Results tagged ‘ Fantasy Camp ’
Tony Migliaccio sure knows his way around the clubhouse.
And he should. He’s the Director of Clubhouse Operations and the
Equipment Manager for the Club and he’s played an integral role in the
clubhouse since Opening Day of 1978, when he started as a batboy and
clubhouse attendant for the visiting side of things.
“It was Paul Molitor‘s first game for the Brewers. I always look back
and kind of laugh that at the time, Molitor made the team and started
the season as shortstop, nobody had really heard of him. Robin [Yount] had some
health issues so he didn’t start on Opening Day, but Molitor did. There
was a picture in the paper back then of Molitor making a play and there
I was, the ball boy down the left-field line, just sitting there, you
know? His first day and mine,” Tony recalls.
third from the left in the bottom row. Paul Molitor is second from the
right in the fourth row.
The next season, Tony switched over to the home clubhouse, where he was a
batboy and a clubhouse attendant three more years before he became the
clubhouse assistant to then Equipment Manager, Bob Sullivan for
approximately four years. When Bob passed away, Tony was given the head
job as Director of Clubhouse Operations and Equipment Manager and he’s
had that ever since.
Tony describes his role as having dual responsibilities:
“You work as the Equipment Manager and in that role, you order all the
equipment the players need to play the game–bats, balls, shoes, clothes, etc. On the
other side of it, we manage and operate the clubhouse, running the
day-to-day operations of that.That part of the job entails clothing
them and providing another service by feeding them breakfast, lunch and
dinner. We do what we can to get them on the field. Everyone has a role.
The trainers’ role is to keep them healthy on the field, the coaches’
job is to teach. Here, we keep a nice house, clothe them, feed them and
make sure they’re happy, play the game and have a good time.” he
“I think everyday is unique. That’s kind of the neat part of it. You can
come in here and every day there is a different challenge or need. Our
role is to make the guys as comfortable as possible. They have enough
hurdles in the game, on the field, and so many other things going on
around them in their lives that we try to make it as comfortable for
them as we can and to create an enjoyable environment.”
Tony and I talked about the change in the uniforms over the years. As
time has progressed, the uniform specifications have gotten a little
more complicated, keeping Tony and his staff on their toes.
“You look at the guys on the field now and compare it to the late 1980s,
where it was all just cookie cutter- you know, 34″ waist pants and a
44″ jersey. Now we’ve got many options, for example, pants can be open
bottom, or more tapered. Some players may wear things bigger,
looser…The marketing of the game has changed as such that there is a
lot more variety–a couple of different jackets, a couple different
Tony told me that the team never had BP tops in the 80s, they just wore
game jerseys. Now in essence, there are six different jerseys and each
player has to have more than one as a backup in case something happens.
When you multiply that times a 25-man roster, plus a few guys that Tony
knows will move up and down in the organization due to injuries,
pitching, etc. that he’ll also need to carry uniforms and equipment for,
you can see he has quite a bit to handle and monitor for inventory.
And, when it comes to Spring Training when a team has such a large roster, you can imagine that Tony is a very busy man.
“In Spring Training you are doing a lot of the same things as you would
during the regular season, but you have twice as many players. We have
53 players here now and we’ll leave here with 25. So that’s the
difference with Spring Training, the magnitude, more people to take care
of, more to feed, more to clothe, more equipment to provide,” Tony
Tony remembers years ago when it seemed like Spring Training was looked
upon as the time that players would use to get in shape. They’d come
down to camp, play 20 games and then go back ready to start the season.
It was much lower key and the days were shorter.
“Now,” Tony said, “Players come down in shape, we play 30 games and
there are more services required. Sometimes, there are two games a day.
It is a little more intense than it used to be.”
“I have been fortunate that I’ve worked in all three facilities that
we’ve been in: Sun City, Chandler and here in Maryvale.You look at the
progression, even just in our area, at the space we’ve had and what
we’ve provided. In Sun City, we had a very tiny equipment room, but you
made it work, you adjusted things. We didn’t provide as much stuff for
the guys. Then we moved to Chandler and it was a little bigger, but now
we have this space, which is twice as big and we’ve already outgrown it
into renting storage facilities to house a lot of the equipment,” Tony
Just like the rest of us, there is no offseason for Tony Migliaccio and
Starting in January, trucks will leave Milwaukee bringing
everything down to set up for camp. Tony and his staff will arrive, help
take part in the Brewers Fantasy Camp, work through Spring Training and
then travel back to Milwaukee for Opening Day and play through the
summer. Then when all the games are done, while their hours are a little
more regular and they have weekends free, they still have to prepare
for the following year, taking inventory, working on the budget, and
Tony also travels with the team.
“I do 90% of the travel. I made every trip for probably about 15 or 16
years and then, 10 to12 years ago, we started breaking up the trips a
little bit so Visiting Clubhouse Manager Phil Rozewicz or Home Clubhouse
Assistant Jason Shawger will make a trip or two. Out of Spring
Training, I will pretty much stay with the team throughout the first
month of April and wait until the middle or end of May to take a trip
off to stay at home, catch up in the office and at home,” Tony said.
In his job, Tony also has to be prepared for anything.
“When we travel throughout the year, part of our extra equipment stock
is carrying blank jerseys and numbers, everything you need to make a
jersey. In each city, we have a reciprocal relationship with the
visiting clubhouse staff that take care of us. They have a seamstress on
hand that they work with so if we get into San Diego late one night and
Vice President-Assistant General Manager Gord Ash calls and says ‘Hey,
we’re bringing up so-and-so,’ I can get to the park early that morning,
pull out everything I need, call our contact, have them come out and put
our jersey together within a couple hours,” he explained.
“Knock on wood, we’ve always got it there in time. I have heard there
have been situations with some teams where they make a move so quickly
that they have to have a player wear a jersey with another name on the
back just to get out there on the field. We’ve been lucky where its
worked out. That’s one great thing about Majestic Athletic being the
licensee and having all of the team for uniforms–they have a good bank
of knowledge as to everyone’s sizes.”
Tony takes extra precautions to be prepared and make sure he’s ready for
anything. When it became likely that we would make the trade for CC
Sabathia in 2008, it was Fourth of July weekend and he knew that
Majestic shuts down for the holidays. Knowing CC’s size and that he had
such unique specs on his gear, Tony took the initiative to order his
uniforms the week before, to have them on hand just in case.
“I figured hey, you know what, if we don’t make the trade, it will be a collector’s item. It all worked out,” he recalled.
Speaking of 2008, making the Postseason that year ranks in the top 10 of Tony’s favorite memories in his time with the Club.
“It pretty neat, the way it came down to the last day.The way it played out was pretty cool,” he said.
“I was also fortunate to be around during the World Series in the early
’80s. I was a young kid then,” Tony said. “Molitor’s 39-game hitting
streak was pretty neat, Robin’s 3000th hit, 1987, that whole start of
winning 13 in a row, Nieves throwing a no-hitter. That was a pretty
unique thing, to start off that hot,” he said.
It was great catching up with Tony and taking a tour of his world, but
with his phone buzzing during our interview and guys stopping him along
the way, I knew I had to let him get back to work.
Here’s to hoping the 2011 season makes Tony’s list of favorite memories!
The Marketing Department is currently working on advertising, programs and signage for our Brewers On Deck event, which takes place on Sunday, January 31 at the Midwest Airlines Center, so I thought who better to select for my next “There is No Offseason for” interview than the force behind it all, Brewers Senior Director of Entertainment and Broadcasting, Aleta Mercer.
Entering her 18th Season with the Club in 2010, Aleta has a myriad of responsibilities, from taking care of the talent and crews that work together to provide Brewers baseball on both radio and television (and the visiting talent and crews as well), to making sure that fans always find something enjoyable here at the ballpark, whether it is interactive games, entertainment on the video board, the music played between innings, the mascots, pre-game presentations or any of the hundreds of other attractions Miller Park has to offer.
Aleta is also the lady who schedules the ceremonial First Pitches and books the talent for the National Anthem. Over her time here, Aleta’s worked with a wide range of celebrities and even animals, but she’s been most impressed with local Wisconsin talent.
“At this point, 18 years down the road, I really wish I had taken copious notes so I could say ‘Oh, I remember that!’ but I think that more than having celebrities that are my absolute favorite, I think our local talent is just outstanding. They are more than supportive. Beyond being so talented, they love Brewers baseball. I can give you a list of names, but guaranteed, I’d leave somebody off and that would be horrible, but they know who they are and they are incredible,” Aleta said.
In addition, Aleta says, “We actually end up with a lot of celebrities in the ballpark who don’t perform for us. The Anthem is a very difficult song…. You would be more surprised, I would think, by the number of celebrities that say they would just love to come out to enjoy the game instead.”
Although there are not a lot of MLB rules that pertain to what Clubs can and cannot do in the pre-game ceremonies, the most important rule is that the game starts on time. Once we declare our starting time, then that is the time we are held to.
“It is kind of funny, though,” Aleta mused.
“As much as we plan everything to the minute, it is with the understanding that we can’t be entirely married to it. We understand it is still live entertainment and that anything could happen. You know, the dog that is assigned to run the first pitch ball out there could just decide to run in circles and yes — it’s happened. At that point, you just have to smile and go with it. It’s kind of fun.”
So you’re probably wondering what Aleta does in the offseason when there are no games to be broadcast, no Anthems to be sung and no crowds to entertain.
Well… see, that’s not exactly true.
“Right now our focus is on the Brewers On Deck program. It is kind of exciting and I would say it is very similar to what we do here at Miller Park in that when fans come to Miller Park, we know that primarily they are interested in the ball game. They are coming out to see baseball and our staff runs around and tries to figure out ways to bolster that, making sure that everybody has something fun and interesting to do.
Brewers On Deck is very similar in that we know that a lot of people who are going to the On Deck event want autographs and photographs, that sort of thing. We do our best to bolster that. We make sure that if you go to the event and you don’t end up with that one autograph that you wanted, that there is something else there that you will really enjoy.”
Aleta has a large team assembled to help run the Brewers On Deck event and that team spans across virtually every department from Consumer Marketing to Stadium Operations and Community Relations; from Corporate Marketing, Retail, Media Relations to Brewers Charities, Inc. and more.
The Brewers On Deck event has taken many forms since it first began at Brookfield Square Mall in 2004. Each year, we learn a little more and try to grow the event to make it bigger and better than even before. Last year was the first year that the event was held at the Midwest Airlines Center in downtown Milwaukee. This year, we’re returning to the same location, but we have even more space to work with and more attractions to entertain fans once they get in the door.
“Last year we had our Winter Warm-Up event that had limited access at the Riverside Theater. It was just met with wild acclaim and this year, we wanted to bring aspects of that program to On Deck, so we will have some of those same kind of programs — Game Shows, Fashion Shows — it will be a neat addition. We also have a Brewers Museum. It is just a fun way to look back on the history of Brewers baseball in Milwaukee,” Aleta said.
After On Deck, Aleta and her staff take a deep breath and immediately go to Arizona for Fantasy Camp, where they do a little video work with the participants and coaches. Brewers Fantasy Camp runs from January 31 through February 7. (Note: There is still time to sign up! For more information, click here.)
“It’s good fun to see fans enjoying their time as Major Leaguers,” said Aleta, who will return to Arizona just one week later for Spring Training.
“Part of what we do for Spring Training is we go down and ask players questions, we take video and we get to know players better so we can better present the players to our fans. Fantasy Camp is kind of a precursor to that because we do the same thing with those participants.”
When Aleta and her staff arrive at Spring Training, they do some headshot work, talk to the players and ask them questions about their likes and dislikes. Their goal is to get the players comfortable with seeing them and a camera so as her staff comes back to them during the year, the players will know that they are there to introduce them to the fans.
“This also gets us started on making plans for the season in terms of what we’re going to do on the video board, what we’re going to do between innings. February is when it really starts to come together,” said Aleta.
Aleta is not in charge of the Spring Training broadcast and entertainment — we’ll get to that in a another interview — and that’s just fine because once she has all of the player interaction her staff requires and she has met with broadcast partners and sponsors down in Maryvale, Arizona, it’s full steam ahead when she gets back to Milwaukee.
“When we get back, we are well into March. That leaves us with a couple of weeks to get ready for the season.That’s when we bring in the Brew Crew and start working on the activities we’re going to do between innings and some of the mascot events. That’s when we really start rehearsing,” Aleta said.
In fact, if you find yourself down at Friday’s Front Row for lunch in March, don’t be surprised if you see a random Sausage Race break out, hear music blasting over the sound system or see messaging on the LED boards. That’s just Aleta preparing for the season.
“The other way that we ‘practice’ is with the Exhibition Games that we’ll have at Miller Park this year,” Aleta said, referring to the games on Friday, April 2 and Saturday, April 3 vs. the Detroit Tigers.
“The Exhibition Games are our first and final real ‘rehearsal’ before the start of the season.”
As you can see, Aleta is another member of our Front Office who works tirelessly year round to enhance the fan experience. Next time you make it out to Miller Park, make sure you take note of all of the little details that make everything that much more fun for you — that’s Aleta and her staff hard at work.
Also, make sure you check out all of the fruits of our labor at Brewers On Deck on Sunday, January 31. Be on the lookout for the lady that is calm, cool, collected and in charge. That’s Aleta Mercer.
Brewers On Deck takes place on Sunday, January 31 from 10am to 5pm at the Midwest Airlines Center in downtown Milwaukee. Advance tickets are just $15 for adults and $9 for kids. Autograph sessions will be staggered throughout the day with autograph tickets ranging from free to $25 (available only at the event). A portion of the proceeds goes to Brewers Charities, Inc. To purchase tickets, click here.