Host Families

Before I began working for the Timber Rattlers, I knew nothing about baseball and the whole process that comes along with it. I didn’t know that under each major league team were five minor league teams. I didn’t know players could be released, traded  or moved at any time and I had no idea that the players could be future Brewers. When all of this was brought to my attention, I had 100 questions. How does this process work? Where are all of these teams? What does a double A or triple A affiliate mean? Where do these guys live if they’re not from Appleton?! During my four seasons with the organization, all of my questions were answered. However, one thing that was so cool to me was that all of the players who were not from the area were paired up with a family who opened up their homes to them for the season. These families are called host families.

As a Timber Rattlers employee, I became very close with all of the host families because they would come to every Timber Rattlers home game. One of the perks to becoming a host family is receiving free season tickets to all Timber Rattlers home games. The people who sign up to be host families range from new parents all the way to grandparents. Some of these people have been hosting for 20 years to ensure the Brewer’s stars of the future have a place to stay-a home away from home.

(Though the Timber Rattlers have host families, that is not true for every minor league team at every level. Most teams stop giving players the option to stay with a host family after the low A level. Once they get to double A, players are in charge of finding a place to stay. What makes this hard is finding a place to live that offers a month to month lease and has furnished units. The reasons behind this is because the players could be moved at any time and so they need to be able to get out of the lease if need be. They also live out of a suitcase, so they can’t bring any house furnishings along with them.)

I realize this article was written in 2009, but it does a great job describing host families and the purpose they serve.

The coolest part about being a host family is the relationship that is created. A lot of the people who host players end up traveling to spring training to watch their “kids” or travel around the country during the summer to watch them wherever they are playing. One family in particular hosted a player four seasons ago. Unfortunately, that player had to return to Appleton because he is coming off of an injury. He requested to come back and live with them, and he is back with his family from four years ago. Since he left the stadium four years ago, the host family has gone to spring training three times to visit him as well as flew him home from the Dominican Republic for Christmas. Another family essentially adopted their host child from the Dominican Republic and are currently helping him get established here in the states. There is so much more to the game of baseball than people realize.

host families

The Marlborough family, mom and daughter pictured above, hosted four Latin players last season.

host families 2The Marlborough’s also made a trip to Arizona for spring training to visit their host sons.

 

Opening Day Shenanigans

It’s officially baseball season! Across the country, everyone celebrated opening day to ring in the start of “America’s favorite past time” this last week. There’s a couple of fun things some teams did to start the season off right, and I thought it would be fun to touch on some of those.

It is super cool to see the different things organizations come up with to draw attention to minor league baseball and get people through their gates to attend games. Obviously I love the Timber Rattlers organization, so I have to touch on what they did. Their official home opener was on April 8, and they didn’t waste any time with promotions. People already love going to games, but people love going to games even more when they get free stuff. For every fan who walked through the Fox Cities Stadium gates, a David Ortiz bobblehead was given to them. The Timber Rattlers drew in over 4,000 people in for their opening day fun.
OrtizRattlers(Side note: Big Papi is a legend in baseball, but he has some roots when it comes to the Timber Rattlers and the the Fox Cities. Ortiz played for the Rattlers in 1996 when they were affiliated with the Mariners rather than the Brewers. The Ortiz family are actually very good family friends of mine because his wife is from Kaukauna and grew up with her family.)

The Biloxi Shuckers, Double-A affiliate of the Brewers, had their opening day on the road. They started their season off at the Montgomery Biscuit’s field. Yes, their mascot is indeed a biscuit. The Biscuits had a “Thirsty Thursday” on April 6, but I couldn’t find an attendance number!

Lastly, the Colorado Sky Sox, who are the Triple-A affiliate of the Timber Rattlers, also had a “$3 Thirsty Thursday,” magnet giveaway and the chance to win a ticket package. Again, I was not able to find a number for attendance. However, I did make a correlation between all of the Brewers affiliates, and that is you can tell they are all Wisconsin when they are taking advantage of a “Thirsty Thursday” on opening day!

My favorite thing about opening day from this year was seeing some of the MiLB mascots make an appearance on the Today Show. I thought that this was super fun and a creative way to bring attention to the MiLB.

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Below is a short Instagram video of the “mascots on the loose” in New York City too! Enjoy.

It's #OpeningDay and there are mascots on the loose. Stay woke, NYC 👀

A post shared by Minor League Baseball (@milb) on

Brewers Spring Training!

The month of March is a big month if you’re a major or minor league baseball player because of spring training. I understand this blog’s purpose is to serve as a platform to highlight the different things going on in the Brewers minor and major league communities. However, there is a strong sense of community in many ways during spring training as people from all over the country travel to Arizona (or Florida) to show support for their team, including myself. People also expressed interest in hearing about my trip to Arizona for Brewers spring training and what my life is like during baseball season.

I happen to hold the sport of baseball very close to my heart. I worked for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, Class A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, for four years. In addition, my boyfriend Josh Uhen is a pitcher in the Brewers minor league system, so baseball is a huge part of my life even after hanging up my name tag with the Timber Rattlers after last season.

Working for the Timber Rattlers opened my eyes to the reality of baseball in that it really is not a luxurious life for the players and/or their families during the process of becoming an MLB player. There are so many unknowns with the profession. The players could be sent up or down at any time, could be traded any day or could get released if they don’t execute. Their lives have to revolve around baseball from February/March to the beginning of September. However, all of the players are aware of what they are signing up for, and like any job, are 100% invested.

On March 4, I drove Josh to the Appleton International Airport to send him on his way to Arizona for spring Joshtraining. Luckily, I had my spring training trip planned before I had to say goodbye, so I was a bit at ease, but it doesn’t get any easier. On March 23, I flew from Cancun, Mexico, where I was vacationing with my family at Moon Palace Resort, to Phoenix, Arizona to visit Josh and my other major/minor league friends.

This year was my third trip to Arizona to attend spring training, and it has become one of my favorite times of the year. One of the hardest aspects about being a part of the baseball family is that I don’t see some of my closest friends for a year at a time because they are all in a different part of the country playing for their respective teams. We truly all make up our own community and I appreciate these people so much because we are all going through the same thing in one way or another. Among these people are other players girlfriends, the players themselves, a good portion of the coaches and other staff members from different ball parks. We are all rooting for each other.

In addition to the “internal” baseball community, the “external” baseball community (fans) is incredible. It truly is amazing how passionate Wisconsinites are for their teams. Any time I go to Maryvale, the Brewers spring training park, I always feel like I’m in Milwaukee. The atmosphere feels as if someone cut out a chunk of Wisconsin and pasted it into Phoenix.

On March 28, I got on an airplane and left Phoenix to come back home. This goodbye was harder than most because at this point, right now, I am unsure as to when I will see Josh again. It could be the beginning of June before we are reunited. Josh will be leaving for Biloxi, Mississippi to play for the Biloxi Shuckers, Double-A affiliate of the Brewers, after he finishes up his rehab program for his oblique sometime this week. #ShuckYeah

I’m looking forward to the season and what it has in store for all of my baseball family, Josh and myself. I am graduating in May and plan to move down by Josh once I am finished with everything here in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.