Miller Park gets its first 'Bucks' contestants
Wisconsin quartet seeks out game show crew through social media
OK, so they missed a cheese question.
We won't make a big deal out of it, like mentioning it at the top of this story or noting that they are four bright college students and co-workers from the state of Wisconsin (aka "America's Dairyland") who drove past one dairy farm after another during their three-hour trek from Eau Claire to Milwaukee.
No, we're going to point out instead that they broke some ground in Episode 18 of the hit MLB.com game show "Bucks on the Pond" powered by Ford. Kyle Bacon, Joel Albrecht and brothers Sam and Nathan Rodebaugh are not only the first Miller Park contestants in the series' two seasons, but also the first to use social media to get themselves onto the show for a chance to win real cash money.
"That day was so much fun for all of us," Sam said in an email to MLB.com. "It was Joel's first game attended at Miller Park, so it was quite a memorable first for him. Everything from the BP home run to the Carlos Gomez Bobblehead to 'Bucks on the Pond' to the beef brisket parfaits we ate would have made the game a memorable experience each on their own merit, but all together?
"What a great day at the park."
It all began with a post on John & Cait...Plus Nine, one of the most popular MLB.com Blogs, maintained by two members of the Brewers' front office: John Steinmiller, manager of media relations, and Caitlin Moyer, senior manager of advertising and marketing. They posted a heads up that the "Bucks" crew would be at Miller Park the next day, which also happened to be Carlos Gomez Bobblehead Day.
Bacon is among the blog's avid followers, and he was determined to get his buddies onto the "Bucks" set. They practiced baseball trivia during the three-hour ride. Once there, he tweeted to @Brewers that the foursome was in the house and looking for the show. The Brewers tweeted back, the four fans "ran around the ballpark frantically" in search of the set, found it in front of the Klement's Racing Sausages display, and the rest is history. Watch to see whether they won some bucks to cover the trip.
"The entire day was a great experience," Bacon said. "I, personally, love going to Brewers games despite the long drive. The atmosphere there is unlike any other ballpark I've been to. Wisconsinites are always into their teams, win or lose. This day, however was unlike the others because it was just one good thing after another. We had excellent weather, and everyone had a pregame blast watching batting practice.
"After briefly searching for the 'Bucks' crew, the other guys wanted to give up, but I insisted that we go get food and keep searching. They followed me and the moment I saw the cameras, I got extremely excited. I happened to be standing next to a pair of employees and I immediately asked them, 'Is that what I think it is?' And they said, 'Well ... what do you think it is?' I practically shouted 'Bucks on the Pond' and ran over and got the attention of the guys. Once they found out who I was and that I tweeted about wanting to play, they were enthusiastic. ... It's quite exciting to be the first contestants to play from Miller Park."
"Bucks" is hosted by Jeremy Brisiel, and you might be a part of it this season when you least expect it. Fans at the ballpark interact with MLB.com's studio through the magic of technology in conjunction with game action inside. In creating a new experience for fans, MLB.com is giving people a chance to earn bucks while they spend bucks at the ballpark.
Contestants are asked a trivia question -- general knowledge and baseball -- on each pitch during a half-inning of baseball. Get the question correct and win money. Get the question wrong and it's a strike. Three strikes and you're out.
The questions' difficulty and value increase with the number of outs in the on-field action: $5 easy questions to start, $10 medium-difficulty questions after one out, $20 hard questions after two outs. If the contestant lasts longer than the team's at-bat, they win the bucks in their bank.
Here's the new wrinkle: Cross the $100 mark during the show and it's time for "Say The Word" powered by Ford SYNC. You can wager any part of your bank on the next question, which is asked each episode by 2014 Hall of Fame candidate Frank Thomas. Answer correctly and you win, answer incorrectly and you lose that amount ... and it's another strike.
Bacon may have gotten the cheese question wrong in this show, but hey, he got them there.
"As far as the strike regarding cheese -- we realized how silly that was going to look to the nation later that day," he said. "I immediately pictured JB making some joke about it. To be honest, though, we really weren't sure of the answer. I'll admit, though, if it weren't for the other guys, I would've been out of the game pretty early playing by myself. I was so excited that I was really blanking on some of the answers."
Said Sam: "Yeah, that was kind of embarrassing. I will blame Kyle for that one. But truth be told, there are lots of cheeses from many countries all over the world. The thing that is easiest to remember is that Wisconsin makes them all better than the rest."
Bacon and Albrecht attend University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Sam goes to Immanuel Lutheran College and Nathan attends Chippewa Valley Technical College. The four work together in the distribution center at Eau Claire-based Menards, the national home-improvement retail chain, and you can get a feel for their teamwork watching them collectively tap the Gomez bobblehead for luck during the show.
Topics covered include nursery rhymes, vegetables, logos, colors, "Dumb and Dumber," cheese, Led Zeppelin, Brewers pitchers, precious gems, fish anatomy, "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," comedians, pitching mounds, retired numbers, superheroes and planets.
"I'm so excited for this entire experience -- almost borderline giddy," Bacon said. "I've been checking the MLB.com/bucks URL daily for weeks now to see if the Miller Park episode was posted. ... My heart wouldn't stop beating. I was like spinning in circles, sweating."
This is the 47th overall episode, and it brings to 22 the number of MLB parks involved. In addition to the Brewers, teams visited by the "Bucks" crew include the Angels, Astros, Athletics, Cardinals, Cubs, D-backs, Dodgers, Giants, Indians, Marlins, Mets, Orioles, Red Sox, Reds, Rockies, Royals, Padres, Pirates, Tigers, White Sox and Yankees. Bookmark MLB.com/bucks and be on the lookout for the "Bucks" crew at your ballpark.