Brewers bullpen crew connect with fans with sticker campaign
Kameron Loe is used to being called upon to handle tough situations, so it was without surprise that the towering right-hander who was called on 72 times last season and posted a 1.44 ERA over his final 25 innings was the man to handle the toughest assignment the bullpen faced Tuesday afternoon: Affixing a small, Rollie Fingers-like mustache to the bullpen sticker bag.
Loe, whose hands can hide a baseball, deftly rolled glue down the faux 'stache and placed it accordingly, under the watchful eye of Marco Estrada.
John Axford and Tim Dillard laughed at the sight of their 6-foot, 8-inch teammate hunched over with a watchmaker's focus, ensuring it was just so.
The scene epitomized "sticker day" for the members of the Milwaukee Brewers bullpen, the culmination of a week's worth of mail following Axford's tweet to his nearly 47,000 followers on April 10 to send him and his fellow relievers stickers to put on their all-black bullpen suitcase, which travels with the team and holds game-day essentials, like candy.
While the Brewers closer is a fan favorite, the idea for the promotion came from Dillard, who purchased the bag the night before Opening Day. Originally, he had searched for a Green Bay Packers bag – or at least one with those colors – but had no luck. So plain black it was. Then he thought, why not put stickers on it? Then it became, why not let fans send us stickers?
"With Twitter and all the social media, there are so many more fans getting in connection with athletes and athletes getting in connection with fans it's just easy to send out a couple tweets and say hey guys, send in some stickers and we'll put 'em on and maybe you can win the bag," Loe said. "It was kind of like yeah, that'd be a really cool idea to do."
Axford tweeted out pictures of the first wave of stickers, all of which had a local flavor, from the New Glarus Brewery, Harley-Davidson, Wisconsin Skinny, Wiskullsin and the Pettit National Ice Center.
"We got excited - the whole bullpen was over here," Dillard said. "We were so surprised by the response, but it was exactly what we wanted – it was local, it was to the state. It's perfect."
During the open clubhouse session, Axford opened more mail and couldn't help but laugh as he handed out stickers to his teammates – including one of the immortal Buzz Lightyear.
The experiment has been a role reversal of the Brewers, who are often on the receiving end of requests from fans.
"I think that's kind of interesting," Axford sad. "It engages fans in a different way. People seem pretty excited about it. When I tweeted a picture of it people were pointing out their stickers that they sent, so I think that's kind of cool that they can maybe even feel more of a part of the bullpen with this group than they do already."
For shame! No Wolski's? Someone get in touch with Tony or Dave quick!
Good stuff. Interesting insight into the often strange world of the bullpen.
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