Results tagged ‘ Caitlin Moyer ’

Farewell, John (but not goodbye)

As you likely know by now, today is John’s last day here with the Brewers.

He is moving to Arizona with the other, more important “Cait” in his life, his lovely wife, Kate.

I just wanted to take a moment to publicly thank John for being such a great co-worker, co-author and friend over the last decade. Those of you who know him personally will agree that he’s one of the kindest, friendliest, enthusiastic people you’ll ever meet.

He’s very passionate about sports and I know he’ll succeed in his new position with the Phoenix Mercury.

It’s been a lot of fun working on the blog together. We’ve shared a lot of great memories over the years and from our “What John and Cait Ate” food reviews to our social media nights, it just won’t be the same without him.

Here we are celebrating our #1 Pro Blog Ranking (and a sweet NLDS Victory over the Diamondbacks). Thanks for reading!

Here we are celebrating our #1 Pro Blog Ranking (and a sweet NLDS Victory over the Diamondbacks in 2011). 

 

John will be greatly missed here in the office and I know all of you will miss his posts. I promise that I will do my best to fill in those gaps. (As an aside: We’ll also need a new name for the blog now, so if you have any suggestions, tweet them at me @CMoyer or post in the comments below.)

It's John's last day, but I'm saying farewell and not goodbye.

It’s John’s last day, but I’m saying farewell and not goodbye.

But this is a farewell to John, not goodbye. We’ll see each other down in Arizona for Spring Training and I know he’ll be back to visit. And you know we both love social media, so you can be assured we’ll “see” each other on Facebook, Twitter, etc. Speaking of which, if you’re not already following him on Twitter, you can keep tabs on him @JStein1981.

Again, John, it’s been a real pleasure working with you. I wish you and Kate all the best in this new chapter.

Cheers!

-Cait

JohnandCait@Brewers.com

 

 

Baseball Book Review: “If You Build It” by Field of Dreams’ Dwier Brown

In 1989 (and the years since), Field of Dreams has given many fathers and their children a gift; it has provided the opportunity for a reunion after a long rift, closure after death, and guidance on life’s path– simply by viewing the film,  a movie that pays homage to baseball’s majestic, magical link to the past.

No matter how many times you see it, your eyes will start to water in that pivotal final scene as Ray Kinsella says to his dad, John, “Hey dad…wanna have a catch?” 

“I’d like that,”  John replies.

Actor Dwier Brown, the actor who played John Kinsella in the film, only appears in those final five minutes,but they are arguably the most important minutes of the film.

Over the past 25 years, Dwier has been recognized by fans all over who have told him poignant stories about their fathers and how watching the film changed their lives.

And now, to coincide with the film’s anniversary, Dwier has written a book titled, “If You Build It…” a “funny and moving memoir about Fathers, Fate and Field of Dreams.”

Dwier visited Miller Park last homestand and I had the opportunity to interview him; he was also kind enough to sign a copy of the book for me.

I read it in less than two days. So now, here is my review. Spoiler alert: I loved it!

The book follows three different story lines that are woven together as beautifully as the stitches on a baseball.

First, there is Dwier’s recollection of heading to Iowa to film the movie. Fans of the film will love this insider track!

You’ll feel like you’re in the van riding through the cornfield on the way to the shoot as he takes you through the photography shoot for the film’s opening credits, meeting James Earl Jones, his fear of dropping the ball when playing catch with Kevin Costner in the final scene and more.

Second, there are the encounters Dwier has had with fans of the film.

“I have a lot of fathers or sons who come up to me and say they’ve lost their relationship with their father or son… maybe for 15 years they haven’t spoken because of some riff–in some cases they don’t even remember what it was about exactly–but when they saw that movie they managed to take that person, their father or son, to the movie with them, or just took them outside and had a catch with them. And somehow, they managed to just put aside this long history of misunderstandings. That’s happened many times,” Dwier told me.

There are several touching stories like that, and Dwier recounts these in the book, along with others that tell of how people changed their paths in life because of the movie’s message, or how people were able to come to terms with the loss of a loved one through the film.

Finally, there is a back story of Dwier’s childhood and his relationship with his own father, who passed away unexpectedly just a month before he began filming Field of Dreams, and how he struggled to come to terms with it.

Both humorous and heart-wrenching at times, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry and most importantly, you’ll relate.

Because no matter what your situation is, the fact is that at some time in your life, you had a father. That relationship and his presence (or absence) has shaped you as an individual and this book will give you pause to consider what that means to you.

And, just in time for Father’s Day, Dwier has given us a gift.  Just like with Field of Dreams, where fathers and children were reunited, sometimes without words, but by simply seeing the film together, “If You Build It…” affords one the same opportunity. Buy your dad (or father figure, mother, friend, etc.) this book. It will likely have the same impact.

Dwier and his wife Laurie are taking a RV tour across the country to promote the book, making stops at many ballparks and other events across the way.

Next on the agenda, though, is a return to Iowa.

Appropriately, a big event is planned to celebrate the film’s 25th Anniversary at the Field of Dreams in Iowa on Father’s Day weekend.

-Cait

JohnandCait@Brewers.com

 

 

 

Kyle Lohse v. Jason Dufner: The Stadium Shootout

By now you probably know I’m an avid golfer, so while I’ll be at Miller Park next week when the Reds are in town, I’ll also be keeping an eye on the second Major of the season… The U.S. Open Championship at Pinehurst No. 2.

And speaking of Majors, earlier this season, defending PGA Champion Jason Dufner had time to visit Miller Park as part of a day-long trip to Wisconsin to help promote the 2015 PGA Championship, which will be played August 10-16, 2015, at Whistling Straits in Kohler.

So, while we had him here, we asked him if he would take some swings… not in the batting cages, but rather all around the stadium, taking some fun golf shots from various vantage points.

The team was on the road while Jason was here, but Kyle Lohse found out about his visit via Twitter, where the two ended up exchanging some playful tweets:

If you’ve been following along this season, you know by now that Kyle is quite the golfer himself —and that he’s been known to engage in some friendly bets on the course, including one with me that got him on Twitter in the first place.

Many news outlets and golf publications picked up on the Twitter conversation, but most wrote it off as a funny exchange.

But here’s the thing. Offline, these guys turned it into a real challenge and we’ve got the scoop for you here:

 

The Bet

Each golfer participated in five golf challenges around Miller Park, where they got to take four shots each. The best shots from each golfer would be compared for each challenge. The golfer who won the majority of the challenges is declared the overall winner.

 

The Challenges

1)      Dew Deck: Closest to Home Plate (145-yds) :

A tough, elevated par-3 with very little green to work with. Okay, actually no green to work with. Good luck getting your shot to land in the dirt near home plate.

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2)      Terrace Level: Closest to the Pin (140-yds) :

A similar challenge to the first, but this time you get to land it in the grass.

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3)      Home Plate: Closest to the Pin (72-yds):

You think you got game? What about a short game? This one’s just a short pitch over the pitcher’s mound, but it’s trickier than it looks!

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4)      Home Plate: Long Drive (with Restricted Flight Ball):

Sorry, Hank, but it’s time to let the big dog eat. Grip it n’ rip it on this one, boys, because with the restricted flight ball, you’re not going to be able to knock one out of the park. (While we trust your swings, we love our scoreboard a little too much.)

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5)      Home Bullpen: Closest to Home Plate (120-yds):

This is a short-iron shot from the Brewers bullpen in left field to home plate, again with no green to work with. We know Kyle can hit a catcher’s mitt from 60’ 6” but how about 360’ 6”?

 

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The Stakes

The loser must tweet a photo with text revering the winner.

 

The Results

And now, without further adieu, we give you what I’m calling “The Stadium Shootout”:

 

 

The Payoff

Well, it came down to the final shot and it was fun while it lasted, but ultimately, Jason defeated Kyle 1-up. And since Kyle is a man of his word…

Perhaps there will be time for a rematch when Jason returns next summer for the PGA Championship. Along with Kyle and me, there are a number of Brewers players and front office staff  who love golf and are very excited for the tournament , which was held in Kohler in 2004 and 2010, to return to Wisconsin.  This is Major.

 

-Cait

JohnandCait@brewers.com

“You Wanna Have a Catch?” Catching Up with Field of Dreams’ Dwier Brown

Who could have predicted that two baseball movies that came out within two weeks of one another in April 1989 would have such a lasting impact on us today?

Yes, that’s right. This year, both Major League (April 7, 1989) and Field of Dreams (April 21, 1989) are celebrating their 25th Anniversaries. 

And while both movies center on our beloved sport and are legendary in their own rights, the two really couldn’t be more different.

Major League is best known for it’s humor with its many funny, oft-quoted one-liners. And, of course, with Bob Uecker as Harry Doyle and Country Stadium masquerading as Cleveland Municipal, it holds a very special place in the heart of Brewers fans.

Field of Dreams, on the other hand, is a movie that pays homage to baseball’s majestic, magical link to the past. It’s nostalgic and sentimental, yet just as iconic.

And both movies have withstood the test of time,  still resonating with baseball fans young and old alike a quarter-century later as their stars gather to celebrate the major anniversary of their films.

That’s how earlier this season, I had the chance to connect with Corbin Bernsen who played Roger Dorn in Major League, and this weekend, I had the chance  to meet with Dwier Brown, the actor who played John Kinsella in Field of Dreams.

John Kinsella? Don’t you mean Ray Kinsella, Cait? No, John is the father of Ray Kinsella (played by Kevin Costner). He’s only in the film for about five minutes, but they are arguably the most important of all.

No matter how many times you see it, your eyes will start to water as Ray says to John, “Hey dad…wanna have a catch?” 

“I’d like that,” Dwier Brown as John replies.

And now, 25 years later, to coincide with the film’s anniversary, Dwier has written a book titled, “If You Build It…” a “funny and moving memoir about Fathers, Fate and Field of Dreams.”

Despite being an actor for 35 years and performing in hundreds of other films, plays and television shows, it was those five minutes that changed Dwier’s life.

 

He has been recognized by fans all over who have told him poignant stories about their fathers and how watching the film changed their lives. Their touching stories have put into perspective his own father’s unexpected death just a month before he began filming Field of Dreams.

“I have a lot of fathers or sons who come up to me and say they’ve lost their relationship with their father or son… maybe for 15 years they haven’t spoken because of some riff–in some cases they don’t even remember what it was about exactly–but when they saw that movie they managed to take that person, their father or son, to the movie with them, or just took them outside and had a catch with them. And somehow, they managed to just put aside this long history of misunderstandings. That’s happened many times,” Dwier told me.

“Another one that sticks out in my mind is a man who was a lawyer then decided to become a sculptor. By being a lawyer, he thought he could be his dad, as opposed to being happy, which is what his father would have wanted him to do,” he said.

I had a great time meeting Dwier and his wife, Laurie on Sunday. Can't wait to read the book!

I had a great time meeting Dwier and his wife, Laurie on Sunday. Can’t wait to read the book!


At the time, however, Dwier had no idea how iconic the film would become.

“The script was just so good…. I don’t think any of us had any expectations that it would be a particularly successful movie because the script was so sweet and kind of perfect… there was no action, no big romance, so I think it came as a surprise to all of us that a), it was so huge and b), that it’s had such a lasting legacy.”

Dwier grew up in Ohio and says that he loved baseball growing up.

“As a kid, I think I was impatient. I loved playing it more than I did watching it. As I’ve grown older and realized what all goes into the spaces between pitches, I’ve realized what an exciting game it can be. I grew up cheering for the Cleveland Indians, which was one of those hopeless endeavors,” he said.

Another story that Dwier recounts in his book is about getting cut from his freshman baseball team, but having the last laugh.

“I was so disappointed,” he recalled. “I told a friend of mine that the coach would regret that and someday my picture would end up in the Hall of Fame and sure enough….I didn’t end up playing baseball, but I am hanging in pinstripes in the Baseball Hall of Fame, so I think that counts, even if it was the backdoor,” said Dwier, referring to an iconic still from the movie that hangs in Cooperstown.

Now, he says, he doesn’t have a particular allegiance to a team, but instead tends to follow players that he likes. This was evidenced later in the day, as Dwier, who met and took a photograph with Scooter Gennett prior to the game, quickly became one of Scooter’s biggest fans, cheering him on on his way to his two doubles and home run in Sunday’s 9-0 victory over the Cubs.

Scooter Gennett tries on Dwier Brown's dad's old glove from the 1920s.

Scooter Gennett tries on Dwier Brown’s dad’s old glove from the 1920s.

With the film’s underlying theme so closely tied to fathers and sons, it makes sense that a big event is planned to celebrate the film at the Field of Dreams in Iowa on Father’s Day weekend.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” said Dwier, who has two kids of his own, a daughter who is a senior in college and a son who just finished his freshman year of high school. (Neither was born when the movie first came out.)

“Kevin (Costner) is coming out and I’m bringing my son. My 91-year-old mother is driving out from Ohio with my sister. To see the movie on the baseball field where it was filmed, I think is going to be really magical. The people there, obviously they love that movie. Many of them were in it, all the extras that were in those cars…They are big sports fans, really fired up about it,” he said.

I haven’t read the book yet, but Dwier was kind enough to give me a copy. I’m excited to read it.

While I was quite young when the movie came out, the movie holds an extra-special place in my heart because, in 1992, I took a trip to the Field of Dreams, not with my dad, but with my mom.

While she’s always been a baseball fan, I think Field of Dreams, really solidified that love for her. (Kevin Costner’s performance certainly didn’t hurt.)

Cait and her mom at the Field of Dreams in 1992.

Cait and her mom at the Field of Dreams in 1992.

We went with a friend of hers and her friend’s son, who was just a couple of years older than me. I remember the long drive to get there, playing catch on the field and walking through the cornfield. I don’t think I was quite old enough to grasp the significance at the time, but it certainly made an impression and lasting memories.

In fact, when mom retired a couple of years ago, dad painted this for her:

Field of Dreams Painting Suess

So, I credit both mom and dad (who was a pretty great college pitcher back in the day and a big fan) with my love of the game. And, for me personally, meeting Dwier and feeling like I had a personal connection to the movie was very special. When I told this story to him, he was kind enough to send my mom a special message.

Dwier loved hearing how much the movie meant to my mom and wanted to send her a special message. This was all his idea! Mom was floored.

Dwier loved hearing how much the movie meant to my mom and wanted to send her a special message. This was all his idea! Mom was floored.

So yes, to say I am looking forward to reading the book is an understatement. And given the topic and timing, it also seems like it would make a great Father’s Day gift. Or a late one for Mother’s Day. Stay tuned for the review!

Brewers Field of Dreams Quote

 

-Cait

JohnandCait@Brewers.com

 

 

 

What John and Cait Ate: “The BBDB” from AJ Bombers

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

-Yogi Berra

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it…and try these concessions!”

-John & Cait

Braun’s Bacon Double Burger-

“The BBDB” from AJ Bombers

During each homestand, we’ll sample some of the latest and greatest Miller Park fare and review it here, for you.

One of the most fun, new additions to Miller Park this season has been AJ Bombers. The popular restaurant and bar-with locations in Milwaukee and Madison-now occupies the outside space formerly known as the Plaza Pavilion, along the west side of Miller Park near the right-field gate.

AJ Bombers offers a selection of cheeseburgers, egg rolls, tater tots, shakes, custards, specialty concrete mixers and more. The menu also include homestand specials, such as the city-themed concrete mixers and the newest addition: Braun’s Bacon Double Burger–the BBDB.

THE BBDB-$9

BBDB Braun Burger

Making its debut  tonight (on National Burger Day nonetheless),  The BBDB  is a special burger named after Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun.

It’s a double cheeseburger, topped with lettuce, tomato, mustard cheese sauce and Nueske’s bacon. The appropriately named sandwich is the third of several city and/or player-themed burgers that AJ Bombers plans to offer this season.

Braun’s burger is exclusive to Miller Park (i.e. not served at AJ Bombers’ restaurants) and available for a limited time.

And for dessert, be sure to try AJ Bombers new specialty concrete concoction here for one more night only: The Smith Island Cake, the official cake of Maryland, appropriate for the Orioles series.

 

We’ll be sure to check in with AJ Bombers often throughout the season to keep you informed on their newest menu items, just like we have been with the ever-popular Double Clutch!

Rating:

(out of 5)

Where To Satisfy Your Craving: Fans can find AJ Bombers on the Field Level, in the outside space formerly known as the Plaza Pavilion, along the west side of Miller Park near the right-field gate.

What about you? Do you have a favorite ballpark snack? A question about concessions? Something you’d like to see featured here? Post your comments below!

Bon Appetit!

-John and Cait

johnandcait@brewers.com

From the Mound to the Movies: Former Brewers Pitcher Mark Ciardi is Producer of Million Dollar Arm; Film Opens Friday

Disney’s highly-anticipated baseball film Million Dollar Arm is set to open this Friday, May 16.

Based on a true story, sports agent JB Bernstein (played by Jon Hamm) finds that the business has changed and his career isn’t going well. In a last-ditch effort to save his livelihood, he concocts a scheme to find baseball’s next pitching ace. Hoping to find a young cricket pitcher he can turn into a Major League Baseball star, JB travels to India to produce a reality show competition called “The Million Dollar Arm.” There he discovers  two 18-year-old boys, Dinesh Patel and Rinku Singh, who have no idea about playing baseball, yet have a knack for throwing a fastball. The boys are brought back to America to train, and, while they learn the finer points of the game, JB learns valuable life lessons about teamwork, commitment and family.

I’m sure Brewers fans have seen the trailers, if not on TV or in theatres, then when they are played before games at Miller Park…but what Brewers fans may not be aware of is the direct tie to their home team.

One of the film’s producers is Mark Ciardi, former Brewers pitcher.

I had a chance to catch up with him last week. We discussed his time with the team and how he made the leap from the Majors to Hollywood.

 Read on.

Mark was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in 1982 out of the University of Maryland, but chose to finish out his college career instead of signing with the team. However, the Club showed a lot of interest in Mark and drafted him again the following year.

Mark Ciardi Brewers

Mark Ciardi pitched in the Brewers organization from 1983-1988.

This time, Mark signed with the team and spent four seasons in the minor league system before making his Major League debut on April 9, 1987.

A Member of Team Streak

Yes, that 1987, as in Team Streak 1987. April 9 was game 3 of what would end up to be a record-tying 13-game winning streak to start the season.

Mark came into the game against the Red Sox in relief of starter Mike Birkbeck and pitched four innings that day, striking out 1 and giving up 3 hits, 3 walks, and 5 earned runs. Yet Team Streak prevailed in what turned out to be a slugfest, winning 12-11.

Mark Ciardi, pitching for the Crew in 1987. Those weren't "retro" uniforms back then.

Mark Ciardi, pitching for the Crew in 1987. Those weren’t “retro” uniforms back then.

“The first game I got in was the third game of the year,” Mark recalled. “I got in, I was kind of long-long relief. I got in to face the Red Sox at County Stadium. I think the first guys I faced were Jim Rice and Dwight Evans, so it was a lot of fun.”

The next time Mark pitched was April 14, game 8 of the streak. He started that game and ended up with the win (his line: 5 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 2 K), as the Brewers beat the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards 7-4.

“I pitched at the University of Maryland and got to go to Baltimore and see a lot of family and friends,” he remembers.

But then…

“Unfortunately, I got the ball in game 14 and didn’t fare so well,” Mark said.

April 21, 1987, Brewers at White Sox. In 2.1 innings, Mark struck out 3 batters, but gave up 7 hits and 1 walk and was tagged with 5 earned runs and ultimately, the 7-1 loss.

“But it was just great during the streak,” he recalls, “There were some great comeback wins… Juan Nieves’ no-hitter…. To start the season off like we did really put a spotlight on things which was pretty incredible. I think it was covered in Time Magazine, there were interviews everywhere, tying a Major League record to start the season. Every year, I look at the start of the season and you know, maybe 7-0, 8-0 was the closest…. and to think that we got to 13-0…”

After that fateful game, Mark pitched in one more contest (April 28, 1987) with the Crew before being sent down to the minors. At the time, Mark thought he’d be called up again soon, but unfortunately it didn’t work out and due to nagging injuries, he ended up retiring during the 1988 season.

“I thought I would get back up and I didn’t, but I’m glad I got to spend some time in the big leagues. I really, really enjoyed my time there,” he said.

Everything Happens For a Reason

Well, I for one have always believed that things happen for a reason though, and it seems like that is certainly true in Mark’s case.

During his time with the Brewers, he had moved out to Los Angeles because his agent was there. Looking for an off-season job and “try[ing] to get the highest-paying least amount of work possible,” Mark says he ended up walking into a modeling agency and started doing that. Modeling led to doing some commercials which ultimately led to acting classes.

So, seven years after his playing days had ended, he used the money he made from modeling and acting, as well as his West Coast connections, to partner with Gordon Gray and start the production company Mayhem Pictures, which possesses a first-look production deal with Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Group.

Mark’s Rookie Film…. The Rookie

 And in his very first “at-bat” in Hollywood, Mark hit a home run. His first credit as producer was for another popular baseball film, 2002’s The Rookie, starring Dennis Quaid and he can trace that success back to the time he spent with the Brewers.

The Rookie is based on the true story of Jim Morris, a promising young pitcher who was forced to drop out of the minor leagues due to injury. Twelve years later, as a high school teacher and coach of the school’s baseball team, he makes a promise to his players—If they win the district championship, he’ll try out for the big leagues. Well, the team holds up their end of the bargain and so does Jim, which ultimately results in him finally realizing his dream of playing in the big leagues at the “ripe old” age of 35.

Jim Morris was originally drafted in 1983. By the Brewers. The same year as Mark.

“I lost touch with [Jim Morris], like most of the guys you play with, and then I read a story in Sports Illustrated and didn’t know it was Jimmy. I was reading the story thinking this would make an amazing movie. This was right when my partner and I had started our company and I couldn’t believe it….Later on at the end of the story, it said he signed with the Brewers in 1983, never got above A-Ball… and I was like ‘Oh my god, it’s Jimmy Morris,’” Mark recalls.

Mark was able to get in touch with Jim and, although he wasn’t the only one with the idea that this story would make a great film, he does believe that the Brewers connection helped in securing the rights.

“I think ultimately it came down to comfort. We didn’t have a list of movies to point to, but I think having us and Disney gave the agent and Jimmy great confidence and I’m glad it worked out that way,” Mark said.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

“It was kind of the perfect movie to come out with and to brand what we do now. With Million Dollar Arm, it’s our seventh movie with Disney and we have another one we just finished….We’ve really got a brand in sports films, probably bigger than any other producers in Hollywood. It’s exciting,” he says.

It’s true. After The Rookie (2002), Mayhem has also produced Miracle (2004), Invincible (2006) and Secretariat (2010), among others, earning him a reputation for producing heartwarming, feel-good, inspiring sports movies.

With movies about baseball, hockey, football, and horse racing under his belt (and a movie on the way later this year about a high school track team [McFarland]), because Million Dollar Arm is now his second baseball motion picture, as a former Major League Baseball player, does he find that baseball movies have a special place in his heart, or resonate more with him?

“Yeah they definitely do. Having played, you know… I didn’t set out to make baseball movies, but boy when you get the opportunity, especially with The Rookie, to have that as your first movie….I just can’t imagine if we didn’t get the rights and weren’t able to tell that story, what would have happened to our careers or the path we would have been on, but it was great. We get first crack at a lot of these sports stories now and it was all really a result of that first movie and 10 years later to be able to tell another baseball story…” Mark said.

Million Dollar Arm

Like his connection with Jim Morris in The Rookie, Million Dollar Arm came about because of another personal connection for Mark.

“I’m friends with JB (Bernstein)….I ran into him right before he was going over to India to start this thing (the “Million Dollar Arm” competition) and I was like ‘Good luck man’ and a year and a half later he comes into my office and he’s got these kids signed. It was an amazing, amazing story,” Mark says.

“You always look for underdog stories and you know, much like The Rookie, Million Dollar Arm is that. These kids never even knew what a baseball was and six months later, they’re getting signed.”

“You either have a story like Secretariat or Miracle where everybody knows this is a famous story, or you get the smaller ones like The Rookie, or Invincible or Million Dollar Arm, where it’s not like these guys are perennial all-stars or it’s a huge event,” Mark continued.

These are small stories and underdog stories and I think sports fans love those. And you know, to see these kids signed at the end and all the real photos and images afterwards is just a lot of fun. I think it’s such a great movie and the good thing is, you don’t even have to be a big fan of baseball. There are no games to watch. It’s a lot of training and then really tryouts, so you don’t get stuck really having to go through tons of games and building all these different things…so in a way, it will appeal to people who don’t understand baseball and that was really our hope going in, that it would appeal to baseball fans and non-baseball fans alike,” Mark says.

And, since Million Dollar Arm centers on pitching, with a pitching contest that offered a prize of $100,000 to the pitcher who could throw the most strikes over 85 mph in a 20-pitch span—and the chance to win $1 million if he could follow that feat by throwing three consecutive strikes of at least 90 mph, as a pitcher in the ‘80s, I had to ask Mark: What was the top speed of his fastball?

“You know I was consistently in the high 80s and touched maybe 90s every now and then….I used to chart pitches in AAA and so many of those guys reached the big leagues, but there were maybe only 3-4 guys who would go consistently above 90 mph and even then, they’d be in the low 90s….and that was Chris Bosio, Rob Dibble, and a couple of other guys. Everybody else was mid-to-high 80s, so yeah, I was upper 80s. I had a good change-up, good slider. Better minor league stats,” Mark said.

And, while on-set in India, Mark recalled working with the actors and throwing knuckleballs:

“It’s the only thing I can throw now that I have arthritis in my shoulder….We were messing around with pitches there. It was always that pitch that you’d never throw in a game but you can dazzle people with on the sidelines. It was really funny working with the kids getting them into baseball,” Mark noted.

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Baseball in India

And just as the kids in India may have had a big learning curve when it comes to baseball, in turn, Mark says he was not at all familiar with the intricacies of the game of cricket before tackling this project.

“I do understand the game now, which we laughed at with Jon Hamm. Hamm is a big baseball fan and we finally kind of have this basic understanding of (cricket). We were there in May shooting and that’s when they have the IPL,” Mark said.

The IPL is the Indian Premier League. It is a Twenty20 cricket tournament where different franchise teams participate for the title.

“For a month they have the biggest cricket players in the world come to India and play for eight different teams in the area and they get a ton of money. It’s like an all-star game. It’s insane how popular it is… it’s the biggest thing in the world at that point cricket-wise. We watched some games and got a little hooked on it. It’s actually fun to watch and to learn. It’s a little more simple than I thought, but totally different than baseball,” Mark told me.

Since he began working on the film, Mark has spoken publicly about how he believes that India is a largely untapped country with immense potential to help grow Major League Baseball into a truly global sport. And he hopes the forays made by Bernstein, as well as the film itself, will help.

“It’s really putting the seeds down….You’ve got to get it started, then you hope five years down the line you can get a kid signed. Well, it happened in the first year and I think now that’s the first step. I think the second step would be getting a guy in the big leagues and having somebody for these kids to look at,” Mark said.

“You know, Yao Ming. China. The NBA wasn’t anything in China until he came. Now it’s a huge engine for the NBA and I think MLB would be looking at India the same way. It’s an emerging country with a huge population and if they can get a hero in baseball, you’d have a lot of kids. You’d see fields popping up. It starts with academies and that’s what happened in the Dominican Republic. You’ve got to put that investment in there, start getting kids from a young age playing the game. The work ethic of Indians is amazing. Rinku and Dinesh outwork everybody and if you can combine talent with that work ethic and that drive to get out, you know, kind of that pot of gold, that inspiration where you’ve got somebody from your own country or village that made it to the big leagues… that will ignite that country.”

“It’s a cricket country, no doubt,” Mark relented, “But with 100 million kids that play cricket, if you could take off even a slice of that, that would be more than probably the rest of the world combined that play this game.”

Back to the Brewers

Speaking of kids that play the game, Mark and his wife, Liat, have two sons, Hayden (10) and Luke (12) who enjoy playing (surprise!) baseball and, although he hasn’t returned to Milwaukee since his playing days, he says he would love to bring them back to the place where he began his career.

These days, Mark says he does still follow the Brewers, although not as closely as he did around his playing days.

“It was a great experience, such a great city to play in briefly. I also played in Beloit in A-Ball and just really enjoyed my time up there in Wisconsin. [The fans] really support the team and it’s great to see the Brewers are getting off to such a good start this year,” Mark said.

Although he hasn’t kept in close contact with many of his teammates, Mark has crossed paths with some of them over the years.

“It’s funny with athletes….When the season ends, even though you’re so close during the year, you just kind of go your own way. But you have these relationships and you’re so close to them. That’s why you see guys and even after 20 years, you pick it up like it is yesterday and I’ve gotten to do that a few times. I’ve run into Paul Molitor and Robin Yount and said ‘Hi’ and I think everybody remembers that streak and that time,” Mark told me.

“I saw Rollie Fingers, he was at our premiere,” Mark also mentioned. Although he didn’t play with Rollie, who retired after the 1985 season, Mark does share a connection beyond playing for the same organization.

“You know, I took his number after he left, which was 34. I think somebody did an article about the bad luck of that number. No one has really succeeded over the years since then and I was one of the guys listed, I thought that was pretty funny,” Mark laughed. (Yes, Mark, they did. Here’s that article. The number 34 was retired by the Club in 1992.)

And, while Rollie has already seen Million Dollar Arm, your first chance to see it is this Friday. I was already looking forward to the film before speaking with Mark, but after our conversation I am even more eager to see it.

It also doesn’t hurt that Jon Hamm is one of my favorite actors (I am a HUGE Mad Men fan).

However, Jon, a St. Louis native, is well-known to be a huge St. Louis Cardinals fan. He even narrated the highlight film for the team’s 2011 World Series and, in yet another Brewers tie-in, says the 1982 Brewers-Cardinals World Series is his favorite baseball memory.

“My best friend growing up was a kid named John Simmons. His dad happened to be a man named Ted Simmons, who played catcher for the Cardinals in the late ’60s and  ’70s and was traded in 1981 to the Milwaukee Brewers. Harvey’s Wallbangers. There’s another team – they were really good. Cardinals and Brewers meet in the World Series in 1982. My favorite baseball memory is my best friend’s baseball disaster. The bond was forged in the heat of that World Series then. To this day, that’s my best baseball memory,” Jon said in an interview with USA Today.

Mark Ciardi and Jon Hamm at the Taj Mahal.

Mark Ciardi and Jon Hamm at the Taj Mahal.

So, before I let Mark go, I did have one more thing to say:

“Mark, as one of my favorite actors, I’m a little disappointed that Jon is well known as such a big Cardinals fan. Obviously, that’s the Brewers biggest rival, so if you can work on him in some way, that would be great.”

“He’s die-hard, man, he’s die-hard. He’s a Brewers-hater,” Mark laughed.

-Cait

JohnandCait@Brewers.com

One Extremely Limited Edition Lohse Bobblehead

This Sunday, May 11, the Brewers take on the New York Yankees at 1:10pm and all-fans in attendance will receive our second all-fan giveaway of the season: the Kyle Lohse bobblehead, presented by Toyota.

MB-14-Lohse-Bobble-social

The bobblehead is posed in his windup and features Lohse’s signature goatee…but not his signature tattoo, as he and his teammates were quick to point out.

Kyle Lohse Tattoo

Kyle Lohse has a large, distinctive tattoo that runs the length of right forearm up to his elbow,  the site of a scar he has from forearm surgery he had in 2010

Kyle told me that the feathered wing represents “a prayer for power and health,” while the baseball peeling back to reveal a globe underneath it is to remind him “that there is more to life than baseball.”

And so, while none of the Brewers bobbleheads feature any tattoos (for numerous reasons, as I am sure you can understand), this felt like a special case.

So, I enlisted the help of our extremely talented Senior Graphic Designer, Jeff Harding.

“So, ah, Jeff…how hard do you think it would be to draw a tattoo on a bobblehead?” I asked him casually.

“Pretty difficult,” he said. And, knowing me very well after working together for over six years, he followed that up with a suspicious look and a, “Why…what are you thinking?”

And so I explained.

“I’d need a photo of the tattoo,” he countered.

I showed him the photo I had already taken.

Jeff shook his head in defeat. “Okay, but no promises,” he warned.

But boy, did he deliver:

Lohse Bobble Tattoo

When I presented Kyle with the bobble today, I think he was pretty stoked:

Kyle Lohse and Bobble Tattoo

He showed it to a couple of  the other guys who thought it was a sticker. Nope. That’s ink, mirroring Kyle’s.

Kyle Lohse and Bobblehead Tattoo

And sorry fans, that’s a special 1/1 limited edition bobble. All of the others to be given away this Sunday feature Kyle in his home white jersey.

By the way, for those of you scoring at home: This is the first bobblehead of Kyle’s career. Yes, the World Series Champion who was drafted in 1996,  made his Major League debut in 2001, and has played in six Major League organizations has never before been immortalized in bobble form.

“I guess I finally made it,” he told me with a smile.

-Cait

johnandcait@brewers.com

Brewed for Her Night Set for July 26

If you’re still looking for that perfect Mother’s Day gift, you’re in luck!

Back by popular demand, the Brewers “Brewed For Her” event went on sale this morning.

[CLICK HERE TO READ MY RECAP OF LAST YEAR'S EVENT.]

On Saturday, July 26, during the Brewers vs. Mets game, we’ll be hosting the second  “Brewed For Her” event in the Gehl Club at Miller Park, an event geared toward women showcasing multiple products that are sold in the Brewers Team Stores, along with fashion tips, and interactive beauty stations highlighting new Brewers hair and nail accessories.

MB-14 Brewed for Her Night-Social Graphic

The event will begin two hours before gates open that day (2:30pm) so that attendees have time to shop the stores and visit vendor booths set up by the Brewers Team Store on the Club Level before the game begins. Various vendors, fashion experts, and beauticians will be on hand during the event to offer advice, give demonstrations and offer product information.

Attendees will also be able to purchase items in the Gehl Club that day (with some items at a 20% savings!) and those who purchase the new Brewers hair and nail accessories will also have the opportunity to have the beauticians style their hair and nails with them on the spot.

“We received such great feedback from last year’s event that we decided to bring it back for the 2014 season and make it even better. It’s a great opportunity to showcase the new Brewers gear and accessories and for fans to get ideas on how to show their team support not just at the game, but also out on the town,” said Jill Aronoff, Senior Director Merchandise Branding.

Brewed for Her is $98per ticket and includes:

  • Early entry into Miller Park
  • Your Brewers vs. Mets ticket in the upscale Gehl Club at Miller Park, which includes an all- you-can-eat buffet and two complementary beverages
  • Access to vendor booths and product displays at the Brewers Team Store on the Club Level
  • Demonstrations by beauticians
  • Fashion tips from experts
  • Ability to purchase merchandise that evening from the Gehl Club (some at a 20% savings!)
  • A special Brewed for Her gift bag

I’m planning to attend this event again and look forward to talking with many of the attendees as well as grabbing photos to feature here on the blog–I hope to see you there!

Tickets are on sale now at brewers.com/brewedforher or by phone at (414) 902-GAME (4263). You’ll want to hurry as tickets for this event are limited!

-Cait

johnandcait@brewers.com

What John and Cait Ate: “Luc’s Ragin’ Cajun” from AJ Bombers

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

-Yogi Berra

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it…and try these concessions!”

-John & Cait

“Luc’s Ragin’ Cajun” from AJ Bombers

During each homestand, we’ll sample some of the latest and greatest Miller Park fare and review it here, for you.

One of the most fun, new additions to Miller Park this season has been AJ Bombers. The popular restaurant and bar-with locations in Milwaukee and Madison-now occupies the outside space formerly known as the Plaza Pavilion, along the west side of Miller Park near the right-field gate.

AJ Bombers offers a selection of cheeseburgers, egg rolls, tater tots, shakes, custards, specialty concrete mixers and more. The menu also include homestand specials, such as the city-themed concrete mixers and the newest addition: “Luc’s Ragin’ Cajun”.

LUC’S RAGIN’ CAJUN-$9

Lucs Ragin Cajun

Making its debut  tonight,  The Luc’s Ragin’ Cajun is a special burger named after Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy.

It’s a Cajun-infused Bombers Burger, topped with white cheddar, Nueske’s Bacon and Sriracha. The appropriately named sandwich is the second of several city and/or player-themed burgers that AJ Bombers plans to offer this season (the first was the “Thornburger.”)

Luc’s burger is exclusive to Miller Park (i.e. not served at AJ Bombers’ restaurants) and available for a limited time.

 

:uc's Ragin' Cajun

Also to kick off this 9-game homestand, AJ Bombers is offering a new specialty custard: Triple Citrus Cookie, made with Lemon, Lime and Orange, plus shortbread cookies.

3 citrus custard

We’ll be sure to check in with AJ Bombers often throughout the season to keep you informed on their newest menu items, just like we have been with the ever-popular Double Clutch!

Rating:

(out of 5)

Where To Satisfy Your Craving: Fans can find AJ Bombers on the Field Level, in the outside space formerly known as the Plaza Pavilion, along the west side of Miller Park near the right-field gate.

What about you? Do you have a favorite ballpark snack? A question about concessions? Something you’d like to see featured here? Post your comments below!

Bon Appetit!

-John and Cait

johnandcait@brewers.com

What John and Cait Ate: The “Thornburger” from AJ Bombers

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

-Yogi Berra

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it…and try these concessions!”

-John & Cait

The “Thornburger” from AJ Bombers

During each homestand, we’ll sample some of the latest and greatest Miller Park fare and review it here, for you.

One of the most fun, new additions to Miller Park this season has been AJ Bombers. The popular restaurant and bar-with locations in Milwaukee and Madison-now occupies the outside space formerly known as the Plaza Pavilion, along the west side of Miller Park near the right-field gate.

AJ Bombers offers a selection of cheeseburgers, egg rolls, tater tots, shakes, custards, specialty concrete mixers and more. The menu also include homestand specials, such as the city-themed concrete mixers and the newest addition: The “Thornburger.”

THE THORNBURGER-$9

Starting tonight for a limited time, AJ Bombers is offering The "Thornburger," a special burger named after Brewers pitcher Tyler Thornburg

Starting tonight for a limited time, AJ Bombers is offering The “Thornburger,” a special burger named after Brewers pitcher Tyler Thornburg

Making its debut on Tuesday, April 15, The “Thornburger” is a special burger named after Brewers pitcher Tyler Thornburg.

Brewers pitcher Tyler Thornburg now has a burger named after him--the Thornburger!

Brewers pitcher Tyler Thornburg now has a burger named after him–the Thornburger!

It’s a 1/4 lb patty topped with pepperoni, sautéed onions, lettuce, Texas BBQ sauce, Ranch dressing and pepper jack cheese. The appropriately named sandwich is the first of several city and/or player-themed burgers that AJ Bombers plans to offer this season.

He likes it! Hey Tyler!

He likes it! Hey Tyler!

“This may not be the last time I eat one of these,” Tyler said with a grin, as he tucked into the burger, which is exclusive to Miller Park (i.e. not served at AJ Bombers’ restaurants) and available for a limited time.

Last homestand, AJ Bombers featured the Malted Whoopie Pie Concrete Mixer (for the Pittsburgh Pirates Series) and the Gooey Butter Cake Concrete Mixer (St. Louis Cardinals Series) and they are currently featuring a Chili Chocolate Brownie Custard for the San Diego Padres Series.

We’ll be sure to check in with AJ Bombers often throughout the season to keep you informed on their newest menu items, just like we have been with the ever-popular Double Clutch!

Rating:

(out of 5)

Where To Satisfy Your Craving: Fans can find AJ Bombers on the Field Level, in the outside space formerly known as the Plaza Pavilion, along the west side of Miller Park near the right-field gate.

What about you? Do you have a favorite ballpark snack? A question about concessions? Something you’d like to see featured here? Post your comments below!

Bon Appetit!

-John and Cait

johnandcait@brewers.com

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