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.

 

 

Hit the Books!

It seems as though increasing literacy in children is a common item on the agenda for the Brewers and their minor league teams. The Brewers have a couple of programs they support that incentivize children to do well in school. Players often go out into the community as well and do things that encourage good behavior and work ethic both inside and outside of the classroom. One particular program that the Brewers have is the Student Achievers program. This program is focused on recognizing students for their achievements and efforts when it comes to their education.

“Since 1987, the Student Achiever Awards Program has recognized over 550,000 students in grades 7-12 for academic achievement and academic effort in over 750 schools in the 10-county area of Southeastern Wisconsin.”

The Brewers aren’t the only ones that push how important education and being able to read is. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers also have a program called Fang’s Reading Club. I personally was able to contribute to this initiative by taking Fang to different schools throughout the state of Wisconsin to read to them and get them excited to learn. The goal of this program is clearly stated in the “Goals” graphic taken directly from the Timber Rattler’s website in regards to the reading club.

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If the kids reach their goals for reading, they are rewarded with tickets to a Timber Rattlers game! Some schools also choose to have a “Top Reader,” who is recognized at Family Night for the Timber Rattlers. This is just another great incentive to get kids to take advantage of learning.

The double A affiliate of the Brewers, the Biloxi Shuckers, also have a reading program! This campaign is very similar to the Timber Rattlers in that they are incentivizing kids with Biloxi Shuckers tickets, but the name of their program is called “Hit the Books!”

Schooner the Seagull

Jeff Clark jclark@sunherald.com

The Biloxi Shuckers are one of the newest teams to the MiLB. They were completely created from the ground up, but they aren’t holding back from getting involved in their community right away! For this reading program, kids must read six books to receive a bookmark, which can then be redeemed at the ticket office for a game. They are also invited to take part in the on-field pre-game parade.

As I mentioned, there is a lot of involvement with kids to improve their work in the classroom, which is amazing! The Colorado Sky Sox, the triple A affiliate of the Brewers, also have a program called Sky Sox Reading Program. I’m not sure the last time this site was updated, however, I can tell by the numbers and from the year it was established that there has been a lot of positive involvement as well as increasing numbers.

It’s a Wisconsin Thing

I know that I just posted about the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers last week, but this is too good not to share. And by too good, I mean delicious! The Timber Rattlers opened up a contest to their fans, again, to come up with different foods they may want to see at the park this summer. The submissions are always crazy, but this year, they’re out of the park! You can check out the submissions here or keep on reading on to get the juicy details. You can also vote for your favorite food here!

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For those of you who may not know where this team I speak of is…

Wisconsin Graphic

When I say “It’s a Wisconsin Thing,” it is. Most people outside of Wisconsin don’t even know about our delicacy-the cheese curd. *palm to face* But forget just eating a cheese curd by itself! Throw them on a big juicy hamburger, and with a couple extra toppings, you have yourself a “Beer Cheese Pretzel Burger.” If that doesn’t scream Wisconsin, I’m not really sure what does. In addition to cheese curds and the hamburger patty, this bad boy has crispy bacon and beer cheese sauce all in between a toasted pretzel bun.

beer cheese pretzel burger

Photo Credit: Timber Rattlers

Beer Cheese Pretzel Burger

Next on the list, we have a “BLT Hot Dog.” This doesn’t represent the Wisconsin like Beer Cheese Pretzel Burger, but it does still sound pretty great. The name pretty much speaks for itself in that it is a hot dog with all of the toppings of a BLT, which are obviously bacon, lettuce and tomato. But it doesn’t stop there. Throw a little mayo on it and slap it on a toasted hoagie roll and wa-lah! “BLT Hot Dog.”

BLTHotDog

Photo Credit: Timber Rattlers

BLT Hot Dog

For all of the people that love to get their wings on Wednesdays (or whatever Buffalo Wild Wings changed it to now), look no further than to the “Buffalo Chicken Sandwich.” This sandwich has all the goods. It has shredded buffalo chicken and bleu cheese dressing all on a toasted split top bun. But wait! This is Wisconsin, so of course we need some sort of cheese on there. So don’t forget about the nacho cheese sauce!

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Photo Credit: Timber Rattlers

Buffalo Chicken Sandwich

On deck we have “The Dinger Dog,” but up to bat now is the “Poutine Hot Dog!” If you thought that the only submission containing cheese curds was the Beer Cheese Pretzel Burger…LOL. “The Poutine Hot Dog” also has those little golden brown pieces of goodness on it. This submission includes: a Cher-Make hot dog, french fries and brown gravy. All of this is served on a toasted hoagie roll.

Poutine_Hot_Dog_1ebhsadn_eh1b64l1

Photo Credit: Timber Rattlers

Poutine Hot Dog

Batter up! Last but not least, we have “The Dinger Dog.” (For those of you who aren’t really into the whole baseball thing, a dinger is a term used for home run.) The Dinger Dog is a “bacon wrapped Cher-Make hot dog, nacho cheese sauce, crispy fried onion strings and topped with Mad Dog & Merrill #One BBQ sauce and served on a toasted pretzel bun.”

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Photo Credit: The Timber Rattlers

The Dinger Dog

That’s all of the submissions, folks! I chose this topic because I think it’s pretty cool that the Timber Rattlers include their fan base in decision-making like this! People have fun with it and it gets people engaged with the organization. Make sure to head over to the Timber Rattlers schedule to see when you can get to a game and find one of these delicious combos on the menu!

 

Timber Rattlers Ask Fans to Create New BP Jersey for 2017 Season

The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers are known for their involvement within their community and the state of Wisconsin. Getting the fans involved is something that they find great satisfaction in, and they do it well. This year, for the second time in the past five years, the Timber Rattlers extended an invitation to their fan base to create a new BP (batting practice) jersey for the upcoming 2017 team.

Having worked for the Timber Rattlers for four years, it was fun to see this project come together for the first time, and it was impressive to see how much involvement the contest had in terms of submissions. Two years ago, in 2015, the Timber Rattlers held the same contest and the winning one is pictured below:bp

(Photo credit: Timber Rattlers)

The design was a hit among the Timber Rattlers staff as well as the fans and the players. The snake skin pattern on the sides of the jersey was inspired by the team mascot, Fang, who is obviously a snake. This year, the team held the same contest and the winning jersey is pictured below:

bp2

(Photo Credit: Timber Rattlers)

It will be really exciting to see this jersey on the 2017 Timber Rattlers team! Head over to the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers website to check out some other promotions that they have going on throughout the summer including theme nights and more contests!

Community involvement is more present in some organizations more than others, but the Brewers Organization as a whole (with the exception of one or two teams) do a really great job with giving back to their surrounding communities and getting the fans involved. There are going to be some more contests coming up with the Timber Rattlers, including a food contest where fans submit some food items they would like to see at the park. That winner will be announced on March 6. Make sure to check out my next post about that and stay tuned for more fan involvement with the Brewers organization(s). Would you take part in an opportunity like this?

Check out the other minor league affiliates:

Helena Brewers  (Rookie League)

Carolina Mud Cats (High A)

Biloxi Shuckers (Double AA)

Colorado Sky Sox  (Triple AAA)

Milwaukee Brewers  (Major League)