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 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
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!
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!
To all of my avid followers, you’ll remember a while ago I wrote an entry called “Bic It, Masterson” (keep scrolling down through the entries and you’ll find it). I spoke of how Cleveland Indians Charities and the Wives Association held an auction where the players’ wives/girlfriends donated something of their husband/boyfriend that was a little different from normal auction items. Chris Perez and his wife donated a 30 minute pitching lesson, the LaPorta’s donated a breakfast at a restaurant with them and the Masterson’s offered up the opportunity to have Justin Masterson shave someone’s head!
Getting to know Justin a little bit more this year, I’ve come to understand how perfect this auction item fits him. The guy loves people’s heads! He’ll just go up to them during meet and greets and rub their head. There was one kid at an event who had a nice afro and Justin–while holding his baby daughter–walked up to the kid and had his daughter poke and rub the hair. The rest of the day, as soon as she would get close to the hair she would reach for it and want to play with it. For a guy who shaves his head, he definitely loves playing with hair.
Oddly enough, it wasn’t even his idea to have this as the auction item. The idea came from his wife, Meryl, asking Facebook fans what the item should be and the head shaving idea won…leading to the main purpose behind today’s blog. Our winner, after a few months of waiting, was finally ready to have his head shaved.
The shaving took place in the Indians dugout prior to the team taking batting practice. Justin was ready with clippers, towels, shaving cream and a few razors. He took his time and enjoyed it making sure it was a nice, smooth shave. Although we were all waiting for it, no skin was cut during the shave. Justin cleaned off the freshly shaved scalp with water, put on some aftershave and stood back to smile at his work.
Back in my days as a Berkshire Badger (high school and mascot) cross-country runner, my team used to do some crazy stuff with our hair. Partially to psyche out the competition, partially because we were ranked 2nd in the state, a little because we had nothing better to do, but mostly because we looked freakin’ sweet when we did it. We had anything from mohawks one year, to long hair the next and even shaving our heads for our conference championship (which we won). When I say we shaved our heads…we shaved them down to the skin. Bic it, is what we called it, because we would use a Bic razor to get that nice, close shave. If I ever find a picture of us, I’ll post it up here–but don’t hold your breath.
As with all of my blog entries, the opening paragraph eventually leads into what I need to promote for Indians in the Community. This entry is no different.
This Friday night, while the Indians are taking on their inter-state/league rival Cincinnati Reds, our Indians Wives Association will be hosting what we call the “Tribe Treasures” silent auction. All of the players’ wives come up with fun things of their husbands that they can auction off that the general public wouldn’t normally be able to ever buy. Some of the items include:
- a Josh Tomlin game used glove (autographed)
- a pair of game used cleats and batting gloves (autographed) from Jack Hannahan
- Breakfast with Matt LaPorta and his wife
- A half-hour pitching lesson from Chris Perez
- Meet and greet with Travis Hafner
Probably the coolest and most unusual thing (in my opinion) comes from Justin Masterson’s wife. She is auctioning off the opportunity to have Justin Masterson shave your head in the home dugout before a game. I’m expecting him to Bic it.
If you aren’t into having your head shaved by a professional baseball player, and don’t enjoy breakfast with two strangers, or wearing some other guy’s cleats…there are still other great items to bid on. Or you can take your chances on the Mystery Ball fundraiser. For $40, you can reach in and get a wrapped up baseball autographed by one of the players on the Indians team. You won’t know what you are getting until you pay for it and open it up (hence the “mystery”). All monies raised will go to charity.
The auction will begin at 5:30 and will in section 153 up until the 7th inning. So make your way down there and put some bids on these wicked cool items. If you don’t want to bid, you can always just chat it up with the wives! See you there and GO TRIBE!!
They say that newspapers are a dying breed. I don’t know who “they” are, but they are probably the people who are no longer subscribing to newspapers. When I asked the morning newspaper what it’s thoughts were on this, it just sat there on my doorstep without a response. We’ll just mark that down as a “no comment.”
Yesterday, the Cleveland Indians and The Plain Dealer partnered together to put on the annual Tribe Reporter for a Day event here at Progressive Field. This event has been an annual thing since Chris Perez last had short hair. The purpose of Tribe Reporter for a Day is to give high school students the chance to be, well, to be a reporter for the Tribe for a day. We are very creative with our event names.
High School students were asked to submit essays to The Plain Dealer telling why they are interested in sports writing and how taking part in this event would further their future career plans. Out of about 200 essays, the top 25 were chosen and those kids were brought to Progressive Field on May 10, 2011. The day began with them sitting in on an actual press conference with Manny Acta and the local media. After the press conference, Plain Dealer sports writer, Paul Hoynes, spoke with the young reporters. He gave them some insight on his world as well as some tips on how to make it in the business. After a few questions/answers, they were taken to the stands to watch the Indians take some batting practice. During this time, they were looking through their media guides and getting some notes/questions together for their own press conference with some of the players.
Shortly after batting practice, the reporters were brought to the Press Interview Room under the ballpark where they had the opportunity to interview Chris Perez, Adam Everett and Vinnie Pestano. The players seemed to enjoy the questions, which I should add were pretty intense questions at times. The session ended with a group photo and will be followed by stories from each reporter of their experience during the event.
Special thanks to The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Chris Perez, Adam Everett, and Vinnie Pestano for making this another successful event.
Since December 15, 2010 there have been numerous articles and stories and blog entries telling the life and times of the great Bob Feller. All of those had personal touches by the writers sharing their memories of Bob–whether they were memories from afar (watching him pitch in games), or memories up close with him (interviews, meet and greets, work related, etc.). This entry will start off no different. This is not because I lack creativity, but because I feel a sense of pride and honor that I actually have some up close memories with one of the best pitchers in baseball. Below is just one of them:
My first meeting with Bob was simply as a fan. When I was a little kid, my dad passed down a baseball that was signed by some guy named Bob Feller in 1962 (the date is written under the autograph). Not knowing anything about baseball at the time, I thought it was cool but had no idea who this guy was and why my dad thought it was a big deal for me to put it in a safe place. I did as I was told and forgot about the ball. After growing up and learning the game, I eventually learned who Bob Feller was and the “coolness” of the baseball grew.
In college, we went down to Winter Haven, Florida (apparently we thought Winter Haven was the spring break capital of the world instead of Daytona Beach–we were quite mistaken)! I heard that Bob Feller was signing autographs, so after a while I made my way down to his picnic table. He was just getting up and had finished signing. As polite as I could, I said, “Mr. Feller…can I please get your autograph on this ball?” He quickly replied, “I’m done signing for the day. Next time get here on time,” and he walked away. It was quickly made clear that Bob did what he wanted and if he was done…he was done.
Years later, I began working with the Indians and worked a few months down in Spring Training (Winter Haven) and Bob was a frequent visitor. Since I had met him a few times before at the front offices, I thought I would take a chance and bring up the story of when I had first met him (and how he denied my autograph request). Once he heard me tell the story, he said without cracking a smile, “I don’t remember that, but hopefully that taught you to get to places on time.” The next day, he stopped in the office and left an autographed photo on my desk of him pitching to Joe DiMaggio. I have it kept right next to the ball my dad gave me years before.
Today, there was a special ceremony held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights to celebrate the life of Robert William Andrew Feller. The ceremony was open to anyone. Chris Perez, Shin Soo Choo, Justin Masterson, Sandy Alomar Jr., Manny Acta, Mike Hargrove, are just some of the Indians front office staff/players that attended.
Governor John Kasich, Jeff Idelson (President of the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum), Bill Tunnell (representing the Battleship USS Alabama) and Larry Dolan all spoke at the ceremony. Sports Time Ohio filmed the event and will air it tonight at 6:00 pm.
At 92 years old, there is no doubt that every Cleveland fan has a memory that involves Rapid Robert. He was a local icon, a baseball legend and a national hero and everytime we watch a baseball game, he will always be in our hearts.