Results tagged ‘ Caitlin Moyer ’

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

Brewers #BREWITCHED Contest Winners Announced

The votes are in and we’re pleased to reveal the winners of this year’s #BREWITCHED pumpkin-decorating contest!

County Stadium Bernie Chalet #brewitched

A photo posted by Alan Sanchez (@r0adrunr33) on

Congratulations! These three winners will receive a Brewers prize pack, which includes two tickets to Brewers On Deck and a baseball signed by Jean Segura.

Thank you to all who entered. We hope you had a safe and happy Halloween!

-Cait

@CMoyer

 

Brewers #BREWITCHED Pumpkin-Carving Contest Is Back!

Headed to the pumpkin patch and/or planning to carve your gourds this weekend?

You’ll want to read this first because our #BREWITCHED pumpkin-carving contest is back by popular demand!

MB-15_Brewitched-Social-1024x576

Starting today, submit an original photo of your Brewers-themed pumpkin. Carve it, paint it, or decorate it – it’s up to you! Tag it on Instagram and/or Twitter using hashtag #BREWITCHED for a chance to win a Brewers prize pack, which will include two tickets to Brewers On Deck and a baseball signed by Jean Segura.

We’ll be accepting entries through Sunday, November 1 so you have plenty of time to get in the Brewers “spirit.” Get your pumpkin,  give it a Brewers flare and take some photos. For more information and complete rules, please visit brewers.com/brewitched beginning Monday. We’ll select three winners in this contest.

To help you get started, we’ve even got Brewers pumpkin carving stencils available for download here on brewers.com, including a breand new Barrelman Stencil!

And, for inspiration, here are last year’s winners:

Plus, my own design from last year, so get creative:

Happy decorating!

-Cait

@CMoyer

 

Fans Search High and Low for Scooter Gennett Gnomes During the #ScooterGnome Hunt

Today, the Brewers marketing staff was all over the city hiding Scooter Gennett Gnomes as part of the #ScooterGnome Hunt, a fun social media scavenger hunt.

Last night, we teased the promotion, giving away very little by way of clues, other than the gnomes would not be at Miller Park until we hit our first spot at 7:30am this morning.

Since this was designed to be a social media scavenger hunt, clues were then given via Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat throughout the morning… with a big surprise at the end. Read on!

7:30am Humboldt Park in Bay View

We arrived early in Humboldt Park and placed five signed gnomes over a large area. They were hidden in places such as the band shell, a horseshoe pit, and a tree stump.

Fans who found the gnomes were instructed to meet us at the baseball field where we took their photographs and gave them tickets to the Scooter Gnome All-Fan Giveaway Day on Sunday, September 20.

For those who showed up just a little too late, we also had some items on hand as consolation prizes, as well as fun #ScooterGnome cutout photo op.

9:30am Kletzsch Park in the Glendale area

From there, we headed over to the north side of town and had some fun hiding the gnomes around Kletzsch Park. I think we really threw a lot of fans for a loop with this one as it took them the longest to find all five signed gnomes at this park. They were hidden near interesting areas of the park such as a waterfall, a Disc Golf range, and a volleyball court.

 

 

 

Again, we set up shop at the baseball field to hand out tickets to the lucky winners and other Brewers swag to those who didn’t find a gnome.

Three of the five gnomes have been found. Two left to go! #Brewers #ScooterGnome

A photo posted by brewers (@brewers) on

 

 

 

Then, it was time for our final stop.

11:30am Elm Grove Village Park

At this park, instead of tweeting clues to the precise locations of any hidden gnomes, we had much more general clues…

That’s because when fans arrived, they received a big surprise–Scooter himself showed up on the baseball field dressed like his gnome, complete with gnome hat. The first 10 people who arrived at the park received a signed gnome and had their photos taken with Scooter. Scooter then stuck around for a bit, taking more photos and handing out extra Brewers goodies.

The photo-op at the final location looks pretty realistic, no? #ScooterGnome #Brewers

A photo posted by brewers (@brewers) on

Did you come out and participate in the #ScooterGnome Hunt today? Maybe I took your photo. Check out the gallery below!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We had a fun time hiding the gnomes and interacting with the fans today; we hope you had a fun time playing along. And hey, if you didn’t locate a Scooter Gnome today, don’t sweat it. All fans in attendance at the Brewers vs. Reds game on Sunday, September 20 will get to take home their very own Scooter Gnome:

MB-15 Scooter Gnome Scavenger Hunt-Twitter-ThankYou

-Cait

@CMoyer

What Cait Ate: “The Chili Cheese Davis Burger” is Back and other September Specials at 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!”

-Cait

The “Chili Cheese Davis Burger” from AJ Bombers

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

One of my favorite spots at Miller Park continues to be AJ Bombers. The popular restaurant and bar-with locations in Milwaukee and Madison- 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 as well as monthly player burger features.

THE CHILI CHEESE DAVIS BURGER-$9

The AJ Bombers Player Burger of the Month is the Chili Cheese Davis Burger.

The AJ Bombers Player Burger of the Month is the Chili Cheese Davis Burger.

Back by popular demand for September is the “Chili Cheese Davis Burger,” a special burger named after Brewers outfielder Khris Davis.

“The Chili Cheese Davis” includes a single patty cheeseburger topped with housemade chili, jalapeños and avocado. It is available exclusively at Miller Park for the rest of the season, so you’ll want to be sure to try it out, or get it one more time.

Khris Davis Burger

After one bite Khris declared his burger, "Awesome."

After one bite Khris declared his burger, “Awesome.”

In addition, AJ Bombers continues to offer special concrete custard concoctions by series. Here’s a look at what’s on deck for September here exclusively at Miller Park:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’ll be sure to check in with AJ Bombers often throughout the season to keep you informed on their newest menu items.

Don’t forget that you can always access our featured menu items via MLB.com’s Ballpark app to check out what’s new and exciting.

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!

-Cait

@CMoyer

“Specials by Series”for September & October

Rivalry-inspired fare is back at Miller Park.  As each opposing team comes to town, DNC SportService will feature “Specials by Series” near Section 223 for $10 each.

Here’s a look at what you can expect for the final matchups of the 2015 season.

Brewers vs. Cincinnati Reds (August 28-30): Cincy Cheese Coney $12

Cincy Cheese Coney

Hot dog, Cincy chili, diced onion, mustard, shredded cheese

Brewers vs. Pittsburgh Pirates (September 1-3): Polish Hill Cheesesteak $12

Polish Hill

Sliced kielbasa, grilled onions and peppers, cheese sauce

Brewers vs. St. Louis Cardinals (September 15-17): St. Louis BBQ Pork $12

Pulled Pork - St Louis BBQ

Pulled pork, St. Louis BBQ sauce, brioche bun

Brewers vs. Cincinnati Reds (September 18-20): Bacon on a Stick $12

Bacon on a Stick

Pork belly bacon (2 skewers), spicy dipping syrup

Brewers vs. Chicago Cubs (October 2-4): Italian Beef Sandwich $12

Italian Beef

Cheese sauce, giardinara, peppers, onions

-Cait

@CMoyer

Say Cheese! It’s Brewers Team Photo Day

Today was Brewers Team Photo Day at Miller Park.

The risers were set up in the infield early this afternoon and Brewers Team Photographer Scott Paulus and his staff were on hand to take the official 2015 photo.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I was never a big fan of “picture day” back in school.

Now imagine that times 100, factoring in getting together all of the players–in uniform–along with coaches and staff….without the added bonus of a free comb. You can only hope everyone is on time and hope that nobody blinks.

Here’s a hyperlapse we took of the “event”:

You may notice a man and his little girl stepping into the shot. That’s Season Seat Holder Bryan Wygert  and his daughter who received the unique opportunity to pose with the Crew:

Far left: Season Seat Holder Bryan Wygert and his daughter got to step in for a special shot.

Far left: Season Seat Holder Bryan Wygert and his daughter got to step in for a special shot.

However, Scott’s the ultimate professional and he’s been doing this for many, many years now. He know what he needs to do to get the guys in, out, and looking great each time.

All fans in attendance on Saturday, September 19 for Fan Appreciation Night will receive a copy of the team photo.

 

-Cait

@CMoyer

What Cait Ate: The “Peralta’s High Heat” Burger and other August Specials at 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!”

-Cait

The “Peralta’s High Heat Burger” from AJ Bombers

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

One of my favorite spots at Miller Park continues to be AJ Bombers. The popular restaurant and bar-with locations in Milwaukee and Madison- 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 as well as monthly player burger features.

THE PERALTA’S HIGH HEAT BURGER-$9

Making its debut tonight is the “Peralta’s High Heat Burger,” a special burger named after Brewers pitcher Wily Peralta.

AJB_Aug_MikeFiersBurger

Wily’s burger is a concoction with a little heat. It includes a single patty cheeseburger topped with pepper jack cheese, peppadew peppers, banana peppers, lettuce, tomato and mayo. It is available exclusively at Miller Park for the month of August, so you’ll want to be sure to try it out soon.

In addition, AJ Bombers continues to offer special concrete custard concoctions by series. Here’s a look at what’s on deck for August here exclusively at Miller Park:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’ll be sure to check in with AJ Bombers often throughout the season to keep you informed on their newest menu items.

Don’t forget that you can always access our featured menu items via MLB.com’s Ballpark app to check out what’s new and exciting.

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!

-Cait

@CMoyer

“Specials by Series”for August

Rivalry-inspired fare is back at Miller Park.  As each opposing team comes to town, DNC SportService will feature “Specials by Series” near Section 223 for $10 each.

Here’s a look at what you can expect for the first homestand in August. I’ll update this list with photos as I get them, as well as the remaining specials by series for the month.

Brewers vs. Cubs (July 30-August 2): Chicago Dog $14

Chicago Dog

Yellow mustard, neon relish, diced onions, sports peppers, pickle, tomato, celery salt

Brewers vs. Padres (August 3-6): Baja Fish Tacos $12

Baja Tacos

Grilled fish, vegetable slaw, tomatillo aioli, pico de gallo, flour tortilla

 

Brewers vs. Cardinals (August 7-9): The Beast  $12

The Beast-Image

Klement’s bratwurst, Klement’s hot dog, bacon, sauerkraut, onion, pretzel bun

 

Brewers vs. Phillies (August 14-16): Philly Cheesesteak $10

Beefsteak, grilled onions and peppers, cheese sauce

Philly Cheesesteak

Brewers vs. Marlins (August 17-19): Cuban Sandwich $10

Cuban

Mojito marinated pulled pork, smoked ham, swiss cheese, pickle, chipotle mustard aioli

 

-Cait

@CMoyer

Fans Search High and Low for Matt Garza Gnomes During the #GarzaGnomeHunt

Today, the Brewers marketing staff was all over the city hiding Count Garza Gnomes as part of the #GarzaGnomeHunt, a fun social media scavenger hunt.

Over the weekend, we teased the promotion, giving away very little by way of clues, other than the gnomes would not be at Miller Park, where we have had some promotions in the past, such as our #WheresPolish promotion in 2013 and #SpringMadness414 balloon event last season:

After the plotting and planning, tomorrow's the day! #GarzaGnomeHunt #MattGarza #Brewers

A photo posted by brewers (@brewers) on

Then, early this morning, we released information across all of our social media sites in regard to the general locations of each of the sites, as well as the times we’d be there:

There were two signed Matt Garza Gnomes at each location. Each gnome was accompanied by a pair of tickets to the Count Garza All-Fan Giveaway date (Sunday, August 2 vs. Cubs). For those who showed up just a little too late, we also had some items on hand as consolation prizes.

Since this was designed to be a social media scavenger hunt, clues were given via Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

Here’s a recap:

9 a.m. DOWNTOWN…Cathedral Square Park

We showed up in Cathedral Square Park for our first location, hiding one gnome in a bush and one on the playground. We weren’t sure what to expect with this being the first time we’ve executed a promotion quite like this, but both were found within minutes, after we posted just one clue to Twitter:

11 a.m. WAUWATOSA…Hart Park

At 11 a.m., we moved over to Hart Park in Wauwatosa, where we hid one gnome in a flower bed and one near a bridge. It took just two clues and 12 minutes for both to be discovered:

1 p.m. SHOREWOOD…Atwater Park

At 1 p.m. we hid two gnomes at Atwater Park, one near a rock and one on a pier, and both were found in under 10 minutes, after just one clue.

Congrats to James & Lara who found the Count Garza gnomes at Atwater Park in Shorewood! #GarzaGnomeHunt

A photo posted by brewers (@brewers) on

Then, it was time for our final stop.

3 p.m. GREENDALE… Post Office and Baseball Diamond

Avoiding a park this time to throw folks off the scent, we spread out in the Village of Greendale, hiding gnomes near the Post Office and on the pitcher’s mound of a baseball field.

The final 2 Count Garza Gnomes have been claimed! Congrats Dylan & Dave! #GarzaGnomeHunt

A photo posted by brewers (@brewers) on

We had a fun time hiding the gnomes and interacting with the fans today; we hope you had a fun time playing along. And hey, if you didn’t locate a Garza Gnome today, don’t sweat it. All fans in attendance at the Brewers vs. Cubs game on Sunday, August 2 will get to take home their very own Count Garza Gnome:

-Cait

@CMoyer

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