Results tagged ‘ Craig Counsell ’
Comedian Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias, along with fellow comics Martin Moreno, Alfred Robles, and G. Reilly, came out to Miller Park early this afternoon to take a little batting practice and to meet with some of the Brewers players and coaches.
Iglesias, who was not at all camera shy, documented the afternoon with photos, video, tweets and Snapchats, much to my pleasure as Director of New Media:
Here are some additional photos from their afternoon at the ballpark:
Iglesias, who also has a show called ‘Fluffy Breaks Even’ on Fuse, is in town for three shows at the Riverside (last night, tonight and tomorrow) and Coach Pat Murphy raised a good question:
For those of you scoring at home, Iglesias also joined us on the field for a first pitch back in 2014:
Everyone from the group was so kind and seemed to have a really great time. It was nice to get the chance meet them and spend some time with them this afternoon. Good luck with the shows!
You probably were already planning on it, but you’ll want to be sure to wear your Brewers player apparel to Miller Park now through May 4!
When you wear your player gear (past or present) at the Brewers Team Store, you will receive a coupon for an immediate $5 discount off of your purchase of player product, including player name and number t-shirts, player fashion tees, bobbles, pennants, jerseys, photos, etc. (Sorry– game-used memorabilia and sale items are not included.)
Your savings will be valid that day only at the following Miller Park locations: any of the four Brewers Team Store locations, Hank’s Hangout and Bernie’s Chalet.
In case you haven’t already seen some of the new player fashion tees for 2016, I’ve got a look at some of them here for you.
Craig Counsell’s shirt calls to his Wisconsin roots growing up in Whitefish Bay and later, his time spent as a Brewers player, including the Club’s most recent trips to the Postseason.
Taylor Jungmann’s player tee features the new Ball & Glove logo scattered inside his letters and numbers, a nod to the fans’ overwhelming support for the new alternate logo.
Jonathan Lucroy sports his trusty chest protector, also bearing the new Ball & Glove logo, as well his moniker – LUUUUC!
Ryan Braun’s tee is a play off of the popular home run call – “Going, going, gone!” – something Brewers fans hear often when the slugging outfielder steps to the plate.
I recently finished reading a new book about the Milwaukee Brewers entitled, “If These Walls Could Talk.” The book was written by Brewers TV announcer and former player Bill Schroeder (aka “Rock”) with Drew Olson, an on-air host for 540 ESPN and senior editor/columnist for ESPNWisconsin.com. The book also contains forewords by Bob Uecker and Craig Counsell.
Schroeder, who has been part of the Brewers family since he was drafted in 1979, chronicles the Brewers from his playing days through his current days as a broadcaster.
The book is broken up into five sections: Brewers Greats, Smorgasbord of Stories, Great Games, Behind the Scenes and In the Booth.
Divided up in such a fashion, the book is a quick and easy read.
In “Brewers Greats,” Schroeder talks about Brewers greats Bud Selig, Robin Yount, Paul Molitor and Bob Uecker.
In “Smorgasbord of Stories,” Schroeder provides answers to some commonly asked questions such as “What are you favorite restaurants in X city?” and “What are your favorite ballparks?” along with a firsthand account of the 1986 clubhouse explosion during Spring Training in Chandler, and a deep dive into Brewers nicknames throughout the years.
Schroeder then chronicles what he feels are some of the “Great Games” in Brewers history. There’s October 10, 1982 when the Brewers won the pennant; October 8, 2011-Game 5 of the NLDS; September 9, 1992, Robin Yount’s 3000th hit and many more, often giving a new perspective on some of the most memorable moments in Brewers history. In this chapter, Schroeder also picks his “All-Time Brewers Team.”
Folks who enjoy my “There is No Offseason For” stories will also enjoy Schroeder’s “Behind the Scenes” section of the book. Here, he sits down with members of the Brewers organization to give fans an inside look at Clubhouse operations, the logistics of team travel, the training room, plus video & replay. Along the way, Schroeder sprinkles in his own anecdotes; in this chapter, you’ll also learn more about memorable injuries and team pranks.
Finally, “In the Booth”is a look at how Schroeder grew up playing the game, played at Clemson, was drafted by the Brewers, played for the Brew Crew and the Angels and then transitioned in to a career in the broadcast booth. In this chapter, he talks about his relationships with his different broadcast partners over the years and provides a behind-the-scenes look at how a broadcast comes together.
Whether you’re a die-hard fan from the days of Harvey Kuenn and Robin Yount or a new supporter of the current team, you’ll enjoy this book. Even though I’ve worked for the Club for over 10 years now myself, I still learned a lot of interesting tidbits and read stories that were previously untold.
If These Walls Could Talk is currently available for sale in the Brewers Team Store by Majestic and at other booksellers.
Schroeder has also been doing some book signings in conjunction with the release. The next one is this Thursday, April 21, at Finn’s bar and restaurant in Wales at 7pm.
On May 14, Schroeder will also sign at the Brewers Team Store by Majestic in the Hot Corner on from 11am-1pm.
Mentor, Example, Friend, Adversary: Brewers Bench Coach Pat Murphy is the Baseball Conversationalist
Each morning in Spring Training, you’ll find me down on the field capturing photos and video of the Cactus Crew’s workouts and practices, documenting them to share on our social media channels for fans back home.
And, while there are a lot of things that are new and different this season—from the structure of the workouts and some unique drills to personnel and many of the players—one thing that’s impossible to miss is the distinctive style and energy that new Brewers Bench Coach Pat Murphy brings to the ballpark each and every day.
After watching him during practice and hearing so many players and coaches speak so highly of him, I asked Murphy if I could sit down with him for an interview—to get to know him better, discuss his coaching philosophy and to try to dig up some good dirt on our skipper.
Most Brewers fans know by now that Murphy, 57, has a long history in the sport at many different levels of the game.
The Syracuse, New York native graduated from Christian Brothers (NY) Academy where he played football, basketball and boxed in addition to playing baseball. He then graduated from Florida Atlantic University, where he also pitched.
After college, Murphy pitched in the minor leagues with the Giants (1982) and Padres (1983) organizations and professionally in Australia for Sydney (1984) and in the Northwest League with Tri-City (1985-86) before embarking on his 25-year NCAA head coaching career, primarily as a Division I Head Coach for Notre Dame (1988-1994) and Arizona State University (1995-2009).
It was during his time at Notre Dame than he met and formed a long-lasting friendship with Brewers Manager Craig Counsell, then his player.
Following his college coaching career, Murphy then returned to the Padres organization where he spent the 2010 season as a special assistant to baseball operations before moving on to manage at Class-A Eugene (2011-12), Triple-A Tucson (2013) and Triple-A El Paso (2014-15).
Murphy became interim manager of the Padres last season, replacing Bud Black in June.
It was in this capacity that Murphy and Counsell – the teacher and the pupil – found themselves back on the diamond together once again last August. Only this time, it was in opposing dugouts as managers at the game’s highest level when the Padres faced the Brewers at Miller Park.
Then, in November after the Padres opted not to retain Murphy, it did not come as a big surprise when it was announced that Counsell would be adding Murphy to his staff as the new Brewers Bench Coach.
NEVER A LULL IN CONVERSATION
“We’ve had a 25-year baseball conversation,” Counsell said at the time of the announcement. “He’s shown a great ability to impact people. I’ve seen him impact players in college, in professional baseball and in the big leagues. I feel really lucky to be able to get him here.”
New Brewers coach Jason Lane also has a history with Murphy, playing for him in parts of 2014 and 2015 at Triple-A El Paso, and Lane referenced a similar ongoing conversation when I met with him last week.
“We had this bond and great banter back and forth about that game. He became just a huge influence in my life and really showed me a lot of things about who I was as a player and empowered me to help younger guys early on,” Lane said.
When asked about that “conversation,” Murphy explains it like this:
“Your former players become your life. It becomes your life, it’s like your workshop and they teach you. They all have taught me more than I’ve taught them. And I really believe that. That’s the fun part. It becomes just a nice conversation, a nice circle, a nice friendship, a nice relationship. Those guys to me… you know it’s hard to talk about. Those guys mean so much to me,” he said.
There are too many relationships like this that Murphy has made over his career to begin listing names, but it’s safe to say that there’s never a lull in his conversation.
“I’ve learned this game on the fly. I set out to be maybe a football coach…started down that path and really had to learn the game. I played in college and the minor leagues, but now I love the game and I don’t know that I really understood the game back then when I started or when I played, but now I understand the game. I’m just thankful all these guys have taught me the game.”
TALKING THE TALK AND WALKING THE WALK: COACHING
Murphy said that it’s much different coaching players at the Major League level, as opposed to college players.
“These are men that have been through much more usually and they have a pretty good idea in what they want to do, so now it’s more trying to reach them and connect with them so you can help them possibly find their best self more often. I view it like we’re offensive linemen, so to speak… we open the holes for them to run through and gain more yardage,” Murphy says.
However, Murphy doesn’t get hung up on levels of the game when it comes to coaching.
“I take the profession seriously. This is a big, important role, no matter what level you coach at. You’re a mentor sometimes, you’re an example sometimes, sometimes you’re a friend, sometimes you’re an adversary, you know the whole thing, the gambit. It’s important, whatever it is. If it’s genuine, if it’s well-intended, then you could possibly be impactful—possibly. But you can’t look for that. It either happens on its own or it doesn’t,” he says.
So, has he changed his approach from his college or Minor League days?
“I think you better be changing every year regardless of level. I think you have to adjust to the level, you have to stay yourself, and you better keep changing, getting better, hopefully, or evaluating yourself constantly, talking to other coaches…”
Just like he credits his former players with helping him understand the game, Murphy says that learning from other coaches has been something that he’s especially enjoyed.
And that hasn’t been limited to the baseball diamond. Murphy crossed paths with two legendary college football coaches while at Notre Dame—Lou Holtz and Barry Alvarez, so I asked him if he learned anything from those individuals in particular.
“There’s no question. Lou has been a great influence in my life and watching him operate, command a room, command a team, connect with a team….You know, he didn’t coach from power. He didn’t need to. The guys knew his passion and intent and followed him. He was zany and zaniness also came into play.
And Barry—he’s the consummate, genuine guy. I mean, Barry—the players trusted him immediately. They trusted him and they connected with him from day one. He was a powerful leader and he had fun, you know, which was a beautiful thing….and he kept it real. You mention those two guys and that’s as good as it I’ve seen out there.”
PUTTING THE “FUN” IN FUNDAMENTALS
Murphy also likes to keep things fun. He says that the Brewers coaching staff is trying to emphasize to this team that the game doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does have to be focused on some areas that can sometimes be taken for granted.
“Yes, the fundamentals. But it’s how you convey them that I think is important. I like to keep it fun because people learn better when they’re in that state of mind, you know realizing that when we’re practicing and when we’re preparing it doesn’t have to be drudgery,” Murphy said.
Sometimes, though, he admits, it might need to be drudgery, depending on the situation. And that’s what makes him a great coach—he knows how to get the best out of people.
HARD-NOSED COACH & PLAYER
Murphy says that on the topic of Murphy, Counsell has told the team that “he’ll make you laugh or he’ll make you cry” and many of the players have asked him about a story that is widely told from Murphy’s days coaching Counsell: That one time when Murphy broke Counsell’s nose.
Counsell played for Murphy at Notre Dame from 1989-92. As the story goes, Counsell irked his manager with a series of errors one fall and Murphy ordered him onto a half-frozen field in November to field hot-shot grounders. Not fun then. Drudgery.
One particularly hard-hit baseball took a bad hop, bounced up and broke Counsell’s nose.
“His nose was over here at 4:15,” Murphy recounted to Adam McCalvy, holding his hand on the side of his face, “and then he was back at practice at 5:15 with his nose back in place and said, ‘Hit me some more.’ That taught me everything I needed to know….He was destined to be undenied.”
Murphy won’t bite when I fish for crazy or embarrassing stories from Counsell’s college days, but does provide this telling tidbit:
“I’ll tell you one thing that he’ll hate me saying, but I will tell you. I made the guys write down their goals. I don’t know if that’s smart or not; I don’t know if that’s good coaching or not, I really don’t, but I made the guys write down their goals and I still have that goal sheet. And you guys would… if you could think back and you could see what he wrote, you guys would just shake your head like ‘That’s Craig.’ That quiet confidence…. Really amazing for a kid, for where he was as a freshman to write those things as goals.”
I know Counsell so therefore already know the answer, but I ask anyway: “And did he meet those goals?”
“He met those goals,” Murphy affirms with a nod and a look of pride. “Few people in this lifetime will meet those goals. It’s really incredible. “
Murphy says that while it wasn’t always easy to see all the way through Counsell’s college career, once Counsell got to be a senior, Murphy had no doubt he would go on to do great things in his career. In fact, Murphy boasts that he was once quoted as saying that Counsell would play in the Major Leagues.
“In the Blue & Gold Illustrated at Notre Dame, I said that he would be the next Major Leaguer from Notre Dame because he was so impressive day-in and day-out. He would help you offensively, he was so steady defensively, so steady a personality on the team.
“Looking back, it’s easy to say he worked so hard as a freshman, he handled adversity great as a sophomore, came into his own as a junior but…. but once he got to be a senior, you were pretty certain he wasn’t going to stop getting better. He got better every year,” Murphy recalls.
Murphy says it’s those same qualities that helped Counsell overcome adversity, accomplish his goals, and succeed in his career that will also make him a successful manager.
“He’s not trying to copy anybody. He has a great mind, great vision. He really can link people. He can deal with people on all levels. The very qualities that got this kid from Whitefish Bay that didn’t have all the baseball tools and talent to turn that lack of tools and lack of talent into skills that worked for him at the highest level and championship level ball….That’s the very skill that will make him a successful manager in my opinion because he’s going to find the answer. That’s what’s going to happen, he’s going to find the answer,” Murphy says with confidence.
He continues, “He knows I care about him as a person and he knows I’ve got his back in every situation and I hope I can add something, I hope I can pull my weight because he’s got a special thing going here.”
I would have to agree. That’s certainly the feeling I get out on the practice fields every morning. Although I’m just out there shooting content, I can’t help but leave feeling energized and inspired.
Thanks, Pat, for letting me interrupt your conversation for this interview.
Today marks the 88th Annual Academy Awards, and, in addition to asking some of the Brewers players to make their pick for Best Picture, there’s a unique connection to the Oscars in the Clubhouse this spring.
New Brewers coach Jason Lane actually had a bit part in the 2014 movie “Boyhood,” which was nominated for six Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor for Ethan Hawke and Best Supporting Actress for Patricia Arquette (which she won) last year.
It was a part that Lane played flawlessly, without even knowing he was doing it.
For those of you who haven’t seen the film, “Boyhood” is a drama that was shot over a 12-year span (2002-2013), depicting the childhood and adolescence of Mason Evans, Jr. (played by Ellar Coltrane) from ages six to 18 as he grows up in Texas.
In one scene in the movie, actor Ethan Hawke takes his son to an Astros-Brewers game in 2006, one in which Lane, then an outfielder for Houston, happens to hit a home run.
However, baseball buffs searching for the box score for that game will be hard pressed to find a game where Roger Clemens started for the Astros and Lane hit a homer off of Brewers pitcher Matt Wise.
That’s because Hollywood actually melded two games together:
The film crew first shot a scene at a game in Houston on August 18, 2005, in which Roger Clemens got the start for the Astros against the Brewers. Lane hit a home run in that game off of Brewers pitcher Tomo Ohka, though that home run went to right field (and the Brewers won that game, 5-2).
The home run that Lane hits in the movie goes to left field. That’s from a game that the actors attended the next season, also against the Brewers, on April 17, 2006. It was during that game where Lane hit a three-run home run in the seventh inning that helped the Astros to an 8-7 victory over the Crew. And that’s the home run that’s captured in the film.
“It was funny because I had heard there were two different games and I randomly hit a home run in the two games. I had no idea the movie was even being filmed at the time. I didn’t know anything about it until right before it hit the theaters.”
Lane tells me that the first time he heard about his cameo was in 2014, the year the movie premiered. After hearing from a friend that he was in the movie, he eventually went to see it in his hometown.
“I think the movie itself was what it was set out to be: a challenging life. I think they depicted that well. There were some uncomfortable parts and there were some great parts. Certainly the baseball part of it was fun because it brought back some memories,” Lane said.
“I remember (the home runs) exactly. I can’t speak for all baseball players, but it’s amazing how I can remember the situation and the counts and the pitch, all of it, really well, so when I was watching it, it put me right back into that game and that particular situation where I was going through personal battles in the game, struggles and how that propelled me personally and it was a big home run in that particular game for us, so it’s great that any time that movie comes on, I get to re-experience that.”
Lane’s struggles that he alludes to are what eventually earned him the unique distinction of becoming just one of two players in the Expansion Era (since 1961) to start his first game as a pitcher after logging more than 1,000 career at-bats (1,208) prior to the start.
Yes, that’s right. If you don’t know his story, Lane reinvented himself as a pitcher late in his career, at the age of 35.
“There’s no way I can give a short synopsis of that deal, but I had pitched in college, I did both in college. There was a chance I was going to get drafted as a pitcher in college, so certainly I had experience doing that, but I always felt like hitting was my #1 passion as I made it to the Big Leagues, I always felt like at the end of my career, whenever that was, that I would try pitch because I enjoyed the game and I was left-handed,” Lane said when I asked him to describe his motivation to switch to pitching.
“I hoped that I would accomplish a lot more as a hitter; I didn’t think I was at that point when it happened, but I had thrown a couple innings in AAA because we needed help, the bullpen was short. (Then Diamondbacks GM) Kevin Towers made the suggestion that I give that a shot, that it looked pretty good. At the time, I felt like I was learning a ton about hitting and a lot of people think that it was because I didn’t think I could hit anymore and it really wasn’t. It was more about the opportunity. I badly wanted to get back to the big leagues and it didn’t seem like I was getting opportunities as a hitter and for someone to show opportunity on that side, I thought ‘Let’s go for it.'”
And go for it he did. Lane says it was a struggle initially, but after spending time with 6 different organizations between 2008 and 2012, it eventually all came together and he made it back.
Lane said he threw an inning in the minor leagues in 1999, after he signed with the Astros, but then didn’t throw another inning until 10 years later in AAA for the Toronto Blue Jays. Then, after throwing a handful of innings again in AAA in 2011, Lane found himself with an invite to Major League camp as a pitcher the next spring.
“I thought, ‘Wow, what a great opportunity to go to Major League camp, not having really pitched and I hadn’t been to Major League Spring Training as an outfielder in two years, so it was kind of an easy decision for me.’”
Lane didn’t make back to the Big Leagues that year, but two years later, after signing with the Padres, he was back in the show where went 0-1 with a 0.87 ERA in 3 games, including 1 start (10.1ip, 7h, 1r, 1er, 0bb, 6k).
Lane says that his career has taught him the insecurities of players on either side of the baseball.
“I knew the grind of a hitter and the challenges [they face] and then once I stepped on the mound I knew how hard it was as a pitcher at times when you were struggling or how hard it was to make pitches, so it gave me a unique perspective,” Lane says.
Lane credits his switch to pitching and the new perspective to the success he had with hitting at the end of his career.
Lane says that going into this offseason, he was still planning on playing until this unique coaching opportunity with the Brewers presented itself. He feels that his background gives him credibility with the players.
“Hopefully, I can really share these things and it makes sense to them and hopefully it can give them an advantage on both sides. I feel like I can speak to pitchers and hitters,” he says.
The baseball community is quite close and with someone like Lane who has had such a long career in the game, there are bound to be connections within any team. In camp this spring, there are players like Blaine Boyer, Rymer Liriano and Will Middlebrooks that he knows because they’ve played with the Padres recently. He also played against Ryan Braun (Braun’s rookie year was Lane’s last as a hitter), had lots of at-bats vs. Chris Capuano, and last year, he even pitched against the Crew in Spring Training, where Jonathan Lucroy hit a HR off of him.
In addition, Lane and new Brewers bench coach Pat Murphy go way back… to 1998, when Lane, as a member of the NCAA champion University of Southern California Trojans belted a grand slam in the title game against Arizona State, who were managed by Murphy. Lane also pitched 2.2 innings and earned the win in the 21-14 victory
Sixteen years, later, Lane and Murphy would finally get to meet as Lane spent part of 2014 and all of 2015 at Triple-A El Paso for the Padres, where Murphy was managing the team.
“I thought ‘Oh boy this is going to be interesting,’ because I never spoke a word to this guy, but that was obviously a big game in both of our careers, so instantly we had this bond and great banter back and forth about that game. He became just a huge influence in my life and really showed me a lot of things about who I was as a player and empowered me to help younger guys early on so he, I know, had something to do with telling [Brewers Manager] Craig [Counsell] about my experiences and thought that I would be a good fit.
Although Lane didn’t know Counsell on a personal level until coming to the Brewers this offseason, he says he felt like he knew him, from the conversations he would have with Murphy.
“Murph and I would talk a lot about baseball and his name would come up a ton, so I felt like I knew him even though I had never really officially introduced myself to him. We may have spoken in passing while playing against each other but I certainly felt like I knew him a bit through Murph and having the chance to talk to him and get to know him this offseason, it’s been great,” Lane said.
Two more questions before I let Lane go.
Pitcher Jason vs. Hitter Jason. Who’s gonna win that battle?
Lane, with a laugh: I think the game’s set up for the pitcher to win. If they’re hitting .300 off me, which is a bad day as a pitcher, I’m still getting them 7/10 times. But I think that the Hitter Jason vs. the pitcher. I think I would’ve been a tough matchup as a hitter for the pitcher. Those are the guys that I felt like I handled well, so I think the hitter would’ve…. It would’ve been a good battle either way, but I would’ve put the money on the hitter side.
Okay, back to the Oscars, have you seen any of the films nominated for Best Picture?
Lane: I’ve seen one of them—The Revenant. I really enjoyed the bear scene in that one. There’s a scene in there about a bear attack that seems as real as it could be. For me, that scene alone was worth seeing the movie. I thought it was one of those movies where there’s a lot of just agony and survival in a tough climate, so the whole movie you’re just tensed up and like “how much more can somebody take?” but I think that’s good. Movies that can get that kind of response out of you is what they’re trying to do, so it was good movie.
Seems like many of the Brewers players also agree. Check out some of their picks in this album below:
So there you have it, a Brewers Oscars connection and a great addition to our coaching staff.
As far as the Academy Awards go, we’ll have to tune in tonight at 5:30 pm CT to see how the players picks fared.
Over 50 Milwaukee Brewers players, alumni, coaches, front office executives and broadcasters are scheduled to participate in Brewers On Deck, which is set to take place on Sunday, January 31 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Wisconsin Center.
Advance tickets are $15 for adults and $9 for children 14 and under. Tickets on the day of the event are $20 for adults and $15 for children 14 and under. On the day event, cash is the only accepted form of payment for admittance. A portion of the proceeds from Brewers On Deck will benefit Brewers Community Foundation. Tickets may be purchased at the Miller Park ticket office, by calling the Brewers ticket office at 414-902-4000, or online at Brewers.com/ondeck through January 29.
Once again food donations will be accepted through Hunger Task Force. Donations can be dropped off at two main entrances to the Wisconsin Center, located at 4th Street and Wisconsin Avenue, and 4th Street and Wells Street.
Players, coaches and alumni scheduled to attend include (all subject to change):
|Orlando Arcia||Ramon Flores||Shane Peterson||Craig Counsell||Don August|
|Jacob Barnes||Matt Garza||Brett Phillips||COACHES||Jerry Augustine|
|Yhonathan Barrios||David Goforth||Michael Reed||Darnell Coles||Jeff Cirillo|
|Michael Blazek||Junior Guerra||Domingo Santana||Joe Crawford||Rollie Fingers|
|Ryan Braun||Josh Hader||Will Smith||Derek Johnson||Jim Gantner|
|Keon Broxton||Adrian Houser||Tyler Thornburg||Marcus Hanel||Larry Hisle|
|Chris Carter||Jeremy Jeffress||Jonathan Villar||Jason Lane||Ken Sanders|
|Garin Cecchini||Taylor Jungmann||Tyler Wagner||Pat Murphy||Gorman Thomas|
|Trent Clark||Corey Knebel||Colin Walsh||Ed Sedar||Greg Vaughn|
|Clint Coulter||Jorge Lopez||Carlos Subero||Paul Wagner|
|Tyler Cravy||Martin Maldonado||Lee Tunnell|
|Zach Davies||Jimmy Nelson||Matt Erickson||Bob Uecker|
1/20/16 Update: We’ve had some additions to our lineup! New attendees noted in RED. For those asking, yes, Bob Uecker will be attendance as well!
1/22/16 Update: Sorry, fans! We regret to inform you that Robin Yount is no longer able to attend the event.
1/22/16 Update: Sorry, fans! We regret to inform you that Scooter Gennett is no longer able to attend the event.
Brewers On Deck will feature a number of activities for the entire family. Autographs and photos from Brewers players, coaches and alumni; interactive games in the Kids Area; Q&A sessions and Klement’s Main Stage game shows with Brewers players, coaches and broadcasters; vendor booths with baseball memorabilia; Brewers Community Foundation’s Treasure Hunt, a 50/50 raffle, live auction and many other activities will all be a part of Brewers On Deck.
During the event, the Brewers will unveil a new book – Explore MKE: Your Neighborhood Our City. The Book is published by SHARP Literacy, Inc. and is sponsored by Brewers Community Foundation and Ryan Braun. It tells the story of two children who share their differing experiences of Milwaukee and are attempting to figure out how they fit in. It also features informational sections that weave together iconic Milwaukee institutions and neighborhood-based landmarks with important themes in common.
SHARP Literacy, Inc. is a non-profit organization that enhances future life success by energizing urban children and motivating them to identify themselves as confident, capable scholars and lifelong learners by inspiring engagement in reading, writing and research through hands on interaction and visual arts.
Details regarding autographs include the following: Recipients of “PREMIER” autographs (players to be announced next week) will be chosen through a random selection process. Each fan in attendance will receive one Premier Entry sheet which may be redeemed at the Random Selection area outside the Main Exhibit Hall of the Wisconsin Center. The Premier Entry sheet will be exchanged for a numbered coupon to be entered into the random selection process for any one of the select Brewers players. Coupon distribution will be available at 8 a.m. the day of the event and will continue up to an hour before each designated autograph session. There is no cost for coupons to enter the random selection process; however, those holding winning coupons must pay $25 at the respective autograph stage to collect their player signature. There will be 250 winners for each of the autograph sessions. The winning ticket numbers will be posted at the designated autograph stage no less than 30 minutes prior to each player’s session.
Players and staff not included in the PREMIER autograph list will not use the random selection process. Each of these players will sign 250 autographs at prices ranging from free to $10. A schedule of players, their session times, and distribution info will be posted at a later date. The autograph opportunities are for signatures on photo cards provided by the team; the Brewers cannot guarantee that any player will sign other memorabilia. For additional information, visit Brewers.com/ondeck.
Autograph proceeds benefit Brewers Community Foundation. Please note that cash is the only acceptable form of payment for autographs. The Brewers cannot guarantee that any player will sign other memorabilia, and personalization of items is solely up to the discretion of each player.
A detailed schedule of all Brewers On Deck activities will be released at a later date, so stay tuned!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 a bobblehead featuring the Brewers franchise leader in home runs, Ryan Braun. On Tuesday, it was the Barking BobbleHank and Greg Vaughn Bobblehead. Yesterday, we revealed the Bob Uecker Talking Alarm Clock and Jimmy Nelson Bobblehead.
And this morning, we have for you All-Fan Giveaway number seven: A Craig Counsell Bobblehead!
Yes, for those of you scoring at home, we have given out a Craig Counsell Bobblehead in the past, but here’s the twist: Half of the fans at the game against the Reds on Sunday, August 14 will get a bobble of Craig as a retired Brewers player and the other half will get a bobble of him as manager.
Make sure to follow us on our website at brewers.com/allfans and across all of our social media platforms the rest of 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 Craig Counsell Bobblehead 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 bobbles when we get them!
Stay tuned to the blog, our social channels and brewers.com/allfans all week as we unveil more of our schedule!
Tonight we will be hosting a special “town hall” meeting with Manager Craig Counsell and General Manager David Stearns. Brewers ticket plan holders, Suiteholders and VIPs have been invited to Miller Park for a unique opportunity to hear from the team’s field manager and general manager.
Brewers broadcaster Brian Anderson will serve as host and emcee for the event and those in attendance will have the chance to have their questions answered by both David and Craig.
Although the event is by invitation only and not open to the general public, if you’re not here tonight, you can still submit questions in advance via social media. Post them in the comments below, look for our designated posts on Facebook and Instagram, or Tweet your question to @Brewers using the hashtag #InsidetheBrewers.
In addition, tonight’s event will be streamed live beginning at 6:30pm CT at brewers.com/insidethebrewers.
Today we announced that we will be hosting a special “town hall” meeting with Manager Craig Counsell and General Manager David Stearns on Thursday, October 29. Brewers ticket plan holders, Suiteholders and VIPs have been invited to Miller Park for a unique opportunity to hear from the team’s field manager and general manager.
Brewers broadcaster Brian Anderson will serve as host and emcee for the event and those in attendance will have the chance to have their questions answered by both David and Craig.
Although the event is by invitation only and not open to the general public, fans at home will be able to submit their questions through social media on the day of the event (#InsideTheBrewers), as well as watch the event streamed live on brewers.com that evening.
Stay tuned as we get closer to the event for more details on how you can submit your questions and/or tune in.