Tagged: Cleveland Indians

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:


“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).

“And I’ll Make A Wish and send it out to you…”

Everyone has a dream in life, or a wish that they wish would come true.  My sister probably wished she would have another sister instead of two brothers.  My brother probably wished I wasn’t such a wuss growing up and wouldn’t cry every time he practiced different wrestling moves on me.  My friends probably wished they were as cool as me…who can say for sure?

I used to wish that I would be a famous TV star.  And, while I never wanted to be on the TV show “Blossom,” I will admit that I may have wished a time or two to be Joey Lawrence.  He  was so cool!  As awesome as he was, I am pretty glad that wish never came true because, other than a great song or two (my blog title is a lyric from one of Joey’s songs), his career and stardom has pretty much shot straight downhill since “Blossom” ended.  I recommend not making a wish on that falling star.

There are some great wishes that are worth making realities.  This past Sunday the Cleveland Indians and the great people at Make A wish and Macy’s helped inspire some kids to dream big.  The immensely popular Macy’s Santa Claus made his first public stop to Cleveland (normally when he delivers presents on Christmas Eve it is more of a secret event).  As part of his stop, he was able to swing by Progressive Field where he met up with Cleveland Indians players Travis Hafner and Josh Judy to hold a private meet and greet with some Make A Wish families at Indians Snow Days. 

The Make A Wish families and Tribe players welcomed Santa and two of his elves (Jingle Bell and Nutmeg) to Progressive Field and had the opportunity to hang out with him, get some autographs and a few photos. They even got to enjoy the Frozen Mile and The Batterhorn (two main features at Indians Snow Days) with Santa before he had to make his way to Macy’s store at Great Northern Mall. For a visual recap, check out the video link below. Special thanks to Amy Michelson and Dan Mendlik for putting the video together.


You can take THAT to the bank…The Foodbank!

Sometimes when I look back on my life, I think of all the food that I’ve wasted.  There were so many times growing up that I would just not eat all of the food on my plate because I was either too stubborn to listen to my parents when they told me to finish it, or the food just tasted really bad (sorry Mom).  My parents would do the “make him feel guilty” trick by saying, “You know, there are starving kids in Africa who would love to eat this food that you are wasting.”  That was pretty much the same moment I would drop the food on the floor and feed the not-so-starving dog. 

I don’t know why people use the starving kids in Africa as an excuse to not waste food.  What about the starving kids in Canada?   Or even closer…Cleveland, Ohio?!  Does it make us feel better to pretend that only other countries/continents have hunger issues?  A little local fact:  Cleveland Foodbank helped provide over 30 million meals to families in need around the Greater Cleveland area this past year.  As great as that sounds, the need is for 50 million meals!

The Cleveland Indians front office did a fraction of their part this week as part of their “Week of Caring.”  On November

photo courtesy of Dan Mendlik

16, they held their annual food drive outside of Progressive Field.  With a huge help from Progressive Insurance, they were able to collect enough food for close to 7,500 meals!  We even had about 15 Progressive IRV’s stop by the ballpark to drop off over 155 boxes of food.

photo courtesy of Dan Mendlik

The next portion of our “Week of Caring” involved our front office employees swinging by the Cleveland Foodbank to help sort, package, and fix up some meals on the morning of November 18.  Partnering in the community once again were our friends at Progressive Insurance, who took over the afternoon shift after the Indians employees finished the morning shift. 

Our final day of the “Week of Caring” ends with a Thanksgiving Dinner served by members of the Indians executive staff, including Mark Shapiro, Paul Dolan, Chris Antonetti, and many more!  Five local charities were invited to bring 75 people each to attend the dinner at no cost to them.  Delaware North Companies (the food partner with the Cleveland Indians) prepared and donated the food.  The dinner takes place on Sunday, November 20 and is intended to provide a hearty Thanksgiving dinner for those families that may not have been able to afford one.

“I can’t believe we drove around all day, and there is not a single job in this town!” “Yeah, unless you want to work 40 hours a week!”

When I decided to move home from California it wasn’t easy finding a job, especially finding one in the city I grew up in and for a sports team that I grew up watching.  I applied online for positions around Cleveland for over a year and a half; all returning the same results of me not being qualified for the positions I wanted, or the positions were filled by a better candidate (I’m not sure how that is possible seeing as how I am perfect in every way, but whatever). 

After numerous rejections, I finally decided to re-create my resume.  The fact that I was still showing that I lettered in Cross Country and Track in high school, or that I was a medical marvel when it came to academics really didn’t wow any potential employers.  I needed to create a resume that would make those employers think that I knew what I was doing and that it related to what position I was applying for.  “Buzz words” were no longer deemed stupid and a waste of time.  These words helped twist simple job experience tasks into a sophisticated work of resume art.  Drove a van for Amish workers?  Try: Transportation Specialist for Constructional Engineers.  Picked up horse manure?  I prefer: Gathered and disposed of trusty steed remnants.  See how that makes the task seem much more important?  By the way, I grew up in and around Amish Country for those wondering about these odd jobs.  And no, I’m not sure who decided to hire me at the Indians based on my past job experience.

Anyway,  a resume is a very important piece of getting hired for a job.  The past two days, members of the Cleveland Indians front office have been volunteering their time at Glenville High School teaching students how to create their resumes.  Partnering with Youth Opportunities Unlimited (Y.O.U.), the volunteers  work with the students on building successful resumes as well as fielding any questions they may have about the job market.  Y.O.U. provides a resume building software that the students use, saves the resumes on their main server so they can be updated at any time, and presents the students with 10 copies each of their new professional resumes!

Youth Opportunities Unlimited’s mission is to empower youth–disadvantaged youth born into poverty–to succeed in school, in the workplace, and in life.  For more information, visit www.youthopportunities.org