Grape Sno-Cone

I played little league baseball from pre-Kindergarten up until 6th grade.  I say pre-Kindergarten because my brother started tee ball in Kindergarten, and because I wanted to do everything he did, the coaches let me start a year early.  I was on the Claridon Eagles and then moved up to the Claridon Cardinals playing 2nd base and right field.  Was I good?  Let’s just say I made a wise choice running track and cross-country when I got into 7th grade.  But that’s neither here nor there.

When I played ball we had the best fields money could buy.  Unfortunately, there was no money, so we mostly played on fields where the dirt had some random grass patches making it a tiny obstacle course if you hit anything more than a single.  Our coaches were fathers of other players on the team who were gracious enough to donate their time for a season.  If we won a game, we headed up to the local Huntsburg Dari Whip for a Sno-Cone, which the coaches paid for.  Even if we lost a game, we would still get a Sno-Cone so it was win-win.  The comedian, Brian Regan, put it perfectly when he said he played just for the grape Sno-Cone, because win or lose, he got his favorite Sno-Cone, which was grape…but sometimes he went with his equally favorite, cherry.  Needless to say, we didn’t have much back then except baseball and the old Dari-Whip.

I would suspect that’s how most little league teams have it. You rough it and you enjoy every minute of it and all the while, you dream of making it to the big leagues one day.  Sometimes you get so lucky that you and your team get to come to a Cleveland Indians game and even better…get to watch the Indians take batting practice.  Thanks to Major League Baseball and the Cleveland Indians, one team got to do just that! 

Members of the Monarchs youth baseball team were set up with tickets and an Indians batting practice viewing the other day.  Unfortunately, batting practice was cancelled, but that didn’t stop Indians pitchers from putting on a show for the Monarchs.  Justin Masterson, Josh Tomlin, Tony Sipp and Joe Smith swung over to meet the team and, without warning, told all the kids to get on the field and start sprinting across the outfield.  The kids, with excited and shocked looks on their faces, did as they were toldand the Indians pitchers sprinted across the field with them

Once warmed up, Masterson had the kids line up by the batter’s box and pretend to swing a bat at one of his ghost pitches.  Each kid got a swing in and then were told to run the bases right after.  I’m going out on a limb here and saying that our grounds crew wasn’t too excited to have to re-rake the field, but it was a once in a lifetime opportunity that no one could argue against!

Masterson, Smith, Tomlin and Sipp got the team together for a group photo and then invited them into the dugout for a couple of autographs.  It was a spur of the moment activity that will stay with these kids forever.  Now when they go back to their own sandlots, out playing in right field and their mind starts to wander, the vision of one day becoming a major league baseball player will be a little more clear to them.  Although, I’m sure the thought of a grape Sno-Cone will still be at the top of their mind!

“… I was very good at kickball … I was wonderful at doing that kick and your leg goes up and your shoe went on top of the school …”

Kids nowadays do things extremely different from how they used to do them when I was young.  For instance, when I was young, I used to have to get up and change the channel for my parents because our old TV didn’t have a remote control.  Luckily, we didn’t have cable so we only had 4 channels to flip through. Kids in my day also had to call our parents via 1-800-collect to come pick us up from school if we didn’t have 25 cents for the pay phone.  If we were really smart (like I was), we would call our parents collect and instead of saying our name to the operator (so the parents would accept the call and the charges) we would say “come pick me up” really fast.  That way, our parents knew to pick us up and we wouldn’t have to pay for a collect call.   You’re welcome Mom and Dad.  Anyway, another thing different was when I would play kickball at school, it was played with one goal in mind…to beat the other team.  These days, kids are playing kickball for a whole other reason–to raise money for pediatric cancer research.

It’s crazy!  Kids are helping out other kids through the game of kickball! I guess it really isn’t that crazy.

 Kick-It was founded by a 10-year old cancer patient with a big dream- to cure cancer by playing kickball. Now a national fundraising program, Kick-it raises money for pediatric, adolescent and young adult cancer research.  Throughout the year, groups of kids hold kickball games and if they raise a certain amount of money they are invited to play kickball on Progressive Field!  Recently, Kick-It and the Cleveland Indians teamed up to bring 36 teams to play throughout the day on the same outfield that their favorite Indians players play on. 

The Cleveland Indians have supported Kick-It since its inception. Cleveland Indians Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Paul Dolan is passionate about finding a cure for pediatric, adolescent and young adult cancer research. The commitment from the Indians organization allowed Kick-it to grow from a single event to a national organization. Thanks to our partnership, corporations, school teams and Tribe fans across Northeast Ohio have raised more than $700,000. (thanks kick-it.org for that information).

For more information on Kick-It and how you can get a team together, visit www.kick-it.org!  Special thanks to Ian Johnson for the photos

A cornucopia of catching up…

You know how when you were growing up and the cool thing to do was to have a fern?  Remember begging your mom and dad to buy you one and when they finally caved in and did it, you got too busy with other stuff and ignored the fern until it began to wilt?  And then once you noticed the fern was starting to wilt, you just gave it a bunch of plant food and doused it with water to catch up for what you missed when you were too busy.  What I’m getting at is that this blog has been my childhood fern.  I got crazy busy in April and the first part of May and am now giving it a bunch of information to catch people up on what we are doing. 

So what have we been up to since the last post?  Here is a quick recap:

UMPS CARE Charities–a couple of times a year, the Cleveland Indians team up with Major League Baseball and its umpires to bring in a select group of kids that get to meet the umpires prior to a game.  The kids can ask the umpires questions, get their autographs and take a few pictures while down on the warning track behind homeplate. 

 

 

The Dream Foundation–On Sunday, May 6, the Cleveland Indians partnered with The Dream Foundation to make a dream come true for one patient.  The Dream Foundation’s mission is to enhance the quality of life for individuals and their families
who are battling life-threatening illness.  Indians’ pitcher Justin Masterson stopped by to talk to the family and offer some words of support and Indians outfield Shin-Soo Choo also stopped by to take some photos and signed and gave the family the bat he used for batting practice that day.

Tribe Reporter for a Day–The Cleveland Indians and The Plain Dealer partnered once again for their annual Tribe Reporter for a Day event on May 9.  The event allows 25 local, aspiring, high school journalists to come down to Progressive Field and experience a ‘day in the life of a sports reporter.’  The young journalists started their afternoon by visiting the Indians Social Suite and talking with the Assistant Director of Communications for the Cleveland Indians, then made their way down to the Press Interview Room to sit in on Manny Acta’s press conference.  After the conference, Manny hung around to let the students ask him a few questions. 

From here, they spoke with The Plain Dealer’s sports writer Paul Hoynes who gave them valuable tips and words of wisdom in regards to sports writing.  The event was capped with the reporters’ very own press conference with Indians pitchers Chris Perez, Nick Hagadone and Josh Tomlin.  The journalists even had an assignment given to them with a deadline!  They had to write about their experience and submit it to The Plain Dealer by the very next day!

All in all, it has been a productive April and early May.  We’ve got our Cleveland Indians Charities Friday night auction coming up on May 18, followed by our Wives Association’s Tribe Treasure auction on May 19.  Gotta keep my fern alive, so more posts to come in the near future!

Why make billions when you could make MILLIONS!?

I was in the Progressive Field Team Shop the other day to buy a hooded sweatshirt for my future sister-in-law, who I will refer to only as Rebecca D.  Actually, that’s too identifiable, so I’ll call her R. Drew instead.  Anyway, she had been hounding me forever to get her an Indians hoodie (yeah, I called it that) and her birthday was approaching so I thought I might as well.  I scrounged up enough Indians Fun Money (Fun Money is like Micky Mouse money…it’s not real, but you can still buy stuff legally with it) and made the purchase.

The cashier gave my total as $34.88.  She then asked if I would like to “Round Up for Charity.” You can see my Round Up for Charity blog entry here.  Of course I said yes, and the remaining 12 cents was given to Cleveland Indians Charities (CIC).  Twelve cents doesn’t seem like much, but if everyone “Rounds Up” that accumulates to a pretty good number for charity.  Round Up, along with numerous other fundraisers throughout the year allow CIC to make some amazing financial contributions.

The past few days, CIC has been making headlines by donating those funds back to the Cleveland community.  On March 31st, a Rally for Excellence was held at East Tech High School and was open to any and all supporters/students/teachers/parents of Cleveland Metropolitan School District.  At the rally, Cleveland Indians Charities presented CMSD a check for $167,000 which will be used to continue their baseball and softball programs (which would have been eliminated along with their other Spring sports programs). 

The Indians and CIC continued their support of the baseball and softball programs by attending the Senate League’s season opener on April 2.  The ceremonial first pitch(es) was thrown out by Cleveland Indians President, Mark Shapiro and CMSD Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon.  This marks the 15th season of partnership between the Athletic Department of CMSD and Cleveland Indians Charities.   In those 15 years, CIC has donated over $2.4 million dollars to help operate baseball and softball programs throughout the Cleveland school system.

CIC was not done yet!  On April 4, Cleveland Indians Charities President and Indians Senior Vice President of Public Affairs, Bob DiBiasio along with Indians Chairman and CEO Paul Dolan made their way to the Boys and Girls Club’s Broadway Club to make the largest charitable donation in CIC history.  They presented a check in the amount of ONE MILLION DOLLARS to Ron Soeder, President of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland to support their “Save Our Kids” campaign.

The “Save Our Kids” initiative aims to raise $16-20 million dollars over the next five  years in an effort to maximize the reach of existing Greater Cleveland clubs, add new clubs throughout the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Breakthrough Charter Schools, and build a sustainable endowment to support the children of Cleveland. 

Check out the video below for a summary of the donation and the partnership of the Cleveland Indians and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland:

http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=20382819&topic_id=&c_id=cle&tcid=vpp_copy_20382819&v=3

“That’s as good as money. Those are IOU’s. Two hundred and fifty thou–might want to hold on to that one.”

I attended and graduated from Berkshire High School with, what I call,  the opposite of a running scholarship.  Instead of them paying me to run, I ended up having to pay them to showcase my talents in Cross Country and Track.  The joke’s on them, because I wasn’t that talented so they got ripped off! 

When I was in 9th grade, it cost me (technically my parents) $250 to play sports for the year.  By the time I was a senior, that price raised to $300 per sport!  That’s $600 that my parents had to pay for just me–let alone my brother (Football and Track) and my sister (Cross Country).  It even got to the point where they were charging $300 to be in marching band!  I loved my trombone, but shelling out that kind of kale isn’t worth all the girls’ phone numbers I could have got because I was a poetic, soul-searching musician (my mom always told me girls find that attractive, although looking back now I think she was being more nice than truthful to me).  Either way, paying money to run made every race and track meet I competed in feel like I was paying off an IOU to the school. 

I’m talking about that good old “Pay to Play” scenario which seems to be more and more popular in Ohio high schools.  Levies don’t pass, or budgets cause programs to shut down unless they charge the student athletes to pay to play for their sport.   For some school districts, the cost is much higher than others. 

Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) made the difficult decision earlier this year that they have to cut all Spring sports to try to save money.  Normally, baseball and softball would be part of this mix but thanks to Cleveland Indians Charities (the charitable arm of the Cleveland Indians), these two sports will still be in play. 

Every year since 1995, Cleveland Indians Charities has made a contribution to CMSD to help fund their baseball and softball programs.  Because of the annual contribution made by Cleveland Indians Charities, these two programs will not be included in the cut of Spring sports! 

It takes roughly $350 to support a team for the season and thanks to Cleveland Indians Charities’ generous financial donors, in-park silent auctions, Fantasy Camp, Celebrity Golf Outing and numerous other fundraisers, we are able to cover the cost of the school district’s teams and eliminate the dreaded ‘pay to play’ scenario.

Cleveland Indians Charities is dedicated to provide baseball opportunities to the youth of Cleveland and, to date, they have donated over 2.2 million dollars to CMSD to ensure all students have that opportunity.  To find out more about Cleveland Indians Charities and how you can make your dollars count, go to www.indians.com/community and click on the Cleveland Indians Charities box.

West Side Story

I grew up on the east side of Cleveland (what up 440!?) in a great town called Burton.  If you ever go there, don’t expect to see a stop light, because we don’t have one.  Don’t expect to see shopping plazas or public transportation vehicles either (expect maybe an Amish taxi or two).  If you want to got to see a movie, grocery shop or anything entertaining  you have to drive at least 20 minutes–we call it ‘going into town.’  Yes, we Burtonians are far away from the craziness that is the real world and that’s what I love about it.  If it wasn’t for Burton, I probably wouldn’t really argue over the age-old question of which is better: the east side or the west side? 

Currently, I live on the west side (get over yourself 216, my phone number still is 440).  I went to college on the west side and then kind of got stuck out this way.  I like the people and it is nice to only drive 2 minutes to Target or the mall or McDonald’s.  I also like that it is only a 13 minute drive to work here at Progressive Field.  It makes life a lot easier if you want to do anything.  Unfortunately, my heart belongs to the east side and hopefully within the next year or two, I will make my way back to settle down and raise some kin (and a little more cain) of my own there. 

What does the above story have to do with what the Indians did in the community?  Absolutely nothing.  I just needed a story to tell that mentions the west side.  Kind of a lame transition into my summary about how the Indians volunteered at the West Side Boys and Girls Club the other day.  You people will read anything!

On Monday, members of the Cleveland Indians front office went to hang out at the West Side Boys and Girls Club.  They helped the members with homework, played basketball, ping-pong and shot some pool with them.   Slider even made a visit to the club, which seemed to excite the kids more than having us there. 

  The club is open for the kids from 3:00pm to 7:00pm every day so they can come straight from school if they want.  In order to be a member, the parent has to fill out an application and, of course, there are rules that the kids have to follow when they are there.  Dinner is provided for the kids if they want it (which the Indians brought pizza and pop–sorry healthy food people). 

 It is truly an amazing thing to talk with some of these kids.  Some of their stories are pretty intense and it boggles my mind the things that they have to deal with on a daily basis.  The Boys and Girls Club keeps them on the right track and they all seem to enjoy being there.  You’ll see the older kids helping out the younger kids with homework, or teaching them how to play games.  They all seem to watch out for each other and that is one of the many reasons the Cleveland Indians are proud to support The Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland.  We plan on seeing all of these kids more throughout the season as we invite them down to games and events!

Can you sign my baseball?

A buddy of mine just celebrated his 30th birthday and one of the things he asked me for was an autographed baseball signed by his childhood hero, Albert Belle.  Wow!  How flattering that he put his hopes in me to grant him that birthday wish?  The power that I had from that request was just overwhelming.  To add to that, I just happened to be in Goodyear, Arizona the same day that Albert made his return to the Cleveland Indians (as an alumni, of course).  If I could get Albert Belle, who has not had any communication with the Indians since he left in 1996, to sign a baseball for my friend–what a hero I would be!  Just…wow!  I would probably go down as the best friend of all time!

Didn’t happen though.  Are you kidding me? I’m not doing that!

My job is to get autographed items to help grant charitable wishes, not the wish of a friend who has had 30 years to get the autograph himself.  Is it my fault he never asked Albert to sign anything when he was one of the only 500 fans at the old Cleveland Stadium and players were signing anything that moved?  I don’t need to be a hero, or your best friend.  Here’s a baseball signed by me, Justin Sherman.  Happy Birthday. (Please note: If you are interested in an autographed Albert Belle ball, we will have one to bid on at our Opening Day silent auction to benefit Cleveland Indians Charities on April 5.  Section 153).

Speaking of autographs, I was recently down at the Indians Spring Training complex in Goodyear, Arizona coordinating our big “Signing Day.”  During Signing Day, we have a little over 4,000 items (bats, balls, photos, jerseys, etc.) for the players to sign.  The items signed will go to many different things over the course of the year depending on which front office department requested items, but the majority will go towards our donations to local charities/benefits as well as silent auction items for our own charity, Cleveland Indians Charities.  Keeping with my amazing public speaking skills, I recorded a little something about Signing Day to give you a quick inside look at the process.  As always, thank you to Dan Mendlik for taping and editing it together.

Don’t Tread On Me

I don’t know how many of you know any war veterans, but I’m guessing someone in your life has taken part in a war at some point or another.  If you don’t know anyone, I recommend tracking down a vet, taking a few hours and just pick their brain.  The older vets are like walking history books and they all have stories that will rattle your brain.

As for myself, I count myself lucky to know quite a few veterans from wars spanning across the 20th and 21st century (WWII, Vietnam, Korean, Desert Storm, and whatever you want to call the current war).  I grew up listening to one of my dad’s best friends, Tom, tell his stories from Vietnam.   Every time we would go over and visit he would tell my brother and me about a different time he was under attack, or where he drove his tank, or how he received different medals.  He would show us his old uniforms and photographs from a time and place that many veterans would rather not talk about.  Listening to Tom (and my grandfathers and friends I graduated with), I gained a greater respect for those men and women that defend our country. 

This month’s Indians in the Community event was very special to me because I had the opportunity to go to the USO care packaging facility in North Canton along with my fellow co-workers and help take care of the soldiers currently in active duty.  We had a few different jobs when we were there including: rearranging the assembly line to make for easier packaging, counting and sorting DVD’s that will be put into care packages, bagging over 2,000 bags of hand sanitizer and soaps as well as boxing up over 100 care packages that will be sent out to soldiers serving overseas who are from the Northern Ohio area. 

I can usually talk my way through anything but, while my blog writing skills are just amazing beyond belief, I’ve decided its time to introduce a new way for the Cleveland Indians to talk about their off the field accomplishments.  Below is a link to a quick video of our time at the USO facility, including a few interviews with volunteers and the USO project manager, Jeannie Soley.  With film being a visual medium, I hope these videos we produce help shed a little more light on what the Indians do to positively impact the Cleveland community as well as create a stronger connection to our fans. 

Thanks to Dan Mendlik for putting the video together!  Indians in the Community–USO

Vinnie Pestano praises player (alliterations are fun)!

There are usually some pretty good stories that come out of Fantasy Camp week.  Sometimes they are stories shared by the former players about their old teammates and the crazy stuff they would do.  Sometimes they are stories told by veteran campers about past camps they’ve attended both here in Goodyear and even those camps that took place in Winter Haven.  I’ve had the opportunity to witness these stories as they are happening–before they become actual stories–and I’ve probably helped spread them around, turning them more into fish tales instead of factual events. 

This year hasn’t been any different. In fact, one particular story stands out to me this week.  It all began when one of the campers, Dennis Barriball, tried to catch a pop fly during a game on the second day of the tournament.  In what appears to be a random freak accident, as Dennis was catching the ball his achilles decided it didn’t want to stay intact anymore.  Dennis fell like a shanty in a snowstorm and, after being checked out by our trainers, was diagnosed with a blown out achilles.

For most people, this would be the end of Fantasy Camp.  The inability to walk makes it tough to play any baseball games.  Dennis thought differently and decided the next day that he could at least bat for his team (in Fantasy Camp they allow pinch runners to start at homeplate and run to first as soon as the ball is hit).

Rumors of his stupidity heroics made it to the major league side of the complex where Cleveland Indians pitcher Vinnie Pestano tweeted about it.  Here at the Indians, we like to Connect our fans to the players so we asked Vinnie if he cared to meet Dennis.  Without hesitation, Vinnie said he would love to and the rest is history. 

Many other great stories happened this week, but this was the one that sticks out the most.  An average guy comes to Arizona to live out his fantasy of playing baseball just like the pros.  He gets to be managed and taught by former players that he grew up idolizing.  He gets to use the same facilities that the current Tribe players use and if this isn’t enough, he not only ends up catching the attention of pro ball players, but he gets to meet them too!  If that isn’t Creating memories and Connecting generations, I don’t know what is!

Thank you to Vinnie for being a stand up guy and to Dennis Barriball for, well, just being a guy who can stand up on a blown achillies!

“Da Plane! Da Plane!”

Today, January 16, I am celebrating my 5th year anniversary at the Cleveland Indians.  Please…hold your applause.  Normally I would have prepared a speech and had a little party after work, ask people to bring gifts and cash, and reflect back on the 5 years that have been.  Unfortunately, I am not home in Cleveland around my favorite co-workers (you know who you are and who you aren’t).  I am instead burdened with the task of going out to dinner and hanging out with  Indians alums: Dave Burba, Mike Jackson, Brian Anderson, Chad Ogea, Len Barker and a few others.  I’m stuck down in Arizona at the Cleveland Indians Spring Training Complex for the week instead of being able to enjoy the cold, snowy weather in Cleveland, Ohio.  I have no choice but to get paid to entertain these former pro baseball players while they manage/entertain/teach campers all week for our Indians Fantasy Camp. Five years of working at the Indians and I’m lucky unlucky enough to have to do this.  Boy what I wouldn’t give to have a cool job.

I hope you picked up on the sarcasm because I was laying it on pretty thick.  Are you kidding me? I love this!  Cleveland Indians Fantasy Camp is going on this week down in Goodyear, Arizona and so far it is a blast!  The camp is open to anyone (male or female) ages 30 years old and up.  You can be 85 and still participate if you are able to!  People come from all over the country to take part in this camp and basically live the life of a major league ball player (minus the ginormous salary, of course).  The campers get to stay at a 5-star hotel, have breakfast and lunch at the Indians complex, be drafted onto teams which are managed by former Indians players, play in a tournament style set of games and have a championship game in the main ballpark.

The most important part about this camp is that all of the money raised here goes to Cleveland Indians Charities (CIC).  Every night there is always a Kangaroo Kourt, where our judge and former Indians pitcher, Gary Bell, will fine the campers for doing things incorrectly or just downright stupid.  Any money raised from the fines also goes to Cleveland Indians Charities.  You should actually  want to get fined because you know your money is going to a good cause.

So that is where I’m at this week celebrating my 5 year anniversary at this ball club.  I may post one or two more updates on the week for my die-hard fans out there–which I’m calling the Sherman Screwballs.  I will at least keep you posted on who wins the championship and how much money we end up raising.  As always, thanks to Dan Mendlik for the picture (and future pictures from this week).

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