Category Archives: Kids Starting Lineup

Kids Starting Lineup at Game 2 of the 2018 NBA Finals

When a Cleveland sports team needs a kid in its starting lineup, who better to turn to than Alan?  He did it with the Indians in 2017, and he’s now done it with the Cavaliers in 2018!

I had registered Alan for the drawing to be in the Kids Starting Lineup for a playoff road game Watch Party at the Q prior to the start of the playoffs.  As part of the application, I had to write a few paragraphs as to why Alan would be a great selection.

As the playoffs wore on, I had actually forgotten about this completely – until I was contacted by the Cavaliers via email following the season-extended Game 7 win over Boston.  As if we needed more reason to be thrilled about the Cavaliers’ victory, this certainly provided another reason to celebrate.  If I had to pick any Watch Party for Alan to participate in, Game 2 of the Finals was what I’d immediate choose.  It was great timing (on a weekend) AND Alan would get to run out before a near-sell-out crowd.

Coincidentally, I had already purchased four tickets for the Game 2 Watch Party before knowing Alan would be a part of the festivities.  Shane and I have gone to the Game 2 Watch Party all four years of the Cavaliers’ NBA Finals streak, so I knew we’d use two of the tickets.  It worked well that Alan and Veronica could take the other two.

We arrived at the Q just before 7PM, about an hour before tip-off.  We met a Cavaliers rep at the bottom of section 126 by the scorer’s table.  They put us in one of the floor boxes while we waited.

Note:  I later realized that we appeared over Jeff Phelps’ shoulder througout the Cavaliers pregame show on Fox Sports Ohio.  I caught that after watching the tape later that night.

After all five kids arrived, they called the kids out to the court to practice around 7:30PM.

At this time, I didn’t know which player would be Alan’s assignment.  But while Alan was out there, I saw Alan was third in the order, which meant Tristan Thompson.  I also happened to catch a Tristan graphic up on the Humongotron.

After practicing, Alan returned to the floor box and confirmed he was Tristan Thompson.  Just before 8PM, the kids were called back into position in the corner of the floor, where they watched Sir CC and Whammer (An unexpected 90s throwback!) attempt backwards, half-court shots.  Whammer actually sunk one.

Note:  The next day the Cavaliers posted a video of Whammer on social media, and I was briefly shown behind Whammer, taking pictures of Alan.  That’s a sentence I never thought I’d type — especially considering that Whammer hasn’t been around for 20 years!

As the kids got ready to go, parents were allowed to step onto the court just to the right of the scorer’s table.  Veronica, Shane, and I got into position with our cameras ready to go.  The Cavaliers in-game entertainment team went through the usual run-up to introductions, which included, among other things, Phil Collins’ In the Air Tonight and of course the national anthem.  Soon after, the lights went off, the Cavaliers Finals video played, and the PA announcer Sean Peebles went to work announcing the lineup.  Alan excitedly ran out through a lane of mascots!!

It was awesome being on the court for the first time and getting to watch Alan enjoy himself in the spotlight.

After all five players were announced, Alan huddled up with kids and mascots alike (photo taken by the Cavaliers).  Later I asked Alan what was said in the huddle, and he responded with “Go Cavaliers!”

After all the excitement, we went up to the Wine & Gold United members section at the Huntington Club Level.  The adults got some free food set aside for WGU members.  Alan opted for a soft pretzel and popcorn.  Alan stayed to watch the game until halftime, and then left for home with Veronica, as it was getting late.

Here is the on-court video of Alan!:

6/9/18 Update:  Alan received a voucher for a free Cavaliers jersey for participating in the Kids Starting Lineup.  Today I cashed it in for a Nike swingman LeBron jersey!

 

Kids Starting Lineup – Behind the Scenes

A behind the scenes look at Alan’s MLB debut:

The day was made possible by Robbie and Jill winning an auction that allowed Alan to be in the Kids Starting Lineup.  We found out the great news on April 17th.  Alan was thrilled when I told him over the phone that day.  I can still hear the happy sound in his voice while saying “Whaat!?” when I told him the Indians need him on the field before the game.

On April 19th Alan created artwork which depicts his family driving to Progressive Field to see him on the field.  In the drawing, there’s a Hyundai (Daddy), Honda (Robbie and Jill), and Mercedes (Grandma Debbie and Papa) clearly marked on Alan’s highway.

On April 22nd Alan wrote a thank you note to Robbie and Jill and a separate letter to the Indians (pictured above), which we mailed to Progressive Field that day.  Also on the 22nd, we bought his very first Indians jersey for the occasion — which he wanted to model with Tyler!

On April 24th Alan and I practiced finding all 9 positions on a baseball field diagram.  We also reviewed throughout the week.

On April 30th Alan’s big day went off without a hitch.  It was warm and sunny at game time, despite a forecast calling for isolated thunderstorms.  It had also rained for most of the previous two days.  Alan’s cheering section saved the day, since I was not positioned as close to Alan as I thought I would be.

On May 1st I received the following email reply from Chris Antonetti, after having sent him a scan of Alan’s letter & artwork and a recent photo:

“Thanks for the note, the letter from Alan, and the picture.  It’s cool to see Alan sporting his Tribe gear and be so engaged with the team.  I hope Alan enjoyed the Kids Starting Lineup experience yesterday.  All the best, Chris”

On May 2nd Mrs. Feldman shared the photo of Alan running the bases with Alan’s kindergarten class!  When I asked Alan how he felt about that, he smiled and commented “the whole class was looking at me!”  I asked if that made him proud and he said “yes.”  We also joked together that Alan must’ve left a cloud of dust behind him because it looks like he’s running so fast (Alan loves when we say that).

Other notes:

-Alan received two complimentary tickets for the game, which he and I used to enter.

-Alan found out he was assigned to 3B and Jose Ramirez upon arriving at the Terrace Club (the designated meeting area).  Alan was very excited to be assigned to 3B because it was a position he had played during spring baseball.  He told me that 3B was the position he was hoping he’d get.

-Alan and I entered the field from the third base line seats next to the Indians dugout.  I exited the field from the door directly behind home plate.  The kids left the same way they came onto the field.

-Parents had to leave the field a little early (before the kids) so Tomlin could start his warm-up pitches on the mound. The Indians’ field team thought we were at risk of being hit by an errant throw.  However, just before the National Anthem, Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager played catch right next to us.

-After Alan’s photo reached the Indians website on Sunday evening, it was also posted to Indians Facebook and Twitter the next day.

-When I asked Alan to share how he felt about the Kids Starting Lineup experience overall, he said he was both nervous and excited.  And, oh yeah, he’d like to do it again sometime.  🙂

Tribe Game No. 1 of 2017 – Kids Starting Lineup

On April 30th, 2017 Alan made his major league debut at Progressive Field, playing third base and batting 4th in the Kids Starting Lineup!  Here’s the timeline and recap of Alan’s eventful day:

11:09 –11:39 – Alan and his traveling party ride to the ballpark aboard the RTA Green Line. When Alan arrives at Tower City, he eats his pregame meal: A soft pretzel (his favorite baseball food).

12:10 – Alan enters the ballpark and meets up with the other 7 kids in the starting lineup at the Terrace Club elevators.  A few minutes later, the kids (and parents) head down to the field level and set up on the track behind home plate.

12:20 – Mickey Calloway rolls baseballs to the kids from the Indians dugout.

12:30 – Alan’s cheering section finds him behind home plate; many photos are taken.

12:53 – The kids line up in order and head down the left field line for the National Anthem.  Alan’s cheering section shifts with him.

12:57 – The Hot Dogs and Slider greet the kids while they wait to take the field.

1:03 – The Kids Starting Lineup is announced by Sara Shookman of Channel 3 News and Alan runs out to third base!  Video of the action was captured from the third base seats and from behind home plate (Jumbotron in view).

1:08 – The Indians take the field, and Alan meets Jose Ramirez!  Alan gets an autographed ball from Ramirez before heading off the field.

1:10 – Josh Tomlin throws the first pitch and the Indians game is underway.  The temperature at first pitch is 76 degrees, though it feels much warmer in the sun.

1:20 – Alan and I are reunited under the stadium, and we return to the main concourse to meet up with the family.

1:35 – Now on the family deck, Alan picks up his 2017 Tribe Town MVP souvenirs and enters the Kids Clubhouse.

2:00 – The Indians begin an 8-run rally in the bottom of the 3rd inning – their highest scoring inning since May 2015.

2:10 – Jose Ramirez, likely inspired by Alan, tags and scores on a shallow pop-fly to RF with an incredible tag-avoiding slide.

2:15 – Alan orders the largest box of popcorn either of us has ever seen.

2:20 – Brantley caps the Indians’ 8-run outburst with a 2-run HR to right field.

2:40 – Alan returns to the family deck activities after eating lunch.  He climbs the Lofton wall and hits at Little League Park.

3:10 – Alan beats [simulated] Slider in a footrace and tests his pitching accuracy.

3:40 – This picture is taken:  🙂

4:00– Alan enters the “Kids Run the Bases” line and moves towards the front with his Tribe Town MVP badge.

4:08 – Indians record the final out and beat the Mariners 12-4.

4:15 – Alan circles the bases in record time!  He also coaxes me out of retirement, and I struggle to keep up.  Later a photo of Alan appears on the Indians website in their game recap photo gallery. 🙂

4:20 – Alan stops for some finals photos. He also plays photographer and takes a few photos of his traveling party – plus some selfies – to wrap up the day at the ballpark.

5:04 – 5:32 – We return home on RTA.  Afterwards, Alan wants to watch the train until it leaves the station, which we do because it’s his day.