Results tagged ‘ Bob Uecker ’

There Is No Offseason for…Mike Vassallo

It’s been awhile since the last installment of “There’s No Offseason for…”

That’s the series where I aim to dispel what I call “the myth of the offseason” by profiling people and departments across the organization to help you understand what goes on at One Brewers Way during the winter months when baseball is not played at Miller Park.

I recently caught up with Senior Director of Media Relations Mike Vassallo who, at 40, has already been working in the industry for over 20 years.

We sat down to discuss how he got into baseball, the ins and outs of his job (in season and out of season), wrestling and more. Read on.

Here sits Senior Director of Media Relations Mike Vassallo. After 20 years in the business, his office is a treasure trove of cherished memorabilia.

Here sits Senior Director of Media Relations Mike Vassallo. After 20 years in the business, his office is a treasure trove of cherished memorabilia.

Ever since he was a little boy growing up in Long Island, Mike says he’s wanted to be in baseball.

“Obviously I wasn’t dreaming of being the Media Relations Director then…. As a kid, I wanted to be a player, like everybody else.”

Nonetheless, the baseball seed was planted and by the time he went off to college, Mike had tailored his aspirations to becoming a baseball announcer, enrolling in the broadcasting program at Oswego State University in upstate New York.

While still in school, a chance encounter with Hall of Famer and then Yankees broadcaster Phil Rizzuto would forever change the path of his career.

It was 1995 and Mike’s stepfather, who works at Pfizer (the pharmaceutical company), had arranged a  summer job for Mike at the company, as he so often did, in whatever department needed help.

One night that summer, Mike had tickets to the Yankees game and planned to leave straight from work to meet his friend there, but he wasn’t yet entirely familiar with the subway system.

Enter Andy, an older gentleman who worked at Pfizer as a greeter in the lobby and manning the elevators, etc. Andy’s night job happened to be doing the same thing at Yankee Stadium, so Mike and Andy left work together on that fateful night and headed to The House That Ruth Built.

“I brought a baseball with me because I was a big fan of Phil Rizzuto….I knew Andy knew him and I wanted to get his autograph,” Mike recalls.

“So we got to the game and I’m outside the elevator. Phil Rizzuto comes off. Andy introduces me. I get my ball signed. I’m all happy. I step aside to wait for the elevator to go meet my friend and I overhear Phil say to Andy, ‘My assistant never shows up anymore. I think I’m gonna have to get a new one,’” Mike recounts, affecting Phil’s strong New York accent as he tells the story.

The enterprising 20-year old wasted no time.

“I think I might have even raised my hand….I said ‘I’ll do it for free!’ Of course [Phil] was taken aback at first because he had just met me five minutes before, but Andy said, ‘Oh, he’ll do a good job. Give him a chance.’”

And that’s how Mike got his first job in baseball as the personal assistant to Phil Rizzuto. For the rest of the summer, whenever the Yankees were on Channel 11, Mike was happy to be Phil’s gopher, getting him his coffee, keeping score for him during the innings he didn’t announce and whatever else needed to done.

Holy cow! How time flies. Here’s Mike with Phil Rizzuto, the man who took a chance on him back in 1995.

Holy cow! How time flies.
Here’s Mike with Phil Rizzuto, the man who took a chance on him back in 1995.

 

That experience helped Mike get a real internship with the Yankees in 1997 which led to him getting an entry-level job in the Yankees Media Relations department where he worked in 1998 and 1999. (Fun fact: Mike says he didn’t dislike the Yankees, but he was a Mets fan growing up.)

From there, he took a job with the Cincinnati Reds as Assistant Director of Media Relations, where he worked for six years before joining the Brewers as Director of Media Relations in middle of Spring Training in 2006.

As the current Senior Director of Media Relations, Mike’s department includes Ken Spindler (Senior Manager of Media Relations) and Zach Weber (Manager of Media Relations).

These three guys are responsible for handling interviews and media requests, writing press releases, keeping stats and more.

“I kind of forgot about the broadcasting stuff because this worked out so well,” Mike says.

In particular, Mike is the primary contact for interviews with our players, Manager Craig Counsell and General Manager David Stearns.

Mike says that part of his job is not as demanding during the offseason as it is during the season—for the players at least.

“Sometimes in the offseason, it’s actually more demanding because of all the Hot Stove talk, so the requests for GM go up a little bit,” said Mike.

And of course, the stove will be heating up even more with next week’s Winter Meetings, so Mike will be traveling to Nashville with the Brewers contingent.

In season, Mike and his team are responsible for producing the game notes, which is a six-page packet containing updated statistical information and bio information of all the players that comes out for every game during the season.

While there aren’t game notes during the offseason, there is still plenty of stat and bio work to be done.

“I’m the lead writer on the media guide. I do all the bios for the 40-man roster and the non-roster players for the media guide. I’m working on that right now,” Mike said.

Those items will take Mike and his team right up to Spring Training.

For Cactus League play, Mike will typically relocate to Arizona for a good six weeks. However, this year will be a little different as he and his wife Jeana are expecting their first child, a baby boy due February 26.

So instead of heading down in mid-February as he usually does, Mike will wait until about two weeks after Baby Vassallo joins their team to travel down to Arizona to catch up with his staff and the Cactus Crew.

Speaking of travel Mike is also the primary media relations contact that travels with the team, making about three-quarters of the roadtrips during the season.

“My favorite part (of my job) and least favorite are the same thing—travel,” Mike says. “It’s my favorite part because I get to visit all these great cities and stadiums and it’s the least because it takes me away from home and my wife—and kid next year.”

In his two decades working in the field, Mike says the main thing that’s changed his job is social media.

Mike is also responsible for writing all the baseball-related press releases—roster moves, injury updates, etc.—and he says, “I can’t remember the last time that I did a press release about a trade where it wasn’t already on social media. I feel like our press releases now just confirm what’s already all over social media, whereas in the past, we’d write the press release and that’s how people would find out.”

While social media presents some challenges from that side of things, along with generating false rumors and making things tougher for Baseball Operations, etc., Mike is quick to point out that it’s also a positive thing (which is good since you know, I’m the Director of New Media and all).

“Whenever we have a player or a manager do an interview, I put it right there on Twitter….How would we get the word out so quickly in the past?”

Speaking of Twitter, that’s another part of Mike’s gig. Since he’s the first to know about roster moves and injury updates, as well as TV/Radio interviews, etc., he’s able to assist us in the New Media Department by putting that information up on Twitter right away. But it doesn’t stop there.

Known amongst the media for sprinkling the game notes with interesting tidbits, such as these….

Mike has great access and often helps us capture some great moments for social media as well:

With so much to cover and traveling on a smaller percentage of road trips, I definitely appreciate Mike’s creativity and contributions!

Another thing you might not know is that Mike has a hand in some of the music that ends up being played at Miller Park.

“I’m pretty much the person that collects the players’ music for the scoreboard, which is kind of fun because sometimes I suggest songs to them and they use them,” Mike said.

[For those of you who don’t know what we’re talking about, check out the list of Brewers walk-up music.]

Because he’s sometimes seen as the conduit for getting those song selections to the scoreboard folks, Mike’s also been able to marry one of his other passions with baseball—wrestling.

“I’ve liked it since I was 10 years old. 1985 Wrestlemania was the first one and it’s just something I never grew out of I guess…. I think we all have our guilty pleasures. I just take it for what it is. I just find it really entertaining,” Mike says.

So, oftentimes those songs Mike suggests to players involve wrestling.

“I’ve had quite a few over the years. The first one was Tim Raines, (an outfielder) with the Yankees. He was the first person that I remember approaching and saying, ‘Hey why don’t you use this song?’ and it was a wrestling song,” Mike said.

And that’s how Rock Raines started using The Rock’s theme song for a time.

Among the Brewers that he’s converted, Mike counts Todd Coffey (Ultimate Warrior), Nori Aoki (Fandango), Lyle Overbay (Adam Rose), and Shane Peterson (New Day).

“There have been probably at least 10 players over the years,” Mike says.

In his 20 years in the sport, Mike’s certainly experienced a lot, but among the things that stand out most for him include various Postseason appearances.

“I got spoiled right off the bat…We (the Yankees) won the World Series in 1998 and 1999,” said Mike.

Winning the World Series is the ultimate goal for anyone in baseball. Mike Vassallo, pictured here with Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner, was fortunate enough to reach this pinnacle during his first full season in MLB.

Winning the World Series is the ultimate goal for anyone in baseball. Mike Vassallo, pictured here with Yankees Owner George Steinbrenner, was fortunate enough to reach this pinnacle during his first full season in MLB.

 

But while he cherishes his Yankees World Series ring, he still counts the Brewers Wildcard season in 2008 among his fondest memories.

“It was awesome being part of that because we hadn’t made the playoffs in 26 years, so it was just real exciting but in a different way. With the Yankees it was just expected every year…. It was exciting but it wasn’t as exciting as ’08 where we just came out of nowhere and the whole thing when CC was here, that was a great experience,” Mike said.

Of course, 2011 ranks right up there for Mike as well—winning the division, Nyjer Morgan’s walk-off hit in Game 5 of the NLDS, etc.

But for Mike, many of his favorite memories are off the field, too—the relationships he’s made and maintained over the years.

“It’s all the friendships,” Mike says. “I get to hang out with Bob Uecker on the road. It doesn’t get better than that.”

Indeed. We may not have a true offseason in baseball, but we’re lucky to be surrounded by great people who share our same passion and help make long hours go by quickly.

To keep up with Mike both in-season and during the offseason, follow him on Twitter @MikeVassallo 13.

Stay tuned for more “There is No Offseason” profiles. Is there anyone in particular that you’d like me to highlight? If so, please let me know in the comments below!

-Cait

@CMoyer

Fifth Brewers All-Fan Giveaway Revealed: Bob Uecker Talking Alarm Clock Set for July 10

In case you haven’t been following along, next season’s All-Fan Giveaway reveal is underway!

On Monday, we revealed the 1980s Vintage Brewer bobblehead and the Brewers franchise leader in home runs, Ryan Braun. Yesterday, it was the Barking BobbleHank and Greg Vaughn Bobblehead.

And now here’s All-Fan Giveaway number five.

You’ll want to get up….get up… and go to the Brewers vs. Cardinals game on Sunday, July 10 to get your very own Bob Uecker Talking Alarm Clock!

MB16_AllFan_Uecker_FB

Yes, you read that right! All fans at that game will receive an alarm clock featuring the voice of Mr. Baseball modifying his famous home run call to encourage fans to”Get up, get up, get outta…bed!”

This is perhaps the most unique giveaway we’ve had since we introduced gnomes to our lineup in 2015, so I’m very excited about this one. It’s sure to be a collector’s item!

Make sure to follow us on our website at brewers.com/allfans and across all of our social media platforms this week–including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram– to be the first to see our 2016 All-Fan Giveaway schedule, plus have a chance to win tickets to those games.

If you don’t win, don’t worry.  Individual tickets will go on sale in spring. However, if you’d like to secure your tickets for this game early, the Bob Uecker Talking Alarm Clock is included in select season ticket packages which are on sale now.

Be sure to check back in the coming months as we also unveil the image of the actual alarm clock when we get it!

Stay tuned to the blog, our social channels and brewers.com/allfans all week as we unveil more of our schedule!

– Cait

@CMOYER

Brewers Up for Two 2015 Esurance MLB Awards; Fans Can Vote Thru 11/13

Online fan voting at for the 2015 Esurance MLB Awards, an expanded awards program that recognizes Major League players, baseball fans and memorable moments in unique categories, is underway and we’re up for awards in two categories:

Best Player-Fan Interaction: Ryan Braun Bails Out a Young Fan

On July 5, Ryan Braun had to try, try again to provide a young Reds fan with a souvenir in Cincinnati. The Milwaukee right fielder gave the child a ball after recording the final out of an inning, but the youth immediately returned it to the field of play. Luckily, Braun tossed the ball back once more — and this time, the boy’s father made sure to secure it safely.

070515_mil_braun_fan_med_mbfx7fju

Best Call-Radio: Bob Uecker on Martin Maldonado’s Marathon Winner

On May 31, catching the entirety of an extra-innings marathon vs. the D-backs, Martin Maldonado took it upon himself to end things when he batted in the bottom of the 17th. The backstop drilled a one-out, walk-off homer that elicited one of the most ecstatic “Get up, get outta here — GONE!” calls that legendary broadcaster Bob Uecker would deliver all season long.

Fans can vote for the Brewers in these categories, and cast their votes in over 20 other categories now through November 13.

The 2015 Esurance MLB Awards represents a comprehensive award-balloting process based on nearly two months of voting, encompassing the entire awards season. The five different groups of voters – fans, members of the baseball media, club front-office personnel, former MLB players and Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) members – each count for 20% of the winner selection.

Winners in each category will receive the trophy known as the GIBBY (Greatness in Baseball).

The 2015 Esurance MLB Awards are officially sanctioned by Major League Baseball and voting will culminate with a first-of-its-kind multi-platform special, The 2015 Esurance MLB Awards Show, airing Friday, November 20 at 6p.m. CT exclusively on MLB Network and MLB.com.

When fans vote for the 2015 Esurance MLB Awards, they have the opportunity to enter the national sweepstakes for a chance to win prizes. The grand prize winner will receive a pair of 2016 season tickets to their favorite baseball team and a trip to the MLB Winter Meetings in Nashville on December. 8. Winners will be announced shortly after the 2015 Esurance MLB Awards voting closes.
Earlier this season, Esurance partnered with MLB to become the exclusive auto insurance partner for Major League Baseball as well as the title sponsor of the first-ever all-digital Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot and the Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote, each of which set all-time records for fan voting.

Win a Copy of the 2015 Brewers Yearbook Signed by Bob Uecker

Similar to yearbooks in years past, this season’s Milwaukee Brewers yearbook is chock-full of over 150 full-color pages of beautiful Brewers photos, fun facts and historical information.

However, the 2015 Milwaukee Brewers Yearbook is highlighted by a feature on Bob Uecker, who is celebrating 60 years in professional baseball this year.

The article is written by Brewers beat writer Adam McCalvy.

Brewers Yearbook Uecker
Featuring a wide range of photos, player biographies and statistics, the Brewers Official Team Yearbook is the only publication that includes photos of every player in the organization – from rookie ball to the majors. A collector’s item that is ideal for autographs, the Brewers yearbook is now available for just $10 (an absolute steal!) and also makes a great gift idea for the Brewers fan who has everything.

Brewers Senior Manager – Media Relations, Ken Spindler heads up the yearbook project and has really outdone himself this year. Pick up your souvenir copy at the Team Store by Majestic inside Miller Park or online here.

We’ve also got your chance to win a copy of the yearbook signed by Mr. Baseball himself. Follow @Brewers on Twitter for details!

–Cait 

@CMoyer

 

Pink Tie Guy Event Benefits Breast Cancer Research and Prevention

Last night, I was fortunate to be able to attend the “Pink Tie Guy” fundraiser at Blu atop the Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee.

Led by President-Baseball Operations and GM Doug Melvin and his wife, Ellen, Pink Tie Guy is an event benefiting After Breast Cancer Diagnosis (ABCD). Breast cancer research and prevention is a cause near and dear to the Melvins’ hearts, as Ellen lost her mother, Elsie Schultz, to the disease in 1991.

Ginny Finn, Executive Director of ABCD, was on hand to speak about the importance of the cause and how grateful the organization is for support from events such as this.

A pink tie is not just a fashion statement – it’s a commitment to the fight against breast cancer. At the event, the “Pink Tie Guys,” an elite group of individuals who stepped up to the plate to contribute to the fight, were presented with custom pink bow ties from Randa Neckwear.

Attendees from the Brewers included Manager Craig Counsell, Jerry Narron, Ed Sedar, Mike Guerrero, Rick Kranitz, Lee Tunnell, Jimmy Nelson, and Jonathan Lucroy; broadcasters Bill Schroeder and Bob Uecker; and other front office executives.

In addition, this year, Commissioner Emeritus Bud Selig was named the 2015 Honorary Pink Tie Guy. Past Honorary Pink Tie Guys include Hank Aaron and Robin Yount.

Here are a few photos from the event:

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Thank you to everyone who came out last night to support this very important cause.

-Cait

@CMoyer

 

 

 

Bob Uecker to be Honored on Major League Night

The Milwaukee Brewers will celebrate Bob Uecker’s 60th year in professional baseball on Major League Night, Tuesday, July 21 at Miller Park. On that day, the Brewers’ Hall-of-Fame broadcaster will throw out a ceremonial first pitch and a donation of $10,000 will be made in his name to the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

Also on Tuesday, some lucky fans will take home the one and only Harry Doyle (aka Bob Uecker) immortalized in Bobblehead form as part of Major League Night. Fans who purchased the special Major League Night ticket package will receive a limited-edition talking Harry Doyle Bobblehead with famous quotes including: “This guy threw at his own kid in a father-son game,” “Personally, I think we got hosed on that call,” and “Juuust a bit outside.”

Harry Doyle Bobble

The 4,000 ticket packages that include the Bobblehead are sold out, but tickets in most seating categories remain for the game.

In addition, fans attending the game can still enjoy clips from the film on the scoreboard, plus, we’ll be giving away copies of the book, The Making of Major League, on Twitter leading up to the event.

making-of-major-league-sc-194x300

The Making of Major League: A Juuuust a Bit Inside Look at the Classic Baseball Comedy, is a new book by Jonathan Knight. It gives a behind-the-scenes look at one of the greatest baseball movies ever with a foreward by Charlie Sheen.

-Cait

@CMoyer

 

 

 

 

Bob Uecker Bobblehead Revealed! Get Yours August 9.

Our ninth All-Fan Giveaway of 2015 is a Bob Uecker Bobblehead! You can get yours when the Crew takes on the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday, August 9.

Player_Reveal_FB_Uecker

Today, we revealed what that bobblehead will look like. It is modeled after his statue in the “front row” (read: last) at Miller Park:

uecker bobblehead

Visit brewers.com/allfans to lock in your seats today!

For those of you scoring at home, this is one of two Uecker Bobbleheads that will be given away this season. The other comes in the form of his character from Major League, Harry Doyle. That is NOT an All-Fan Giveaway, however. To get that limited edition bobblehead (which talks!), you’ll need to purchase the special Major League Night ticket package at brewers.com/specialevents.

– Cait

@CMOYER

May the 4th Be With You: Win the Chance to Throw Out the First Pitch on Star Wars Night

In a not too distant future, in a ballpark very, very close to you, the Brewers will host Star Wars Night on Saturday, May 30 when Milwaukee duels (with bats, not light sabers) the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Unfortunately, all special ticket packages for Star Wars Night, which included a limited-edition Jonathan Lucroy “Jedi Luc” bobblehead, have sold out, but we’ve got a chance for you to win them!

Beginning today (May the 4th) through Monday, May 18, fans are invited to post an original video that reenacts their favorite Star Wars scene and/or delivers their favorite line from the film on Instagram and/or Twitter using the hashtag #PitchFirstIWill. One winner will be selected to win four Loge Infield Box tickets to the game, along with four Jedi Luc bobbles, PLUS the opportunity to throw out the first pitch prior to that night’s game. Click here for complete rules.

MB-15 Star Wars Night-Contest-Social

And if you missed out on the package and you don’t win the contest, don’t worry. Fans can still be a part of Star Wars Night at Miller Park by purchasing single-game tickets to the May 30 game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. While those tickets will not include the “Jedi Luc” bobblehead, all fans in attendance will enjoy the unique atmosphere at Miller Park during Star Wars Night with pregame festivities, special in-game features, photo opportunities and appearances by a number of popular Star Wars characters. (Please note, fans looking to dress up for Star Wars Night are able to wear masks, but due to safety concerns, light sabers and toy weapons will not be permitted inside Miller Park.)

Limited special ticket packages for our other theme nights, including Major League Night and Zubazpalooza are still available. Tickets are limited and only those who purchase the special theme night ticket package are eligible to receive that night’s promotional item. All theme night tickets must be purchased in advance and can be obtained by calling the Brewers Group Sales department at 414-902-GRPS (4777) or by visiting Brewers.com/specialevents.

-Cait

@CMoyer

 

Brewers to Auction Opening Day “Uecker Seats”; Proceeds to Benefit Make-A-Wish Foundation

Today we announced that we will auction off Opening Day tickets for the 103 “Uecker Seats” located at Miller Park. The Dutch style auction will be held exclusively online beginning today, Monday, March 23 at 12:00 p.m. until Tuesday, March 31 at 11:59 p.m., with all proceeds benefiting the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The “Uecker Seats” are 103 obstructed view seats that are located in Sections 421, 422 and 423. The seats were named after Brewers’ legendary announcer Bob Uecker and the famous Miller Lite “All Stars” campaign. The ad campaign featured Uecker’s famous tagline, “I must be in the front row,” despite the fact that Uecker somehow always ended up in the last row. The seats are located near the Last Row Statue of the announcer, which was unveiled last year, in the last row of Terrace Level Section 422.

The Dutch auction will be held exclusively online and there is no limit of the number of seats fans will be able to bid on. There are a total of 103 seats that will be auctioned off, with 42 pairs available and 19 single seats. Each participant can log on to brewers.com/UeckerSeats starting today, Monday, March 23 at 12:00 p.m.  From there, fans can chose the pair and/or single seat options, and make their desired bids. Once the auction closes on Tuesday, March 31, the top bidders for each category will be selected. The final price for each seat will be the lowest bid among the top bidders selected.

Auction participants will be contacted by the Brewers Ticket Office if they have the winning bid. All proceeds from the auction will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

 

 

Bob Uecker’s Front Row Classic a Swingin’ Success

Ah, the rare off-day during Spring Training. Yesterday was one of just two offdays for the Crew this spring and many of the players marked the occasion  by heading out to the golf course for Bob Uecker’s Front Row Classic, which was held at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale.

A number of the Brewers players and coaches, along with several other celebrities participated in the event, which benefited the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Prior to the tournament, Bob addressed the crowd, as did Bailey, a 14-year-old whose Wish was granted in April of 2012. Bailey chose to go fishing in Hawaii and spoke eloquently about what that experience mean to him and his family in terms of raising their spirits.

Here are a few highlights from the day:

And, here’s a slideshow:

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While no Brewers were in the winning groups, everyone had a blast; and, most importantly, the tournament raised over $30,000 for Make-A-Wish.

-Cait

@CMoyer

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