April 2013

“You Play Like A GIRL!”

So many great quotes to choose from “The Sandlot” for this blog entry. It was between the current title of the blog and “Oh yeah, the Great Bambino. Of course! I thought you said the Great Bambi.” Ha! Ham responds, “That wimpy deer?” What a great flick! That movie came out just as I was getting in to Junior High School. Oddly enough, it came out just after I stopped playing baseball. I reached a certain age where my hand-eye coordination just decided to stop and I couldn’t connect the bat with the ball to save my life. So I took up running and became the stud that I am.

Anyway, there was nothing better than playing baseball in an old park, on a dusty field in the middle of a hot, 90 degree summer evening. You always knew that you would go get ice cream after the game, even if you lost. Comedian Brian Regan did a funny bit on that. You should check it out.

Cleveland Indians Charities has access to a little sandlot of their own in the form of Progressive Field and, every year, they invite local high school baseball teams to come and participate in the High School Hardball Classic. The two-day event is in its 10th year and helps raise money, not only for Cleveland Indians Charities, but also for the high school team participating. Each team (10 teams this year) is required to sell 300 tickets to a 2013 Indians game at a discounted rate. They then re-sell those tickets at regular price and keep the difference as part of their fundraiser. The money raised from ticket sales into the Hardball Classic event, goes to Cleveland Indians Charities.

Teams have the opportunity to play their game on Progressive Field, as well as use the batting cages, the bullpen and the dugouts. Their lineups are posted on the scoreboard and names are announced as they come up to bat. It is a big-league experience for some of these future pro ball players! The game, then, counts towards their regular season schedule. Volunteers from the Indians front office help put on the event and I was lucky enough to be a team liaison for Rocky River High School. Basically, my job was to hang out with the team and escort them to where they needed to be. I was able to catch up with team captain and catcher/infielder, Jake Nicholson to ask him three important questions:

What does this mean to you to be able to stand in the same dugout as numerous Hall of Fame caliber players?
It means a lot. I looked up to those past Indians players a lot. This is just a great experience.

What are your thoughts on the Hardball Classic event as a whole?
It’s a lot of fun. I was lucky enough to play hockey here a couple years ago during Snow Days, but this experience is a lot more fun. To be able to play on the actual field (instead of ice) is pretty cool.

And finally, do you realize you are standing in the same spot that Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel and even myself have spit?
Ha! For sure (as he spits on the ground to show he spit here too).

With that, I’ll leave you with some pictures from the Classic. And, while “The Sandlot” celebrates it’s 20th Anniversary, I have to reiterate that Cleveland Indians Charities (CIC) is celebrating it’s 25th Anniversary. For more information on other great events that CIC puts on, go to http://www.indians.com and click on the “Community” tab. You’ll also find out how your high school baseball team can participate in the 2014 Hardball Classic! Thanks to all of the teams that participated this year and good luck with the rest of your season!

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“The House That Built Me”

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I had an amazing blog entry written today, but I just erased it all. Why? Because I tried to get too wordy and too “deep” and that just caused the blog to seem fake. It might have won me a Pulitzer, but it didn’t fit my normal writing mood. I know if my mood changes, then my fans and followers would get upset and I would be stuck writing a blog that no one ever looks at anymore. I did keep the title of my blog entry the same, just so you can see how poetic I was probably going to get had I kept the original text. To be honest, I have no story or historic event in my life that could even relate to our recent Indians in the Community event held at Providence House. To try to create one just for point of reference would simply be an injustice to what the great people at Providence House stand for.

And with that…

The Cleveland Indians continued their April Indians in the Community program by volunteering at Providence House in Cleveland. Providence House is an organization that fights to end child abuse and neglect by protecting at-risk families, empowering families in crisis and building safe communities for every child. Located in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood, Providence House serves kids ranging from infants to 10 years old. Their hope is that children everywhere are raised in safe, loving families free from abuse and neglect. Since the creation of Providence House 31 years ago, they have become more than an emergency shelter for children; including case management and supportive services for both the children and their families.

The Indians front office volunteers included staff from varioius departments as well as Meryl Masterson (wife of Indians pitcher Justin Masterson), Jenna Gomes and her husband Yan Gomes (Indians catcher). We started off our morning touring the facility. From there, we were split into two groups. One group assembled intake bags, which are kitted items that each child receives upon arrival at Providence House and takes home when he or she leaves (toothbrush, 5+sets of clothes, shoes, etc.). The other group was able to play with the kids who are staying at Providence House on their new playground at the newly remodeled and expanded House.

The volunteer event took place just days after Indians 1B Nick Swisher and his wife Joanna generously donated $75,000 to Providence House during the pre-game ceremonies of Opening Day. The Swishers, known for their charitable efforts and contributions, have clearly brought their philanthropic ways here to Cleveland with them and for that, we thank them.

If you’d like to learn more about Providence House or would like to volunteer, visit http://www.provhouse.org. Thank you again to all who helped out and to the players and their wives for spending time volunteering on one of their few, precious off days!