Results tagged ‘ Helfaer Field ’
Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of the release of “Major League,” arguably one of the greatest baseball movies ever made, and one with strong Milwaukee ties.
For those of you kiddos who weren’t born back in 1989, even you have to have seen this classic (and highly quotable) film about a rag-tag group of fictional Cleveland Indians players that rise up to win the American League pennant. Much of the movie was actually shot at Milwaukee County Stadium, which doubles for Cleveland Municipal Stadium in the film, and the movie features our own Bob Uecker as the team’s broadcaster, Harry Doyle…. and, wait, why am I telling you all this? You HAVE seen this movie, haven’t you?
Actor Corbin Bernsen, who played the character of Roger Dorn, a one-time star third baseman, in the movie, is in town today as part of the Milwaukee Admirals’ “Salute to Major League” night tonight vs. the Rockford IceHogs and one thing Corbin requested was to swing by the ballpark and check out the marker for County Stadium’s home plate, which is located on the third-base side plaza out at Helfaer Field.
Corbin was so happy to return to the grounds and it was clear that returning to this spot 25 years later, especially when so much has changed, was emotional and perhaps a bit overwhelming.
“I have to call David,” Corbin said right away, pulling out his phone and dialing David S. Ward, the film’s director.
Corbin enjoyed spending time out at Helfaer Field, reminiscing about his time in Milwaukee and how fast the time flies.
He was even so kind as to record this Vine, a G-rated version of his original movie quote, which we’ll use to promote the #Whiff Contest this season.
On Saturday, I had the pleasure of speaking at Brewers Baseball Basics for Women, presented by Associated Bank, an event designed especially for our female fans who are interested in a behind-the-scenes look at Miller Park and the Brewers front office, as well as additional insight into some nuances of America’s Favorite Pastime.
In short, the women taking part in the event put on by Brewers Enterprises had signed up for an entire day of fun at Miller Park, beginning at 9am and lasting through the game that evening.
To start their day, the ladies congregated behind the visitor’s dugout, where they were greeted by Vice President of Brewers Enterprises, Jason Hartlund and Penny Foust, Associated Bank CTP Vice President of Treasury Management.
They then heard from Vice President-Assistant General Manager, Gord Ash and Coordinator, Administration- Amateur Scouting, Amanda Kropp. The session covered information on day-to-day operations and the different tiers within the department–scouting, player development and the Major Leagues. The participants had the chance to ask questions and they took full advantage of the opportunity, inquiring about such baseball intricacies such as the infield fly rule, options and waivers and the draft process.
Gord Ash speaks at Brewers Baseball Basics for Women.
Next, the women were split up into five different “teams” and headed off to different areas of the ballpark for sessions with women in the Brewers front office.
The teams rotated to visit each of the five sessions, traveling on a behind-the-scenes tour of Miller Park along the way, including a visit to the home clubhouse and a walk around the warning track to the home bullpen, where they reviewed different pitches with Bullpen Catcher Marcus Hanel.
Tours of Miller Park usually feature a visit to the visitor’s clubhouse, but the ladies had a rare treat– a special trip through the home clubhouse, where they got to see the lockers, weight room, training room and dining room.
The teams heard about the Brewers philanthropic efforts and community events and programs from Cecelia Gore, Executive Director of the Brewers Community Foundation and Katina Shaw, Director of Community Relations and Family Liaison.
Over in the Press Box, the teams learned about broadcasting, in-game entertainment and what it takes to pull-off 81 homes games and a major event like Brewers on Deck from Aleta Mercer, Senior Director of Entertainment and Broadcasting. (For more on Aleta, click here.)
The session with Marcie Pasbrig, the Catering and Sales Manager for DNC SportService and Leslie Bishop, the NYCE Stadium Club and Gehl Club Manager for DNC SportService took place in the NYCE Stadium Club where the teams learned about the catering and hospitality. They also had a chance to sample some of the delicious fare offered at Miller Park.
Miranda Bintley, Grounds Manager was supposed to speak about her job overseeing the playing fields in both Miller Park and Helfaer Field, but she was unavailable because she is soon expecting her first child, so her boss, Grounds Director, Gary Vanden Berg, pinch hit for her and “covered that ground”. (For more on Gary and his crew, click here.)
Gary Vanden Berg speaks to a team in the home dugout.
As Senior Manager of Advertising and Marketing, I also had the pleasure of hosting a session about our advertising, ticket promotions, social media efforts and general marketing strategy.
Our session took place in the Media Interview Room, so fans like Julie Hanrahan had fun posing in front of the backdrop.
I could tell all of the women in attendance were big Brewers fans. In fact, I had been asked to touch on the topic of retail in my sessions and I jokingly said to each group, “Well, I was supposed to talk about retail, but just looking at this group, I see you’re all very familiar with our retail operations!” Almost every woman there was wearing Brewers gear and it was great to see.
Because I was speaking to the different groups as they rotated through this high-powered lineup, unfortunately, I was unable to attend the other speakers’ sessions. However, the feedback I did receive later from both my colleagues and the attendees was very positive across the board.
“I was impressed with the questions the women asked,” Amanda Kropp commented to me. I agreed. All of the women who attended my sessions came prepared with plenty of great questions and also, valuable feedback.
The groups reconvened for a question and answer session with Brewers Manager Ken Macha, outfielder Joe Inglett and his wife, Kelly, emceed by Brewers TV Analyst Bill Schroeder.
Topics covered in that session ranged from what a typical day looks like for a player versus a manager and why the Brewers have been hit by pitches so many times this season to how many games the players’ wives typically attend during a season and what they do while their husbands are traveling on the road.
Joe Inglett, his wife, Kelly and Manager Ken Macha take questions from the fans.
The morning concluded with a drawing for special prizes such as holding the finish line for the Klement’s Sausage Race and throwing out the first pitch at that night’s game. Each woman who attended the event also received a gift bag that included a bobble head, a 2010 Brewers Yearbook, a copy of the book, Down in the Valley by Gregg Hoffmann (a history of Milwaukee County Stadium), and a pink Brewers hat from Associated Bank.
The group was then released for a couple of hours before they returned with a guest to Helfaer Field for a special tailgate which included food and drinks, photo opportunities with the Klement’s Famous Racing Sausages and appearances by John Axford, Randy Wolf, Zach Braddock, Chris Narveson and George Kottaras.
The participants and their guests then attended the Brewers-Pirates game at 6:10 pm, where their day of fun was capped off with an 8-7 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
I’m thankful for this great opportunity to spread my love of the game (and my job!) to this group of women and I hope that they had as much fun as I did.
I also hope that next year, we get even more women to come out to get a glimpse at the women behind-the-scenes at Miller Park and to learn more about the sport that Milwaukee has embraced for years.
Last Friday morning, I made my way over to the Press Box to speak to a group of students from a high school in Jackson, Wisconsin, a city about 30 miles away from Miller Park.
As part of an educational field trip, the students’ teacher had scheduled a tour of the ballpark and had requested to hear from someone on the topic of marketing for a Major League Baseball Club.
This type of request is actually more common than one might think, but really, it shouldn’t be a surprise, given the volume of tours that our good friends in Brewers Enterprises churn out.
In my last article, I briefly mentioned Cory Congemi, Coordinator of Helfaer Field and Miller Park Tours, but then, after a special e-mail request from a reader and my experience on Friday, I decided to dedicate another post specifically to Cory and the Tour Guide that day, Lou Montgomery.
Let’s start with Cory.
Cory is entering his fifth season with the Club. Having started out as an Intern/Helfaer Field Staff/Tour Guide, Cory is now in his second season in his current role with Brewers Enterprises.
Cory Congemi, Coordinator of Helfaer Field and Miller Park Tours
Cory oversees a staff of about 15 Tour Guides and 15 Helfaer Field Staff.
Helfaer Field, for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, is the beautiful youth baseball and softball facility built in the shadow of the Brewers’ Major League home and on the exact site of old County Stadium.
Reservations for the field went on sale last Monday and that’s kept Cory busy.
“Roughly 70 percent of the reservations are for Little League teams. Then, we’ve got other events, like Corporate Outings,” Cory said.
The Brewers Front Office even reserves Helfaer Field every year for our staff Kickball Tournament.
For Little League games, the popular timeslots are in the evening, when the kids can play under the lights.
On Brewers game days, there is a tailgate timeslot, three hours prior to the Brewers game, which is when a lot of Corporate Events take place.
While the Miller Park Grounds Crew also takes care of Helfaer Field, Cory’s Helfaer Field Staff handles everything else. They are jacks-of-all-trades, from running the scoreboard and sound system to serving as Guest Relations Staff and Ushers.
Surprisingly, Tours are keeping Cory busy right now, too, even in January.
While Walk-Up Tours are only available during the season, Group Tours can be booked all year long, even in 30 degree weather, like it was on Friday morning, when I put on my coat and headed over to the Press Box.
Tour prices range from $5/person for educational groups to $10/adults, $6/for children and senior citizens for the Walk-Up Tours.
The tours typically last about 70 minutes and include the Dugout, Luxury Suites on the Club Level, Visiting Clubhouse, Press Box, the Home Radio Broadcast Booth and other behind-the-scenes attractions.
Cory’s Tour Guides gave tours to over 300 groups and thousands of people on walk-ups last year.
“Something that’s really become popular is the specialized group tour,” Cory said.
There are three specialized group tours that run a little longer and will cost you a little extra–$15/person for regular groups, or $10/person for educational groups–but they are well worth it.
“There is the MVP Tour, which includes the Batting Cages, Media Interview Room and the Party Suites. Then there is the Technical Tour, which takes you into the Boiler Room, Chiller Room, Stadium Control Room and more. Finally, there is the Scavenger Hunt Tour, which had definitely been growing in popularity,” Cory explained.
The Scavenger Hunt Tour is a great team-building activity. After a regular tour, the group is split into teams. Each team gets a worksheet filled with questions, which, when answered correctly, gives the team a final hint, which leads them to their final destination, where they will receive a special surprise supplied by the Brewers.
Over the course of a year, I find myself speaking to many of the educational groups.
Cory confirmed that many of the groups request a speaker from someone in the organization. When asked which departments were requested most often, Cory told me that groups often like to hear from Accounting and Human Resources but…
“You are definitely the most popular by far,” Cory said.
“I’m quoting you on that,” I said, smiling.
I know that by “you,” he really meant the Consumer Marketing Department as a whole, since I am not the only one in Marketing who gets recruited for these speaking engagements.
It seems that lots of groups are interested in Consumer Marketing because what we do is so visible. They want to know who is behind the advertisements they see on the digital billboards, in the newspaper, or online. They are interested in what a typical day is like in our department.
On Friday, this particular tour group was interested in not only what the Marketing Department does, but also in what it takes to get a job or internship with our organization.
Having started my career as an intern with the Brewers, this was something I could speak to personally. I told them that internships provide invaluable experience while one is still in school, helping students narrow down what they would like to do once they graduate, and just as importantly, internships can help them figure out what they don’t want to do as well. I also stressed the importance of excellent communication skills in this and any field they were interested in pursuing.
I hope that I made a positive impression and that they enjoyed their tour of the ballpark.
Even if I bored them, how could they not enjoy their tour with Lou Montgomery as their guide?
Like many of the folks I’ve spoken to for this series, Lou has been working at Miller Park for many years. The 2010 season will be Lou’s 24th season with the Club, but the difference with Lou is that he didn’t start working for the Brewers until he was 64 years old.
The year was 1987. Lou had recently retired from his career as an Industrial Engineer for GE. He and his wife, Marian, were eating at a fast food restaurant one day when some younger people started harassing an older couple.
The man in the booth next to them could see the situation from where he was sitting and he got up, went over there, talked to them and got a hold of the manager.
When he returned to his seat, he said aloud to no one in particular, “I work at County Stadium and we don’t put up with stuff like that.”
Lou, who had been a baseball fan all his life, couldn’t help asking, “You work at County Stadium? What do you do there? “
The man replied, “I’m an Usher and we don’t put up with behavior like that.”
Lou and the man struck up a conversation. The man mentioned that the Brewers would be hiring new people in a couple of weeks.
“Just go down there and tell them that Al, an Usher at the East Gate, recommended you,” the man told Lou.
The rest is history.
Lou Montgomery, Miller Park Usher and Tour Guide
Lou began working at County Stadium as an Usher on the Mezzanine Level and has loved every minute of it.
“One of my fondest memories was seeing Robin Yount get his 3000th hit,” Lou said. “It was an exciting time, too, when Paul Molitor had his hitting streak.”
After working as an Usher for nearly 11 years, Lou took on an additional role as a Tour Guide at County Stadium.
Joyce Paulson, one of the other Ushers who is also a Tour Guide, knew that Lou and his wife were very involved with their church as Tour Hosts for trips to the Holy Land and Europe and she thought he’d be perfect for the job.
As Tour Hosts, Lou and his wife organized and recruited people for the educational trips. They made sure the travelers got to their destinations on time and kept everything on schedule.
With that kind of experience, Lou easily qualified for the Tour Guide position at County Stadium. He gave tours there for three years and then transitioned over to Miller Park in his dual role as an Usher and Tour Guide.
“Here at Miller Park, everyone is interested in going into the Visitor’s Clubhouse and many of the fans are interested in the Press Box and Home Radio Broadcast Booth because Mr. Uecker is such a popular guy,” Lou said.
Fans taking a Miller Park Tour will get to step inside the Home Radio Broadcast Booth.
Being a former Industrial Engineer, it is no surprise that one of Lou’s favorite things to talk about is the roof.
“The roof is the only one of its kind and many people are interested in hearing about that,” he said.
Miller Park’s roof is a popular tour topic.
Lou turned 88 years old last Sunday, and at his age, one might expect him to have some cool stories about the Milwaukee Braves and their historic run here in the late ’50s.
Lou never saw the Milwaukee Braves play, though, because he didn’t move to Milwaukee until 1966, the year after the Braves left Milwaukee.
Lou was born and raised in a small town called Tell City, Indiana, where he was a Sports Editor for the school paper and Student Manager for the football, baseball and basketball teams.
“I went out for football and baseball, but I weighed about 130 lbs. The coach said he was going to have to cut guys, but he would need some Student Managers. I thought about it overnight and figured I was going to be cut, so I volunteered to be a Student Manager,” Lou said, laughing at the memory.
Later, Lou also kept high school sports stats for a local radio station and got more involved with baseball when he co-managed a Little League team and even became the Business Manager of a semi-pro baseball team, the Tell City Grays of the I-K League.
“The I-K League stood for Indiana and Kentucky. It’s no longer in existence, but my job as Business Manager was to ask for donations for uniforms and equipment,” Lou said.
With no local Major League team to follow, Lou had grown up a Cubs fan in part because of the powerful WGN radio signal.
“My dad and his younger brother were Cubs fans, and we’d listen to the games as kids and I became a Cubs fan as well,” Lou said.
Even after Lou moved to Wisconsin and the Brewers franchise came to Milwaukee in 1970, he figured he could still be a Cubs fan in Milwaukee because the Brewers were in the American League.
“Then they did me a disservice, putting Milwaukee in the same league,” Lou joked, talking about the Brewers move to the National League in 1998.
“So you had to choose a loyalty…” I pressed.
“Oh, that wasn’t too difficult,” Lou laughed.
Although he was never a season ticket holder, Lou went to many games as a fan between 1970 and 1987, when he started working for the Club. He was even fortunate enough to have attended the 1982 playoffs and World Series.
Over those years, Lou fell in love with the team and that love only increased once he started his job at County Stadium.
Lou’s current Usher position at Miller Park is inside the Press Box, making sure everyone has the proper credentials. I asked him if, as such a big fan, it’s been difficult for him to adhere to the old adage, “No cheering in the Press Box,” especially during the 2008 Wild Card season.
“Sometimes you do have to restrain yourself a little bit,” Lou agreed.
Like all of us, Lou can’t wait for the baseball season to get underway. He’s ready to listen to the Spring Training Broadcasts and he’s looking forward to Opening Day and the official start of his 24th Season.
“I am very thankful to work for the Brewers. I never dreamed as a kid from a small town in Southern Indiana that I would be doing something like this,” Lou said.
I know both Cory and I are thankful for Lou and so are the many satisfied fans who have been fortunate enough to take one of his tours or interact with him in the concourses of Miller Park over the years.
Is there someone you’d like to see profiled in this feature? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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