I go bowling maybe twice a year. That stretches to three times if I’m looking for a cheap way to take my wife out on a date. In other words, I wouldn’t exactly call myself a pro. I mean, I’ve had my fair share of strikes (I once started out a game with 5 in a row), but those are just fleeting moments here and there. What I can call myself is a competitive person. I’m not a fan of losing. I actually can’t wait to have kids so that I can destroy them in sports–teaching them the valuable lesson of not always being able to win, of course. To lose in a bowling competition seven years in a row was more frustrating than trying to get a cow to walk down steps (they won’t do it, by the way).
The Cleveland Indians and The Cleveland Browns have been competing in a charity event called “Bowl for Kid’s Sake” for the past eleven years. The event raises money for Big Brothers Big Sisters, while at the same time, allows both front offices to show off their bowling skills. For the past seven years, the Browns have beaten us. And for the past seven years, they have had bragging rights over us. That all stopped on May 2, 2013 when the Cleveland Indians put together the beast of all teams and beat the Browns by almost 7,000 pins to capture the championship! Helping us to that victory were Indians players Justin Masterson, Chris Perez, Yan Gomes, Bryan Shaw and Indians wives, Meryl Masterson, Jenny Gomes, Kristen Shaw, Kathleen Reynolds, Amanda Kluber, Melanie Perez, and Meredith Chisenhall (Lonnie stayed home to watch the kids).
Now, of course, the real winners involved here are the kids. Over $10,000 was raised at the event to support Big Brothers Big Sisters. Their mission is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported 1-to-1 relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. (www.bbbs.org/cleveland)
As the nation’s largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network, Big Brothers Big Sisters makes meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”), ages 9 through 18, in communities across the country (www.bbbs.org/cleveland).
I was able to catch up to one of the front office employees at the Indians, Matt Gay, who is actually a “Big” in his spare time. He was nice enough to take part in my new blog segment that I’m calling “The 3 Main Questions.”
1.) How long have you been a Big Brother?
I officially have been a “Big” here in Cleveland since December of 2012, a process that started in June of last year, as the Big Brothers Big Sisters program does a great job of making sure that each Big/Little match is the right fit. Some matches take a little bit longer than others to set up.
2.) What made you want to get involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters?
I had attended a Summer Day Camp growing up, and had the opportunity to work as a Counselor for several years at the same camp that I attended since the age of 9 in Connecticut. I worked there in different capacities from the age of 15-20, which really showed me the joys of working with children and being able to make an impact in their lives. While I attended Syracuse University I was a part of their Big Brothers Big Sisters program for three years (Sophomore-Senior). This was essentially a weekly after-school program at a local Middle School where I would go with fellow students and we would help our Littles with their homework, do arts and crafts and run around outside. I always say that I am still just a big kid so it makes it easier to just have fun and connect.
3.) You work for the Cleveland Indians. What does it mean to you knowing that they support Big Brothers Big Sisters?
Knowing that the Cleveland Indians support Big Brothers Big Sisters, just gives me another reason to take pride in sporting the Block C or Chief Wahoo, because I work for a company that continually gives back to the community and understands the importance of serving others.
Long story short, our bowling championship drought is finally over. All it took was a little hard work and patience. Throughout these seven years, I’ve fallen back on the same quote over and over to get me through the hard losses: “With patience and saliva, the ant will eventually eat the elephant.” I don’t know who said it, but it really is a powerful quote. I’m not saying that we are going to start winning every year, because that isn’t a safe bet. I am saying that we will continue to win with our off the field efforts and supporting great organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters. And that is all I really need (since I now have my victory over the Browns)!
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!
I was only about a day old when I got my first blanket. I know for a fact that I was a beautiful baby right from the beginning and wanted to show off my body, but my parents thought it’d be best to cover me up. I’m guessing it was because I was born in late December and they didn’t want me to catch a cold. Either way, I still have that blanket to this day and it is one of my favorites. Obviously, I never use it because it’s only big enough to cover up my feet, but I hold on to it for sentimental value. To others, that blanket may have been just a piece of fabric, but to me it was so much more than that. It offered me comfort, warmth, security and confidence (when I used it as a Superman cape).
The Cleveland Indians decided it was time to blanket the community (pun) with their generosity and make a few blankets of their own. With help from Jo-Ann Fabrics who graciously donated the special Chief Wahoo designed fabric, 18 front office employees got together and began to show off their sewing skills. Luckily, there was no sewing involved with these as they are the types of blankets where you just cut the fabric and then knot the ends together. In a period of 4 hours, about 68 blankets were measured, cut and knotted together.
The blankets will be donated to Providence House so that local kids will be able to enjoy the same comfort, warmth and security that we all did when we were younger (and still do today)! And they may even help create a new Superman here and there!
Providence House is Ohio’s first licensed crisis nursery, offering free, voluntary (non-custodial) placements for emergency shelter to children newborn through six years old, actively living in crisis situations which place them at risk of abuse or neglect (www.provhouse.org).
Okay, maybe I’m not a radio star but I am definitely a blogging star. Just ask my mom. Technology is slowly creeping up on all of us and this new concept of moving images on a screen to create a story seems like it is all the rage!
I suppose it is a good thing because I don’t think I could really put into words everything that the Cleveland Indians do in the community throughout the year. I guess I technically did put it into words if you look through my blog and see all of the past blogs I wrote, but that’s neither here nor there. Let’s just agree on me being too lazy to write a year-long summary and instead, just watch the tiny television box set below.
A lot of people don’t know this, but chickens are beautiful creatures. Think about it. What other animal has a soft, golden brown coat of feathers, large talons, exceptional speed, a beak that can pierce your skin, a monstrous cluck and beady little eyes that won’t hold a stare for longer than .25 seconds? If that isn’t beauty then I’m going to have to raise my bar a little bit higher!
The Cleveland Indians teamed up with Tyson Foods, Inc. and Lift Up America to once again provide 30,000 pounds of protein (various types of meat) to local food agencies in the city of Cleveland. The Cleveland Foodbank assists in making sure each food agency gets a certain poundage of protein based on their size and their reach. This is the fifth year that the Indians have hosted the event and each year the need grows more and more.
Eddy, the Tyson truck driver, parked his tractor-trailer right on the Gateway Plaza outside of Progressive Field as the backdrop of the distribution. Over the past decade, Tyson has donated more than 88 million pounds of food–roughly 352 million meals. With the help of 70 volunteers including employees from Insurance Partners Agency, the Cleveland Indians, the Cleveland Foodbank and Lift Up America the 30,000 pounds of food was distributed to 30 agencies in about 20 minutes!
“There are millions of hard-working adults, children and seniors who simply cannot make ends meet and are faced with the realities of hunger,” said Donnie Smith, president and CEO of Tyson Foods, Inc. “We want to make a difference in these people’s lives by helping them provide nutritious food for themselves and their families.”
So while we may not know which came first, the chicken or the egg, I think we finally have an answer as to why the chicken crossed the road. Obviously, it was to get into the Tyson Foods truck so that it can be brought to Progressive Field and passed out to local food agencies. It’s not the best punch line for a joke, but like the food distribution, it’s all about the delivery!
I’ve worked for the Indians for close to 6 years now and I have to admit that every time I go up the steps behind home plate to get to the field, or make the turn in the lower level to walk out the elephant doors in left field, I still have that moment of awe. There is nothing like the feeling you get when you are about to go onto a professional sports team’s field. It’s a feeling of excitement and calmness mixed in with heart pounding joy. I get to do it every day and anytime I want, yet that feeling never fades. What makes it even cooler is when I can take someone out to the field who would have never dreamed they would have the chance to be that close.
Fabian Washington from Cleveland, Ohio was able to experience the sensation on an even grander scale at his recent trip to Progressive Field. The Cleveland Indians teamed up with Strike Force Baseball Academy and the Diamond Boys Organization to hold a “Dream Day” at Progressive Field. The two groups worked together to put on a baseball clinic for children and adults with developmental disabilities who have never really had the chance to play sports.
“I learned how to hold a baseball properly, I learned how to hold it across the ‘U’ and not just hold it any sort of way. It’s just awesome to come down here. I”m having lots of fun just playing around on the field…and I love the fresh grass,” says Fabian.
Invited to the event were members of Our Lady of the Wayside and also Rising Star.* Meg Downey, who is the Director of Specialized Services at Our Lady of the Wayside and helped put on the event, probably summed up the event the best. “The best part of yesterday’s Dream Day Clinic was that Gino, who lives at The Wayside’s Lake Home, believes he pitches for the Cleveland Indians … John who attends The Wayside’s Day Program, believes that he hit a home run … and every consumer participating did what so many of us take for granted – they played ball.”
The day ended with an intrasquad game before they broke for lunch. The participants used the skills they learned to play their very own game of baseball. They played on the same field where their heroes play. The helmets were the same ones that past Indians players have used. The balls were Major League baseballs and the grass–well, like Fabian said–it was “fresh”…just like the pros play on.
I was taught how to throw a baseball by the great Jason Ream. Jason Ream, as you all know, was a pitcher and he taught me the basics of how to throw a four and a two seam fastball. He also tried to teach me how to throw a knuckleball, but the end result just has me throwing the ball about 2 feet before it hit the ground. Truth be told, I don’t think Jason even knew how to throw a knuckleball–I’m sorry, I was just informed by my editor that no one will know who this Jason Ream fellow is. For those that don’t know, Jason is one of my best friends and we grew up together out in Burton. He now works in Chicago for a bank and has never played professional baseball. He just happened to be a pitcher on a little league team. I’m sorry for any confusion, I just really wanted to tell you all who taught me how to pitch because it’s a great memory.
At the Cleveland Indians, we are big on creating memories. I bet if you ask J.T. Taylor who taught him how to pitch he would probably tell you his dad and his baseball coach (obviously). But if you asked him who else taught him, he would say Cleveland Indians closer Chris Perez. J.T. won a pitching lesson with Chris Perez through the Cleveland Indians Wives Association charity auction. Player’s wives donate unique items to the auction to raise money for Cleveland Indians Charities and Providence House.*
J.T. was “psyched to see Chris…and have a lesson by him.” Perez spent about 30 minutes going over different pitches, but in the end, all J.T. really wanted to learn was how to throw the curveball. When asked what his best tip he learned was, he simply replied, “The curveball. I’ve never learned how throw a curveball.”
Of course, Perez knows that everyone wants to learn the curveball. This is the 2nd year he has given a pitching lesson and both kids immediately asked him to teach them the curve. He is quick to point out (and he proves it every time he is out there on the field) “it all revolves around the fastball. Hopefully he takes some of the stuff I taught him and goes out and helps himself become a better pitcher.”
*Providence House was founded in 1981 by Sr. Hope Greener, CSJ, as Ohio’s first licensed crisis nursery, offering free, voluntary (non-custodial) placements for emergency shelter to children newborn through six years old, actively living in crisis situations which place them at risk of abuse or neglect. For more information visit www.provhouse.org
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!
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.
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
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!