Greg Van Niel brought his family to Sunday’s game and sat on the third-base line in Section 160, where he ended up spending much of the day collecting foul balls. An Indians Season Ticket Holder, Van Niel caught four (yes, 4!) foul balls on the day.
Van Niel made so many grabs on Sunday afternoon, that by the time he retrieved a Michael Brantley foul in the fifth inning, he felt compelled to flip it over to others in the crowd (see video below).
“Three of them were catches and one was a ball I picked up off the ground,” said Van Niel. “The third one I think was the hardest one – I think I ended up sprawled across a few rows, and I got some cheese on myself. But the other ones were just a matter of being in the right place at the right time.”
The foul balls were his first (second, third, and fourth) of his lifetime at Progressive Field. The Indians Season Ticket Holder exchanged tickets to book seats in Section 160 for Sunday, and it paid off with a memorable afternoon.
“Michael Bourn hit one that was off the façade [of the suites overhead], and that’s where I was in the cheese fries… [That] one was crazy acrobatics. I was strewn across three rows, and I needed some assistance getting back. The others were just being in the right place at the right time,” said Van Niel.
After his amazing fortune on Sunday, Van Niel did offer some advice for fellow Indians fans: “We had the exchange tickets, so yeah, I’m going to try to get these seats for next year. Row FF, Section 160, Seat 3 if you’re looking for tickets – it’s the magic seat.”
— TribeVibe contributor Max Lom
The Indians introduced Outfielder Michael Bourn as the newest member of the team today in an afternoon press conference at the club’s Spring Training facility in Goodyear, Arizona. The Bourn signing was made official Friday, as he signed a 4-year contract, with a club option for the 2017 season.
Bourn, Indians General Manager Chris Antonetti, and Bourn’s agent Scott Boras were on hand at the press conference and explained how the signing came together, and their plans for 2013 and beyond.
New Indians Outfielder Michael Bourn:
On signing for the Indians…
“I want to thank the Dolan family for giving me the opportunity to play in Cleveland, and be a part of their organization, and I’m really looking forward to the opportunity. It was a long off-season for me, but it was fun, and it was an experience. It taught me patience – it taught me a lot – but it was interesting. I landed in the spot I think that I wanted, and that was my main focus – somebody that wants me, somebody that’s committed to me, and I’m committed to them. And I’m ready to rock and roll here for them.
On where he was expecting to sign…
“Every team was on my radar when the process began, so yes [the Indians] were on my radar. I knew they were trying to compete, and any team that’s trying to compete, I’m with them. Like you said, I’m a competitor. That’s what my father taught me since I was little, so any team that’s trying to win, I want to be a part of.
“I had a good supporting cast with my mom, my dad, my girlfriend, my little boy; he always keeps a smile on my face. It was just something I had to go through, a process I had to just let unfold. I feel like I landed in a place that wants me, a place I want to be, a place with a lot of talent that has a chance to do some good things.”
On playing in an outfield with Michael Brantley and Drew Stubbs:
“Yes of course, you always want to be next to people that can play it out, I come from that with Martin [Prado] and [Jason] Heyward. I think with this one I have even more speed out there, both of those players can run, they run just like I run, so it will be exciting to watch.”
Newly-acquired pitcher Trevor Bauer, a key piece of the three-team trade with Arizona and Cincinnati last month, met with the Cleveland media for the first time today. He began the Q&A session with his story of how he first heard the trade news: while he was in the middle of eating a Chipotle burrito.
“My agent called and said ‘you were just traded, and we need to talk about some stuff.’ I said, ‘OK, but can I go inside and eat my burrito real quick and get back to you?’ He didn’t let me finish my burrito – I only got through half of it.”
On coming to Cleveland:
I’m excited to be here. I’m excited to come to a city that has very passionate fans, and an organization that I feel is very welcoming, and very excited to have me and really going in the right direction. So it has kind of been a blessing this off-season and I am excited for it.
On what he learned in his time with Arizona:
I think the biggest thing was probably the importance of throwing Strike One, and getting into advantage counts, attacking hitters and putting pressure on the hitters to swing the bat. The one start that I had the best success, I was ahead in the count all the time, and it just makes pitching a lot easier.
On his unique warm-up routine and pitching style:
I think I’m an exciting player to watch because the things I do are a little bit different…I throw the ball far [in warm-ups – see here for an example] – that’s one of them. I wave a black rod around, which not many people do, so that’s a little different. My first warm-up pitch of every inning I do a crow-hop on the mound and throw as hard as I can to get in the feel of being aggressive. My mechanics are slightly different – it’s a little bit more of an aggressive delivery than a lot of the other deliveries out there right now. So it’s just little things, little differences, that make me fun to watch – I hope, anyway.
On the purpose of his unique routine:
It’s designed to prevent injury. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you can’t stay healthy and on the field, then it does you absolutely no good. My first and foremost goal is to be durable and that’s the only way you can actually increase your talent.
On meeting and playing for Terry Francona:
He seems really welcoming and open-minded and really just a pleasure to talk to, which is still kind of surreal for me. I watched baseball growing up and remember Terry Francona managing the Red Sox and they win a World Series and now I’m sitting here shooting the breeze with him – it’s kind of a cool moment for me.
On potentially making the Major League team:
Everybody wants to be part of the major league team, and I’m no different in that aspect, but I really try to focus on the things I can control, and the only thing I can control is getting better. I’m young still (ed. Note: Bauer turns 22 next week). Sometimes I don’t feel very young, but I am young, and if I get too caught up in: ‘am I in the big leagues? Am I not in the big leagues’ then it doesn’t do me any good, and I get distracted from what I should be focusing on, which is building up and improving myself, so I can pitch for a long time, which is what I want to do.
— TribeVibe Contributor Max Lom
The Indians unveiled the team’s newest outfielder, Nick Swisher, at a press conference at Progressive Field on Thursday afternoon. The former Yankees standout could barely contain his enthusiasm throughout the event, speaking about his excitement to join the Indians and play for manager Terry Francona, while being close to his roots at Ohio State University and Parkersburg, WV.
TribeVibe caught up with both Swisher and Francona to get their thoughts on the slugger joining the team.
New Indians Outfielder Nick Swisher
On how he feels to have signed for the Indians:
“We’re excited to be here. This is the team that rolled out the red carpet in the right way, hit me in the heart in the right spots, and like I said before, every time we would sit back and look at the situation, all roads would lead to Cleveland.
On whether he originally expected to sign with Cleveland:
“[I was surprised] because we had a good amount of teams going on, and at the end when everything was on the table, we kind of laid it out, and like I said, this was the place we wanted to be… you never know how things are going to shake out. You never know how the market is going to work, but to be in the position we are – getting five years – that’s what we wanted – and we could not be more excited about the opportunity. It’s going to be great.”
On his time with the Yankees and his role in the Indians clubhouse:
“It was a great time. I had an awesome time, you know. I like to think I have fun wherever I go, but just to be part of an organization like that with the tradition – and the winning tradition – that rubs off on you, so hopefully that is something I can bring over here. Maybe be more of a leader in the clubhouse then I ever have been before, and I’m excited about that. I’m excited to get together with the guys, and be part of that team. From what I’ve heard from the guys, it’s a great locker room, a great group of guys, a bunch of guys that want to win, and I’m hoping this year we have a chance to.
On his feeling after his “recruiting visit” to Progressive Field:
We were walking out of here like ‘man, these guys did it right!’ It was just an amazing situation to be in, and I think they tugged on the right strings. They went Ohio State on me, they brought back Jim Tressel – one of my idols, who I hadn’t seen in years – and like I said, they did it right, and I could not be happier about the way it turned out.
Indians Manager Terry Francona
On his expectations for Swisher in the Tribe’s lineup:
He has hit anywhere from 2nd to probably 6th in the order. You can bet he’s not going to hit 6th, but I can see some scenarios where maybe he does hit 2nd. We’ll see, and you know I was being honest when I said I want to sit down and talk to guys about it.
On his philosophy for selecting the batting order:
You can’t let guys choose their spot in the batting order, but when there’s a comfort zone, I want there to be that, and I want there to be some consistency where I don’t want guys showing up every day and having to look at the lineup. I don’t think that’s healthy. You know, you go through injuries and things like that where guys have to make adjustments, but I like to be really consistent.
On the impact of Nick’s father Steve Swisher, a former Major Leaguer:
I think more often than not you see guys respect the game that grew up in households like that…I’m sure that Steve is extremely proud of Nick. I was actually watching him during the conference and you could see he was kind of beaming, as he should.
— TribeVibe Contributor Max Lom
Tribe Fest to offer fans unprecedented access and personal interaction with Indians players and more
The Indians announced a unique new event will take place this winter to get Tribe fans ready for the 2013 season. Progressive Field will host Tribe Fest, presented by KeyBank, on Saturday, January 19 and Sunday, January 20.
Tribe Fest was designed based on the feedback of Tribe fans from previous team events, and will offer fans of all ages unprecedented access to Indians players, coaches, and alumni.
“We want to provide our fans an opportunity to have personal interaction with our players, with the ballpark, our broadcasters, and many members of our front office,” said Indians’ Senior Director of Marketing Sanaa Julien. “Those personal interactions are what create lifelong memories for our fans.”
The event will feature a large contingent of current Indians players, including second baseman Jason Kipnis, catcher Carlos Santana, infielder Mike Aviles, third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall, and pitchers Vinnie Pestano, Carlos Carrasco, Corey Kluber, Zach McAllister and Cody Allen.
In addition to meeting the players, taking photos and getting autographs, fans will have the opportunity to take part in a range of interactive activities.
“We’ll open locations that are typically closed off on game days,” said Julien. “That includes the batting cages, the clubhouse, press interview room, and we’ll have at least a dozen players plus alumni and our broadcast teams.”
Tribe Fest will take place from Noon to 6:00pm on both Saturday and Sunday, with most activities taking place in the indoor service levels of Progressive Field. Kids 12 and under can attend the event for free and regular admission is $10.
All tickets will be delivered via mail and fans are encouraged to buy tickets early as there is a limited supply available. All attendees must print and fill out a waiver to enter the ballpark, and Gate A will serve as the entrance for the event.
CLICK HERE for more information on Tribe Fest.
— TribeVibe contributor Max Lom
Terry Francona was formally named the 42nd Manager of the Cleveland Indians today at a press conference at Progressive Field.
Francona, 53, brings more than 30 years of professional baseball experience to the Indians organization as a player, coach and manager. He has 12 years of Major League managing experience, five playoff appearances, and two World Series titles in his career thus far.
He most recently led the Boston Red Sox to five playoff appearances, six seasons of 90 or more victories and two World Series titles (2004, 2007) over an eight-season span from 2004-11.
Over his career, Francona has earned a reputation for developing young players, motivating veterans, and getting the most out of his teams.
“We’re going to compete,” declared Francona at Monday’s press conference. “We’re always going to compete. We may not win every game, but we won’t back down from anyone.”
In 2013, he will lead a team filled with potential, with a core of young players including Cody Allen, Michael Brantley, Asdrubal Cabrera, Lonnie Chisenhall, Jason Kipnis, Corey Kluber, Justin Masterson, Zach McAllister and Carlos Santana.
“Players are players, and my job is whether a guy is 19 years old, or 21, or 31, or 36 – my job is to try to get the most out of them as a player,” said Francona.
”The goal here is for me to spend all my energy trying to insure that these players play the game correctly and with respect. So, when people are in Cleveland they are proud to say they are a Cleveland Indians fan.”
–TribeVibe contributor Max Lom
Rudy: “You might have to take a different path to get there, but you will get there and that’s what’s exciting.”
The real-life inspiration behind the classic sports movie Rudy was a special guest at Progressive Field on Thursday, September 20. Rudy Ruettiger delivered an inspirational address to a group of students and fans, and later threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Indians game against the Minnesota Twins.
Ruettiger, the Notre Dame walk-on whose improbable impact on the Fighting Irish football team was chronicled in the movie Rudy, encouraged the audience to be fearless in pursuing their dreams.
“When I was [young], I was giving up on myself, and the reason was I was hanging around with the wrong friends, and because of the wrong friends…I didn’t believe in myself,” said Ruettiger. “The day I changed my friends was the day I started dreaming again. When I started dreaming again, I started doing better in school, I started thinking better, and I started dreaming bigger.”
After speaking for half an hour and answering questions from the students and others in the audience, Ruettiger moved down to field level where he threw the first pitch.
“When I was a little boy I always wanted to catch a foul ball at a ballpark, and have that first major league ball. I always wanted that, and those dreams come true today,” Ruettiger explained. “Now I get to go out and throw first pitches out on baseball fields, so dreams do come true. You might have to take a different path to get there, but you will get there, and that’s what’s exciting.”
Ruettiger concluded: “The key is: dream, never quit, and keep preparing for the dream because you never know when your opportunity is going to happen.”
— Tribe Vibe contributor Max Lom
As the Visiting Clubhouse Assistant Manager, Wayne Peltz already has plenty to keep him busy. But when Peltz decided to try out a new hobby in late 2009, he never imagined it would lead to a thriving side-business with his customer base including some of the biggest names in baseball. Peltz’s custom lego portraits have become a hit with players and fans alike, and his position in the clubhouse has proven a perfect outlet to promote his various projects.
TribeVibe recently spoke with Peltz to get the full story on his lego portraits.
TribeVibe: How did you first get the idea to make the lego portraits?
Wayne Peltz: A few years back I was working here, and we had an Indians player by the name of Jamey Carroll. Jamey Carroll did these little index size drawings in pencil – they looked really cool. Then he’d have big-time players – Jeter, Pujols – they’d sign them no questions asked. They’d drop whatever they were doing and just sign these things. I thought to myself: I want to get to that point where the guys are looking to sign something for me and I don’t have to bother them by saying: ‘can you sign this ball?’
TV: Why did you choose to use legos?
WP: I tried to draw at first and I couldn’t do it, and so the very next thing I actually picked up was lego blocks. I started buying them on EBay and trying to find colors I didn’t have, and just started going at it – while my Wife, or my girlfriend at the time, looked at me like I was crazy.
TV: What was the first project you completed?
WP: The first one I did was Jim Thome. I chose him because I felt like even if it turned out complete trash he was going to be a guy that was going to be encouraging. He was going to be a guy that would say ‘Oh, it looks just like me – thanks, Wayne.’
TV: How did you begin selling your portraits?
WP: I remember when [Thome] was signing it, (former Indians Pitcher) Carl Pavano was looking over his shoulder and said, “Jimmy that’s awesome – are you gonna buy that or what?” And I told them it’s not for sale – I wanted the first one for myself. And [Pavano] said, “well then I want one of me,” and that was one of the first ones I sold.
TV: When did you begin selling them?
WP: Probably 2010 – I probably started making them at the end of 2009.
TV: How long do they take to make?
WP: It varies by the size, by the colors, by how difficult they can be overall. A typical one usually takes me around 20 hours to work with and that includes me trying to design it and all that.
TV: How did word get out among other players?
WP: [Visiting Clubhouse Manager] Willie Jenks let me hang them up, so what happened was after I did Thome, I brought it in uncompleted because the White Sox had come in and they saw it as I was building it. Once I brought it in the players thought it looked like him, and then after I had done this one, the players started asking me about making different ones.
TV: How many have you made so far?
WP: I have probably made about 50. Most of them are based around players.
TV: Have you made any non-baseball portraits?
WP: I did a Michael Jackson, that was the second one I did, but then I said ‘I want to do more baseball players’, and I thought it would be really cool if they would sign it. So I did Johan Santana after that because he was always a big clown when he came in here, and I knew the Mets were coming the next year.
TV: What are some recent portraits you’ve made?
WP: I just finished up one for a guy in New York of Gary Carter. The guy that bought it bought it as a gift for a big Mets fan, so the actual person will see it at his birthday party. I’ve done Josh Willingham, I’ve done C.C. Sabathia – that was the biggest one I’ve ever done. I also did these cats for a lady who sent me a picture of them.
TV: How many have you finished this season?
WP: This season, probably 10 or 12. For the most part Sabathia kind of killed me because it took like two or three months just to work on his. Every day was just a small part of it, and it took so long to do.
TV: Do you have to deliver the portraits to customers?
WP: I do [deliver them] – the outrageous size ones are not the easiest ships…The smaller sizes ship fine. The Post Office, they’re the way to go. They just don’t send the outrageous size unfortunately.
TV: Have you received any media attention in the past?
WP: I did NPR radio, and they take you down to this big room, and told me a guy from D.C. was going to call in. They gave me a headset and told me to talk into this giant microphone with no one else in the room. It was a little weird, but it went really well in the end. I’ve done NPR, I’ve done ESPN Page 2, I was in the New York Times and the Plain Dealer a couple times.
Additional information and a full gallery of his work can be found on his website, OneBy1Art.com