Results tagged ‘ MLB ’
Prior to the opening of Disney’s latest baseball film, Million Dollar Arm, you may recall that I had the chance to interview Mark Ciardi, one of the film’s producers…who also happens to be a former Brewers pitcher.
Well, the summer has flown by, but somehow, in between baseball games, I had a chance to not only finally see this wonderful film, but to also read the book by the same name and catch up with J.B. Bernstein, the man behind all of it.
In case you’re not familiar, Million Dollar Arm is based on the true story of J.B. (played by Jon Hamm), a sports agent, who finds that the business has changed and his career isn’t going well. In a last-ditch effort to save his livelihood, he concocts a scheme to find baseball’s next pitching ace. Hoping to find a young cricket pitcher he can turn into a Major League Baseball star, J.B. travels to India to produce a reality show competition called “The Million Dollar Arm.” There he discovers two 18-year-old boys, Dinesh Patel and Rinku Singh, who have no idea about playing baseball, yet have a knack for throwing a fastball. The boys are brought back to America to train, and, while they learn the finer points of the game, J.B. learns valuable life lessons about teamwork, commitment and family.
I’m not a film critic, but in my personal opinion, the movie was extremely well done. It was full of touching moments, comic relief and a lot of heart. You definitely don’t have to be a baseball fan, cricket fan, or even a sports fan for that matter, to appreciate the messages that come through (more on those in a bit).
After I saw the movie, I was made aware of the book, which was written by J.B., so I picked that up as well…and then couldn’t put it down. I thought that it might be a little redundant, or boring even, since I had seen the movie first, but that was definitely not the case. The book added a lot more detail and extra anecdotes to the story which obviously had to be cut due to time for the film. The book made me fall in love with the movie and the story all over again, giving me yet an even greater appreciation for what Dinesh, Rinku and J.B. all accomplish in the end.
And, when I spoke to J.B. I told him just as much.
After thanking me, J.B. said, “The book is a great illustration… you realize how much how much of the stuff happened [in the film] exactly as it did in real life. They changed a few things around for dramatic effect, but the real salient parts, the parts people want to be all true….about how we came up with the idea, my trip to India, the boys coming here, me screwing up their first tryout, them being successful at the second one, how I met my wife…those are all pretty much things that happened exactly as they happened in the movie so it was cool to see them stay so close to the true story.
The book affords the luxury of being able to go into more detail, not necessarily needing to have the dramatic effect you have to have in a movie–you know, with two hours, sometimes you have to make up a couple of things or change a couple of things in order to fit it to a movie format.”
As a sports agent, J.B. had some experience in film and publishing through projects with the athletes he represented, but he had never been involved in a feature film.
“It’s very, very different,” he said.
The ball got rolling on turning this story into a film through J.B.’s friendship with Mark Ciardi, the former Brewers pitcher turned Hollywood producer with a reputation for producing heartwarming, feel-good, inspiring sports movies such as The Rookie (2002), Miracle (2004), Invincible(2006) and Secretariat (2010).
“We had a bunch of mutual friends. We bumped into each other the middle of the first contest. I had come home for Super Bowl for a week that last week of January (2008). I bumped into Mark and told him what I was doing and he said: ‘Well you’ve had a lot of crazy ideas that have worked, but this one’s out there, buddy,'” J.B. recalled.
At that time, a movie was the furthest thing from J.B.’s mind as he traveled back to India to continue on with his pursuit of finding the Million Dollar Arm.
It wasn’t until after Rinku and Dinesh had signed on with the Pirates that the pair connected again, this time with the idea for turning the story into a film.
“[Mark] was really excited about it. He was able to get Disney on board pretty quickly,” J.B. said.
[As an aside, J.B. pointed out that two of the major forces involved in Million Dollar Arm have Milwaukee Brewers ties. In addition to Mark Ciardi, Ray Poitevint, the scout that was brought over to India to work on the contest, once served as Scouting and Farm Director and eventually Vice President of International Operations in 15 years with Milwaukee. B.J. Surhoff, Teddy Higuera and Juan Nieves were among his most notable signings with the Club.]
After the project was a go, J.B. says, the producer, director and writer spent months with him, his business partners and Rinku and Dinesh, getting the story and then pairing it down into a script.
“It was telling them what happened and then trusting them to make a great movie based on that,” said J.B.
And make a great movie, they did. It opened here in the U.S. in May and has been going through a geographic roll-out this summer, including launching in India.
“I know on Twitter every time it hits another country because my Twitter will blow up with messages in [other languages] and you have the translate button to find out if you’re getting good or bad reviews,” J.B. joked.
“It’s been exciting to see it get some traction in other countries. It’s been really well received [in India]. Any American movie over there is going to be different than a Bollywood movie.”
But, he says, the film has been very critically acclaimed.
“The thing that I’m most proud of, because the story is told through my eyes, are the comments that we’re getting back about the portrayal of India….I loved being in India and ultimately, I’m proud of the fact that you hear Indian people saying it was a fair and good portrayal of their country.”
One of the things I think that has led to the films success is its broad appeal. As I noted fan earlier, you don’t have to be a sports fan to appreciate the story’s message.
“To me, baseball is the context,” he says, but he feels the movie has two main messages.
The first, J.B. says is, “Achieving your dreams is possible in ways that are maybe unimaginable at the outside of your journey, but if you work hard and stay true to your talent and have good people around you….America is like no other country in the world, where you can come here and have an American dream and have that kind of success that in a million years you really couldn’t achieve in other countries.”
The second message, J.B. says, is “It’s never too late to change. It’s never too late in life to take the opportunity to be a better person. It’s never too late to try to make an impact on society and change who you are and who you want to be. Those are the two things I hope people walk away with from this movie.”
The first message relates more to Rinku and Dinesh, whereas the second message relates to J.B., who, as a jet-setting bachelor with a high power job, suddenly found himself outside of his comfort zone, causing him to re-evaluate a lot of things personally.
“I went through a metamorphosis that started in India….the people and the culture and being there, starting to remember some of the lessons of life… the importance of family…having the boys then come live with me… really reinforced the power of having a family, the pride you can take in being part of somebody else’s success. Those are things that I think Rinku and Dinesh really brought out in me that probably were dormant. Before that, I thought about my business–that was my job to create wealth, and deals and new paradigms or shifts in the way business was done. Those were all kinds of things that I was proud of, but as opposed to really being able to be happy for someone else, to help someone else prepare, to watch them succeed, to be kind of a bystander, to me, that was really unique.
“Those were some of the things that I think really prepared me to not only want to get married but to want to have a child of my own, to have my own family,” J.B., who is now married and has a 3-year-old daughter, reflected.
“At the end of the day, all of the things I spent most of my life running from were the only things in the end that really ended up making me happy which is one of the bizarre ironies of life.”
Indeed. And those two main messages are illustrated perfectly by the beautiful storytelling in both the Million Dollar Arm film and book.
As for the contest itself and the future of baseball in India?
J.B.’s driven business side has paid off. The Million Dollar Arm contest continues to flourish in India and is now officially partnered with Major League Baseball International and renamed Major League Baseball Million Dollar Arm. They expect to have over 500,000 kids try their hand at pitching in this year’s competition.
“To me, it’s not just a mutual benefit for the League to have inroads into India, but it’s a compliment to have them say this is something worthwhile, to be a part of, to help them further their goal of expanding into India,” J.B. said.
To say cricket is the dominant sport in India is an understatement, but J.B. believes that baseball does have the potential to reach new heights by tapping into India.
“Our opinion is that if you find that star, you have people following them out of nationalistic pride….You’re able to build your fan base, sell jerseys and ultimately that’s what creates demand, where all of a sudden the idea pops into a kid’s head,’ ‘Hey I want to be like Rinku Singh.’ That’s our goal, that’s always been our premise from day one. If you can find that guy that people can rally around, support and follow…in following him, you’ll just naturally convert people over to the sport,” he said.
“Realistically, baseball has made more inroads into India than any other international sport. Lots of leagues are over there, trying to develop talent, but MLB is the only league that actually has a guy from India playing anywhere in the ranks….It’s exciting to be part of something so historical, to think that I might have even the smallest part in finding the Yao Ming of baseball for India. That to me is just mind-boggling.”
From the Mound to the Movies: Former Brewers Pitcher Mark Ciardi is Producer of Million Dollar Arm; Film Opens Friday
Disney’s highly-anticipated baseball film Million Dollar Arm is set to open this Friday, May 16.
Based on a true story, sports agent JB Bernstein (played by Jon Hamm) finds that the business has changed and his career isn’t going well. In a last-ditch effort to save his livelihood, he concocts a scheme to find baseball’s next pitching ace. Hoping to find a young cricket pitcher he can turn into a Major League Baseball star, JB travels to India to produce a reality show competition called “The Million Dollar Arm.” There he discovers two 18-year-old boys, Dinesh Patel and Rinku Singh, who have no idea about playing baseball, yet have a knack for throwing a fastball. The boys are brought back to America to train, and, while they learn the finer points of the game, JB learns valuable life lessons about teamwork, commitment and family.
I’m sure Brewers fans have seen the trailers, if not on TV or in theatres, then when they are played before games at Miller Park…but what Brewers fans may not be aware of is the direct tie to their home team.
One of the film’s producers is Mark Ciardi, former Brewers pitcher.
I had a chance to catch up with him last week. We discussed his time with the team and how he made the leap from the Majors to Hollywood.
Mark was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in 1982 out of the University of Maryland, but chose to finish out his college career instead of signing with the team. However, the Club showed a lot of interest in Mark and drafted him again the following year.
This time, Mark signed with the team and spent four seasons in the minor league system before making his Major League debut on April 9, 1987.
A Member of Team Streak
Yes, that 1987, as in Team Streak 1987. April 9 was game 3 of what would end up to be a record-tying 13-game winning streak to start the season.
Mark came into the game against the Red Sox in relief of starter Mike Birkbeck and pitched four innings that day, striking out 1 and giving up 3 hits, 3 walks, and 5 earned runs. Yet Team Streak prevailed in what turned out to be a slugfest, winning 12-11.
“The first game I got in was the third game of the year,” Mark recalled. “I got in, I was kind of long-long relief. I got in to face the Red Sox at County Stadium. I think the first guys I faced were Jim Rice and Dwight Evans, so it was a lot of fun.”
The next time Mark pitched was April 14, game 8 of the streak. He started that game and ended up with the win (his line: 5 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 2 K), as the Brewers beat the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards 7-4.
“I pitched at the University of Maryland and got to go to Baltimore and see a lot of family and friends,” he remembers.
“Unfortunately, I got the ball in game 14 and didn’t fare so well,” Mark said.
April 21, 1987, Brewers at White Sox. In 2.1 innings, Mark struck out 3 batters, but gave up 7 hits and 1 walk and was tagged with 5 earned runs and ultimately, the 7-1 loss.
“But it was just great during the streak,” he recalls, “There were some great comeback wins… Juan Nieves’ no-hitter…. To start the season off like we did really put a spotlight on things which was pretty incredible. I think it was covered in Time Magazine, there were interviews everywhere, tying a Major League record to start the season. Every year, I look at the start of the season and you know, maybe 7-0, 8-0 was the closest…. and to think that we got to 13-0…”
After that fateful game, Mark pitched in one more contest (April 28, 1987) with the Crew before being sent down to the minors. At the time, Mark thought he’d be called up again soon, but unfortunately it didn’t work out and due to nagging injuries, he ended up retiring during the 1988 season.
“I thought I would get back up and I didn’t, but I’m glad I got to spend some time in the big leagues. I really, really enjoyed my time there,” he said.
Everything Happens For a Reason
Well, I for one have always believed that things happen for a reason though, and it seems like that is certainly true in Mark’s case.
During his time with the Brewers, he had moved out to Los Angeles because his agent was there. Looking for an off-season job and “try[ing] to get the highest-paying least amount of work possible,” Mark says he ended up walking into a modeling agency and started doing that. Modeling led to doing some commercials which ultimately led to acting classes.
So, seven years after his playing days had ended, he used the money he made from modeling and acting, as well as his West Coast connections, to partner with Gordon Gray and start the production company Mayhem Pictures, which possesses a first-look production deal with Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Group.
Mark’s Rookie Film…. The Rookie
And in his very first “at-bat” in Hollywood, Mark hit a home run. His first credit as producer was for another popular baseball film, 2002’s The Rookie, starring Dennis Quaid and he can trace that success back to the time he spent with the Brewers.
The Rookie is based on the true story of Jim Morris, a promising young pitcher who was forced to drop out of the minor leagues due to injury. Twelve years later, as a high school teacher and coach of the school’s baseball team, he makes a promise to his players—If they win the district championship, he’ll try out for the big leagues. Well, the team holds up their end of the bargain and so does Jim, which ultimately results in him finally realizing his dream of playing in the big leagues at the “ripe old” age of 35.
Jim Morris was originally drafted in 1983. By the Brewers. The same year as Mark.
“I lost touch with [Jim Morris], like most of the guys you play with, and then I read a story in Sports Illustrated and didn’t know it was Jimmy. I was reading the story thinking this would make an amazing movie. This was right when my partner and I had started our company and I couldn’t believe it….Later on at the end of the story, it said he signed with the Brewers in 1983, never got above A-Ball… and I was like ‘Oh my god, it’s Jimmy Morris,’” Mark recalls.
Mark was able to get in touch with Jim and, although he wasn’t the only one with the idea that this story would make a great film, he does believe that the Brewers connection helped in securing the rights.
“I think ultimately it came down to comfort. We didn’t have a list of movies to point to, but I think having us and Disney gave the agent and Jimmy great confidence and I’m glad it worked out that way,” Mark said.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
“It was kind of the perfect movie to come out with and to brand what we do now. With Million Dollar Arm, it’s our seventh movie with Disney and we have another one we just finished….We’ve really got a brand in sports films, probably bigger than any other producers in Hollywood. It’s exciting,” he says.
It’s true. After The Rookie (2002), Mayhem has also produced Miracle (2004), Invincible (2006) and Secretariat (2010), among others, earning him a reputation for producing heartwarming, feel-good, inspiring sports movies.
With movies about baseball, hockey, football, and horse racing under his belt (and a movie on the way later this year about a high school track team [McFarland]), because Million Dollar Arm is now his second baseball motion picture, as a former Major League Baseball player, does he find that baseball movies have a special place in his heart, or resonate more with him?
“Yeah they definitely do. Having played, you know… I didn’t set out to make baseball movies, but boy when you get the opportunity, especially with The Rookie, to have that as your first movie….I just can’t imagine if we didn’t get the rights and weren’t able to tell that story, what would have happened to our careers or the path we would have been on, but it was great. We get first crack at a lot of these sports stories now and it was all really a result of that first movie and 10 years later to be able to tell another baseball story…” Mark said.
Million Dollar Arm
Like his connection with Jim Morris in The Rookie, Million Dollar Arm came about because of another personal connection for Mark.
“I’m friends with JB (Bernstein)….I ran into him right before he was going over to India to start this thing (the “Million Dollar Arm” competition) and I was like ‘Good luck man’ and a year and a half later he comes into my office and he’s got these kids signed. It was an amazing, amazing story,” Mark says.
“You always look for underdog stories and you know, much like The Rookie, Million Dollar Arm is that. These kids never even knew what a baseball was and six months later, they’re getting signed.”
“You either have a story like Secretariat or Miracle where everybody knows this is a famous story, or you get the smaller ones like The Rookie, or Invincible or Million Dollar Arm, where it’s not like these guys are perennial all-stars or it’s a huge event,” Mark continued.
“These are small stories and underdog stories and I think sports fans love those. And you know, to see these kids signed at the end and all the real photos and images afterwards is just a lot of fun. I think it’s such a great movie and the good thing is, you don’t even have to be a big fan of baseball. There are no games to watch. It’s a lot of training and then really tryouts, so you don’t get stuck really having to go through tons of games and building all these different things…so in a way, it will appeal to people who don’t understand baseball and that was really our hope going in, that it would appeal to baseball fans and non-baseball fans alike,” Mark says.
And, since Million Dollar Arm centers on pitching, with a pitching contest that offered a prize of $100,000 to the pitcher who could throw the most strikes over 85 mph in a 20-pitch span—and the chance to win $1 million if he could follow that feat by throwing three consecutive strikes of at least 90 mph, as a pitcher in the ‘80s, I had to ask Mark: What was the top speed of his fastball?
“You know I was consistently in the high 80s and touched maybe 90s every now and then….I used to chart pitches in AAA and so many of those guys reached the big leagues, but there were maybe only 3-4 guys who would go consistently above 90 mph and even then, they’d be in the low 90s….and that was Chris Bosio, Rob Dibble, and a couple of other guys. Everybody else was mid-to-high 80s, so yeah, I was upper 80s. I had a good change-up, good slider. Better minor league stats,” Mark said.
And, while on-set in India, Mark recalled working with the actors and throwing knuckleballs:
“It’s the only thing I can throw now that I have arthritis in my shoulder….We were messing around with pitches there. It was always that pitch that you’d never throw in a game but you can dazzle people with on the sidelines. It was really funny working with the kids getting them into baseball,” Mark noted.
Baseball in India
And just as the kids in India may have had a big learning curve when it comes to baseball, in turn, Mark says he was not at all familiar with the intricacies of the game of cricket before tackling this project.
“I do understand the game now, which we laughed at with Jon Hamm. Hamm is a big baseball fan and we finally kind of have this basic understanding of (cricket). We were there in May shooting and that’s when they have the IPL,” Mark said.
The IPL is the Indian Premier League. It is a Twenty20 cricket tournament where different franchise teams participate for the title.
“For a month they have the biggest cricket players in the world come to India and play for eight different teams in the area and they get a ton of money. It’s like an all-star game. It’s insane how popular it is… it’s the biggest thing in the world at that point cricket-wise. We watched some games and got a little hooked on it. It’s actually fun to watch and to learn. It’s a little more simple than I thought, but totally different than baseball,” Mark told me.
Since he began working on the film, Mark has spoken publicly about how he believes that India is a largely untapped country with immense potential to help grow Major League Baseball into a truly global sport. And he hopes the forays made by Bernstein, as well as the film itself, will help.
“It’s really putting the seeds down….You’ve got to get it started, then you hope five years down the line you can get a kid signed. Well, it happened in the first year and I think now that’s the first step. I think the second step would be getting a guy in the big leagues and having somebody for these kids to look at,” Mark said.
“You know, Yao Ming. China. The NBA wasn’t anything in China until he came. Now it’s a huge engine for the NBA and I think MLB would be looking at India the same way. It’s an emerging country with a huge population and if they can get a hero in baseball, you’d have a lot of kids. You’d see fields popping up. It starts with academies and that’s what happened in the Dominican Republic. You’ve got to put that investment in there, start getting kids from a young age playing the game. The work ethic of Indians is amazing. Rinku and Dinesh outwork everybody and if you can combine talent with that work ethic and that drive to get out, you know, kind of that pot of gold, that inspiration where you’ve got somebody from your own country or village that made it to the big leagues… that will ignite that country.”
“It’s a cricket country, no doubt,” Mark relented, “But with 100 million kids that play cricket, if you could take off even a slice of that, that would be more than probably the rest of the world combined that play this game.”
Back to the Brewers
Speaking of kids that play the game, Mark and his wife, Liat, have two sons, Hayden (10) and Luke (12) who enjoy playing (surprise!) baseball and, although he hasn’t returned to Milwaukee since his playing days, he says he would love to bring them back to the place where he began his career.
These days, Mark says he does still follow the Brewers, although not as closely as he did around his playing days.
“It was a great experience, such a great city to play in briefly. I also played in Beloit in A-Ball and just really enjoyed my time up there in Wisconsin. [The fans] really support the team and it’s great to see the Brewers are getting off to such a good start this year,” Mark said.
Although he hasn’t kept in close contact with many of his teammates, Mark has crossed paths with some of them over the years.
“It’s funny with athletes….When the season ends, even though you’re so close during the year, you just kind of go your own way. But you have these relationships and you’re so close to them. That’s why you see guys and even after 20 years, you pick it up like it is yesterday and I’ve gotten to do that a few times. I’ve run into Paul Molitor and Robin Yount and said ‘Hi’ and I think everybody remembers that streak and that time,” Mark told me.
“I saw Rollie Fingers, he was at our premiere,” Mark also mentioned. Although he didn’t play with Rollie, who retired after the 1985 season, Mark does share a connection beyond playing for the same organization.
“You know, I took his number after he left, which was 34. I think somebody did an article about the bad luck of that number. No one has really succeeded over the years since then and I was one of the guys listed, I thought that was pretty funny,” Mark laughed. (Yes, Mark, they did. Here’s that article. The number 34 was retired by the Club in 1992.)
And, while Rollie has already seen Million Dollar Arm, your first chance to see it is this Friday. I was already looking forward to the film before speaking with Mark, but after our conversation I am even more eager to see it.
It also doesn’t hurt that Jon Hamm is one of my favorite actors (I am a HUGE Mad Men fan).
However, Jon, a St. Louis native, is well-known to be a huge St. Louis Cardinals fan. He even narrated the highlight film for the team’s 2011 World Series and, in yet another Brewers tie-in, says the 1982 Brewers-Cardinals World Series is his favorite baseball memory.
“My best friend growing up was a kid named John Simmons. His dad happened to be a man named Ted Simmons, who played catcher for the Cardinals in the late ’60s and ’70s and was traded in 1981 to the Milwaukee Brewers. Harvey’s Wallbangers. There’s another team – they were really good. Cardinals and Brewers meet in the World Series in 1982. My favorite baseball memory is my best friend’s baseball disaster. The bond was forged in the heat of that World Series then. To this day, that’s my best baseball memory,” Jon said in an interview with USA Today.
So, before I let Mark go, I did have one more thing to say:
“Mark, as one of my favorite actors, I’m a little disappointed that Jon is well known as such a big Cardinals fan. Obviously, that’s the Brewers biggest rival, so if you can work on him in some way, that would be great.”
“He’s die-hard, man, he’s die-hard. He’s a Brewers-hater,” Mark laughed.
Today, Major League Baseball and PEOPLE magazine announced the 90 finalists (three per team) for the “Tribute for Heroes” campaign, a national initiative that recognizes veterans and military service members and builds upon MLB and PEOPLE magazine’s commitment to honoring our country’s heroes. The three finalists for the Milwaukee Brewers include Dan Buttery, Brandon Nontelle and Noel Reeson.
Fans are encouraged to visit TributeForHeroes.com to vote on their favorite stories now through June 30 and one winner from each of the 30 MLB Clubs will be included in All-Star Week festivities and recognized during the pre-game ceremony leading up to the 2013 All-Star Game at Citi Field on July 16th on FOX. A “Tribute for Heroes” winner will be featured in the July 22nd issue of PEOPLE which hits newsstands Friday, July 12, the week of the MLB All-Star Game.
Fans voting for a Brewers representative will have a very tough decision to make as all three candidates are extremely worthy of this recognition. Read on.
Dan Buttery, a native of Milwaukee, served in the United States Army. He commanded a combat engineer company that conducted 300 successful missions in Iraq from May 2003 to April 2004. The injuries he sustained in the line of duty there eventually ended his military services. Today, Buttery’s personal mission is supporting veterans and their families. In addition to working full-time, he is President of the Board at Fisher House Wisconsin. The Fisher House Foundation provides free housing for military and veteran family members whose loved ones are receiving medical treatment. Buttery devotes himself to bringing the first Fisher House to Wisconsin, the construction of which is slated for fall 2013.
Brandon Nontelle, a native of Altus, Oklahoma, has served as a combat airlift crew member with the United States Air Force. He has participated in dangerous operations all over the world, including a search and rescue effort in Antarctica. During many Afghan missions, his crew flew treacherously close to the ground to drop supplies to bases throughout the country. Nontelle has been awarded six Air Medals for combat missions, an Aerial Achievement Medal, and a Humanitarian Medal, among many other awards. He is a program director for ASPIRE, an after-school study program for at-risk kids in Altus, Oklahoma. In addition, he helped organize a Habitat for Humanity event and participates in numerous food drives.
Noel Reeson, who is from Hortonville, Wisconsin, is a member of the U.S. Army. She spent a four-year enlistment in the Navy on the USS Bataan. While at sea, her older brother died. She had previously lost her older sister and was offered a hardship discharge, which she declined. Feeling she could do more, Reeson enlisted in the Army to serve in Iraq with the 1st Cavalry and achieved the rank of Staff Sergeant. She incurred a deployment-related injury and went on to use her benefits to return to school, where she earned her degree as an agriculture equipment technician. She is a member of the VFW and American Legion.
Along with MLB and PEOPLE, a guest panel including General Peter W. Chiarelli (retired) and General John M. “Jack” Keane (retired) alongside MLB players Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers, Nick Swisher of the Cleveland Indians, Barry Zito of the San Francisco Giants, Jonny Gomes of the Boston Red Sox, Brad Ziegler of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chase Headley of the San Diego Padres and Craig Stammen of the Washington Nationals assisted in the selection process for the 90 finalists.
The “Tribute For Heroes” campaign supports Welcome Back Veterans ,an initiative of Major League Baseball and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, which addresses the needs of veterans after they return from service. Major League Baseball has committed more than $23 million for grants to hospitals and clinics that provide post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) treatment to veterans and their families in a public/private partnership with “Centers of Excellence” at university hospitals throughout the country.
As part of its 2013 charity initiative, “PEOPLE First: Help America’s Veterans,” PEOPLE is partnering with Welcome Back Veterans and three other nonprofit organizations that are committed to providing assistance to military men and women, and will feature them in multiple editorial stories in ‘PEOPLE’ throughout 2013.
Currently, Welcome Back Veterans funds programs at The University of Michigan, Rush University Medical Center, Duke University, Emory University, Weill Cornell in New York City, UCLA and the Boston Red Sox’ Home Base Program at Mass General Hospital in Boston. These institutions are developing new programs and strategies to improve the quality, quantity and access to PTSD and TBI treatment for veterans, particularly those returning from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This Memorial Day make plans to bring your picnic to our park as the Brewers take on the Twins at 1:10pm.
We’ll be celebrating Military Day and the Brewers and Twins will be wearing specially designed caps and jerseys featuring an authentic military digital camouflage design licensed from the United States Marine Corps.
MLB will also conduct a moment of silence prior to all games throughout Memorial Day weekend to honor members of the military who lost their lives serving their country. On Memorial Day itself, MLB will join the National Moment of Remembrance, an initiative the league has participated in since 1997, where all games will stop for a moment at 3:00 pm local time.
The Memorial Day effort is part of MLB’s ongoing recognition of veterans, active military, and military families. MLB has committed $23 million to Welcome Back Veterans since its inception in 2008.
Welcome Back Veterans, an initiative of Major League Baseball Charities and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, provides grants to university hospitals throughout the country that provide post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) treatment to veterans and their families in a public/private partnership. Currently, Welcome Back Veterans is funding programs at Weill Cornell in New York City, The University of Michigan, Rush University Medical Center, Duke University, Emory University, UCLA and the Boston Red Sox’ Home Base Program at Mass General Hospital in Boston. These institutions are developing new programs and strategies to improve the quality, quantity and access to PTSD and TBI treatment for veterans, particularly those returning from duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.
For Monday’s game, the Brewers have also donated thousands of tickets to the USO and the Veteran’s Administration that they have distributed to veterans, active military members and their families. The pregame presentation will also feature military honor guards from a number of branches, multiple simultaneous first pitches by active military reservists and other military family members, and the national anthem will be performed by SSG Korin Saal.
Finally, you can pick up your own Brewers Memorial Day fitted cap ($45), jersey ($220), or t-shirt ($35), each featuring a special Desert Camo design. Stop by the Brewers Team Stores at Miller Park or shop online at brewers.com to purchase yours.
MLB will donate 100% of its net proceeds from sales of the caps and jerseys to Welcome Back Veterans as part of its contribution to the program.
Here’s a gallery of the various items available:
In addition to the hats, t-shirts and jerseys, the Team Stores also have special baseballs ($12), bracelets ($12), pins ($8) and koozies ($5) available.
Yesterday, I wrote about how MLB revealed the top 52 fans vying to be a contestant in the 2013 MLB Fan Cave–including two Brewers candidates (or FANdidates, as I like to call them), Peter Gourlie and Kevin Kimmes.
Now through Wednesday, February 13, fans can view video submissions from all 52 applicants on MLBFanCave.com and vote for their favorites.
Based on fan voting, quality of the original submissions, and the ability of the contestants to generate buzz and interest in their campaigns, MLB will narrow the field to 30 finalists who will then earn a trip to Spring Training in Arizona at the end of February, where they will compete in a variety of challenges to determine the final group of contestants.
These winners will begin the season in the MLB Fan Cave in New York City with the goal of watching all 2,430 MLB games on a large wall of big screen Sony televisions while chronicling their experiences online through videos, blogs, and social media. Along the way, they will compete with one another over the course of the season in a series of challenges, with fans online helping decide who gets to stay in the Fan Cave and who gets eliminated with one eventual winner crowned before the end of the World Series.
All 52 finalists have been hard at work rocking the vote since the announcement was made and this morning, I had the chance to catch up with these gentlemen so I can give you a little background on why you should, as always–VOTE BREWERS!
Peter Gourlie, better known as “Super Fan Pete,” is a Wisconsin native. He is a 31-year-old mattress store manager. He’s been a Brewers fan for as long as he can remember, coming to at least a couple of games a year as a child even though he grew up north of Wausau, Wisconsin.
Peter believes fans should vote for him because, “I am the ultimate super fan. I go to 60-plus games per year, including on the road. I support the players through good times and bad,” he said.
And if you need anymore proof that Peter truly is a super fan, well, you need not look any further than his Brewers Super Fan tattoo!
Since 2008, Peter and his friends have been traveling to Arizona to see the Brewers in Spring Training and he already has a trip planned for this year–only he now he hopes that during that trip he will be otherwise occupied as one of the Top 30 contestants for the MLB Fan Cave.
“If you’re selected as one of the Top 30 fans, you get to go to Spring Training in Arizona,” Peter said. “Well, I’ll already be down there. They can just send a car.”
To get there, he’s got to campaign hard and so far, he’s been able to garner a good buzz, primarily through Twitter and with the support of some of our current and former players–former Brewers pitchers Mitch Stetter (now with the Los Angeles Angels) and Manny Parra (now with the Cincinnati Reds) and current Brewers pitcher Brandon Kintzler all make appearances in Peter’s Fan Cave video, giving him ringing endorsements.
If he’s lucky enough to make it to the actual Fan Cave in New York, he’s not scared of the city, even though he’s never been there, or the prospect of living with 5-7 others for the season. “I’d be rooming with the best, most elite super fans from other teams,” Peter said. “We’ve all got baseball in common–something great to talk about.” Click here to vote for Peter. Also, follow him on Twitter: @SuperFanPete
Kevin Kimmes is a 34-year-old insurance salesman from Green Bay, Wisconsin. A self-proclaimed entertainer, he’s worn many hats from special effects assistant to playing in bands and even managing pro wrestling. Most importantly, though, he’s passionate about baseball and he’s a lifetime Brewers fan.
“The Brewers have been such a big part of my life. My first memories are sitting in my grandpa’s garage listening to Uecker,” he told me. “I would love the opportunity to live every fan’s dream.
Living up in Green Bay, Kevin says he is not able to get to as many games as he’d like, but he catches all the games on TV and/or radio. He also stays in touch with our farm system–last year, he covered the Timber Rattlers for CreamCityCables.com.
Kevin has never been to New York before, nor has he been to see the Brewers in Spring Training, but he’s hoping that he’ll get to do both things this year if he remains in the running for the Fan Cave. “It would be great to be in the Fan Cave,” Kevin said. “We know that we all have the passion and drive to do this; we’re all baseball fans. You’d form friendships and bonds that you’ll take with you for life.”
As Kevin alludes to in his video, he recently got married last year. And, although his “man cave” might be relegated to a bathroom for now, he says that his wife is one of his biggest supporters in his quest to be a cave dweller. “She knows how much baseball means to me. She’s been behind me 100%.”
So there you have it! The two Brewers Fandidates for the 2013 MLB Fan Cave.
Are you still here? Stop reading and go vote for Peter and Kevin!
The MLB Fan Cave is now entering its third season and we need your help to elect a Brewers fan to be one of the 2013 cave dwellers!
The Fan Cave will start the season with a group of fan contestants who will get to 1) watch every single baseball game played, 2) interact and film video content with current and former players, celebrities and musicians, 3) discuss the hottest baseball and pop culture topics through blog posts and social media 4) compete in exciting challenges with other fans to remain in the MLB Fan Cave – and much more.
Last year alone, more than over 100 famous guests visited the MLB Fan Cave, a 15,000 square foot location at 4th Street and Broadway in the heart of New York’s Greenwich Village (formerly the home of Tower Records). You can check out the Fan Cave arsenal of videos here.
From a Brewers standpoint, you may recall a couple of appearances by John Axford, a visit from Jonathan Lucroy, and a interactive web chat with our very own Bernie Brewer.
And, in 2013, we hope to have even more interaction with the Fan Cave. In December, we put out a call to all Brewers fans to get their entries in so Milwaukee could be represented in the Fan Cave….and it worked!
Now through Wednesday, February 13, fans can view video submissions from all applicants on MLBFanCave.com and vote for their favorites. (There’s more on Peter and Kevin to come next week, so start voting and stay tuned!)
Based on fan voting, quality of the original submissions, and the ability of the contestants to generate buzz and interest in their campaigns, MLB will narrow the field to 30 finalists who will then earn a trip to Spring Training in Arizona at the end of February, where they will compete in a variety of challenges to determine the final group of contestants.
These winners will begin the season in the MLB Fan Cave with the goal of watching all 2,430 MLB games on a large wall of big screen Sony televisions while chronicling their experiences online through videos, blogs, and social media. Along the way, they will compete with one another over the course of the season in a series of challenges, with fans online helping decide who gets to stay in the Fan Cave and who gets eliminated with one eventual winner crowned before the end of the World Series.
Now why are you still here? Click over to MLBFanCave.com and start voting for Pete and Kevin!
Thank you so much for reading John and Cait…Plus 9 this year!
As we head into the holidays, we wanted to take a moment to thank you again for a great 2012 and wish you a very happy holiday season. And–we’re very much looking forward to 2013 and all the excitement that is sure to come!
If you’re looking to spread Brewers holiday cheer and (off) season’s greetings, here are a couple of ways to do so:
- Share this Bernie Brewer image on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
- MLB Facebook Snowy Images Album: MLB has created one holiday-themed image for each team and we’re encouraging fans to share on their wall, as well as with friends. These images also reside on the Pinterest Happy Holidays Board.
- Holiday Photos: Upload one of your own photos (or choose one from Facebook), add baseball-themed holiday elements and share with your friends!
-John and Cait
I don’t know if there is anyone reading this who hasn’t been affected in some way by cancer. Neighbors, friends, family–the terrible disease doesn’t discriminate who it hits. It has also touched many in Major League Baseball, including, recently, a number of my colleagues in the MLB PR ranks.
With cancer hitting so close to home and hitting many of our own, MLB and its 30 Clubs organized a charity auction benefiting Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), featuring a number of priceless baseball experiences that only the MLB Clubs can offer. Inspired by those cases of public relations officials in the sport who with cancer in recent years, Josh Rawitch, Senior VP of Communications for the Arizona Diamondbacks formally announced the initiative today at a press conference in Nashville.
“With so many of our friends and colleagues recently affected by cancer, we felt it was time for us to stand up and the Winter Meetings present the only opportunity each year when all 30 managers, general managers and all of the media come together,” said Rawitch. “With the unique access we are all fortunate to have to some of the game’s greatest treasures, it’s really our responsibility to do our part and we hope this is only the beginning.”
As Rawitch addressed the media, the MLB Club PR staffs surrounded him on and around the stage, showing support for our colleagues and our willingness to “Stand Up To Cancer” ourselves. It was great to be up on stage with 70 of my peers who all held placards with names of people they were standing up for.
The auction is live now on MLB.com and will last through Thursday, at 10:59 p.m. CT. Over 70 experiences–many never offered anywhere ever before and many that will probably never be offered again–were donated by the 30 MLB Clubs and MLB itself. Some of my favorites include the following:
- A Vin Scully meet and greet.
- An opportunity to ride the Orioles’ team bus from a road game in Washington D.C.
- Batting practice opportunities, pitching lessons from MLB coaches or lunch with a general manager.
- A one-day internship in the Yankees media relations department.
- A 2013 MLB All-Star package that is first-class and VIP the entire way.
And, my personal, hometown favorite…
- A visit at your home from the Milwaukee Brewers Famous Racing Sausages and Dave Nelson.
The creativity and uniqueness of these auction experiences are like nothing I have ever seen. The thought my MLB colleagues put into making this a special auction shows how important this issue is to everyone.
“The PR executives of the 30 clubs have assembled a truly unprecedented collection of auction items,” said Jacqueline Parkes, Major League Baseball’s Chief Marketing Officer. “This auction gives fans the chance to have an unforgettable baseball experience while contributing to the critically important work of Stand Up To Cancer.”
The complete list of auction items can be found here.
“Major League Baseball has consistently engaged fans in joining our movement, having them literally stand up by the tens of thousands in stadiums across the country to show their unity in fighting cancer,” said Kathleen Lobb, Entertainment Industry Foundation Senior Vice President and Stand Up To Cancer co-founder. “Yet again, the 30 clubs have shown their deep commitment to this cause by creating these unbelievable experiences for the auction.”
Today, I was very proud to be up on that stage, not only to support my colleagues, friends and family who have dealt with cancer, but also those who I don’t know who battle the terrible disease everyday.
Back in April, to start the season, I wrote a post about players’ at-bat/entrance songs and have been working at keeping the list as current as possible.
Due to popular demand, I’m updating the list of 2012 music for the final time this season, with a special thanks to Cory Wilson and Matt Morell in our Scoreboard Operations Department.
See below, plus read on for some more exciting musical developments!
2012 AT-BAT WALK-UP MUSIC
Norichika Aoki: “Right Round” by Flo Rida
Jeff Bianchi: “Tonight” by Jeremy Camp
Ryan Braun: “A Dream” by Jay-Z
Marco Estrada: “The End of Heartache” by Killswitch Engage
Eric Farris: “We Want Eazy” by Eazy E
Mike Fiers: “Bulls on Parade” by Rage Against the Machine
Yovani Gallardo: “My Time” by Fabolous
Carlos Gomez: “Caricatura” by Sensato Del Patio & “RX” by Don Omar
Taylor Green: “Layla” by Eric Clapton
Corey Hart: “Born Again” by Newsboys
Travis Ishikawa: “Ignition” by TobyMac
Jonathan Lucroy: “Fight Inside” by Red
Martin Maldonado: “Yo Naci pa Esto” by Don Omar
Shaun Marcum: “Inside the Fire” by Disturbed
Nyjer Morgan: “Function” by E-40
Wily Peralta: “Hero” by Skillet
Aramis Ramirez: None, at his request
Mark Rogers: “A-Punk” by Vampire Weekend
Logan Schafer: “Return of the Mack” by Mark Morrison
Jean Segura: “Conto el Piquete” by El Alfa feat. El Shick
Tyler Thornburg: “Chelsea Dagger” by The Fratellis
Rickie Weeks: “Ambition” by Wale
2012 PITCHING ENTRANCE MUSIC
John Axford: “New Noise” by Refused
Marco Estrada: “Bodies” by Drowning Pool
Mike Fiers: Saw Theme Song
Yovani Gallardo: “My Time” by Fabolous
Kameron Loe: “Of Wolf and Man” by Metallica
Shaun Marcum: “Burn It To The Ground” by Nickelback
Wily Peralta: “Lost Control” by Unwritten Law
Francisco Rodriguez: “Sandungueso” by Tego Calderon
Mark Rogers: “Lights Out” by P.O.D.
Tyler Thornburg: “Wanted Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi
In case you weren’t aware, we do keep a list of these songs on brewers.com and try our best to update it accordingly, so you might want to bookmark this page for future reference.
Also, a relatively new development is this page. If you’re on a mobile device, you can directly link to some of these songs and purchase them from iTunes! This same feature can also be accessed inside the MLB At the Ballpark App as well.
In addition, if you recall, I also took most of these songs and turned then into a personal playlist on Spotify. I’ve tried to keep it updated during the season and I’m planning on continuing into 2013 as well, so join me in listening if you’re like!
These and other songs that are played frequently at Miller Park cam also be found via the MLB At the Ballpark App. Make sure you download ‘em so you won’t get homesick during the offseason.
Brewers Announce Postseason Single-Game Ticketing Opportunity Details; Register Online Beginning Monday at Noon CT
Things have certainly been exciting around here!
Today we announced details for a Postseason Single-Game Ticketing Opportunity that will give fans an opportunity to register for the right to purchase tickets to potential individual 2012 Postseason games held at Miller Park.
Beginning Monday, September 24 at noon CT.,fans interested in registering may go to brewers.com/postseason and look for the link to “Postseason Single-Game Ticketing Opportunity.”
With inventory expected to be very limited, it is likely that only a very small number of fans will be selected to purchase tickets through this registration opportunity.
“In 2011, we had over 200,000 fans register for a similar opportunity and we were only able to accommodate a very small fraction of them,” said Rick Schlesinger, Brewers Chief Operating Officer. “As such, we encourage fans looking for guaranteed Postseason ticket rights to contact our ticket sales office at (414) 902-HITS (4487) and place a deposit on 2013 Season Seats.”
Fans looking to ensure tickets to Postseason games at Miller Park may bypass this single game registration by placing a deposit on a Season Seat Plan for 2013.
Details on all Postseason ticket options follow:
POSTSEASON SINGLE-GAME TICKETING OPPORTUNITY
- Registration for the Wild Card and National league Division Series (NLDS) rounds will begin at 12:00 p.m. CT Monday, September 24 and will close at 11:59 p.m. CT, Sunday, September 30.
- The Brewers will conduct a random selection of winners from the pool of registrants for each of the three Postseason series. The Wild Card and NLDS winners will be notified via email on Tuesday, October 2 and will have the opportunity to purchase up to four (4) tickets to one (1) game of the Wild Card OR NLDS, while supplies last.
- While registration for the Wild Card and NLDS will close on September 30, it will remain open for the National League Championship Series and World Series. Winners for those two rounds will be selected from the pool of registrants at later dates. Registrants (including winners of previous drawings) will be eligible for each drawing.
- All 2012 Postseason tickets purchased for individual games through Brewers.com will be “print at home.”
- There is no charge to register for this opportunity, and additional rules and information are available at brewers.com/postseason.
GUARANTEED RIGHTS TO POSTSEASON TICKETS
- The first option is for fans to purchase a Full Season Ticket Plan for the 2013 season. Fans who select this option will be given the opportunity to purchase tickets to ALL 2012 Postseason games at Miller Park, including the World Series (while supplies last).
- The second option is for fans to purchase a 20-Game Plan for the 2013 season. Those who choose this option will be given the opportunity to purchase tickets to all 2012 Wild Card, NLDS and NLCS games at Miller Park (while supplies last).
- Fans interested in either one of these two options can visit brewers.com/postseason or call (414) 902-HITS (4487).