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.
Eighteen years ago I got into this “runner craze” that was taking over. I shouldn’t say it was taking over because in actuality I was probably in the minority choosing running as my sport instead of football or baseball or basketball. I like to say that running was only for the cool kids back then. I mean, I run and how cool am I? I had one famous runner to look up to (Steve Prefontaine) instead of having to worry about remembering all of those other big sport athletes’ names like Michael Bird of the Boston Bulls or Brett Montana of the famous Green Bay 49ers.
As I grew older and got out of school, I noticed that all of the people who used to make fun of us cool runner kids were actually starting to run themselves (I was definitely ahead of my time with this sport and knew it would take off one day). Guys who used to play football were now running 30 or 40 miles a week. Lazy people from my school are now running in the same road races as I do! It got me thinking…what if there was a race that was not only competitive, but also enjoyable for all of those former football, baseball and basketball players who have now taken up running? A race where Joe Fan and Lazy Larry could get a workout in, while at the same time experience something that not many people get to experience (and I’m not talking about Runner’s Nirvana).
My quest to create such a race came full circle on July 15, 2012 when Cleveland Indians Charities, Cleveland Browns Foundation and the Cavaliers Youth Fund joined forces for the first time ever and put on the Inaugural FANtastic 4-Miler! The race, presented by the Cleveland Clinic Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart and Vascular Institute, took runners into Cleveland Browns Stadium and around the football field, into the “Q” Arena across the Cavs court area and finished on the warning track of Progressive Field. All proceeds were split between the three sports teams’ charitable foundations.
The race sold out at 1,000 runners. We saw the overall male and female runners finish in 20:41 (Mike Capriolo) and 23:22 (Kelly Green). The overall winners received an experience package from each team and the top 3 winners in each age group received either a pair of Indians, Browns or Cavs tickets.
The race drew the likes of former Indians pitcher and Sports Time Ohio pregame host, Jason Stanford, and his fellow STO co-workers Dave Chudowsky and Katie Witham. All three competed in the race, while Browns alumni Reggie Langhorne and Cavs alumni Campy Russell cheered on the runners from the sidelines.
Of course, for the non-runners out there, the Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital stepped up and sponsored a post-race family walk around the warning track. It was a nice way for the runners and their families to cool down, burn some calories and share their race stories while walking around Progressive Field!
Congratulations to all the participated and thank you to all of the sponsors who helped make this race a success!
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!
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:
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
Chris Perez always says, “you can never throw too many curveballs.” For the sake of argument (or me getting sued for libel) I can’t officially say Chris Perez ever said those words. I don’t even know why he would say that. In all honesty, I made up that whole quote and the fact that he said it. I’m sorry Chris Perez. I was just trying to write a blog entry and needed a lead-in for it. This was all I could come up with. It’s been almost a month since my last blog entry and I panicked. It’s been 11 years since my last confession, too, but I won’t get into that train wreck (long story short: I’m not even Catholic so there was no reason for me to be in a confessional at the time).
Back to the story at hand…
Chris Perez, an All-Star closer, gave a pitching lesson to a lucky fan who won the lesson from a silent auction. The auction was part of the annual Indians Wives Association’s Tribe Treasures auction held here at Progressive Field during the season. The well-informed lot of you who always read my blog will remember the Wives auction as the same place the Justin Masterson head shaving item was sold at. Chris Perez’s wife auctioned off the opportunity to have Chris teach a 30 minute pitching lesson!
The money raised went to charity (split between Cleveland Indians Charities, Beech Brook and Providence House) and, while I normally try to post pictures, I’m going to attempt to throw a video link up here. The video was created by our team photographer, Dan Mendlik, and has Chris Perez talking about trying to teach the winner how to throw a curveball (the reasoning behind the first quote of this entry…it’s not funny if I have to explain all of my jokes). Enjoy!