Results tagged ‘ Mark Kotsay ’

Cait’s Summer Reading List: Reviewing Frank Catalanotto’s Heart & Hustle

Once upon a time, there was a little boy named Frank Catalanotto who lived on Long Island and dreamed of one day playing for the New York Yankees.

Although Frank was never the biggest or the best player on any of his Little League or high school teams, there were two categories in which Frank excelled that led him to realize his dreams: heart and hustle.

Those two characteristics—embodied in the long hours of practice, the discipline he put into his training regimen, and his continuing education as a lifelong student of the game—set Frank apart and eventually paid off, helping make his major league dreams come true.

While he didn’t end up playing for his beloved Yankees, Frank did enjoy a successful 14-year career (1997-2010) playing for the Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays, the New York Mets, and our very own Milwaukee Brewers.

And as they say, he’s lived to tell about it.

The former Brewers outfielder (2009), who is now retired, recently wrote a book called Heart & Hustle: An Unlikely Journey from Little Leaguer to Big Leaguer and I had both the privilege of reading the book and catching up with Frank about it.

“I never had planned on writing a book until after I retired and my cousin kept telling me that I should write a book because I had a lot of cool experiences and some good stories to share. Once I started writing I couldn’t stop,” Frank told me.   

Indeed, Frank does have plenty of good stories to share in the book—many of which relate to life lessons about things such as the importance of family, persistence, dedication, discipline and routine.

Heart & Hustle contains chapters such as “A Typical Day in the Big Leagues,” “Preparation,” “Slumps” and “Big League Mentality,” most followed by chapter summaries entitled, “Cat’s Keys.”

The book also includes “how-to” type chapters on hitting, fielding and conditioning, complete with suggested drills, and exercises along with pictures to illustrate them.

In my opinion, this book is perfect for any child who dreams of making it to the major leagues and it is a terrific resource for parents and coaches as well.

I also think it has a much broader appeal. I never played ball growing up and I don’t have any children or coach; however, I am (obviously) a big fan of the game and, even though I have been working in the sport for over 10 years, I came away from Frank’s book with an entirely new level of appreciation for the players, especially where it pertains to preparation and the mental aspect of the game.

For example, there is a chapter called, “The Book,” which I found particularly interesting. Throughout his career, Frank carried around notebooks with him wherever he went. In them, he wrote about everything from pitchers’ and umpires’ tendencies to anything else learned from a coach, another player, or just by observing. Frank studied them religiously, using any information he could to get an edge. I think that sometimes, we tend to hold professional athletes on a pedestal, thinking they are all freaks of nature—superhumanly athletically gifted and talented. As you’ll learn from Frank, however, even in the big leagues, these players—who have worked incredibly hard to get where they are— must still try to continue to work on their game and improve. And they can struggle with confidence just like the rest of us.

Out of his 14 years in the Major Leagues, Frank only spent one year with us, so the book doesn’t touch on his time in Milwaukee too much, but he does reference his at-bat song, “Your Love,” by The Outfield, which was a big hit with fans at Miller Park.

Frank notes that he started using the song after Kelly Johnson used it in Atlanta. Gordon Beckham and Eric Byrnes also used it that year (as did Mark Kotsay, when he played with us in 2011).

“I’m not so sure why ‘Your Love’ was such a big hit that summer,” Frank said to me. “I am a big 80s fan and love the song. I thought it would be a fun song to come out to. It was much different than anything that I had ever come out to in the past. It wound up being a really good choice because the fans seemed to enjoy it.”

The book also includes lists of “Cat’s Best,” Frank’s top five in a variety of categories from best ballpark to best post-game spread. You’re going to have to read the book to find out what they are, but I did ask Frank to come up with a list just for us that isn’t included in it:

Cat’s Best Things About Playing in Milwaukee

1. The most passionate fans in the game

2. Miller Park

3. Summerfest

4. The beer

5. The bratwurst

Whether you’re a Little Leaguer, a high school, college or minor league player; a coach or a parent; or just a baseball fan in general, I highly encourage you to read Heart & Hustle this summer. The book can be purchased through Frank’s website at www.frankcatalanotto.comAnd, for a limited time, if you order it directly through the site, he’ll also autograph it for you, making it a great collector’s item and/or gift idea for that special fan in your life.

Read Frank’s book and wish to weigh in? Read another good baseball book recently? Your comments are welcome below!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I love reading, so I look forward to reviewing more baseball books here for you on John and Cait…Plus 9! this summer!

-Cait

johnandcait@brewers.com

On to October! Brewers Fans Attend Playoff Rally to Send Division Champs to Postseason

Today, thousands of Brewers fans gathered at the Summerfest grounds for the Brewers Playoff Rally, a special event to help give our National League Central Division Champions a proper send-off into the Postseason.

The Brewers Playoff Rally began at 4:00 p.m. at the Miller Lite Oasis with an appearance by The Good Rebels (formerly Pan Am), a band out of Los Angeles led by Dan Attanasio, son of Brewers Owner Mark Attanasio. The band succeeded in getting the fans appropriately pumped up with lively original tunes, a few cover songs and some “Let’s Go Brewers, Let’s Go!” chants. And, as if he didn’t already have enough to celebrate, it also happened to be Mark Attanasio”s birthday today, so the band also led the crowd in a rousing sing along of “Happy Birthday” to him.

After The Good Rebels performance, Bernie Brewer and the Klement’s Famous Racing Sausages made an appearance on stage, followed by Brewers Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Uecker, who was hosting the event, along with other Brewers broadcast personalities Bill Schroeder, Cory Provus and Craig Coshun; Hall of Famer Robin YountMark Attanasio; and General Manager Doug Melvin. Each received a warm welcome from the crowd.

Then came the moment everyone was waiting for– the crowd went wild as the Division Champs filed onstage to thank fans for their support and, at the same time, get everyone excited for what we hope will be a long run into October.

For those that were there or who were watching on Fox Sports Wisconsin, you know that there were many memorable moments as the players were individually introduced and interviewed.

There was the raucous cheer for Brewers Manager Ron Roenicke; the spontaneous chants of “One More Year” and “M-V-P” that erupted from the fans  when Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun, respectively, were introduced; the extra-loud receptions for hometown hero Craig Counsell; and of course, the energetic Nyjer Morgan, who was the perfect player to lead off the rally and incite the fans with the “beast mode” gesture.

As the We Energies High-Energy Player of the Year, Morgan quickly became a fan favorite this year, due in part to his outgoing personality, passion, hard work and aggressive approach to playing the game.

“Is America ready for Tony Plush in the World Series?” Bill Schroeder asked him in an interview.

“I’m proud to be a Brewer right now! Ahhhhh!” Morgan exclaimed.

Fans were assured that Morgan is going to continue to be himself (and Tony Plush) by bringing that energy and spark to the team throughout the Postseason as Jerry Hairston, Jr. revealed this to the crowd,  “On the bus over here, Tony Plush said that if and when we win the World Series, he is going to do a Michael Jackson dance in front of all of you guys!”

And speaking of things Brewers fans have to look forward to, Mark Kotsay also gave the fans something to cheer about when he said that he hopes to be standing back on the stage in “three and a half weeks with a ring.”

And it was Kotsay who also said to the crowd, “I thought you guys would chant ‘one more year’ for Craig Counsell!”

Then they did.

“I was a 12-year-old in 1982. I waited with the rest of you. Now we’re going back almost 30 years later and we want to take it one step further than they did!” the Wisconsin native and fan favorite Counsell exclaimed.

He also gave well-deserved credit to the fans: “All you have to do is look at our home record and you know how much our fans meant to us,” he said.

Ryan Braun was the last to address the crowd.

“I hope today is the first of many celebrations for us,” he said.

After the players departed to more cheers, Five for Fighting took the stage.

Five for Fighting performs at the Brewers Playoff Rally on Thursday Photo: Scott Paulus

Five For Fighting, like The Good Rebels, is also out of Los Angeles. The band is fronted by singer/songwriter John Ondrasik and has multiple critically-acclaimed and award-winning records to their credit. Their breakthrough came in 2001 with the Grammy-nominated song “Superman” from the Platinum certified “America Town” (Aware/Columbia) CD.  In 2004, Ondrasik and the band recorded the Platinum-certified album, “The Battle For Everything,” which yielded the retrospective hit, “100 Years.” Other recent records include “Two Lights” (2006) and the first live Five For Fighting CD titled “Live” (2007).

Earlier in the afternoon, I had the chance to speak with Ondrasik.

John Ondrasik of Five for FightingJohn Ondrasik of Five for Fighting

A born-and-raised native of the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles, Ondrasik’s interest in music and sports began at a young age. A fan of the L.A. Kings (NHL), Ondrasik named the band after a punishment in hockey–five minutes in the penalty box for fighting.

When it comes to baseball, Ondrasik admits that he is a Los Angeles Dodgers fan, but told me that it is easy to jump on the Brewers bandwagon.”

“It’s very exciting. It’s a fun team” he said.

As a California native, Ondrasik is also familiar with many names on the Brewers roster including pitcher Randy Wolf who spent two seasons with the Dodgers, Manager Ron Roenicke who spent 10 years with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on their coaching staff, and Ryan Braun, who coincidentally attended the same high school as Ondrasik, Granada Hills High.

Ondrasik Tweets about fellow Californian Ryan Braun, post-rally.

As a big sports fan, Ondrasik says he has been fortunate to have the opportunity to play many special sporting events.

Prior to the Brewers Playoff Rally, his most recent sports-related appearance was a September 11th half-time tribute during the Cowboys vs. Jets game.

“It was a very respectful and very moving ceremony. There were a lot of survivors there, so that was an honor to play,” Ondrasik said.  “I’ve also had a lot of fun, too, whether it was the Daytona 500 or the NHL All-Star Game–again, as a sports fan, these kinds of things are really fun to do. My guitar player is also a huge baseball fan. He was actually born in Milwaukee, so he’s very excited to be here.”

Five for Fighting also has a song about baseball.  “The Best” was featured on the soundtrack for Everyone’s Hero a 2006 computer-animated film about the sport.

“A lot of the dads and moms out there who have Little Leaguers will appreciate that song about playing catch with your little ones,” Ondrasik said.

His interest in sports has also led to him writing a column for Sports Illustrated and a blogging job with the Kings.

So, as a self-proclaimed sports aficionado, where does Ondrasik think the Brewers will net out in Postseason play?

“Hopefully you win the World Series and we can play your victory party!” he said with a smile.

Fans at the event also had the chance to purchase the latest Brewers Postseason t-shirts, hats and other souvenirs at the Rally as the Brewers merchandise trailers were on site.

The Brewers merchandise trailers were on-site at the Playoff Rally today; they will also be in the parking lots at Miller Park for all home games during the Postseason!

Just as a reminder, if you’re still looking to gear up before the home games against Arizona this weekend, you can visit the Brewers Team Store by Majestic at Miller Park, which has extended Postseason hours from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

For more information on all of the Brewers Postseason information, check out brewers.com/postseason, which will be continually updated with information on everything pertaining to the Brewers Postseason.

–Cait

johnandcait@brewers.com

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