Indians create a memorable Tribe Fest for the fans
This past weekend marked the second installment of “Tribe Fest”, an Indians event intended to connect fans with Indians players, coaches, alumni, and front office staff. For those that missed the event, here are some details on what went down.
Over 7,000 tickets were sold for the weekend event, an impressive number considering the nasty weather that rolled through Cleveland. For the first time since 2008, a different level of excitement for the upcoming season seemed to fill the inside of Progressive Field.
The event was well-organized and the Indians had plenty of staff members to assist fans. The autograph sessions ran smoothly and, with the ticketing structure, allowed most to complete an autograph session in 30 minutes or less. There was plenty to do – a video game truck was setup for kids, batting cages were open to everyone, tours of both the home and visiting clubhouses were made available - even free haircuts were being given.
The Fan Cave, Kids Suite, and Club Lounge were open for fans. They also had a mini-museum setup that highlighted Cleveland baseball heritage. Finally, Paul Dolan and Mark Shapiro took turns signing fans to “Honorary Lifetime Contracts” with the Indians. It was great to see how excited kids were and how genuine both were in their interactions with both the little ones and adults.
The main stage offered interviews with current and former players and coaches. The sessions were mainly Q&A format, meaning fans had the opportunity to ask several questions. As expected, there was some good and some bad that came with that. A few highlights:
- In case you missed it, Kenny Lofton made waves when he shared his opinion of the Indians’ Wild Card berth saying, “I can’t really call it a playoff. You’re not in the playoffs. There are four teams in the playoffs. Until you are one of those four teams, you’re not in the playoffs. That’s just a regular season game to get to that.” Lofton continued, “People look at it as a playoff game, it wasn’t a playoff game. A playoff is a series, not one game. It’s not the Super Bowl.” At least one Indian was clearly miffed by the comment as Vinnie Pestano tweeted, “Last year’s team played past 162, that’s Postseason. To see the atmosphere that was there that day, that’s Postseason. No need to cheapen that.”
- Lofton stole the show Sunday when a fan asked him about Lofton doing a great Albert Belle impression. Lofton happily shared (with an assist from Vizquel) and brought laughter from the audience. Check out the video clip of it.
- One awkward moment occurred when Vizquel pointed to a fan and said, “I have a question for YOU!” Vizquel asked what the fan remembered the most about the three players on stage (Vizquel, Lofton, Nagy). The fan responded with some general comments about Lofton and Vizquel before looking at Nagy and saying, “Honestly, I don’t remember much about you.” Nagy, without missing a beat, gave the fan a sarcastic “thanks.”
- All three players were asked their opinions on players that played during their era that used steroids being on the Hall of Fame ballot. While Nagy and Vizquel gave “safe answers, Lofton started squirming in his seat as soon as the question was asked, eager to respond. Kenny said players who cheated to gain a competitive advantage shouldn’t even be on the ballot and that their presence could affect the votes others on the ballot could potentially receive. He does, however, think Pete Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame.
- Lofton said he would be in Goodyear to coach the first week of spring training. Nagy seemed excited about his new role with the organization. Vizquel seemed just as excited to get a shot with the Tigers and said he hoped to someday manage a team.
- Charles Nagy quipped that, while Tom Hamilton is an incredible announcer, the Indians used to have the radio feed turned way up in the dugout suites and he’d sometimes have to hear the home run call for the opposing team as he stood on the mound.
Overall, “Tribe Fest” turned out to be a wonderful event. As Northeast Ohio endures the current arctic blast, it’s good to know warm weather and good baseball aren’t too far off at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario.