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The Marketing Department is currently working on advertising, programs and signage for our Brewers On Deck event, which takes place on Sunday, January 31 at the Midwest Airlines Center, so I thought who better to select for my next “There is No Offseason for” interview than the force behind it all, Brewers Senior Director of Entertainment and Broadcasting, Aleta Mercer.
Entering her 18th Season with the Club in 2010, Aleta has a myriad of responsibilities, from taking care of the talent and crews that work together to provide Brewers baseball on both radio and television (and the visiting talent and crews as well), to making sure that fans always find something enjoyable here at the ballpark, whether it is interactive games, entertainment on the video board, the music played between innings, the mascots, pre-game presentations or any of the hundreds of other attractions Miller Park has to offer.
Aleta is also the lady who schedules the ceremonial First Pitches and books the talent for the National Anthem. Over her time here, Aleta’s worked with a wide range of celebrities and even animals, but she’s been most impressed with local Wisconsin talent.
“At this point, 18 years down the road, I really wish I had taken copious notes so I could say ‘Oh, I remember that!’ but I think that more than having celebrities that are my absolute favorite, I think our local talent is just outstanding. They are more than supportive. Beyond being so talented, they love Brewers baseball. I can give you a list of names, but guaranteed, I’d leave somebody off and that would be horrible, but they know who they are and they are incredible,” Aleta said.
In addition, Aleta says, “We actually end up with a lot of celebrities in the ballpark who don’t perform for us. The Anthem is a very difficult song…. You would be more surprised, I would think, by the number of celebrities that say they would just love to come out to enjoy the game instead.”
Although there are not a lot of MLB rules that pertain to what Clubs can and cannot do in the pre-game ceremonies, the most important rule is that the game starts on time. Once we declare our starting time, then that is the time we are held to.
“It is kind of funny, though,” Aleta mused.
“As much as we plan everything to the minute, it is with the understanding that we can’t be entirely married to it. We understand it is still live entertainment and that anything could happen. You know, the dog that is assigned to run the first pitch ball out there could just decide to run in circles and yes — it’s happened. At that point, you just have to smile and go with it. It’s kind of fun.”
So you’re probably wondering what Aleta does in the offseason when there are no games to be broadcast, no Anthems to be sung and no crowds to entertain.
Well… see, that’s not exactly true.
“Right now our focus is on the Brewers On Deck program. It is kind of exciting and I would say it is very similar to what we do here at Miller Park in that when fans come to Miller Park, we know that primarily they are interested in the ball game. They are coming out to see baseball and our staff runs around and tries to figure out ways to bolster that, making sure that everybody has something fun and interesting to do.
Brewers On Deck is very similar in that we know that a lot of people who are going to the On Deck event want autographs and photographs, that sort of thing. We do our best to bolster that. We make sure that if you go to the event and you don’t end up with that one autograph that you wanted, that there is something else there that you will really enjoy.”
Aleta has a large team assembled to help run the Brewers On Deck event and that team spans across virtually every department from Consumer Marketing to Stadium Operations and Community Relations; from Corporate Marketing, Retail, Media Relations to Brewers Charities, Inc. and more.
The Brewers On Deck event has taken many forms since it first began at Brookfield Square Mall in 2004. Each year, we learn a little more and try to grow the event to make it bigger and better than even before. Last year was the first year that the event was held at the Midwest Airlines Center in downtown Milwaukee. This year, we’re returning to the same location, but we have even more space to work with and more attractions to entertain fans once they get in the door.
“Last year we had our Winter Warm-Up event that had limited access at the Riverside Theater. It was just met with wild acclaim and this year, we wanted to bring aspects of that program to On Deck, so we will have some of those same kind of programs — Game Shows, Fashion Shows — it will be a neat addition. We also have a Brewers Museum. It is just a fun way to look back on the history of Brewers baseball in Milwaukee,” Aleta said.
After On Deck, Aleta and her staff take a deep breath and immediately go to Arizona for Fantasy Camp, where they do a little video work with the participants and coaches. Brewers Fantasy Camp runs from January 31 through February 7. (Note: There is still time to sign up! For more information, click here.)
“It’s good fun to see fans enjoying their time as Major Leaguers,” said Aleta, who will return to Arizona just one week later for Spring Training.
“Part of what we do for Spring Training is we go down and ask players questions, we take video and we get to know players better so we can better present the players to our fans. Fantasy Camp is kind of a precursor to that because we do the same thing with those participants.”
When Aleta and her staff arrive at Spring Training, they do some headshot work, talk to the players and ask them questions about their likes and dislikes. Their goal is to get the players comfortable with seeing them and a camera so as her staff comes back to them during the year, the players will know that they are there to introduce them to the fans.
“This also gets us started on making plans for the season in terms of what we’re going to do on the video board, what we’re going to do between innings. February is when it really starts to come together,” said Aleta.
Aleta is not in charge of the Spring Training broadcast and entertainment — we’ll get to that in a another interview — and that’s just fine because once she has all of the player interaction her staff requires and she has met with broadcast partners and sponsors down in Maryvale, Arizona, it’s full steam ahead when she gets back to Milwaukee.
“When we get back, we are well into March. That leaves us with a couple of weeks to get ready for the season.That’s when we bring in the Brew Crew and start working on the activities we’re going to do between innings and some of the mascot events. That’s when we really start rehearsing,” Aleta said.
In fact, if you find yourself down at Friday’s Front Row for lunch in March, don’t be surprised if you see a random Sausage Race break out, hear music blasting over the sound system or see messaging on the LED boards. That’s just Aleta preparing for the season.
“The other way that we ‘practice’ is with the Exhibition Games that we’ll have at Miller Park this year,” Aleta said, referring to the games on Friday, April 2 and Saturday, April 3 vs. the Detroit Tigers.
“The Exhibition Games are our first and final real ‘rehearsal’ before the start of the season.”
As you can see, Aleta is another member of our Front Office who works tirelessly year round to enhance the fan experience. Next time you make it out to Miller Park, make sure you take note of all of the little details that make everything that much more fun for you — that’s Aleta and her staff hard at work.
Also, make sure you check out all of the fruits of our labor at Brewers On Deck on Sunday, January 31. Be on the lookout for the lady that is calm, cool, collected and in charge. That’s Aleta Mercer.
Brewers On Deck takes place on Sunday, January 31 from 10am to 5pm at the Midwest Airlines Center in downtown Milwaukee. Advance tickets are just $15 for adults and $9 for kids. Autograph sessions will be staggered throughout the day with autograph tickets ranging from free to $25 (available only at the event). A portion of the proceeds goes to Brewers Charities, Inc. To purchase tickets, click here.