Results tagged ‘ Robin Yount ’

Fun ‘Fore’ a Great Cause: The 7th Annual Davey Nelson Celebrity Golf Classic

Today, I was fortunate enough to play in the Davey Nelson Celebrity Golf Tournament at the beautiful Irish Course at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin.

Whistling Straits

This was the seventh year of Davey’s tournament, and the third year that it’s been at the Irish Course (in previous years, it’s also been played at  Blackwolf Run). I was excited for the chance to be up there this week because the Irish Course is just adjacent to Whistling Straits, the site of the 2015 PGA Championship. We’re just about six weeks out from the tournament, which will take place August 10-16 and we could see they were already preparing, building the stands, hospitality and merchandise tents.

A massive merchandise tent in the making!

A massive merchandise tent in the making!

Upon check-in, participants were provided with assorted goodies, including a pullover, golf balls, a drawstring bag and beef jerky.

Davey Nelson poses with former Brewer Wes Obermueller. All attendees got a pullover like the one Davey is wearing.

Davey Nelson poses with former Brewer Wes Obermueller. All attendees got a pullover like the one Davey is wearing.

Then, the morning started off with golf pros walking the line at the driving range and a putting contest, along with a buffet brunch.

Each foursome in the tournament was paired with a celebrity golfer  to make up a five-person team. Team play consisted of a Scramble Format with team prizes awarded to the top finishers.

Among the many celebrities in the tournament were: Jay Aldrich, Don August, Sal Bando, Mike Caldwell, Craig Coshun, Jim Gantner, Telly Hughes, Chris Jacke, Daniel Lee Martin, Greg Matzek, Randall McDaniel, Greg Meyer, Damian Miller, Charlie Moore, Willie Mueller, Wes Obermueller, Ken Sanders, Tony Smith, Gorman Thomas, Greg Vaughn, Paul Wagner, Steve Woodard and Robin Yount.

Some of the celebs during the opening remarks & introductions.

Some of the celebs during the opening remarks & introductions.

My group consisted of our celebrity, former Brewers pitcher Jay Aldrich, Tom Hecht, our VP-Corporate Marketing, Jeff Harding, our Director of Creative Design & Strategy, and John Creighton from Johnson Controls, Inc.

Davey Nelson Celebrity Golf Outing

The tournament was a shotgun start, so our group began on hole 11 a par three. We got off to a decent start, but it wasn’t until the front nine that things really began to click.

But, we had a ton of fun, which is the most important thing! A highlight was running into a flock of sheep, which help maintain the courses up at Whistling Straits:

We finished the day at -9 (62), which was good, but not good enough to win the tournament.

In a scramble, usually my drives from the ladies tees are a big advantage, but today I was directionally challenged off the tee.

In a scramble, usually my drives from the ladies tees are a big advantage, but today I was directionally challenged off the tee more often than not.

Each hole also consisted of different challenges with opportunities to win various prizes for things like longest drive, longest putt, or closest to the hole.

It was a terrific day– wonderful weather, the chance to play a beautiful championship course and, most importantly, we were helping a great cause: Open Arms Home for Children in South Africa and Brewers Community Foundation. Open Arms is a non-profit organization that provides shelter, clothing, protection and basic healthcare for what is now home to many children orphaned due to the Aids epidemic in South Africa. Davey has served as Board of Director for over four years.

Following golf, there was a reception and silent auction, followed by a live auction.

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During dinner, we learned more about Open Arms and heard stories about the children whose lives we were helping, all by taking a day off of work to play golf.

The entire presentation was very touching and moving and I’m so happy that this event has been able to raise money to support the organization, which Davey and many others have dedicated a lot of time and energy into making a success.

For more information on Open Arms, please visit the website at http://www.openarmshome.com.

Here are some more photos from the day and I hope to see you out at the tournament next year!

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-Cait

@Cmoyer

Selig Experience Unveiled at Miller Park; See it For Yourself Beginning Tomorrow

Tonight, the Selig Experience, a state-of-the-art attraction at Miller Park to honor Commissioner Emeritus and former Brewers Owner Allan H. (Bud) Selig, was unveiled at a private function that included Selig and his family, current MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, Brewers Owner Mark Attanasio, Manager Craig Counsell, Hank Aaron, Robin Yount, Bob Uecker, Rachel and Sharon RobinsonBarry Alvarez and several Brewers players and coaches, as well as other special guests.

The event kicked off with a program on the field at Miller Park, which included remarks from Uecker, Manfred, Attanasio and Selig, in addition to Brad Shelton, the Creative Director/Project Development at BRC Imagination Arts, the experience design agency that led the design and production of the Selig Experience.

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“This is one of those really rare unique times in life where you see a little boy’s dreams come true,” Selig said. “When you look around and you walk Miller Park tonight… you see Henry Aaron sitting there, Robin Yount, Bob Uecker…The last 51 years are filled with really great memories.”

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Following the program, guests were invited to view the Experience and enjoy dinner. Here’s your own sneak peek at the Experience:

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Selig’s dedication to baseball has paralleled his love of his hometown of Milwaukee. His first significant move as an executive was to return Major League Baseball to Milwaukee in 1970, when he founded the Milwaukee Brewers.

In its first decade, the Brewers featured some of the great teams of that era, which eventually led to an American League pennant and World Series appearance in 1982.

During his tenure as Brewers owner, Selig earned United Press International’s 1978 Executive of the Year award, and the franchise was honored with seven “Organization of the Year” awards.

In the 1990s, Selig began his efforts to build a new ballpark in Milwaukee to replace the aging County Stadium, and Miller Park opened for its first season of play in 2001.

Hearing some of the reactions from the Brewers players and coaches, it’s easy to see that the Experience resonates with those who grew up in the area as well as those who may not know as much of the history of the city and team.

“It was definitely pretty cool. It was good to learn more about the history behind the team, Bud Selig, and Miller Park, even,” said pitcher Mike Fiers. “It was cool to see his office, the different pictures, the clips from some of the games, to see a lot of coaches now that you didn’t realize were part of Brewers history like that. Great experience. It really makes you appreciate everything we have here.”

“I knew most of the history, growing up just over the border, but it was still really cool to see. I texted Dale Sveum to tell him his home run on Easter Sunday (1987) made it into the Experience,” said Third Base Coach Ed Sedar.

Bullpen Catcher Marcus Hanel is a Wisconsin native, so the Experience was especially meaningful to him: “It was great. Very well done. I came to games at County Stadium when I was young.  I was there for Robin Yount’s 3000th hit. I was in 5th grade in 1982. I remember all of that. Those were my childhood heroes. I love how they integrated the past with the present. Coming out of it, I was pretty pumped up. I thought they did a great job,” said Hanel.

The attraction will debut to the public tomorrow (Friday, May 29) when the gates to Miller Park open (5:40 pm) prior to the Brewers game against the Diamondbacks.

Visit Brewers.com/SeligExperience for more information, including how to register in advance to see it.

-Cait

@CMoyer

MLB Annouces “Franchise Four” Campaign for 2015 All-Star Game

Major League Baseball today announced the launch of the “Franchise Four” campaign, which will allow fans to vote for the most impactful players who best represent each Major League franchise and several other significant categories in the sport’s history.  The winners of the month-long period of fan voting on MLB.com/FranchiseFour will be announced during pregame ceremonies before Baseball’s 86th All-Star Game on Tuesday, July 14 at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati on FOX.

Beginning today and running through Friday, May 8, fans can visit MLB.com/FranchiseFour to select the four most impactful players who best represent the history of each franchise out of eight choices from its lineage. 

The Brewers ballot includes: Ryan Braun, Cecil Cooper, Prince Fielder, Rollie Fingers, Jim Gantner, Paul Molitor, Gorman Thomas and Robin Yount.

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An additional write-in option will be available to fans on the ballot, which also can be accessed via mobile devices. The eight players were selected based on the recommendations of a blue-ribbon panel, in consultation with the 30 Clubs.  The panel was asked to identify “the most impactful players who best represent the history of each franchise (or special category)” for the ballot.

The panelists were MLB’s Official Historian John Thorn and representatives from MLB’s official statistician, the Elias Sports Bureau; MLB.com; MLB Network; and the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA).  In addition to the 30 franchises, fans can vote for three special categories: the “Greatest Living Players”; the greatest Negro Leagues Players; and the sport’s greatest Pioneers, encompassing players whose careers began more than a century ago.

MLB Chief Operating Officer Tony Petitti said: “The All-Star Game is a celebration of the National Pastime, and Cincinnati’s rich baseball heritage makes it a perfect venue to highlight the great players who are synonymous with our Clubs and those who played pivotal roles in the game’s history.  We believe that the Franchise Four campaign will engage fans in a fun and meaningful way and will link the past and the present in the manner that Baseball does so uniquely.”

 

Help Support RBI Leagues, Win a Ball Signed by Robin Yount

Following successful third place finishes in each of the first three months of the season, in July we moved up to second place in the Head & Shoulders “Season of the #Whiff’ contest on Twitter! That means that this year to date, we’ve helped secure a $30,000 donation to local RBI leagues. Overall, Head & Shoulders will reward seven MLB Clubs with the most #Whiff tweets each month with a donation to their local RBI league(s) totaling $40,000.

We’re nearing the end of August and the race is close, but you can help us secure at LEAST third place again.

All you have to do is tweet #WHIFF + @Brewers. Up to 27 #WHIFF + @Brewers tweets per user per day will count toward out monthly total.

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We’re also throwing in an incentive to help us finish high. Tweet #Whiff + @Brewers this weekend for your chance to win this ball signed by Robin Yount. If we finish in third place or higher, one lucky fan who tweeted beginning on Friday when we announced the promotion through the end of the August competition will win the ball.

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In addition, for every “Whiff” (strikeout) recorded throughout the Major Leagues during the 2014 regular season, Head & Shoulders will make an additional $1 donation to the national RBI program. The RBI program is the MLB youth initiative designed to give young people from urban and underserved communities the opportunity to play baseball and softball, encourage academic success and achievement, and teach important life lessons and values.

The MLB Club winner of the overall competition will earn a bonus donation worth $20,000 to their local RBI league(s). The winning Club will be announced during the 2014 MLB World Series – stay tuned to find out who will bring home the highest donation!

For more information,  visit www.MLB.com/Whiff.

Thanks to all who tweeted in the first four months of the season-let’s set our sights on finishing on a high note!

-Cait

-JohnandCait@brewers.com

 

 

6th Annual Davey Nelson Celebrity Golf Classic a Hit Again!

Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to play in the Davey Nelson Celebrity Golf Tournament at the beautiful Irish Course at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin.

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This was the sixth year of Davey’s tournament, but just the second at the Irish Course (in previous years, it’s been played at  Blackwolf Run).

Upon check-in, participants were provided with assorted goodies, including a pullover, duffel bag and umbrella (which fortunately we didn’t need out there on the course!)

Then, the morning started off with golf pros walking the line at the driving range and a putting contest, along with a buffet brunch.

Each foursome in the tournament was paired with a celebrity golfer  to make up a five-person team. Team play consisted of a Scramble Format with team prizes awarded to the top finishers.

Among the many celebrities in the tournament were current Brewers personnel and alumni players: Craig Counsell, Robin Yount, Ken Sanders, Gorman Thomas, Jay Aldrich, Jerry Augustine, Jim Gantner, Paul Wagner, Mike Caldwell, Scott Podsednik, Greg Vaughn, Wes Obermueller, Brady Clark, and Willie Mueller;  Randall McDaniel, Former NFL player; Greg Matzek, radio personality; Greg Meyer, NFL Referee; Tony Smith, a former Milwaukee Bucks player; and Craig Coshun, sideline reporter for Fox Sports Wisconsin

It was fun to mix and mingle with everyone, including having the opportunity to catch up with Scott Podsednik and Brady Clark:

Scott Podsednik and Brady Clark catch up at the Davey Nelson Golf Tournament.

Scott Podsednik and Brady Clark catch up at the Davey Nelson Golf Tournament.

 

My group consisted of our celebrity, Greg Meyer, a NFL referee and longtime friend of Davey’s and Mike, Dan and Joe Stanislawski, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

L-R: Greg, Michael, Dan, Joe and Cait

L-R: Greg, Michael, Dan, Joe and Cait

The tournament was a shotgun start, so our group began on hole 8, a par five. We got off to a great start with a birdie, but we never really got into a great rhythm after that. Aside from a couple that Greg sank for us, it was one of those days where the putts just wouldn’t drop.

But, we had a ton of fun, which is the most important thing! We finished the day at -3 (69), which was good, but not good enough to win the tournament.

My drives were decent yesterday, but my short game and putting left much to be desired--sorry team!

My drives were decent yesterday, but my short game and putting left much to be desired–sorry team!

Each hole also consisted of different challenges with opportunities to win various prizes for things like longest drive, longest putt, or closest to the hole. Someone even had a hole-in-one on one of the par-3’s!

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We didn’t mind at all because despite an early threat of rain (and a downpour on the way home!), we had wonderful weather, a fun day, the chance to play a beautiful championship course and, most importantly, we were helping a great cause: Open Arms Home for Children in South Africa and Brewers Community Foundation. Open Arms is a non-profit organization that provides shelter, clothing, protection and basic healthcare for what is now home to many children orphaned due to the Aids epidemic in South Africa. Davey has served as Board of Director for over four years.

Following golf, there was a reception and silent auction, followed by a live auction.

Looks like brat is going to put in a bid on one of the prizes!

Looks like brat is going to put in a bid on one of the prizes!

During dinner, we learned more about Open Arms and heard stories about the children whose lives we were helping, all by taking a day off of work to play golf.

My boss, Tyler Barnes, VP of Communications, was on hand to speak about his personal experience at Open Arms as he and his family had visited South Africa over the holidays.

Tyler tells of us of his life-changing trip to Open Arms.

Tyler tells of us of his life-changing trip to Open Arms.

The entire presentation was very touching and moving and I’m so happy that this event has been able to raise money to support the organization, which Davey and many others have dedicated a lot of time and energy into making a success.

For more information on Open Arms, please visit the website at http://www.openarmshome.com.

Here are some more photos from the day and I hope to see you out at the tournament next year!

-Cait

johnandcait@Brewers.com

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.

 Read on.

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.

Mark Ciardi Brewers

Mark Ciardi pitched in the Brewers organization from 1983-1988.

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.

Mark Ciardi, pitching for the Crew in 1987. Those weren't "retro" uniforms back then.

Mark Ciardi, pitching for the Crew in 1987. Those weren’t “retro” uniforms back then.

“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.

But then…

“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.

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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.

Mark Ciardi and Jon Hamm at the Taj Mahal.

Mark Ciardi and Jon Hamm at the Taj Mahal.

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.

-Cait

JohnandCait@Brewers.com

Brewers Season Seat Holder Event Held at Miller Park This Morning

After last night’s exciting win over the Cubs,  Jonathan Lucroy, Carlos Gomez, Jean Segura, Robin Yount, Rollie Fingers and the ticketing staff were all on hand early this morning for a special Brewers Season Seat Holder event for those 20+ game accounts who paid for their 2014 season tickets in full by the November 15 early renewal deadline.

Here are some photos from this fun event.

It’s always a pleasure to get to meet so many of our most loyal fans; we hope you had a wonderful time!

-Cait

johnandcait@brewers.com

Bob Uecker Statue in the “Last Row” Dedicated This Afternoon

This afternoon, we unveiled the new Bob Uecker statue at Miller Park in a ceremony open to special guests. Unlike the statues that surround Miller Park’s Home Plate Plaza, this statue is in the last row—yes, the last row of the Terrace Level at Miller Park.

Among those in attendance at the ceremony, emceed by Bill Schroeder, were Bob’s family, Jerry Augustine, Jim Gantner, Gorman Thomas, Ken Sanders, Rollie Fingers, Robin Yount, current Brewers coaches and players, former broadcasting partners and Brewers front office staff.

Rollie and Robin both spoke at the event and, thanks to Gino Salomone, movie critic from FOX 6, a few of Bob’s friends from Hollywood sent along their well wishes.

Watch messages from Ty Burrell, Morgan Freeman, Don Rickles, Jason Bateman, Kevin Costner, and Arnold Schwarzenegger: 

The statue pays tribute to the popular Miller Lite “All Stars” ad campaign which featured Uecker’s famous tagline, “I must be in the front row.”  In those commercials, Uecker somehow always ended up in the last row—as will this statue.  The statue sits atop the Uecker Seats in Miller Park’s Terrace Level (Section 422).  It features an open seat next to it allowing for a perfect photo opportunity.

Photo: Scott Paulus/Milwaukee Brewers

Photo: Scott Paulus/Milwaukee Brewers

Photo: Scott Paulus/Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club

Photo: Scott Paulus/Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club

Starting with the Brewers vs. Cubs series at Miller Park this weekend, be sure to stop up, take your photo and tweet it and/or Instagram it using #IMustBeInTheFrontRow and we’ll collect & share our favorites across our social media sites.

We must be in the front row!

We must be in the front row!

Prior to tonight’s 7:10 p.m. game against the Chicago Cubs at Miller Park, a presentation will be made on the field honoring Uecker and showcasing the statue.

The statue was designed by Brian Maughan, the artist of the four statues outside Miller Park on the Home Plate Plaza—Hank Aaron, Allan H. “Bud” Selig, Robin Yount and Uecker.

– John and Cait

JohnandCait@Brewers.com

Bob Uecker Statue to be Dedicated Friday in the “Last Row”

Today we announced details for Friday’s unveiling of the new Bob Uecker statue at Miller Park.  Unlike the statues that surround Miller Park’s Home Plate Plaza, this statue will be in the last row—yes, the last row of the Terrace Level at Miller Park.

The statue will pay tribute to the popular Miller Lite “All Stars” ad campaign which featured Uecker’s famous tagline, “I must be in the front row.”  In those commercials, Uecker somehow always ended up in the last row—as will this statue.  The statue will sit atop the Uecker Seats in Miller Park’s Terrace Level (Section 422).  It will feature an open seat next to it allowing for a perfect photo opportunity.

Starting with the Brewers vs. Cubs series at Miller Park this weekend, be sure to stop up, take your photo and tweet it and/or Instagram it using #IMustBeInTheFrontRow and we’ll collect & share our favorites across our social media sites.

The statue will be unveiled for the first time in a ceremony open to special guests and media Friday afternoon (the unveiling ceremony is not open to the public).  Prior to that night’s 7:10 p.m. game against the Chicago Cubs at Miller Park, a presentation will be made on the field honoring Uecker and showcasing the statue.

The statue was designed by Brian Maughan, the artist of the four statues outside Miller Park on the Home Plate Plaza—Hank Aaron, Allan H. “Bud” Selig, Robin Yount and Uecker.  The statue will be made of bronze, but will also have color effects.

-Cait

JohnandCait@Brewers.com

 

Tim’s Tip: Moment of Truth #2-The First Domino to Fall in the Swing Sequence

The “Brewers Baseball Academy presented by Kwik Trip,” 10 separate weeklong baseball/softball camps that will be held in various cities across Wisconsin this summer for kids ages 6-14, will be back for its second season and so is Tim Rappe. In addition to putting on the camps, last summer executive director Tim Rappe provided some baseball tips here on John and Cait…Plus 9 as well. Read on for more from Coach Tim!

Enjoy!
Cait

JohnandCait@Brewers.com

“MOMENT OF TRUTH #2”:The First Domino to Fall in the Swing Sequence

In my last post I discussed the importance of starting in the optimum stance to generate bat accuracy and power at the point of contact. I labeled that MOMENT OF TRUTH #1. Today’s topic is a bit more controversial. I say “controversial” not because hitting experts don’t recognize that it happens; but rather because some may not give it the same emphasis as we do at the Brewers Baseball Academy. This single move can set up the hitter’s lower half for success or it can betray the entire swing…and it doesn’t come naturally for hitters so we need to teach it. That’s why I think it’s critical.

So, exactly what is MOMENT OF TRUTH #2? So many times I’ve heard baseball people debate regarding the first thing that moves when we launch the bat. Invariably, there is a group that believes that the hitter “just throws his hands” at the ball. Yes, the hitter does do that…but it is by no means the FIRST thing. In fact, it’s the last thing the hitter does prior to contact.

So what’s first? Drum roll please…The inside of the back knee pinches forward and down toward the inside ankle of the front foot. It’s the Knee Pinch that keeps the hitter from spinning on his back foot. It’s the Knee Pinch that launches the back hip, which is the power center. It is the Knee Pinch that prevents the hitter from rising up on his back leg. Yes, it’s the Knee Pinch that launches the hitter’s momentum into the baseball. Important? You betcha.

Take a look at former Brewers sluggers Robin Yount, Ben Oglivie  and Geoff Jenkins. Check out the knee pinch.

Yount Oglivie Jenkins

This next shot is a great overhead of Ryan Braun. If Ryan hadn’t pinched his knee in the way I described, he will spin on his back foot (we used to call this “squishing the bug”) and the back heel will retreat toward the catcher. Clearly, that’s not what’s happening here. Why? Because this is the way it supposed to be done!

Braun Overhead

The Knee Pinch is difficult to teach in the context of this blog. But go ahead and use your DVR the next time Gomez, Braun or Lucroy launches a moon shot. Focus on the back knee and I think you will see exactly what I mean and exactly why I respectfully submit the Knee Pinch as MOMENT OF TRUTH #2.

In my next post I’ll focus on MOMENT OF TRUTH #3…”Bend Your Wrists and Wave Bye-Bye to a Good Swing.” Until then, if you’re gonna swing might as well swing hard.

-Tim Rappé

Tim.Rappe@Brewers.com

 

 

 

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