Thank You, Readers!

Happy New Year, readers!

I start 2016 filled with extreme gratitude for you, the loyal Cait Covers the Bases readers!

Once again, you’ve made this blog a Top 100 MLB Pro Blog (#4 to be exact).

Clearly you have a hunger for Brewers stories and information as congratulations are also in order for fellow Brewers bloggers Adam McCalvy (Brew Beat), #17 in MLB.com Beat Writers; Jeff Levering (Minor Details), #21 in MiLB Pro Blogs; Brewer Nation, #3 in Fan Blogs; and Brewers Farm Report, #29 in Fan Blogs.

To view the complete list of Top MLBlogs, click here.

Thank you again for reading. I look forward to continuing to provide you with more fun and informing content in 2016 and beyond.
Cheers!
Cait

@CMoyer

 

Voting Begins for Free-Shirt Fridays

Back by popular demand, Free-Shirt Fridays will return to Miller Park for the 2016 season. All fans in attendance during each of the seven Friday home games from June through August will receive a complimentary Brewers–themed T-shirt (available in both medium and extra-large sizes).

The Brewers are once again giving the fans a voice as they will ultimately decide the designs for each of seven Free-Shirt Friday giveaways.

T-ShirtFridays_Twitter

Beginning today, a dozen possible T-shirt designs will be posted at Brewers.com/shirtvote. Fans will be able to vote for their favorite designs, ranking their top seven choices in order from one to seven. Their first choice will receive seven points, their second choice will receive six, and continuing to their seventh and final vote which will receive one point. Voting will remain open until 5:00 p.m. CT on Friday, January 22.

Once the results are in, they will be tabulated and the seven winning designs will be revealed during a special presentation at Brewers On Deck on Sunday, January 31.

While individual tickets are not yet on sale, fans can guarantee their spot at Miller Park for Free-Shirt Fridays – plus receive free Opening Day tickets – with a Brewers 10-Pack, on sale now at brewers.com/10packs or by calling (414) 902-HITS (4487).

Additionally, fans can share in the excitement of counting down to Brewers Opening Day by following the Brewers on social media, and also enter to win a pair of 10-Packs, tickets to Opening Day and roundtrip airfare on Southwest Airlines, by posting their creative countdown photos on Twitter and/or Instagram using the hashtag #SeeUApril4. For additional information, please visit brewers.com/countdown.

 

There Is No Offseason For… The Retail Department

Our latest installment of There Is No Offseason For… brings us to the Brewers Retail Department.

I sat down with Jill Aronoff, Senior Director of Retail and Merchandise Branding; Nathan Jaeckels, Retail Merchandising Manager; and Dave Siever, Authentics Manager, to discuss how they work year-round to provide fans with the latest and greatest in Brewers gear.

The Brewers Retail Department works year-round to provide you with the latest & greatest in Brewers gear! L-R: Nathan, Dave and Jill.

The Brewers Retail Department works year-round to provide you with the latest & greatest in Brewers gear! Here, they pose with the Timeless Ticket. L-R: Nathan, Dave and Jill.

As head of the department, Jill’s main job is to work as a liaison between Delaware North, our concessionaire, and the Brewers.  Delaware North runs our food and beverage service at Miller Park and they also run our retail operations.

Jill works with her counterparts at Delaware North on retail, helping to ensure that the right product is in the stores, with the right sizing and quantities and that it’s represented to the Club’s standards.

In addition to that, Jill’s department also runs our Authentics program (more on that in just a bit), as well as any specialty orders to fulfill front office needs, such as uniforms for gameday staff, or a gift for sponsors.

Jill’s been working in retail since she was 16 years old.

“Retail is in my blood,” she says. “I’ve worked for almost every major retailer, as well as studied textiles and clothing, with a fashion merchandising emphasis and a minor in apparel production.”

Jill got her start as intern for Macy’s, which brought her to San Francisco. After that, she added companies such as Nordstrom, The Gap and Timberland to her resume before making what she describes as a “career focus change” at Levi Strauss.

At Levi’s she started to delve into the marketing and target marketing aspects of the business.

“I feel like I got my second degree from Levi’s because I really learned a lot about target marketing, relationship building, et cetera. I helped start Levis.com and created their email campaigns. The original dot com craze hit and I branched out and started working at a startup. That’s how I got into sports,” she says.

Jill started working for a company called Quokka Sports, which partnered with NBC to produce the NBC Olympics website. Jill began working on the Sydney Olympics Store website, the America’s Cup website and other extreme sports that Quokka was involved in before making a connection with the CFO at the Oakland Raiders, which eventually led to a new position for Jill in the front office of her favorite NFL team.

“They didn’t have any openings but they created a job for me. I started running their fan club. I did a rewards program for them. I created their database. I ran their online store. I took over all the email marketing campaigns for their whole organization. I did marketing for the online store and the brick and mortar stores. Then I got recruited to come here,” she says.

Here, Jill is mainly involved in our brick and mortar stores at the ballpark, as the Brewers online store is run through Major League Baseball. However, Jill must work very closely with MLB, as the league has certain vendors and product licensees from which she can order. In addition, she attends multiple retail summits both in-season and during the offseason, where she is checking out the new offerings from vendors and placing orders.

Jill also helps manage the uniforms on the field.

“If there’s a new uniform I work with MLB on what that new uniform will look like. I work with the licensees like Majestic and Nike to make sure that’s represented on the field,” she said.

Jill noted that MLB and Majestic Athletic work together to make changes to the on-field uniforms in order to help improve the fabric performance, comfort and flexibility.

Jill says that for her, the main difference between in-season and the offseason is that is that the days are longer during the games.

“For retail, there is no offseason. The store is open every day, except Sundays during the offseason. We’re still going strong. Daily it doesn’t stop for us,” Jill says.

She also says that during the offseason, the focus shifts slightly to more planning and organizing, while during the season, it’s more implementing. Either way, they have a lot going on all the time.

For those unfamiliar with the retail industry, it might surprise you to learn how far in advance merchandise is ordered.

For example, items expected to hit the stores this coming spring were ordered by Jill’s team back in July and by the time the offseason hits, they’re starting to look at the fall line for the next season.

I asked Jill what some of the new styles and trends are that we have to look forward to and she told me, “Sports is pretty good about following the trends you see outside with the different textiles and patterns. There’ll be great fabrication, a lot of burnouts, and a lot of foil applications that we’ll be seeing. We definitely try to make sure we have something for everybody from the very first Brewers fan born two months ago, to the fan that’s been a fan for over 70 years. We have something for everybody, every size, fit, style.”

Jill’s team will add in novelties and last minute items as well.

Jill’s staff is comprised of Nathan and Dave, both Sport Management majors from Cardinal Stritch. Nathan and David have a big hand in the Club’s Authentics program, which encompasses game-used items, autographed items, and specialty collector’s items.

Nathan got his start with the Club in 2011 as one of our College Ambassador interns. While in that gig, he helped Jill out with a few projects, which led to further positions as Jill’s assistant in a part-time role, until he recently became a full-time member of the staff.

Nathan’s primary role involves Authentics, where he helps to run the online auctions on mlb.com; tracks and fulfills all the sales related to our Authentics items; and runs the @MILAuthentics Twitter account.

Nathan also works with Jill to come up with fun promotions for the Brewers Team Stores at Miller Park, like the “Moonshot Markdown,” where, if a player hits a home run during the game, fans can get $5 off that player’s t-shirt or jersey for the remainder of the game; or “10 for The Win,” where fans get 10% off that day’s winning Famous Racing Sausage items; or the #HanksHangout Twitter promotion.

This offseason, he says he’s working on recapping last year, projections for next year and budgeting.

“I’m looking at what type of Authentics products we want to bring in next year, inventory management, and helping come up with more fun promotions for fans next season,” Nathan said.

Dave got his start with the Brewers in 2006, working in the Clubhouse as a bat boy. As he grew in that role, he graduated to working more inside the Clubhouse, where he helped take care of the players’ needs in terms of Clubhouse set-up and take down, and dealing with their equipment—making sure that everything was stocked and ready to go for the game.

Dave’s familiarity with the players and their equipment gave him a unique edge when the job for Authentics Manager was posted in 2013.

“I had a lot of experience and background with equipment and that kind of stuff,” he said. “It’s basically knowing a story behind each piece of equipment that we’re dealing with.”

Dave’s primary job now is managing the Authentics kiosk behind Section 111 on the concourse. Items are also available in the Brewers Team Stores, via the Brewers Authentics Shop on MLB.com (where a portion of the proceeds goes to Brewers Community Foundation) and they’ll have an area at Brewers on Deck at the end of this month.

“We work closely with MLB to authenticate anything we get from the Clubhouse—bases, bats, baseballs, jerseys, you name it,” Dave said.

The authentication process is quite interesting. MLB provides authenticators at every game. Their job is verify the authenticity of broken bats, jerseys, bases, baseballs, or any other items that we request. A hologram sticker containing a 6-digit number and two letters is then applied to the items. Fans who purchase the items (they can even preorder some of it) can then visit the MLB website where they can enter the code, which will bring up a description of the item.

Dave works with Nathan to maintain the current inventory and also to obtain new items. This offseason, one unique item they acquired were some Miller Park turnstiles. They sold 19 in a matter of a week.

“Anything that represents Miller Park or the Brewers is fair game to get authenticated, but it all comes down to what customers want, how unique it is,” Dave said.

“It’s the story behind the product,” Nathan added.  “After Martin Maldonado’s walk-off on Mother’s Day, we got his Gatorade-soaked jersey. We got Jungmann’s MLB debut jersey, Ryan Braun’s 250th career home run ball, et cetera.”

Depending on what the item is, some of the items are kept for the Brewers archives, given to the players as mementos, or turned around to be sold to fans. They even get items pertaining to other team items. For example, Kris Bryant’s first home run was here at Miller Park, so they were able to sell the bases from that game.

“You get some really unique merchandise that die-hard fans, collectors really appreciate,” Nathan said.

“I think our department is one of the most fun because we get to interact with the fans every day,” Jill noted.  “We get to help them take home a piece of the game and help them feel like they’re a part of the team.”

With under just over a month to go, Jill, Nathan and Dave—like most of us—are looking forward to Spring Training where this year, the store in Maryvale, Arizona is set to open on February 11.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to check out our new uniforms and the new merchandise in the store. Even though I’ve worked here for years and a majority of my wardrobe contains some sort of Brewers insignia, for me, it’s kind of like going back-to-school shopping. I need to get a few new items to start the year (or season) off right.

I’m sure Jill and her staff have picked out some great stuff we have to look forward to.

-Cait

@CMoyer

Brewers 10-Packs on Sale Tomorrow; Plans Include Free Opening Day Ticket!

The calendar has turned to 2016 and Opening Day is within sight. Fans can secure their tickets to Opening Day for FREE with a Brewers 10-Pack, which goes on sale tomorrow at 10 a.m. There are six enticing plans to choose from, including the popular Fan’s Choice Plan which returns for 2016. All plans feature 10 home games, plus Opening Day or any other game of the fan’s choice as their FREE 11th game.

In addition to tickets to Opening Day, each of the six plans offer a unique experience. The Weekend Plan features a total of five giveaway dates, including three All-Kid giveaway items – the Jonathan Lucroy Replica Jersey on May 15 vs. San Diego, the Bernie Paint-Your-Own Bobble on May 29 vs. Cincinnati and the Lucroy Chest Protector on August 28 vs. Pittsburgh. This plan also features two All-Fan giveaways, including the Barking BobbleHank on June 12 against the New York Mets and the Bob Uecker Talking Alarm Clock on July 10 against the division-rival St. Louis Cardinals.

The Premier Plan includes contests against all four division rivals (with two games against both the Cubs and Cardinals), a matchup against AL West opponent Houston Astros on April 9 and a Saturday matchup vs. the defending NL champion Mets. The plan also includes tickets to the Ryan Braun All-Fan Bobble giveaway on May 1 against Miami.

The Friday Plan includes a string of six Free-Shirt Friday giveaways starting with the June 10 matchup against the Mets and ending on August 26 when the Brewers host the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The popular Fan’s Choice Plan returns for the 2016 season and provides the ultimate flexibility for fans to select 10 games that fit their schedule from a list of 50 Brewers regular season home games. Fans can choose from several Interleague matchups, a variety of weekday and weekend games, All-Fan giveaway dates, Free-Shirt Fridays and more.

Packages start at $160 per seat in the Terrace Reserved ($16 per game) and can also be purchased in the Terrace Box for $250 ($25 per game), Loge Outfield Box for $340 ($34 per game), Club Outfield Box for $420 ($42 per game, no wait staff), Loge Infield Box for $420 ($42 per game), Field Outfield Box for $420 ($42 per game) and Loge Diamond Box for $500 ($50 per game).

Brewers 10-Packs offer several additional benefits, including guaranteed seat location (excluding the Fan’s Choice Plan), a personal account representative and priority access to postseason tickets. In addition, 10-Pack Ticket Plans offer great savings on ticket prices. In 2015, 10-Pack holders saved up to 35% off the demand-based individual game price. Each 10-Pack account will also receive three exchange vouchers that can be used to exchange unused tickets for another game.

Fans interested in purchasing 10-Packs are encouraged to call (414) 902-HITS (4487) or visit Brewers.com/10packs for more information. A complete list of all six 10-Pack packages is available online at Brewers.com/10packs

Additionally, fans can share in the excitement of counting down to Brewers Opening Day by following the Brewers on social media, and can enter to win a pair of 10-Packs, tickets to Opening Day and roundtrip airfare on Southwest Airlines—by posting their creative countdown photos on Twitter and/or Instagram using the hashtag #SeeUApril4. For additional information please visit brewers.com/countdown.

Brewers Sign Free Agent First Baseman Chris Carter

The Milwaukee Brewers have signed free agent first baseman Chris Carter to a one-year contract. To make room on the 40-man roster, the team designated catcher Josmil Pinto for assignment. The announcement was made by General Manager David Stearns.

“We are pleased to be able to add Chris to our organization,” said Stearns. “Over the past three seasons, Chris has proven to be one of the most consistent power threats in the game. We believe that his skills and experiences will complement our team well and provide additional production to our lineup.”

Carter, 29, has hit 90 home runs over the last three seasons (29, 37, 24), which ranks eighth in Major League Baseball. He started 112 games for the Astros this past season (105g at 1B, 7g at DH) and led the team in walks (57).

Carter was a key component in the Astros capturing an American League Wild Card spot in 2015 as he batted .353 (12-for-34) with 6 HR and 10 RBI over the team’s final 15 games, beginning September 18. Of anyone with at least 35 plate appearances during this stretch, Carter led the Major Leagues in OPS (1.376) and slugging percentage (.971) as the Astros edged the Angels by one game to earn a postseason berth.

Carter continued his hot hitting into the playoffs as he batted .294 (5-for-17, 3bb) with 1 HR and 1 RBI. He started at first base in all six of Houston’s postseason games and fell a triple shy of the cycle in Game 3 of the American League Division Series vs. Kansas City (3-for-3, 2r, 1rbi).

Originally selected by the White Sox in the 15th round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, Carter is a career .217 hitter in the Major Leagues with 109 HR and 280 RBI in 528 games with Oakland (2010-12) and Houston (2013-15).

Bernie and Hank Visit the Mall, Spread Holiday Cheer

On the last weekend before Christmas, Bernie Brewer and Hank, the Brewers lovable Ballpark Pup, took to Southridge Mall to wrap up their shopping, visit Santa and spread holiday cheer.

The duo caused quite the stir in center court, where people of all ages quickly gathered hoping to pet the pup or pose for a pic.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Before they left the mall, Hank and Bernie stopped to visit Santa Claus.

Hank and Bernie Visit Santa

-Cait

@CMoyer

Star Wars Day Returns

The Force has awakened and all Jedi are being asked to respond and report to Miller Park on Saturday, June 11, 2016 for Star WarsTM Day presented by Kohls. The Milwaukee Brewers have joined The Resistance to fight the newly-minted members of The First Order, the New York Mets, in what is sure to be an epic battle for the galaxy. This all comes in a not-too-distant future, in a ballpark very, very close to you.

MB-16-Star-Wars-Night-Social-Twitter

A number of members from the Star Wars universe will be on hand to make special appearances throughout the game. Jedi willing to participate in the cause will receive a limited-edition Stormin’ Gorman Stormtrooper bobblehead. Ticket packages are available in the Field Outfield Box for $49, Loge Outfield Box for $39 and Terrace Reserved for $25.

To celebrate the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a limited number of ticket packages will be available for purchase starting Friday, December 18 at 9 a.m. through 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, December 23,or while supplies last. Ticket packages are available online only at Brewers.com/special events.

This presale is a unique opportunity to guarantee your limited-edition bobblehead. Last year’s Jonathan Lucroy “Jedi Luc” Bobblehead sold out in record fashion.

Tickets are limited and only those who purchase the special theme game ticket package are eligible to receive that game’s promotional item. To purchase groups of 25 or more, please contact the Brewers at 414-902-GRPS (4777).

STAR WARS and related properties are trademarks and/or copyrights, in the United States and other countries, of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. © & TM Lucasfilm Ltd.

BREWERS TEAM STORE TO HOST ONE-DAY SALE

This Sunday, for one day only, fans can take 30% off all regularly priced merchandise in the Brewers Team Store by Majestic.  From noon to 5 p.m., fans will have an incredible opportunity to purchase that perfect gift for their favorite Brewers fan at a special discounted rate.

There are great offers beyond the store-wide discount. Any fan who makes a purchase of $99 or more will receive a free Hank “The Ballpark Pup” plush and additionally, any fan who purchases at least $50 worth of woman’s accessories will take home a complimentary Brewers Sling Bag.

Here’s a slideshow of just some of the great new Brewers gear you can pick up this weekend (click on an image to start the show):

The event does not include sale, game used, Hank “The Ballpark Pup” or Brewers Wives Charity merchandise.

All shoppers can access the Brewers Team Store by Majestic by entering Miller Park at the Hot Corner entrance. For more information, contact the team store at (414) 902-4750.

During the offseason, the Brewers Team Store by Majestic at Miller Park is normally open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. The sale this week marks the only Sunday of the off-season that the Store is open.

 

Professor Selig’s Class Visits Miller Park

It’s been almost a year into his retirement but Commissioner Emeritus Selig is still hard at work advocating the game of baseball and curating its history.

This semester, he’s teaching a class at UW-Madison called “Baseball and Society Since World War II,” which culminated today in a visit to Miller Park.

The 22 students who, over the course of the semester, had the unique experience to learn the history of the game from a man who was instrumental in shaping it, took a bus to the ballpark this afternoon.

The first thing they did was visit the Selig Experience.

I tagged along with the group and it was almost surreal to see the history unfolding through the story in the exhibit while sitting in such close proximity to Selig himself.

Not unlike watching a DVD of a movie with the actor’s commentary piped in, Selig interjected his own remarks here and there while the students watched the show. For instance, near the beginning, he pointed at an old black and white photo that appeared on screen and explained, “That’s my mother.”

Selig and his students  view his replica office in the Selig Experience.  "My real desk was much messier," Selig remarked.

Selig and his students view his replica office in the Selig Experience.
“My real desk was much messier,” Selig remarked.

Selig Experience

Following the Selig Experience, the group made its way to the Media Interview Room, where they heard from two special guest speakers: Brewers Chief Operating Officer Rick Schlesinger and General Manager David Stearns.

Schlesinger gave the students some background on the business side of the Club, covering topics like market size, television revenue and how we connect with our fans, while Stearns discussed his philosophy and approach to the baseball side of the business, touching on items like statistics and the MLB Draft.

In particular, Stearns noted that it was a statistics course  that he took from Professor Carl Morris at Harvard that helped to stoke his interest in the analytics side of the game and emphasized how lucky the students are to have Selig as their professor.

“I imagine you’ve had an incredible semester,” Stearns said to the students. “It’s a pretty unique experience and it must be extremely illuminating.”

GM David Stearns addresses the class.

GM David Stearns addresses the class.

When asked to give advice to the class, Schlesinger stressed communications skills and relationships.

“Be an incredible writer. Writing is still the most important tool on the business side that we use,” he said.

“Once you get your first job it’s important to make connections. This is really a people business. Connections will help you in furthering your career and also in attracting talent to come to your organization– build relationships. The three biggest things are communications skills, perseverance and connections,” he emphasized.

COO Rick Schlesinger offers his advice to students, stressing communication, persistence and relationships.

COO Rick Schlesinger offers his advice to students, stressing communication, persistence and relationships.

Echoing that, Stearns noted, “I would also add persistence. A lot has been made that I’m 30, but it took me three internships to get my first full-time job. You can’t get down on yourself if it doesn’t work out. You just need to look for the next opportunity.”

Commissioner Emeritus Selig's Baseball and Society Since World War II class visited Miller Park on Wednesday, December 15, 2015.

Commissioner Emeritus Selig’s Baseball and Society Since World War II class visited Miller Park on Wednesday, December 15, 2015.

Following the Q&A, the group received a tour of the Brewers Clubhouse and got to visit the dugout and field.

Professor Selig signs baseballs for some of his students on the last day of class.

Professor Selig signs baseballs for some of his students on the last day of class.

As it was the last day of class, many students seized the opportunity to pose for photos with their professor and some even had him autograph baseballs.

Selig, who is also a part of Marquette University’s Sports Law program, said his favorite part about teaching is just being with the kids.

“This is a great group of kids. They’re smart. I hope my next group starting in January is just as good.”

 

Milwaukee Sports Fans Score High in Grammar Power Rankings

As a communications major and an adjunct professor at Marquette University (I teach a media writing course each semester), it’s no surprise that I can be a bit of a grammar nerd at times.

You can understand then, why I was psyched to see the results of a new study by Grammarly called “Pro Sports 2015 Grammar Power Rankings” which combines grammar and sports

According to this study–which ranks fans in each pro sports city by how well they used their grammar, spelling and punctuation– as a whole, Milwaukee ranks #5!

2015UltimateSportsfans (1)

The study indicates that sports fans in Milwaukee make an average of 3.87 mistakes per 100 words, which is a figure good enough to rank us just behind Memphis, Sacramento, San Antonio and Orlando, respectively.

Breaking it down a little bit more, the study also gives us totals per team and that’s where we learned that Brewers fans committed slightly more errors than Bucks fans (5.3 vs. 2.43 errors per 100 words). I’m really not sure what I make of that discrepancy, but I’m open to your thoughts!

I was also personally curious where our numbers ranked us in terms of MLB teams, so I took the liberty of breaking those numbers out from the data. This way, I learned that the Brewers rank 6th in MLB behind the Indians (3.6), Padres (4.4), White Sox (4.8), Cubs and Mariners (5.2).

Not too shabby at all! Congratulations, Brewers fans. Keep up the great work!

You done good, Milwaukee.

-Cait

@CMoyer

Curious about the study’s methodology? Click here.

 

 

 

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