewers.com

 

 

Brewers Bowl-a-Thon a Rolling Success

On Sunday night, many of the Milwaukee Brewers players celebrated their sweep over the Houston Astros by bowling in the Brewers Bowl-a-Thon, hosted by Doug Davis.

A great crowd was on hand at Pinstrikes Bowling Center at Bayshore Town Center in Glendale, Wisconsin, both to bowl and, to watch the tournament unfold.

The evening began with drinks, appetizers, a silent auction and a few different raffles that fans could enter.

 


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The silent auction featured items such as autographed bats, baseballs, jerseys, caps,

After the drawing, it was time to get down to business.  The players were assigned to their lanes and the bowling commenced with Doug Davis, the evening’s host, throwing out the official “first ball”.

 


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Doug Davis (right), the evening’s host, poses with Chris Capuano.

 

Proceeds from the event proceeds benefited the Miracle League of Milwaukee through the Doug Davis Foundation and the Brewers Community Foundation.

-CAIT

The Miracle League of Milwaukee is a project that the Club has been supporting in various ways this season, including through the Pepsi Refresh Project. Fifteen teams across Major League Baseball are asking fans to join them in making a difference in America’s communities; each Club has presented a proposed community project for support and here in Milwaukee, the Club has chosen the Miracle League, campaigning for fan votes and an ultimate $200,000 grant to fulfill the project. (Click here to cast your vote up to ten times a day until Tuesday, August 17 at 11:59 p.m. EDT.) 

 

John Previews the Brewers Community Foundation Week Auction

Rebranded for 2010, the Milwaukee Brewers Community Foundation is currently hosting its first ever Milwaukee Brewers Community Foundation Week.   A series of in-park events have been planned including raffles that benefit the Brewers Community Foundation.

Highlighting the week is a commercial-free telecast of Tuesday’s Brewers-Diamondbacks game on FS Wisconsin.  That’s right, on Tuesday fans tuning in at home will not see a commercial during the Brewers game.  Things could get quite interesting for Brian Anderson and Bill Schroeder without any commercial breaks!

As a part of the telecast, a live auction will take place on brewers.com.  The auction is currently open and will run through Tuesday night.  If you happen to be attending the game that night, you will also be given the opportunity to bid on items via computer terminals set up at the ballpark. 

Executive Director of the Brewers Community Foundation Cecelia Gore and the Brewers front office has worked hard to put together some unique items.  The auction is filled with some of the most unbelievable experience and once-in-a-lifetime, behind the scenes opportunities offered by the Brewers for Brewers fans.

Fourteen items are available to fans looking to participate in the online auction.  When I first saw the list, I was really excited and almost shocked that some of these opportunities were even being made available!  If anything it shows the commitment by the Brewers organization to the Brewers Community Foundation and the organizations to which they contribute.

I thought I would give you some of my thoughts on my favorite items up for auction:

Party in the Clubhouse - So we have all been to dinner parties before.   Some have been fun, and others we just dread attending and are pretty boring and have a lot of awkward conversation.  You can blow your friends away with this dinner party in the Visiting Team clubhouse at Miller Park (just make sure you clean up or Phil Rozewicz might be after you). 

Up to 50 guests will enjoy the comforts of a Major League Clubhouse with food and non-alcoholic beverages.  Cash bar can be made available upon request.  Additionally, 25 members of your party will have the opportunity to take batting practice in the Brewers batting cages against Jim Gantner, Jerry Augustine and Marcus Hanel.  Brewers GM Doug Melvin will also make a visit.  Dinner, batting practice, visits from former Major Leaguers all make for a dinner party that all of which all your friends will WANT to attend.  Sounds like a fantastic deal.

Hitting Clinic with Dale Sveum & Casey McGehee and Pitching Clinic with Trevor Hoffman & Rick Peterson - These two items are certainly once-in-a-life time opportunities.  To have a half-hour instructional session with these professionals is priceless.  No matter what your skill level, these two packages will make the dreams come true of any Brewers fan.  

Sveum and McGehee will spend a half-hour with the winner of this prize and teach the finer points of hitting.  I have seen these two work together on hitting from the first day of Spring Training on and both of them truly are masters of their craft. 

Peterson and Hoffman between them have over 30 years of Major League Coaching and Playing experience.  The chance to work with a future Hall of Famer in Hoffman and a pitching guru like Peterson will most definitely help the delivery of Little Leaguers with Big League dreams and Bill Schroeder’s “Fantasy Leaguers” alike.

Authentic Game-Used Baseball - I know it is pretty difficult to catch a foul ball or a home run at a Major League Baseball game.  Once in awhile one comes my way in the press box (Ken Spindler normally catches it while Mike Vassallo and I duck out of the way for safety).  This is a pretty good opportunity to own a game-used piece of Brewers history.

FOX Sports Wisconsin Broadcast Package - Being a proud graduate of Marquette University’s College of Communication, this is probably one of my favorite packages.  The winner here will be given the opportunity to conduct a pre-game interview with a Brewers player or coach prior to a pre-selected Brewers game and have it air during “Brewers Live!” on FS Wisconsin.  The winner will also get a tour of the FS Wisconsin television truck and tickets to the game.  This is your opportunity to show Brewers fans watching across the country that you have what it takes to be the next Telly Hughes

Racing Mini Sausages Opportunity - One of the best parts of Sunday day games (besides the press box breakfast) is watching the Famous Klement’s Sausage Race featuring what Official Scorer Tim O’Driscoll likes to call “the little weenies.”  Every Sunday, the regular sausages participate in a relay race with the mini sausages.  This is an amazing opportunity for your child and four friends (aged 5-8, 60 pounds or under) to run in the Famous Klement’s Sausage Race at a mutually agreed upon 2011 Sunday home game.  This package includes 20 Loge Level tickets to that game and a pre-race visit from the Famous Racing Sausages to your child’s school (within a 45 mile radius from Miller Park).  If your family has five kids, a photo of this event would make a pretty unique family photo.

Coach First Base at Spring Training – Brewers First Base Coach Ed Sedar’s job gives him arguably the best seat in the house, but that’s not to say he has an easy job.  This package will give you the chance to perform your best Ed Sedar impression and coach first base during the 2011 Brewers Inter-squad Spring Training Game at Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix.  Also included in the package are two round trip airfares on AirTran Airways for your travel to Phoenix, one full Brewers uniform with personalized jersey and a behind-the-scenes tour of Maryvale.  Spring Training is one of my favorite times of the year and I highly suggest to any Brewers fan to make the trip.  This is a great chance to make the trip and a special memory. 

Groundskeeping Experience - If there is one thing you must know about the Brewers Director of Grounds Gary Vanden Berg and his army of groundskeepers, they work hard to make sure Miller Park is ready for every game at Miller Park.  They take care of every inch of the field, grooming, raking and painting the meticulous surface everyday–hours before the first fan arrives and hours after the final out. 

If you have ever wondered what it takes to keep the beautiful green grass at Miller Park the envy of every homeowner in Wisconsin, this package is for you.  The winner here will have the opportunity to assist the crew with watering and preparing the field during pregame and then again with changing the bases in the 4th inning.  The winner will then take home the base they changed along with two official Brewers grounds crew t-shirts and a vial of authentic Miller Park dirt.  Two premium tickets are also included.  If Vanden Berg sees that you are a hard worker, you might be able to get some tips on cutting those intricate patterns seen in the Miller Park outfield in your own backyard.

The auction is open now and will run through Tuesday night at Midnight CT.  Some items have some bids while others have yet to see a bid placed.  There is still some time, but I’m guessing once Tuesday’s game comes around and FS Wisconsin Is talking about the auction, a lot of those items will heat up.

Tune in to Tuesday’s broadcast on FS Wisconsin and on brewers.com and support the Brewers Community Foundation by bidding on some great items. 

–JOHN

johnandcait@brewers.com

 

 

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