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
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!
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 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.
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.
I had a rough day at work the other day. It was a day filled with running around from one end of the ballpark to the other, making sure things were in place for an event we were doing the next day, making sure our Fill the House for Charity night was going off without a hitch and dealing with the guy who sits next to me (Nate Janoso) who coordinates events for Cleveland Indians Charities. He’s an awesome guy, but he is cursed with rain spoiling every charity event we have. And because rain never spoils my events, I have to constantly take a special chunk out of my day to remind him how funny that is. It is very tiring.
With how rough that day was, it only took two minutes to make me remember why I love my job. It all started a week before with a guy named Ken.
Ken had given me a call and said he just got back to the states from Afghanistan to his base in Louisiana. His family lives up here in Cleveland and, while they knew he was back in Louisiana, they did not know when he was coming home. We quickly devised a plan which included setting his family (all 32 of them) up with tickets to the August 10 game. Ken’s sister was the only family member who knew what was going on and she coordinated the family part of the plan.
Ken flew up to Cleveland and met up with me. I took him down to watch the Indians take BP as well as meet some of the players. We then took him into a room and recorded him giving his family a message to make them think he was still in Louisiana and it would be played during the game. When the time came in the game to roll the tape, we stationed a camera guy right near the seats the family was sitting in and had Ken walk down to the seats to surprise them!
As the entire family watched the message play on the scoreboard, they looked so happy just to see him on the jumbo-tron. Once they then realized he was walking down the aisle they erupted into tears of joy. Ken’s two young daughters ran up to him laughing and smiling. His wife, with tears in her eyes, hugged and kissed him. The crowd of 30,000 gave him a standing ovation and began chanting “USA, USA.” It was a moment that left many fans around him with watering eyes and is a moment I will never forget.
Thank you to our scoreboard and camera crew for capturing the moment. Thank you to Ken and all of the servicemen who defend our country on a daily basis. Thank you to Jessica R. for helping keep Ken occupied in between BP and first pitch and thank you Nate Janoso for having it rain on your raffle the night before this all took place so that it would be a nice night for my event!
Due to the overwhelming popularity of this blog since I started it a few months ago, I’ve had so many request to drop people’s names in it. A couple of weeks ago, when the Tribe was playing in Los Angeles, my cousin (who lives in LA and was going to the game) asked if I could include his name in it. I had to quickly explain to Marty that this blog is for business purposes only–to promote to the world how the Cleveland Indians are helping the community through volunteer efforts, fundraising, appearances and the like. It is not to be used to plug the DeLaat family name. So I’m sorry, Marty DeLaat, but I will not be allowed to mention your name in this blog per MLB’s rules.
I am suddenly reminded of a crazy cousin of mine who, growing up, used to take the RTA down to then Jacobs Field during Indians games and get a bunch of autographs from the players. Being the business savvy kid that he was, he would then go on and sell a lot of those autographs to help keep his cash flow going. It was a great idea, completely legal, and kept him out of trouble.
Cleveland Indians Charities does a similar version of what my cousin used to do; however, we take a slightly different approach with it. For one, all of the money made from sales goes straight to Cleveland Indians Charities. We also get the items from the Indians Clubhouse, so they are authentic items (most were actually worn/used by the players) and not replicas.
We call these items Clubhouse Collectibles and they are sold in our Progressive Field Team Shop. Not all of the items are autographed, but we sell anything from bats (broken or just used), signed player photos, old player jerseys, signed baseballs, helmets, etc.
So the next time you come to a game, or are in the Cleveland area and are looking for some cool team issued/team used memorabilia, swing into the Team Shop and check out the Clubhouse Collectibles. Or, if my cousin from California is back in town you can just buy something off of him. We’d prefer you go through us, though!
The beginning of June is finally here. After months of dealing with crazy Cleveland weather where it is 90 degrees one day and 40 degrees the next, we are officially free from cold weather for at least a month! Heck, I can’t even remember what a Nimbostratus cloud looks like! To the lay-person, Nimbostratus clouds are low-lying clouds that produce rain, ice and/or snow.
With June also comes the final days of school for many kids. Seniors in high school have their last summer at home to look forward to before opening up the next chapter of their life in college. Seniors in college have their last summer of freedom before they have to get a job and live in the real world–although, the way the job outlook is, they may have a couple of years of freedom before finding a job!
What else does June bring? Well Indians baseball, of course! Yes, I know the Tribe has been playing for two months now, but there are a ton of events coming up that are exciting to learn about! Here is what the Cleveland Indians and their Community Relations department has coming up in June:
June 3: Major League Baseball Player Alumni Association (MLBPAA) auction at the ballpark–auctioning off former and current MLB player memorabilia (Pete Rose autograph baseball, Nolan Ryan autograph photo, etc.)
June 5: Signature Sunday for first 100 High Achievers who check in during KeyBank Kids Fun Days
June 8: Fill the House for Charity benefiting Berea Children’s Home. Portions of ticket sales from the June 8 game will go directly to Berea Children’s Home!
June 17: Indians in the Community event: Members of the Indians front office and some players will help serve lunch at La Sagrad Church.
June 18: MLB Pitch, Hit and Run competition at Progressive Field. Local Pitch, Hit and Run winners square off to decide who will be the champion and move on to the Finals held at the 2011 All-Star Game in Arizona!
June 19: Cleveland Indians Charities “Play Catch” fundraiser. Fans can buy tickets to “Play Catch” on the field with their dad after the game. All proceeds go to Cleveland Indians Charities.
June 21: PLAY Clinic. 40 local youth are invited down to Progressive Field to participate in the clinic. The clinic is put on by the Cleveland Indians trainers.
June 22: Fill the House for Charity benefiting Special Olympics. Portions of ticket sales from the June 22 game go directly to Special Olympics!