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Catching Up With Rob Wooten on the Japan All-Star Series

Earlier this week, I caught up with a jet-lagged Rob Wooten who recently returned from a whirlwind trip to Japan that included stops in Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo, Sapporo and Okinawa.

In addition to getting a crash course on the food and culture, Rob was pitching for the MLB All-Stars in the Japan All-Star Series.

In case you missed it (and you may have since most of the games were aired in the States overnight due to the time difference), the 2014 MLB Japan All-Star Series was a championship held in a best-of-five format (plus two exhibition games) between a team comprised of an elite group MLB players and Japan’s national team (Samurai Japan). Held for the first time since 2006, this year’s championship took place from Friday, November 14 through Tuesday, November 18, with Samurai Japan winning the series, 3-2.

If you follow Rob Wooten on Twitter (@RobWooten35) and I suggest you do, you may have already seen many of the great photos that he tweeted out during his time overseas, but I had the chance to chat with Rob and get a little more background on his travels, what it is like to pitch in another country with a very unique stadium environment, and the game of “Dare” going around the team which led to players photobombing, serenading, and eating fish guts.

Read on as I dissect his timeline and take you beyond 140 characters.

Back in June, the MLB Players Association began asking which players might be interested in participating in the Japan All-Star Series. Rob put his name in and got a call shortly after the season ended saying he had made the team.

Although Rob knew Jerry Blevins, a pitcher for the Washington Nationals, a little bit as a friend of a friend back when Rob was in Triple-A, he had not played with any of his MLB All-Star teammates during his career, but had played against most of them. However, in this type of environment, especially with his bullpen mates, it was easy to form bonds.

Saturday, November 8: The Team Departs for Osaka

On Thursday, November 6, Rob and his wife Katie boarded a plane from North Carolina, where they reside in the offseason, to Los Angeles. The MLB All-Stars worked out November 7-8 and took a team photo before boarding a 12 hour and 45 minute flight to Osaka.

This is a photo of Koshien Stadium in Osaka, which has an all-dirt infield.

“When Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, when that team went over in 1934, that’s where they played. So it’s kind of like their Fenway. It’s a really old ballpark, but it’s pretty neat….I hadn’t played on an all-dirt infield since Little League, so it was different in that aspect. Even from the mound to home plate, it looked very different, being all dirt,” Rob said.

For their first game, MLB All-Stars played an exhibition game here on Tuesday, November 11 vs. the Hanshin Tigers/Yomiuri Giants. The MLB team won the exhibition game 8-7.

The next night, they played Game 1 of the Japan Series at the Kyocera Dome in Osaka. They were defeated 2-0.

Here’s a photo of Rob and Katie at a party hosted by the Yomiuri Giants.

If you follow Rob on Twitter, you know he’s a big fan of Starbucks. “I was very excited. There was one right across from our hotel in Osaka,” he said, noting that he found Starbucks in both Osaka and Tokyo, but not the other cities he visited in Japan.  He was also surprised to find many of the Starbucks employees he encountered were able to have a conversation with him in English.

Thursday, November 13: Kyoto

The team had an off-day in Kyoto, so Rob had the chance to explore a bit. He took in a few temple tours and then had a lunch set up with a geisha show before the team took headed to the next city.

“It was only for us and it was nice to get a peek into their culture,” Rob said.

“They have a lot of shows on the field before games, too…. I would usually only catch the end of it, but I would walk out there and the stadium would be silent because everyone was watching the show that was on the field. It’s pretty neat.”

Friday, November 14: Tokyo

The team then traveled to Tokyo where they played the next three games of the series at the Tokyo Dome on Friday, November 14, Saturday, November 15 and Sunday, November 16.

That’s also where he got his first taste of what it was like to pitch in Japan, making appearances in the games on Friday and Sunday.

Once major difference? The bullpens there are not on the field. They are underneath, near the clubhouse.

“The first time you’re exposed to the atmosphere is when you’re on the mound. You’re in the bullpen and it is dead quiet and you’re watching the game on TV…and then all of a sudden you’re in mayhem, horns, drums all kinds of stuff.”

“You really have to calm your emotions down real quick. If you let your emotions get to you, you’re going to be pretty jumpy out there. I actually think I did a pretty decent job of that and got right to work pretty quick. I think the first pitch I threw was a strike, so that calmed me down and then it was just baseball after that,” he said.

Samurai Japan took the first two games in Tokyo (including a combined no-hitter by four pitchers on Saturday), bringing the series to 3-1.

Besides the bullpen location, Rob also noted some differences in fan behavior.

“They have very good fans with a high baseball IQ. Everything is extremely different, but at the same time really similar as far as the game goes. I noticed most of the time it was really, really loud when they were hitting but when they were pitching it was pretty quiet. For instance, I noticed when it was two strikes and two outs and all they have to do is get one out to win the game and the series, nobody was standing. Nobody was clapping. It was extremely quiet—here in the States, your closer is on the mound and there are two outs, 40,000 people are standing and cheering to get that last out—but then once the out was made, everyone started standing up and clapping. But when they are hitting, it’s a whole different world. There’s cheering, people jumping around, there are horns, there are drums… it’s just, wow.”

While in Tokyo, the MLB All-Stars visited the U.S. Embassy.

“We got to see Caroline Kennedy, which was pretty sweet and Katie and I had the chance to hang out with the Aoki family as well,” Rob said. Of course, Rob is talking about his former Brewers teammate and favorite while he was here, Norichika Aoki.

“Nori was actually at the first game in Osaka, which is where I saw him first….In Japan, obviously, it is respectful to bow and everything, but he had an entourage of people around him, paparazzi, and I came up and gave him a great big bear hug,” Rob laughed. “It was good to see him there, but then it was nice to get to hang out more with him and his wife at the U.S. Embassy.”

Rob tweeted this photo of the national anthem which took place before the game on Sunday, November 16. Rob pitched a scoreless inning in that game, which resulted in a 6-1 win for the MLB All-Stars.

When in Japan. Rob said the sushi in Japan was very different than what he was accustomed to.

“It’s so good because it is so fresh. We’ve all grown up on the fried and cooked fish and that’s really good, but in Japan, you can’t really find that. Everything is raw. Also, the noodles were incredible over there,” he said.

He also noted that breakfast in Japan was not anything like what we’re used to in America. Although some of the hotels tried to provide an Americanized version, in Japan, you’re more likely to find raw fish, noodles and even salad for the morning meal.

Tuesday, November 18: Sapporo

The team then headed to Sapporo for the final game of the Japan Series.

“We only spent one day in Sapporo and it was really cold and snowing, actually,” Rob said.

The MLB All-Stars won that game 3-1, but lost the overall series, 3-2.

Here’s a photo that a fan tweeted of Rob signing autographs. Rob said that one of the best parts of the trip was all of the fans.

“The people over there were so polite. They welcomed us into their country with open arms,” Rob said. “Not one time did I feel uncomfortable. It’s crazy how much knowledge they have of the game and us. I’ve only been in the Big Leagues for parts of two seasons and everyone knew who I was. I’d be walking out of the hotel and there would be people everywhere asking for autographs. I signed pictures I had never seen before of myself. It was pretty wild. And I know with [Robinson] Cano and [Evan] Longoria, they got it even more than I did.”

Wednesday, November 19: Okinawa

Before heading home, the team had one more stop. They headed to Okinawa to play another game vs. Samurai Japan; however, this one was considered an exhibition. While they were there, Rob and his teammate Jerry Blevins from the Nationals, paid a visit to an all-boys orphanage where they posed for photographs and took part in a Q&A through an interpreter.

“They were really nice, really polite, but it was also very sad as well. I wish we could have stayed longer and done more for them,” Rob said. He noted that all of his teammates made similar appearances in the cities they visited, including places like hospitals and even tea parties.

He also had dinner at Sam’s, a steakhouse in Okinawa. It was at Sam’s that Rob completed a dare—but more on that later.

On Thursday, November 20, the teams played their final game. There was an impressive pregame ceremony for the finale.

“That was kind of like the grand finale of a fireworks show,” Rob said. “There were people coming out of every corner of the stadium with drums, instruments, costumes, it was really cool.”

Rob pitched a scoreless inning in that game, but Samurai Japan ended up winning 6-4.

All in all, Japan won the official five-game set 3-2. And the teams split the two exhibitions.

“Everybody has asked me what was my favorite part of the trip…just to be associated with the team that I was with and just being in the clubhouse with those guys was really neat for me….As far as one particular moment, I don’t know if there is one. Everything was so great from the start.

“Interacting with the fans over there was something I’ll never forget. It was kind of difficult to carry on a conversation, but just the one-on-one, even for two seconds, you could see that we were making a difference in their lives and they in ours. We don’t go over there often and they were so excited for us to come and they rolled out the red carpet everywhere we went. Just the fans and the people over there were unbelievable,” Rob recalled.

Twitter Truth or Dare-Minus the Truth Part

Aside from baseball, appearances and sightseeing, one other thing kept the MLB All-Stars occupied during their time in Japan: a giant game of Twitter Truth or Dare—minus the Truth part. Basically, players began daring each other to do things and they had to prove they had completed the dare by filming it and posting it to Twitter.

Here are few examples:

Rob dared Jerry Blevins of the Nationals to eat “fish guts pickled in salt of the tuna,” a menu item at one of the restaurants where they dined:

Here’s Jerry completing the dare:

“He struggled to get it down, but he did it,” Rob said. So, in turn, Jerry dared Rob…

…who held up his end of the bargain:

“There was no English, so I had to somehow get them to let me get in the middle of them and take a picture. It ended up working out pretty easily. They had a good time with it. They were excited,” Rob recounted.

For your viewing pleasure, here are some of the other dares that were pretty amusing:

Looking Forward

Rob said he enjoyed bonding with his teammates and it certainly seems like all of the players had a great time in Japan.

It was great to connect with Rob. He was blown away by the fans in Japan, as well as the country’s cleanliness and beauty. I could tell just how much he enjoyed the trip and cherished this special experience and opportunity, but I also know just how much he, like us, is looking forward to 2015.

“As fun as this was, as great as this was, my focus is now completely on 2015,” he said.

I hope you enjoyed reading about Rob’s trip as much as he enjoyed taking it and I enjoyed hearing about it. It’s certainly always great to have a little extra baseball to tide us over until Spring Training.

-Cait

@CMoyer

Thanksgiving Drive-Thru Food Drive in Full Swing at Miller Park

Today, Brewers Community Foundation is teaming up with Hunger Task Force and CBS 58 to help feed Milwaukee-area families in need by hosting the “Thanksgiving Drive Thru Food Drive” at Miller Park.

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The drive has been in full swing since 4:30 a.m. this morning with lots of donations pouring in.

And, those who showed up not too long ago got a little surprise:

Ryan Braun came in last night from his offseason home in California to be here this morning to assist with the food collection and greet those fans making a donation.

“It is always nice to see people supporting these types of events, especially this time of year. It’s so important,” he said.

The slugger, who also met with media this morning, says he is enjoying spending his offseason with his baby girl, Celine Elysse, who was born in September. The new dad is looking forward to many of her “firsts,” including her first Thanksgiving tomorrow.

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Brewers Bullpen Catcher and Racine native Marcus Hanel was also out there lending a helping hand today, on the heels of his successful coat drive last week, as were the Klement’s Famous Racing Sausages and Bernie Brewer:

Food can be dropped off at Helfaer Field at Miller Park tonight until 6 p.m.

Each vehicle stopping by to donate food items will receive a Brewers bobblehead, a gift bag and other items while supplies last.

-Cait

@CMoyer

For a Gift That’s a Hit with the Kids, Get Them a Brewers Kids Club Membership!

Do you have kids 14 & under on your holiday shopping list this year? Get them their very own membership to the Brewers Kids Club.

For just $25, the Kids Club kit includes six Terrace Reserved ticket vouchers to select games, an official Kids Club cap, drawstring bag, water bottle, membership I.D. card with lanyard, Scooter Gennett poster and Hank the Ballpark Pup magnet.

Brewers Kids Club KIT

To purchase, call (414) 902-4000 or visit brewers.com/kidsclub.

To guarantee delivery in time for the holidays, please place your Brewers Kids Club order by Friday, December 12, 2014.

The kits are also available at the Brewers Team Store by Majestic and Miller Park and will be available next weekend at the Brewers Clubhouse Sale.

-Cait

@CMoyer

 

Artists Announced for Brewers Postgame Concert Series presented by Miller Lite; Special Field Access Available Through Black Friday Sale

Today we announced the artists for the brand new Brewers Postgame Concert Series presented by Miller Lite in 2015. The series will feature three postgame concerts performed by nationally acclaimed artists Joe Nichols, O.A.R. and the Goo Goo Dolls.

The series begins with Grammy Award nominee country artist Joe Nichols taking the stage after the Friday, May 29 game vs. the Arizona Diamondbacks. Nichols has entertained fans all across the country for over 15 years and has reached the charts with over a dozen singles, including “Gimmie That Girl,” “Yeah,” and “Sunny and 75.”

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On Saturday, June 13, following the Brewers game against the Washington Nationals, rockers O.A.R. will take the stage for the second concert in the Brewers Postgame Concert Series. O.A.R, which formed in 1996 in Maryland, released their eighth studio album, “The Rockville LP” in June of this year. They are best known for their hit singles “Hey Girl,” “Love and Memories,” and “Shattered (Turn the Car Around).”

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The Goo Goo Dolls will round out the inaugural Brewers Postgame Concert Series, on Saturday, August 15 after the game against the Philadelphia Phillies. The Buffalo, New York natives have recorded 10 albums including 1998’s “Dizzy Up the Girl,” which featured Grammy nominee for Record of the Year, “Iris.” The band has reached the charts with singles including “Slide” and “Name,” which both ranked on Billboard’s Top 100 Pop Songs from 1992-2012. The Goo Goo Dolls are currently touring in support of their 10th studio album, “Magnetic.”

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All fans who purchase tickets to one of the three games will automatically have access to that night’s free postgame concert. Single game tickets will be priced according to the Brewers demand-based pricing model, and will be available when 2015 single game tickets go on sale.

In a special Black Friday offer, 300 tickets for each concert date – each priced at only $129 – will go on sale at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, November 28. Tickets will be available ONLINE ONLY at Brewers.com/blackfriday.

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This exclusive Black Friday ticket package includes a ticket to the game in the Dew Deck, a delicious buffet and postgame field access for the concert. Only fans who purchase a ticket through this unique offer will be guaranteed postgame field access.

In addition, fans will also have the opportunity to purchase a limited number of Field Outfield Box seats for $49 through this Black Friday sale. That ticket will gain them access to the postgame concert, however it will not grant field access.

The Dew Deck ticket package and Field Outfield Box ticket offer will be available for 24 hours, or until they are sold out.

Season ticket packages including the three postgame concerts, Opening Day and all 20 of the All-Fan Giveaways are on-sale now. For additional ticket and other info, fans can call (414) 902-4000 or visit Brewers.com.

Remaining individual tickets for the postgame concert dates will go on sale at the Brewers annual Arctic Tailgate event in February.

-Cait

@CMoyer

BREWERS 34th ANNUAL CLUBHOUSE SALE SCHEDULED FOR FRIDAY AND SATURDAY, DECEMBER 5 – 6

Mark your calendars!

The Milwaukee Brewers will host the 34th Annual Clubhouse Sale on Friday, December 5 and Saturday, December 6 from 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. inside the visiting clubhouse at Miller Park. The sale will feature savings of up to 80% on select items. 

Think of it as one-stop shopping for every fan on your list! Save on Brewers apparel, souvenirs and accessories as well as rare, game-used merchandise, including jerseys and bats. Brewers sales representatives will also be available to offer information and process requests for Holiday 4-Packs and more ticket packages.

Next week, I’ll have our annual Clubhouse Sale Preview to give you a taste of the different items in store for you this year. Plus, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for an opportunity to gain early access in to the sale yourself!

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Coupons of 10%, 20% and 30% off will be offered to the Brewers Team Store by Majestic for those spending $100, $200 and $300, respectively, at the clubhouse sale. Coupons are valid on December 5-6 only.

The Brewers Team Store by Majestic will feature a variety of activities during both days of the clubhouse sale. Eight prize drawings will be held at the team store each day. Prizes will include shopping sprees and special Authentic Collection packages at the Team Store. A meet-and-greet event with Brewers mascots will take place on December 5 from 10 a.m. – noon. Shoppers can take photos with Santa on December 6 from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at the Team Store. Fans should bring their own cameras.

In addition, when fans spend $125 or more, they will receive a special gift with their purchase – a pair of tickets to Brewers On Deck. This offer is valid while supplies last.

Shoppers can access the Clubhouse Sale by entering Miller Park at the Hot Corner entrance near the Brewers Team Store by Majestic and following the posted directions to the visiting clubhouse. Cash and credit cards will be accepted (no personal checks). Admission and parking is free.

The Brewers Team Store by Majestic at Miller Park is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. For more information, contact the team store at (414) 902-4750.

-Cait

@CMoyer

 

BREWERS ANNOUNCE FRONT OFFICE STAFF PROMOTIONS

Today we announced the promotions of three front office staff members to director-level positions in the organization. Individuals promoted include Jeff Harding, Chris Kimball and Tai Pauls.

“Jeff Harding, Chris Kimball and Tai Pauls are all key members of our business operations team,” said Brewers Chief Operating Officer Rick Schlesinger. “Jeff has played an important role in many design elements that are part of the Brewers brand, while Chris has been a key contributor to our sales efforts that have averaged over 2.8 million tickets sold over the last eight years. Tai has been instrumental in managing Miller Park activities, including concerts, marathons and special events through Brewers Enterprises. We congratulate each of them on their promotions.”

Harding, who is entering his eighth season with the Brewers in 2015, has been promoted to director – creative design and strategy. He joined the organization in 2008 as graphic designer and most recently held the position of senior graphic designer.

A native of Neenah, Harding graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in art with a concentration in graphic design. He is actively involved with the Boys’ & Girls’ Brigade youth organization in Neenah as a volunteer leader and camp director at Camp Onaway in Waupaca. Jeff resides in Waukesha with his wife, Kristin.

Kimball, who enters his 15th season with the organization, has been promoted to director – group ticket sales. He previously served as senior account executive – ticket sales (2001-10) and senior manager – ticket sales (2010-14).

Kimball graduated from St. Norbert College with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. A native of Wausau, he currently resides in West Allis.

Pauls has been promoted to director of Brewers Enterprises. Pauls, who joined the organization as a stadium operations intern in 2005, worked full-time in the ticket sales department in 2006 and then transitioned into the suites department as manager of suite services. She joined Brewers Enterprises in 2008 as manager of special events.

Pauls graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside with degrees in sports management and fine arts. A native of Milwaukee, she currently resides on the East Side of Milwaukee with her husband, Andrew, who works for the Brewers as senior director of corporate marketing.

BREWERS COMMUNITY FOUNDATION AND “KOOS FOR KIDS” TEAM UP TO DONATE OVER 350 COATS TO LOCAL STUDENTS

Brewers Community Foundation has teamed up with “Koos for Kids” to donate over 350 brand new winter coats to students at Metcalfe Elementary School. In a school assembly at 1 p.m. today (Thursday), Brewers bullpen catcher Marcus Hanel and his wife, Jill, will deliver winter jackets to students who range from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade.

“We are excited to continue our annual coat donation to local children in need,” said Brewers Community Foundation Executive Director Cecelia Gore. “This is the seventh year we are holding this event and, now more than ever, it is important that we ensure the youth in our community are able to keep warm during the cold winter months. This is just one small way we are able to help disadvantaged youth in our community.”

Earlier this year, Brewers Community Foundation provided a significant inventory of school supplies for the teachers and each student in the school through the Drive for Charity initiative. Brewers Community Foundation, along with “Koos for Kids,” are proud to provide needed resources to students that are working hard every day to achieve vital academic goals.

“Koos for Kids” was formed in 2005 and focuses on helping terminally ill and disadvantaged children in Southeast Milwaukee. The annual coat donation is just one of the several ways that the organization has helped terminally ill and disadvantaged children in the area. Including today’s donation, “Koos for Kids” has donated nearly 3,500 coats to local kids.

Metcalfe Elementary School is located at 3400 W. North Ave, Milwaukee.

BREWERS COMMUNITY FOUNDATION TO JOIN WITH HUNGER TASK FORCE AND CBS 58 TO HELP FEED MILWAUKEE THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

Brewers Community Foundation is teaming up with Hunger Task Force and CBS 58 next week to help feed Milwaukee-area families in need as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches.

On Wednesday, November 26, the three organizations will host the “Thanksgiving Drive Thru Food Drive” at Miller Park. Food can be dropped off at Helfaer Field at Miller Park on November 26 between 4:30 a.m. and 6 p.m.

“Brewers Community Foundation looks forward to partnering with the Hunger Task Force annually as they work diligently throughout the year to provide food for families,” said Brewers Community Foundation Executive Director Cecelia Gore. “On behalf of Mark and Debbie Attanasio, our front office staff, players and other supporters, we want to thank everyone for their contributions as we head into Thanksgiving and the holiday season.”

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Each vehicle stopping by to donate food items will receive a Brewers bobblehead, a gift bag and other items while supplies last. A number of Brewers special guests will be on hand throughout the day to collect donations.

“Once again our friends at CBS 58 and the Brewers Community Foundation are spending the day before Thanksgiving collecting donations from big hearted folks making a difference right before the holiday,” said Sherrie Tussler, Executive Director of Hunger Task Force. “It’s an easy, fun way to donate and help a family before gathering together with your own.”

“Donating food to feed the hungry is a wonderful way to put the ‘Thanks’ in Thanksgiving this Holiday,” said Mark Strachota, Vice President/General Manager of CBS-58. “CBS 58 is proud to work with Brewers and the Hunger Task Force to make this happen.”

BREWERS FANTASY CAMP SCHEDULED FOR JANUARY 18-25 IN PHOENIX

The Milwaukee Brewers will host their annual Fantasy Camp from January 18-25, 2015 in Phoenix at Maryvale Baseball Park – the team’s Spring Training home. Brewers Fantasy Camp allows fans to live out their dreams of playing in the big leagues and gives them a taste of working, playing and living like a Major Leaguer.

Registration for Brewers Fantasy Camp is open at Brewers.com/fantasycamp. Fans will want to act soon as spots are filling up quickly with just four openings still available. Brewers Fantasy Camp includes round-trip coach airfare to and from Milwaukee and Phoenix, along with hotel accommodations (double occupancy).  Travel dates are set for Sunday, January 18 and Sunday, January 25.

Fantasy campers will receive an authentic Brewers uniform and batting practice jersey. They will be separated into six teams and will participate in daily baseball drills under the instruction of a number of Brewers greats, including Jerry Augustine, Chris Bosio, Jeff Cirillo, Brady Clark, Cecil Cooper, Rob Deer, Jim Gantner, Darryl Hamilton, Pete Ladd, Bill Schroeder, Greg Vaughn and Fernando Vina.

Two games will be played at Maryvale Baseball Park during each day of camp. A daily newsletter with player stats and information will be distributed and a nightly happy hour and Q&A session with the coaches will conclude each day.

Also included in the package is a daily hot breakfast at the hotel, catered lunch each afternoon in the clubhouse, care from professional clubhouse staff members and athletic trainers, a professional massage therapist and a farewell awards banquet.  Participants will also be introduced on the field prior to a Brewers 2015 home game and will be invited to play a game at Miller Park next summer.

Packages are $4,199 for each participant. Camp is open to men and women ages 30 and above. Fans can register online at Brewers.com/fantasycamp or by calling (414) 321-8605. Fans can also follow updates on Twitter at @BrewersFanCamp.

Many Join Jonathan Lucroy in the Fight Against Muscle Disease at the 4th Annual Wisconsin Muscle Team Gala

Last night, many fans gathered to join Jonathan Lucroy in the fight against muscle disease by attending the 4th Annual Wisconsin Muscle Team Gala  at SURG Restaurant Group’s new event space on Milwaukee Street.

The event, which featured appearances by the Brewers catcher, UFC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis, Pro Wrestler Sargent Slaughter, Miss Wisconsin Raeanna Johnson, hockey player Scott Ford, and others, was in support of the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA),a nonprofit health agency dedicated to curing muscular dystrophy, Lou Gehrig’s Disease and other related illnesses by funding worldwide research. The Association also provides comprehensive health care, support services, advocacy and education.

Besides mixing and mingling with the celebrities, the over 350 people in attendance enjoyed craft cocktails and food pairings from SURG Restaurant Group’s best bartenders and restaurants including Carnveor, Umami Moto and Hom, and had the opportunity to bid on a variety of exciting experiences and items, including incredible sports memorabilia and a private meet and greet with Jonathan Lucroy during batting practice in silent and live auctions to benefit benefit MDA’s mission.

Joe Block and Jonathan Lucroy auctioned off a very special Brewers package to raise money for the MDA. Top: Jonathan poses with the winning bidders.

 

Events like the Wisconsin Muscle Team Gala play a crucial role in helping Wisconsin families impacted by muscular dystrophy achieve a victory in finding a cure–families, like that of 9-year-old Reagan Imhoff, a National Goodwill Ambassador for MDA, who, along with and her parents, Jenny and Joe, visited with Jonathan Lucroy at Miller Park earlier this year.

Jonathan Lucroy with Reagan at Miller Park earlier this year.

Jonathan Lucroy with Reagan at Miller Park earlier this year.

Reagan  has spinal muscular atrophy (SMA, type 2), a genetic disease affecting the part of the nervous system that controls voluntary muscle movement. Because of this progressive neuromuscular disease which is most commonly diagnosed in infancy, Reagan has never been able to crawl or walk. In addition  SMA has led to difficulty eating enough food by mouth to maintain her weight and grow, so Reagan is mainly fed through a g-j tube. Her respiratory muscles are also very weak, which makes coughing and taking deep breaths while sleeping difficulty, leading to an increased tendency for pneumonia and other problems. Scoliosis also presented complications early on for Reagan which resulted in the need for spinal surgery when she was just 4. Leg and hip pain have also been an increasing problem for her.

Despite all of these challenges, Reagan remains positive and upbeat, choosing to tell her personal story as a National Goodwill Ambassador for MDA. In this capacity, Reagan is working to help raise awareness and understanding of muscle disease and inspire support of the organization.

“MDA means hope and a brighter future, it means that one day no one will have to live with muscle disease because there will be a cure!” Reagan says.

“I enjoy helping people,” Jonathan said as he took the mic during the live auction. “I got to meet Reagan this season and she just put a smile on my face. Now let’s make some money!”

It was a pleasure to see Reagan and her family once again, as well as to meet other amazing MDA kids at this year’s event. Like Reagan, they all had amazing stories to share.

Here are some more photos from this very special night:

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Thank you to the folks at the Muscle Team Gala for allowing me to be part of this special event and thank you to all those in attendance for your support to a cause that will truly make a difference to so many.

-Cait

@CMoyer

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