Results tagged ‘ Albert Belle ’

Clubhouse assistant Marty Bokovitz, other behind-the-scenes staff essential to Tribe success

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Parma Senior High School graduate Marty Bokovitz has moved on from his ditch-digging career and is now one of the main men on the Cleveland Indians clubhouse staff.

Formerly employed by the city for more than 16 years, Bokovitz paid his due time working the night shift as he split his time working for the city and helping out sporadically as a Tribe clubhouse attendant.

Bokovitz, who showed up for his first day of work in the clubhouse at age 17, said a long night in the clubhouse does not even compare to the night shift he worked years ago for the city.

“Usually a Friday night, Saturday day-game or when we had the long rain delay; there’s no sense in going home,” Bokovitz said, recalling the May 31extended rain delay. “I slept on the couch in the laundry room. A couple other members of the staff slept here, and they found couches or training tables or wherever they could to lay down. It was fine.”

Bokovitz, now the full-time clubhouse assistant, did need to be up and working bright and early that Saturday morning, so he could ensure uniforms had been washed and dried and any odd stains had been treated.

“He does everything for us; he is a behind-the-scenes guy,” starter Scott Kazmir said. “You name it, any type of uniform piece or clothing, he takes care of [it]. If there’s a special day we have, he needs to put on patches — anything and everything.”

Bokovitz has each player’s routine almost down to a science, knowing what time they typically arrive and what needs they usually have on game day. For instance, Bokovitz said he prints crossword puzzles and leaves copies of the USA Today on the tables for various players to relax with before the game. Former Cleveland pitcher Roberto Hernandez, Bokovitz said, used to sweat so much that he would change jerseys numerous times each start.

Aside from laundry and handing out fan mail to each player’s respective locker, Bokovitz and the staff work tirelessly to meet the needs of each player and coach upon their arrival.

“They take care of some of the other runs that need to be done for the players,” Bokovitz said. “They come in, and it’s game prep. Who needs what, who needs this, this guy may need a bat, this guy may need another pair of pants or decide to go with a short pair of pants instead of a long pair. Just tinkering with stuff like that.

“That includes making sure that they have everything they need. A guy may need a pair of socks, or Terry may need something mailed or shipped, or he may need something taken care of like that. It’s just making sure that all they concentrate on is baseball; we’ll take care of the rest of that.”

Bokovitz, who works seven days a week from February 1 through the end of October, said he has developed great relationships with numerous players and coaches, including catcher Lou Marson and outfielder Michael Brantley.

“There’s times when these guys are preparing, and there’s times when you can go up and talk to them and hang out,” Bokovitz said, adding that he is close with second baseman Jason Kipnis and set-up man Vinnie Pestano. “Some of these new guys we still haven’t developed full-on relationships, but some of the guys [have] been here for a few years.”

Developing an understanding for when it is acceptable to chat with players and when it is frowned upon is something that came easily for Bokovitz.

Dealing with former Cleveland player Albert Belle, he said, taught him much about his role in the clubhouse.

“He was a good guy, and he was a perfectionist,” Bokovitz said. “He was a great guy to be around, and you just had to know when it was a good day and when it was a bad day. He was in it to win; that’s what a lot of people don’t understand. He wanted to win and be successful 100% of the time.”

Bokovitz did say, despite having to ship forgotten bats and team luggage to other stadiums and make last-minute errands for different players, this job is “by far” better than digging ditches.

Kazmir agreed, emphasizing the players’ appreciation for Bokovitz and his staff.

“He means a lot to us,” Kazmir said. “He’s great to have in the clubhouse, just to kind of shoot the stuff with — just an all-around good dude. It makes it easier in the clubhouse when you have guys that are easy-going like that.”

–TribeVibe contributor Megan Golden

Kipnis’ June ranks among best in franchise history; still time to vote for ASG

Jason Kipnis has been the catalyst for the Tribe's recent hot stretch, batting over .400 in June.

Jason Kipnis has been the catalyst for the Tribe’s recent hot stretch, batting over .400 in June.

Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis was one of the most productive offensive players in the Majors in June, and there’s still time to vote for Kipnis and his Indians teammates for the 2013 All-Star Game, to be held July 16 at Citi Field in New York.

For the month, Kipnis ranked among MLB leaders in:

  • On-base plus slugging: first, 1.216
  • On-base percentage: first, .517
  • Hits: tied for first, 39
  • Average: second, .419
  • Slugging percentage: second, .699
  • Extra-base hits: second, 17

On a more impressive scale, Kipnis’ peripherals put him in the company of some of the best single-month performances in Cleveland franchise history: Kipnis became just the 15th Cleveland player dating back to at least 1921 to finish a single calendar month with a .400 batting average and OPS figure of at least 1.200, and the first since Jim Thome in August of 1996 (min. 50 plate appearances).

CLEVELAND PLAYERS TO BAT .400+ WITH 1.200+ OPS IN SAME CALENDAR MONTH, SINCE 1921 (min. 50 PA):

  • Tris Speaker (5/21, 8/22, 7/23, 5/25, 7/25)
  • Joe Sewell (8/23)
  • Earl Averill (7/36)
  • Frankie Pytlak (8/37)
  • Hal Trosky (9/39)
  • Dale Mitchell (9/50)
  • Johnny Grubb (5/77)
  • Albert Belle (5/94)
  • Carlos Baerga (7/94)
  • Jim Thome (8/96)
  • Jason Kipnis (6/13)

Kipnis has reached safely via hit, walk or HBP in 32 consecutive games dating back to May 26. The last Indians player to reach safely in more than 32 straight games was Victor Martinez, who reached safely in 45 straight from Sept. 17, 2005-May 6, 2006.

–TribeVibe contributor Court Berry-Tripp

Indians fan Alexandria Justice a finalist for MLB Fan Cave

Indians fan and MLB Fan Cave finalist Alexandria Justice (left) heads to Goodyear this week.

Indians fan and MLB Fan Cave finalist Alexandria Justice (left) heads to Goodyear this week.

The Tribe officially has a fan flying out to Spring Training to compete for a spot in the MLB Fan Cave! Alexandria Justice was selected as a Top 30 finalist late on Tuesday and will arrive in Goodyear on Monday. TribeVibe caught up with Alex before she heads to Arizona to demonstrate why she is the ultimate baseball fan.

TribeVibe: What was your reaction when you found out you made the Top 30?

Alexandria Justice: Just like for the top 50, I’m not afraid to admit that I cried like a baby. Waiting for them to announce the top 30 after the voting closed at 5 p.m. was almost the death of me. I swear I didn’t blink for minutes at a time while staring at my computer screen and started to get lightheaded from holding my breath. Finally, I refreshed the page for the millionth time and there I was, in the top 30. My best friend was waiting outside of my room (I wanted to be alone, just in case) so when I screamed, “OH MY GOD, I LOVE EVERYONE IN THE WORLD!” she got the hint that it was safe to come in. She picked me up, spun me around, and we freaked out for the next five minutes. Once again, it was hard to believe that I wasn’t dreaming.

(more…)

Picking the brain of the Indians’ promotions pro

Indians manager of promotions in his Progressive Field office with some past giveaways. (Kyle Emery photo)

Indians manager of promotions in his Progressive Field office with some past giveaways. (Kyle Emery photo)

The Indians today released  their annual promotional schedule, and it’s once again chock full of goodies, from bobbleheads, jerseys and T-shirts to fireworks, Dollar Dog nights and Rally Alleys. You can find the full promotional schedule on Indians.com.

Indians Manager of Promotions Jason Kidik has overseen the development of the promotional schedule for the last eight seasons, and answered some questions from TribeVibe on how the laborious process works.

TribeVibe: How did you end up in this role with the Indians?

Jason Kidik: I spent six years working in Minor League Baseball (Mahoning Valley Scrappers, South Bend Silver Hawks, Columbus Clippers). While I was primarily responsible for promotions, I did everything from selling tickets to serving beer to pulling tarp to power-washing the ballpark to, on occasion, performing as the mascot for all three teams. You have to be creative/unique/innovative to survive; do the jobs others will not. In 2005, I was offered an opportunity to become the Promotions and Events guy for the Indians. It’s been a fun ride.

TV: How long of a process is the schedule development? Do you try to schedule promotions or giveaways on dates or days of the week when crowds typically are smaller?

JK: We typically get our first look at the next season’s schedule the June before and spend the next five months researching, benchmarking and brainstorming. We are always on the lookout for what is topical and relevant now and six months from now — which is not easy. We weigh everything in determining what events or items are assigned to each game date: time of season, day of week, opponent, strength of item, historical data, fan feedback, etc. We assign events and/or giveaways strategically based on the data in-hand in an attempt to maximize attendance. Some dates require more help than others to bring people to the ballpark. We try to speak to all of our demographics throughout the season and give them added incentive to experience the ballpark.

TV: Corporate sponsors obviously play a role in the process; do they approach you about getting involved, or are you working with our corporate partnerships department to generate sponsors for some of the promotions?

JK: Once the promotions calendar is set, our corporate partnerships team works with our partners to determine best fit for each item or event. Sometimes the partner brings an idea to the table that we explore and implement as well.

TV: What promotions are most popular with fans these days?

JK: Wearables (jerseys, caps, T-shirts) and bobbleheads seem to attract the most fans, which you will see translates to the 2013 promo schedule. However, there is still something to be said for items like a fleece blanket or Slider Slippers that offer a unique opportunity. From an event standpoint, fireworks are still king with our fan base. We are offering 16 fireworks nights in 2013, including the two-night return of the award winning Rock N’ Blast. KeyBank Kids Fun Day on Sundays is a big hit with families. The introduction of the Kids Clubhouse in 2012 took the event to a new level and gave kids a place to go every game.

Vaughn BH displayed in HOF 2

TV: What has been one of your favorite promotions? What’s your favorite on this year’s schedule?

JK: My favorite giveaway has to be the 2009 Rick Vaughn bobblehead. Over a year’s work went into bringing the item and the day around it to life. Working with Paramount Pictures and BDA to create the bobblehead that is now on display in the National Baseball Hall of Fame (pictured) was so much fun and a sense of pride. Building the “Major League” 20th Anniversary event around it was exciting. We targeted an interleague game versus the Brewers so Bob Uecker (Brewers play-by-play and “Harry Doyle” from the movie) could participate. He was wonderful to work with. ESPN picked us up as their national game to cover the event. We received coverage from MSNBC, CNN, FoxNews, USA Today, etc.  In 2013, I am looking forward to Rock N’ Blast, like I do every year. Words cannot describe the experience. If you are in Northeast Ohio, it is a must-attend. Also, I am excited to bring Albert Belle back to Progressive Field in bobblehead form. I am very pleased with how this item developed and hope the fans enjoy it as well.

TV: What’s the craziest promotion you’ve done?

JK: I would not call any of our giveaways or events crazy. However, we did bring in WWE’s Sgt. Slaughter a few years back (I think 2008) and added him to the mix of our in-game Sugardale Hot Dog Derby. He was supposed to fake-clothesline Ketchup behind home plate. However, Ketchup decided to run full speed into the Sarge’s arm, flinging Ketchup backwards in mid-air and landing hard on his back. I had a great view of the entire ballpark from our left field door (where the Hot Dogs enter the field for the race). When Ketchup went down, the roar from the 30,000-plus crowd rivaled a walk-off homer. We ended up leading off SportsCenter that night. There is another time where I almost ended (former Michigan quarterback) Drew Henson’s baseball career in Columbus, but I do not think I can get into that. Working in sports, you see and do things you never would imagine, but it is a blast.

TV: Have you ever had to turn down a promotion and why? Any horror stories as far as logistics/delays/arrivals go?

JK: There are many more promotional ideas than opportunities to implement, so we are always picking and choosing carefully. As for horror stories, my biggest headache was the Mustard Plush Doll giveaway of 2010. In the days leading up to the giveaway date, the truck delivering the dolls from California could not be found by the vendor. We spent a few days trying to track down the driver. Finally on the day of the giveaway, the vendor heard from the driver. We received the items a few hours before gates opened. At the end of the day, it all worked out, but I never want to go through anything like that again.

See below for a video featuring Indians radio broadcaster Jim Rosenhaus that is sure to get you excited for the 2013 season!

They Say It’s Your Birthday: Indians win 4-3

Carlos Santana and Derek Lowe were the big story this afternoon in the Indians 4-3 win here at Progressive Field. Carlos celebrated his 26th birthday with a pair of home runs off right-hander Joel Carreno, who made his major league debut today.  According to ESPN, he became the first Indians player to hit 2 home runs on his birthday since Albert Belle connected for a pair on August 25, 1995 vs. Detroit (Indians minor league infield coordinator Travis Fryman also went deep in that game). MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian also dug deep for a few other Santana birthday nuggets in his story HERE. “[birthday] Hats for bats,” as a certain fictional someone might say.

5th inning: Carlos connects for a decisive 2-out, 2-run HR down the right-field line.

Derek made his Indians debut after holding Toronto to a pair of unearned runs over 7.0 innings of work. He has now recorded wins with 5 different major league organizations: – Seattle, Boston, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Cleveland - although today was his first victory as a member of the American League since Sept. 7, 2004 at Oakland (7-1 Boston win). Today was Derek’s first start/appearance at Progressive Field since May 4, 2004 as a member of the Red Sox, as he improved to 4-2 with a 2.47 ERA  in 15 career appearances at this venue. That includes a record of 2-2 with a 2.31 ERA  in 4 starts. In 171 career games as the home starter, Derek’s teams have an overall record of 103-68. His performance lowered the rotation’s ERA to 1.23 and opponents average to .110 (8-for-73) through 3 games. Welcome to Cleveland.

That's a four-seamer grip I see, but the sinker was definitely working today too.

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