Results tagged ‘ Jonathan Lucroy ’

Taking a Page Out of Pitching Coach Derek Johnson’s Book

If you’ve been following the blog, you know that I recently finished reading Brewers TV announcer and former player Bill Schroeder’s new book, “If These Walls Could Talk.” It is a fun, light read that will make you laugh out loud.

The second book on Cait’s Summer Reading List was also written by a member of the Brewers staff; however, it is on the opposite end of the baseball book spectrum.
That’s because new Brewers Pitching Coach Derek Johnson has quite literally written the book on pitching.

Published in 2013, Johnson wrote “The Complete Guide to Pitching,” while serving as associate head coach and pitching coach at Vanderbilt. The book is divided into three parts: the science of pitching, the art of pitching and total body conditioning.  The book is aimed at kids as young as 8 up through college and is at times, heavily technical; Johnson talks mechanics, pitch selection, fielding, and mental strategies.

Brewers Pitching Coach Derek Johnson also lists "author" on his resume.

Brewers Pitching Coach Derek Johnson also lists “author” on his resume.

While I’m not really the intended audience for the book, I still wanted to read it before sitting down with our new coach for an interview. I was surprised to come away with not only a new perspective on a very complex part of the game, but also some great insight into Johnson’s frame of mind as a coach.

After reading the book, I had so much I wanted to talk with him about that our interview lasted almost an hour. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed picking his brain!

FROM BARN BALL TO THE BIGS

Johnson, 44, was born in Illinois and graduated from Eastern Illinois University, where he was a lefty pitcher, earning All Mid-Continent Conference honors; majored in P.E. and minored in English; and would later get his first job as a coach.

“I always liked to write and I liked literature; I like to read,” Johnson said, of his choice to minor in English. Johnson said that he has also always wanted to write a book, but it wasn’t until an opportunity came knocking that he had the chance. But we’ll get to that.

Johnson has always had a strong passion for the game. He grew up in a small town called Arrowsmith, Illinois. His grandfather had a farm and Johnson spent a lot of time there.

“It was football in the fall, basketball in the winter, baseball in the spring. I spent a lot of time by myself, too, and I kind of gravitated toward something I could do on my own. I threw a lot of balls up against the stoop, I threw a lot of balls up against the barn, I threw a lot of fly balls off pitches of roofs. I read a lot about it. I knew all sorts of stats when I was little. So growing up, that pretty quickly became my favorite.”

Like many little boys, Johnson dreamed of making it to the Major Leagues and, even though he had success in college, he decided to go the coaching route instead.

“I likely would have been a one or two year minor league player; I would have been released. Then I would have had to start my career. As it turns out, I started my career out right away. I was coaching the year after I was done playing. Looking back, it probably worked out for the best that way because I started coaching right away.”

Right out of college, Johnson coached for his college team, where he found himself in a similar position to Craig Counsell when Counsell stepped into his role as manager last season—he was now coaching some of his former teammates.

“The trick of that was to be able to separate yourself because most of the guys on the team were your friends. So you’re walking a fine line. Even the first three or four years, you’re not that much older than the players. So, you had to really do a good job of separating yourself,” Johnson said.

From there, he coached at Southern Illinois University (1995-97) and Stetson University (1998-2001) before making a home at Vanderbilt for 11 years, serving as associate head coach in addition to pitching coach over his final three seasons at the school.

At Vanderbilt, Johnson received many accolades—he was named college baseball’s National Pitching Coach of the Year (2004) and National Assistant Coach of the Year (2010)—and helped lead the team to its first-ever College World Series appearance in 2011, guiding a staff that featured eight pitchers who were selected in the First-Year Player Draft.

To date, as a college coach, Johnson has guided the collegiate careers of 11 pitchers who have played in the Major Leagues, including David Price and Sonny Gray. Although Price and Gray are very different pitchers, Johnson says that his coaching style stays constant.

“You root yourself in fundamentals and fundamentals don’t necessarily change across the board,” Johnson explained. “Your personality doesn’t change. Some of the things that you say are the same. Some of the ways that you go about it are different. That’s really the trick of coaching…to try to push the right button and try to figure out what makes this guy work compared to this guy. Every situation is different and every guy is different, so we have a lot of layers that we’re dealing with all the time.”

Johnson graduated to pro ball in 2013 when he took the position of Minor League Pitching Coordinator with the Chicago Cubs. In that role, Johnson was responsible for all of the minor league pitching in the Cubs organization—from their academy in Venezuela to their Triple-A team in Des Moines, Iowa.

“That was obviously a new experience for me. I was a college coach for a long time and was used to having 15 or 16 pitchers. Now I have a 100. I couldn’t be with those 100 every day. I had to develop relationships with guys on the run. So again, just in terms of my education about how people work and how this pro game works and what my role, what my function was, I was learning a lot of things on the fly. It was a lot of fun. I’m really glad I had the opportunity to do it,” he said.

And in 2016, after college ball and spending some time in the minors, here Johnson is, pitching coach for the Brewers, fulfilling a dream he had as a kid.

“It took me 45 years to make it to the Big Leagues,” Johnson said with a smile.

LEARNING CURVE

Every new position has its learning curve and pitching coach is no different.

For Johnson, he’s working at a different level of the game, getting to know each individual on his pitching staff, and shifting back into game mode after traveling extensively in his role as Minor League Pitching Coordinator.

“Probably the biggest (difference between college and the Major Leagues) is that these guys are already kind of made in some ways. In college they’re very impressionable. You can almost do whatever you want. They’re that ball of clay, so to speak. In college you kind of have to teach them every aspect of the game. Here they know a lot, about all the parts of the game, so you don’t have to teach them as much. It’s more nuance, so your eye has to be even keener on some of the smaller details. At this point, too, it’s taking what they do really well and trying to make that great. In college you’re taking what’s okay and making it good. It’s further refinement in terms of what you’re trying to accomplish,” Johnson said.

Coming into this new role, just as Johnson had to work on developing relationships with all the pitchers in the Cubs Minor League system during his time with that organization, Johnson has also had to get to know all of the Brewers pitchers in a fairly short period of time. Over his career, he had run into a few of them in college or the minor leagues, but he had never worked with any of them directly.

And, after spending a couple of months with them, Johnson says, he’s still building those relationships.

“I know these players but I don’t know everything about them. I don’t know exactly what I’m going to get in the heat of the moment. We haven’t gone through every scenario yet. The season is—it’ s almost cliché to say—that it’s young, but at the same time, my relationship with them and my understanding of them…I’m still trying to get there. And it takes a while. I can even remember at Vanderbilt. The best thing about freshmen is they become sophomores and part of that is just because you’ve had a year to get to really know them. You know what makes them tick, you see what they’re like in the heat of battle, you see what they’re like in adversity, you see how they recover from something bad happening to them. We’re still kind of in the early stages of that. It’s easy to know someone as a person, like I’ve known them for 7-8 weeks, so I kind of know what they’re like, but I don’t know them and that takes awhile,” Johnson said.

As Johnson mentioned, at this level, it’s more about refinement. As part of the getting-to-know-you process, Johnson says he had conversations with all of his pitchers after first taking the position and then, once Spring Training rolled around, it was more about seeing what he had to work with—not necessarily making any major overhauls at this point.

“You’re not making any sort of wholesale changes with these guys, especially in Spring Training. You’re just kind of watching—what do they do, what’s their routine like, how do they work— and just try to figure out from there where we’re going,” Johnson said. “It’s been fun so far. I mean a real education, no question.”

Pitching Coach Derek Johnson works with Chris Capuano in Spring Training. Photo: Scott Paulus/Milwaukee Brewers

Pitching Coach Derek Johnson works with Chris Capuano in Spring Training.
Photo: Scott Paulus/Milwaukee Brewers

And it’s an on-going education. With the team in rebuilding mode and the roster also in flux due to injuries, it’s only been a little over a month into the season and already Johnson has seen 19 pitchers make an appearance on the active roster.

GAME DAY

On game day, you’ll find Johnson at the ballpark well in advance of the game watching video from the previous day, to try to confirm scouting reports or help make any sort of adjustments. He’ll also talk about that day’s game plan and make his notes on that.

“I’ve been doing a lot of quality pitch stuff with our starters, so it’s going back and determining how many quality pitches we’re throwing. That’s preparing us for whatever side work we have that day,” Johnson said.

Then it’s a matter of preparing the side work, going through it with the pitchers, and then it’s game time.

On a daily basis, Johnson works with both the starters and the relievers.

“Obviously the bulk of my time is with the starters, but I try to get out and watch the relievers play catch and kind of talk through different things that I saw the night before, or we have a pre-series meeting for scouting, so of course I’m there and (Bullpen Coach) Lee (Tunnell) leads that, but I chime in as much as possible.”

Johnson said his relationship with the relievers is one that he works hard at maintaining.

“I’ve heard where some coaches really don’t do that, it’s mostly hang with their starters and let the bullpen guy take care of the bullpen pitchers. I’m not sure that would work for me personally just relationship-wise. I want to get to know those guys and I want them to know we’re here to help if needed,” he said.

So what does a pitching coach do during the game?

Johnson said he’s not calling the game from the dugout. That’s on the pitcher and catcher. Actually…

“Truly, it’s on the pitcher. It’s a suggestion. The catcher is giving a suggestion and the pitcher is nodding his head yes or no and that’s the way it should be. We have places to grow there, chances to grow there as a staff as this year moves on,” he says.

Johnson says what he’s most focused on is looking ahead to match-ups for the bullpen.

“A lot of it is trying to figure out matches for our bullpen, as it goes. Sometimes it feels like you have to have a crystal ball because you have to look 5-6 hitters in advance for that. And then it’s trying to put out little brushfires during the game. Maybe what we could do from at-bat to at-bat. I’m really fortunate. I’ve got two older catchers who take a lot of pride in the way they call the game and what they know. I’ve got a lot of younger pitchers out there who have to execute. It’s a premium thing and they’re learning how to do that. I can focus on maybe making small adjustments from at bat to at bat but then you think ahead to who we’re going to pitch if this happens or if that happens…. There are a lot of layers,” he said.

And what’s really going on when he does make a visit to the mound?

Derek Johnson visits the mound in Spring Training. Contrary to what movies like ‘Bull Durham’ would have you believe, these guys are not discussing what to get Jimmy for his wedding present. PHOTO: Scott Paulus/Milwaukee Brewers

Derek Johnson visits the mound in Spring Training. Contrary to what movies like ‘Bull Durham’ would have you believe, these guys are not discussing what to get Jimmy for his wedding present.
PHOTO: Scott Paulus/Milwaukee Brewers

“Usually my thought on a mound visit is you’re looking for an out or you’re looking to slow the guy down; those are really the two reasons and they can both work together,” Johnson explained.

“He needs to slow down and you need an out. Again this is where getting to know guys and understanding their personality in the heat of the moment, or getting to know what his language is, so for me, that’s a really tricky one and it’s going to be different with every pitcher out there. I like to talk about what’s going to happen and kind of paint a picture of what’s going to happen with the next guy. Sometimes it’s just about saying ‘Hey I’m just out here to give you a break, that’s it. You’re doing fine. This hitter is… this is what we’ve done with him,’ maybe here’s a suggestion or two… in some cases, it’s going out and saying ‘Hey we definitely can pitch around this guy, this is what we have going on,’ so there’s some strategy things, too.  Really the trick is, it’s sort of the contact and the human element of it. I want to see where his eyes are at. I want to see his mannerisms to say ‘hey this guy’s vibrating right now; we need to maybe think about getting him out,’” he continued.

DETAIL-ORIENTED

Johnson stresses the importance of routine for a pitcher and we discussed what one might do between starts.

“Every guy’s a little bit different and they shape their routine differently, but typically, the day after (a start) is a pretty heavy recovery or starting the recovery process. The next day, a lot of our guys won’t throw. Some of them will throw, but just very, very lightly. I give them a choice, however they want to do that. So much at this level is kind of working off what makes them feel right. The key element of the whole thing is within four days they need to recover as best they can. As the season goes, that gets harder, so it changes and tweaks as the season goes, but typically that’s going to be his kind of day. The second day (after the start) is going to be a side day. He’ll throw 30-45 pitches depending on what they need and what we’re working on. One of the things we’ve tried really hard to do is evaluate the last game and pull things from it to be able to work on in the bullpen.”

Johnson doesn’t believe in doing the same thing in the bullpen every time. He likes to focus on what worked well and what can be improved.

Pitching Coach Derek Johnson works with Jimmy Nelson in the bullpen between starts.

Pitching Coach Derek Johnson works with Jimmy Nelson in the bullpen between starts.

He says that the next couple of days, there will be one or two strength sessions, with the day before the starter pitches being a lighter day.

“I have them work on some pick-off stuff on flat ground. Some guys choose to do a flat ground and then day five is pitch. So you’re getting a couple of strength sessions in, lots of arm care, the throwing varies from guy to guy and then any sort of skill work, drill work type stuff that we want to employ,” Johnson said.

Speaking of drills, it was obvious beginning in Spring Training that Johnson is a big proponent on working on fundamentals, an approach that should serve him well with a younger team.

“I think small things change everything. I think it’s easy to leave out details because there are so many of them. This game is great because it’s intricate. It’s great because there are so many nuances and ways to approach it, but I believe in the end that small things can change everything,” Johnson stated. “Really at this point in these guys’ careers, they’re obviously really pretty fine-tuned and they kind of are what they are in a lot of ways, too, so making wholesale changes, big adjustments, that’s not going to happen. But you can effect change through something small. It’s like the Butterfly Effect….That’s a big thing as a coach to do, to effect change positively and not negatively. So my feeling is you’ve got to keep it fun, you’ve got to keep it light, but you also have to take care of the detail parts of the game.”

CALL TO THE PEN

Although I’ve seen Johnson’s unique and thorough approach to the game in action for just a short period of time, hearing him talk it’s easy to see why he was sought out to write his book by the publisher, Human Kinetics.

Johnson said originally, they thought the book could be done in a year, but instead, it took five.

“It took five because I wanted to do it right. It took five because I revised it a lot,” Johnson said.

He says that for the most part, writing the book came easy because he had a lot of the material already; however, the most difficult part was trying to appeal to such a wide audience of 8-year-olds to college players.

“Baseball is very incremental in a lot of different ways, so what you’re giving to an 8-year-old for them to understand is completely different compared to how you’re coaching a college kid. So to write that book is really hard….I had to cut a lot out.  So, it’s a good book, but it wasn’t exactly the book I would’ve wanted to write. I would’ve left the 8-year-old out, to be honest. I would’ve wanted to be more technical, but still I’m very proud of it,” he said.

While the technical/mechanical side of pitching also didn’t apply to me directly, I did find a lot of the foundational and mental components of Johnson’s book to be fascinating.

I think that this passage in particular tells you a lot about what Johnson brings to the Brewers: “I believe that to be successful, a pitcher must first possess and exhibit four essential traits: (1) a work ethic that will not take ‘no’ for an answer; (2) the ability to prepare at a championship level every day; (3) accountability for himself and his career; and (4) a sense of humility for himself and the game. In turn, these traits create a mind-set, a mentality. The pitcher must have the mind-set of a champion—the mind-set of a warrior.”

At one point in the book, Johnson describes a hypothetical situation that he would give his college pitchers at the beginning of a new season, designed to help them keep the game as small and as manageable as possible:

“I first ask the pitchers how long it takes to deliver a pitch from start to finish….They usually respond by guessing 2 or 3 seconds per pitch, depending on the outcome. Next, I ask them how many pitches a starter would normally throw in a game to which they reply, ‘Approximately 100.’ I then stress that if each pitch and outcome takes approximately 2 or 3 seconds and the pitcher throws 100 pitchers, then the pitcher must be ready to focus intently and stay present for approximately 200 to 300 seconds, or 3.3 to 5 minutes per game. I point out that is this very obtainable! I finish by explaining that the pitcher can spend the rest of the time using positive self-talk, practicing white noise (nothingness), or planning for the next inning while sitting in the dugout.”

Fascinated by this (Hey! That’s pretty smart. I could even apply that approach to my golf game!), I asked him more about it. Johnson explained his thought process:

“You have to focus, you have to concentrate, you have to bear down. I’ve heard coaches say, ‘Three hours, that’s all it takes’ and I got to thinking about that one time and you know, it’s really not true. It’s not three hours. When you break it down to the small parts of the game, and say ‘I need to be totally immersed for five minutes,’ I think that helps pitchers manage it. If you’re ever tried to concentrate for three hours…that’s not easy. I don’t know many that can, so anyway, that’s where that came from,” he said.

Johnson also stresses the importance of catchers in his book and talked about how fortunate the Brewers are to have two great catchers in Jonathan Lucroy and Martin Maldonado helping the young pitching staff along.

“They both work really hard. They do their homework. They understand scouting. They’re looking at video of opposing hitters and trying to come up with a game plan of what we’re going to do. The toughest part about a game plan—number one is executing it and number two is to take the individual who is going to pitch that night and customizing it to him. So it’s really knowing our pitchers very well, what they can and what they can’t do on any given day. Unfortunately, you have guys who have A and B and C games and sometimes that C game is tough. You’re kind of wobbling through it. But our guys do a good job with doing their homework on the opposing hitters and trying to figure out things that we’re going to do against them. Then there’s the in-game part of it, too. You’re evaluating from at-bat to at-bat, you’re evaluating from pitch to pitch, because some of these guys will sit on pitches. Some guess. There’s always a little bit of cat and mouse going, but I think our guys are well-equipped. They work hard at the scouting part of it. I feel like our younger players are in very capable hands,” he said.

Goal-setting is something else that Johnson talks about in his book, and that’s something he has emphasized now at the Major League level as well. (You’ll also recall new Brewers Bench Coach Pat Murphy also spoke about the importance of goals in his interview, too.)

“I talk about ‘double vision’ in the book and that’s having your eye on today and your eye on the future. That’s to me a really important part because these guys are trying to stay in the game as long as possible. So you do have to take care of today, but you have to understand the broader picture and the future part of it, too,” Johnson said.

Johnson also discusses the concepts of team unity vs. team chemistry in his book and he believes that the dynamic of our team has been pretty good so far.

“Chemistry happens in my mind as a result of a process, as a result of things that happen along the way that bond, or don’t. But unity can happen just in terms of it all pulling in the same direction. We talked about that in Spring Training. There are going to be some rough patches, but I think we’ve had some older guys who have really stepped up, both on the pitching staff and on the position side and I think it’s held the boat together. I mean, we’ll see, because chemistry is a process of things that happen over time, but I think right now we’re unified enough and we’re trying to stay on the same page. I’ve had really good looks at that and it’s good,” Johnson said.

THE NEXT CHAPTER

While his staff has had its share of pitching struggles so far in this young season, Johnson has acknowledged this publicly and believes better days are ahead.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself. I want to do right by these guys and try to help them perform as best they can. I feel as responsible for his as they do. That’s just the way I am…. I want to believe there will be better days ahead…. I’m not the one throwing the pitches, but at the same time, I’m the one responsible for it or partly responsible. I’d like for it to be going better. It sure would help me out a lot. But that’s what I’m here for,” Johnson told Journal Sentinel beat writer Tom Haudricourt in a recent interview.

With a young team and a lot of new faces, it can be difficult to build the team chemistry, but Johnson and the rest of the coaching staff have clearly brought this team together in a short amount of time. Now, it’s a matter of further fine-tuning those skills of the pitching staff through a focus on routine and fundamentals.

-Cait

@CMoyer

 

 

 

 

Fun Times Had at the “Koos for Kids” Event at Hitters Baseball Academy

Tonight, following the Brewers-Padres game, many Brewers players and coaches headed over to the Hitters Baseball Academy in Racine to take part in a special event benefiting bullpen catcher and Racine native Marcus Hanel’s charity–and raised over $55,000 in the process.

Marcus has always had a desire to help children and so, about 12 years ago, he formed “Koos for Kids,” a charity focusing on helping terminally ill and disadvantaged children in the area.

Fans attending tonight’s event received dinner, autographs from Brewers players, entertainment from the Jesse White Tumblers, and the opportunity to participate in auctions and raffles. Of course proceeds from the event went to the Koos for Kids organization, where they are used to give back to the community. 

Over the years, Koos for Kids has been able to help numerous terminally ill children by purchasing them laptops, iPads, zoo passes, airline tickets, animals…whatever it might be that makes their days a little brighter.

Hanel was also excited to announce that Koos for Kids is offering a scholarship program: “ We’ll be giving $2500 each for college to two kids of need in Racine. They will get an opportunity to advance and go to school. It’s a pretty cool thing so we’re excited to implement that.”

Here are some photos from tonight’s event:

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Koos for Kids has also purchased over 3000 winter coats for disadvantaged children in the local area, as well as organized and run the Challenger Baseball League, where over 60 children with special needs can come and be part of a team and learn the game of baseball.  And there are countless other ways they have helped the local community, thanks to the support of many businesses and caring individuals.

To learn more about Koos for Kids, keep informed of upcoming events and find out how you can help, click here.

-Cait

@CMoyer

 

AJ Bombers Concrete Custard Concoctions & Player Burger: May 2016 Menu

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, which return on May 12.

The first player burger of 2016, back by popular demand is Luc’s Ragin’ Cajun,  a special burger named after Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy.

AJB_LucsRaginCajun

It’s a Cajun-infused Bombers Burger, topped with white cheddar, Nueske’s Bacon and Sriracha.

Luc’s burger is exclusive to Miller Park (i.e. not served at AJ Bombers’ restaurants) and available for a limited time (May 12-June 1).

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

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

DID YOU KNOW? Make sure you download the free Ballpark App! In addition to check-in offers, ballpark maps, game updates and more, one of the really cool features is “Miller Park Eats,” a tab that highlights our featured fare each month and includes an A-to-Z concession guide to where you can find all the yummy grub all season long!

Bon Appetit!

-Cait

@CMoyer

THE 2016 “VOTE BREWERS!” CAMPAIGN IS UNDERWAY!

The Milwaukee Brewers will need your help to fill the ballot boxes with All-Star votes to represent the Cream City in San Diego. Milwaukee fans year-in and year-out demonstrate that it doesn’t take the largest market to be heard as they have voted for their favorite Brewers in impressive numbers.

It’s once again time to ramp up and Vote Brewers! This season, eight Milwaukee Brewers players are featured on the ballot for the 87th Major League Baseball All-Star Game to be held on Tuesday, July 12 at Petco Ballpark in San Diego, California. This year Brewers fans will have the opportunity to show their overwhelming fan support by helping decide which players will be named to the Midsummer Classic through the exclusive, online-only Esurance MLB All-Star Game Ballot.

Brewers players on this year’s All-Star ballot include C Jonathan Lucroy, 1B Chris Carter, 2B Scooter Gennett, SS Jonathan Villar, 3B Aaron Hill, LF Ryan Braun, CF Ramon Flores and RF Domingo Santana.

At Brewers.com, all fans voting 21 or more times for their favorite Brewers will be entered into a drawing to win a prize package that includes: four Field Box tickets to a mutually-agreed-upon game and a meet-and-greet with six-time All-Star Ryan Braun.  There is a maximum of 35 votes per email address, including a maximum of five valid ballots cast in any 24-hour period .

More information and rules may be found at Brewers.com.

Those visiting Miller Park are encouraged to vote early and often via an online ballot station at the All-Star Polling District, set up during Brewers home games in the right-field corner of the Field Level concourse (by the U.S. Cellular® Power Playground). In-park balloting at Miller Park has begun and continues through Thursday, June 30. Fans who vote at the online-stations at Miller Park will be eligible to win daily prizes.

The Vote Brewers! campaign will feature event staff decked out at home games in promotional T-shirts, and signage along the Miller Park fascia and behind the plate. In addition, media partners FOX Sports Wisconsin and Newsradio 620 WTMJ will be promoting the initiative on broadcasts, and the World Famous Klement’s Racing SausagesTM will help distribute voting information around the city.

Both the National League and American League teams will have eight fan-elected starters. The pitchers and reserves for both will be determined through a combination of “Player Ballot” choices and selections made by the two All-Star managers.

Fans can vote for the Major League All-Stars online at Brewers.com through Thursday, June 30 at 10:59 p.m. CT.

 

Wear Your Player Gear to Miller Park and Save!

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.)

MB-16_Retail_Player-Product_Twitter-1024x576

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

Counsell - Front Counsell - Back

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

Jungmann - Front Jungmann - Back

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

Lucroy - Front Lucroy - Back

Jonathan Lucroy sports his trusty chest protector, also bearing the new Ball & Glove logo, as well his moniker – LUUUUC!

Ryan Braun

Braun - Front Braun - Back

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.

Happy Shopping!

Cait

@CMoyer

Special Ticket Package Added for Superhero Night; Includes AUTOGRAPHED Lucroy Bobble, Plus Buffet & Drinks

Calling all caped crusaders and masked crime fighters – find the nearest phone booth, squeeze into your tights and fly to the Fortress of Miller Park for Superhero Night, presented by Kwik Trip.  On Saturday, April 30, join the fight as the Brewers look to defeat their arch-enemy, the nefarious Miami Marlins.

Included in our special Superhero Night ticket package is a limited-edition Jonathan Lucroy Superhero Bobblehead, featuring the Brewers catcher as his alter ego, “The Protector.” Tickets for the showdown are $18 for Bernie’s Terrace, $24 for Terrace Reserved, $25 for Loge Bleachers, $34 for Loge Outfield or $44 for Field Outfield Box.

We’re also pleased to offer a new special ticket package in the Associated Bank Check Deck for that game. For just $89, you’ll get your game ticket,  a full buffet featuring Klement’s bratwursts smothered in sauerkraut, Klement’s hot dogs, BBQ smoked pulled pork, southern rubbed grilled chicken breast, brown sugar baked beans, corn on the cob, coleslaw, assorted cookies and brownies, unlimited soft drinks and two complimentary beers per adult, PLUS an AUTOGRAPHED Lucroy Superhero Bobblehead.

4/20/16 Update: The autographed Superhero Bobble package in the Associated Bank Check Deck is now sold out. However, there is still time to purchase the regular package which includes an unsigned bobble at brewers.com/themenights.

Super Hero Luc Check Deck Offer FB

These packages are extremely limited! Click here to purchase.

-Cait

@CMoyer

 

2015 Bob Feller Act of Valor Award Winner Jonathan Lucory Honored Before Tonight’s Game

Tonight, the Great Lakes Chapter of the Bob Feller Act of Valor Foundation honored 2015 award winner Jonathan Lucroy in Milwaukee during a pregame ceremony at Miller Park. Jonathan was recognized for his support and all that he does for our military men and women. Also joining the presentation were 25 Sailors and Marines.

Lucroy Act of Valor Award

Lucroy has supported our troops for many years. From his work with Fisher House Wisconsin, inviting wounded heroes to home games each month as his guest, to giving more than $20,000 in scholarships to military families, his unwavering support of the men and women in the uniform is commendable. “I’m very grateful, honored and humbled to be recognized for my support. I appreciate the men and women who sacrifice their lives for our country,” said Lucroy last fall in accepting the award.  During the 2014 and 2015 off-seasons, Lucroy joined veterans on the Honor Flight, traveling with 41 WWII and Korean War Veterans to Washington D.C.

Jonathan Lucroy was honored before tonight's game vs. the Giants. PHOTO: Scott Paulus/Milwaukee Brewers

Jonathan Lucroy was honored before tonight’s game vs. the Giants.
PHOTO: Scott Paulus/Milwaukee Brewers

While many know Bob Feller as one of the greatest pitchers to ever grace the baseball diamond, few remember that he also served our country when he made the selfless decision to enlist just days after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. Feller served on missions in both the Pacific and the North Atlantic, and earned the rank of Chief Petty Officer along with six campaign ribbons and eight battle stars. When asked about the most important victory he had won, Feller famously replied without hesitation, “World War II.”

Each November, the Bob Feller Act of Valor Award, through the unique connection of baseball and the United States Navy, honors a current Major League Baseball player, a United States Navy Chief Petty Officer, and a Hall of Fame member who embody the same principles and high achievement of Bob Feller. Since 2015, the Foundation also honors a Staff Noncommissioned Officer of the United States Marine Corps (USMC) with the Jerry Coleman Award. In addition, two Navy Peer-to-Peer Mentoring Awards are presented, one for an Afloat Command and one for a Shore Command. Last year’s honorees, along with Jonathan Lucroy, were George Brett, Chief Petty Officer Genell Cody, Staff Sergeant Rene Segura, USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), and HOPPER Information Services Center, all of who possess the values, integrity, and dedication to serving our country that Bob Feller himself displayed.

Crew Cuts: Hiram Burgos Serves as Team Barber

Right-handed pitcher Hiram Burgos stays extra-busy during Spring Training with a special talent that takes place off of the mound. He moonlights as the team barber.

It’s a skill that he says he picked up back home in Puerto Rico when a neighbor was taking classes to become a barber and started practicing on Burgos. In turn, Burgos became interested in the craft as well, but didn’t have much of a chance to practice on anyone until he went to college.

“There we had like 13 Latin guys on the team and we liked to have haircuts every two weeks, to stay looking good and looking fresh, so that’s where I started, in college, since 2005,” Burgos says.

After that, he says he kept progressing and when he made it to the Minor Leagues, he started cutting hair there, too.

“Actually when I was in the Minor Leagues, I came over here (to the Major League Camp) and cut a couple of the Big Leaguers hair and it just kept growing,” Burgos laughs.

Literally. Burgos sees a lot of repeat business in the Clubhouse and word-of-mouth travels quickly.

He’s open for appointments on the days when he’s done with his workouts and when he’s not scheduled to pitch.

Burgos has many longtime clients and is picking up new ones everyday.

Fellow pitcher Jimmy Nelson is one of Burgos’ oldest clients.

“I played with Burgos since rookie ball and he’s been doing it since way back then. He’s just one of the best. He pays attention to detail, you know?” Nelson said. “In the offseason, there’s a little place close next to my apartment, but it’s not the quality of Burgos’ Barbershop.”

Burgos counts many of his teammates as current customers. The other day he gave Jonathan Lucroy a mohawk and he’s cut Ryan Braun‘s hair, too.

Yesterday alone, Burgos cut four of his fellow teammates’ hair, including Wily Peralta, Jorge Lopez, Ariel Pena and Andy Wilkins.

“A lot of the guys, they are clubhouse clients. Some of them take me to go eat, or some tip on the side, but I don’t charge. I don’t put a price on it,” Burgos says.

“It went pretty good. He cuts his hair a lot, especially in Spring Training every year,” Peralta said. “I usually get the same haircut. I think everybody knows he’s pretty good.”

First baseman Andy Wilkins was a first-time client yesterday.

“He had his little briefcase of stuff and I was like ‘Hey you got time?’ and I was kind of joking around, but he was like, ‘No, I’ve got time.’ so we cut it yesterday before the game. This is my first Burgos haircut. I am a very satisfied client. I will be a repeat customer,” Wilkins said.

Andy Wilkins is another satisfied Burgos Barbershop customer.

Andy Wilkins is another satisfied Burgos Barbershop customer.

“It was our first time, so we had to get to know each other a little bit. I asked for a certain style: one fade on the sides, a little but off the top, the hard part on the side. I found out a lot about him. He’s from Puerto Rico, went to Bethune-Cookman College, unbelievable guy.”

Burgos has been cutting hair since he was young.

Burgos has been cutting hair since he was young.

“It’s something that I enjoy doing and I like it. I do a lot of styles to my own hair, but just when I’m in the States. When I go back home, I have my own barber over there. Actually, when I go back home, I don’t cut anyone’s hair. A lot of people don’t know that I cut a lot of hair here in the United States,” Burgos said.

Burgos says he keeps up with different styles by looking around at different haircuts. just keep up with different styles. I’m always looking around at different haircuts. ‘I could do better than that.’ There are a lot of guys that like it and I get good feedback about it, so that’s good.”

“Some guys like to try different styles and do different things with their hair. If I haven’t done it before, I take my time,” he says.

Would he cut my hair?

“I don’t do women’s hair,” he says with a laugh.

-Cait

@CMoyer

Lucroy Visits With Navy Veteran in Spring Training

Today, Jonathan Lucroy surprised Bill Varner, a retired Navy Air Traffic Controller who completed three tours of Vietnam.

Bill Varner and Lucroy

Bill had previously met Jonathan on an Honor Flight from Milwaukee to Washington, D.C. and his son-in-law Skip arranged for today’s meeting when he heard that Bill would be traveling to Arizona for Spring Training.

Jonathan has supported our troops for many years. From his work with Fisher House Wisconsin, inviting wounded heroes to home games each month as his guest, to giving more than $20,000 in scholarships to military families and his work with the Stars & Stripes Honor Flight, his unwavering support of the men and women in uniform is commendable and today was no exception.

Jonathan met with Bill before today’s game . The pair spent some time talking together and Jonathan gave Bill an autographed baseball.

-Cait

@Cmoyer

 

Join the Fun on Theme Nights at Miller Park

Come join the fun at Miller Park this season as several exciting theme nights are headed to the ballpark in 2016. Beginning tomorrow, Friday, February 19 at 10 a.m., fans can buy special ticket packages to Superhero, Star Wars™, Ghostbusters, ‘90s and Country Nights.  Special ticket packages for each theme night are limited and include entry to the game and a special themed promotional item.

Calling all caped crusaders and masked crime fighters – find the nearest phone booth, squeeze into your tights and fly to the Fortress of Miller Park for Superhero Night, presented by Kwik Trip.  On Saturday, April 30, join the fight as the Brewers look to defeat their arch-enemy, the nefarious Miami Marlins. Included in this special Superhero Night ticket package is a limited-edition Jonathan Lucroy Superhero Bobblehead, featuring the Brewers catcher as his alter ego, “The Protector.” Tickets for the showdown are $24 for Terrace Reserved, $34 for Loge Outfield or $44 for Field Outfield Box.

Superhero Night

The Force awakens at Miller Park on Saturday, June 11 as the Brewers join The Resistance to battle the newly-minted members of The First Order, the New York Mets. The ballpark will be transformed into a galaxy far, far away with special in-game features and appearances by a number of Star Wars™ characters. Plus, fans who purchase this special Star Wars™ Day ticket package will receive a limited-edition Stormin’ Gorman Stormtrooper Bobblehead. Tickets range from $25 to $49 for the battle of the galaxy.

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If there’s something strange in your neighborhood, who ya gonna call? Obviously, the Brewers. To celebrate the release of the new Ghostbusters movie, the Brewers will host Ghostbusters Day at Miller Park on Saturday, July 9 as the Brew Crew looks to exterminate the St. Louis Cardinals. Fans who purchase this special Ghostbusters ticket package will receive a limited-edition Brewers quad-bobble featuring four Brewers as Ghostbusters. Sorry, but Slimer will not be included. Tickets are just $46 for Loge Outfield Box seats or $23 for Terrace Reserved.

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Break out the neon, overalls and flannel, throw on your Walkman, and head to Miller Park as it transforms into County Stadium for ‘90s Night. On Saturday, July 30, it’s time to party like it’s 1999 as the Brewers will wear their throwback home white uniforms with the blue and green crossed bats logo when they take on the Pittsburgh Pirates. Miller Park will feature a number of tributes throughout the evening, including music from the era, special in-game features and more. Fans who purchase this special ‘90s Night ticket package will also receive a limited-edition ‘90s-themed Will Smith player T-shirt. Tickets for the event are $19 for Terrace Reserved or $39 for Loge Outfield Box, not including inflation!

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There’s somethin’ ’bout a trucker hat. Join the Brewers for Country Night at Miller Park on Saturday, August 27 as the Brewers take on the Pirates, then stick around after the game as Platinum-selling country artist Kip Moore takes the stage to perform a free full-length postgame concert. Don’t worry about bringing your own hat as any fan who purchases this special Country Night ticket package will receive a limited-edition Brewers trucker hat. Get your ticket today starting at $24 for a Terrance Reserved seat or $42 for a spot in the Loge Outfield Box.

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Tickets are limited and only those who purchase the special theme night ticket package are eligible to receive that night’s promotional item. All theme night tickets must be purchased in advance and can be obtained by calling the Brewers Group Sales Department at 414-902-4777 or by visiting Brewers.com/specialevents. Beginning Saturday, February 27 theme night packages will be subject to demand-based pricing.

For more information about all special events, including Singles Night (April 5 vs. San Francisco), Autism Awareness Day (April 10 vs. Houston), Stitch N’ Pitch Night (June 9 vs. New York-NL) and Zubazpalooza (June 24 vs. Washington), please visit brewers.com/specialevents.

Star Wars™ and related properties are trademarks and/or copyrights, in the United States and other countries, of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. © & TM Lucasfilm Ltd.

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