Thursday, July 30, 2009

Milwaukee’s ‘The Everyday Journeyman’ Takes a Detour to 2009 Major League Baseball All-Star Game in St. Louis

The Milwaukee Brewers selected Milwaukee resident Loyal Mehnert from thousands of applications to be their People’s Magazine ALL-STAR AMONG US representative at the 2009 All-Star Game in St। Louis.

Before you read my interview with Loyal, please check out Habitat for Humanity’s feature by Teresa K. Weaver at: to learn about Loyal’s extraordinary story!

JOEL: Go ahead, Loyal, name drop for us. Who are some of the interesting people and players you have met as a result of your Major League Baseball All-Stars Among Us honor?

LOYAL: For Milwaukee Brewers fans, I was able to meet Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, and Trevor Hoffman. Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig tracked me down at a press conference to shake my hand. We Milwaukeeans stick together. I've also been invited to take part in President Carter and his wife's Habitat for Humanity Work Project in Southeast Asia. I'll either be in Thailand or Vietnam this November.

JOEL: Of all the people you mentioned who was the most interesting?

LOYAL: Definitely the other 29 All-Stars Among Us. Our backgrounds are all completely different, from cities across North America, yet we share this incredible common bond. I expect to remain close with this group for years to come.

JOEL: Who was the funniest? Why?

LOYAL: By far, Duane Silverstein of Seacology (, an international environmental nonprofit organization that focuses on saving endangered species, habitats and cultures of islands throughout the world. Not only his work for the environment incredible and exciting, he's really, really funny. I can't wait to see him next time I visit San Francisco.

JOEL: What was the spark that lit this burning passion in you to help others?

LOYAL: I wasn't always selfless. In fact, as a teenager I think many would describe me as selfish. But as an adult, I became interested in volunteering and began work in the non-profit sector. I served as a National Media Spokesperson for the Avon Foundation's domestic violence awareness campaign (Speak Out Loud) and Habitat for Humanity (Thrivent Builds).

Hindsight being 20/20, I wish I'd been exposed to volunteerism as a teenager. I think my high school years would have certainly been more rewarding.

JOEL: What's the best way to inspire others to help those in need?

LOYAL: Lead by example. Not everyone can travel across Africa or other parts of the world or spend months hiking the Appalachian Trail. But you can find journeys in your own backyard. Run a local 5K or marathon for charity and raise money for cancer research. Volunteer at a homeless shelter or mentor a child. Find an issue that you are passionate about that's not being addressed and create your own solution. The Everyday Journeyman project is all about helping others do things they don't think are possible. Taking that leap of faith, that first step. It's risky, it can be scary but the reward is extraordinary.

Joel: You were there, Loyal, so tell me, did President Obama's pitch bounce in the dirt and how did his first pitch compare to the one you threw out at Miller Park?

LOYAL: Personally, I think my first pitch was better. Granted, President Obama is a bit taller than I am so his pitch looked better. But it was also a ball whereas mine was definitely in the strike zone. But President Obama gets style points.

JOEL: I love quotes, so I have to ask, what are some of your favorite inspirational quotes?

LOYAL: There are two that are really part of my daily philosophy.The first from Robert Frost, "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. "The second by President Theodore Roosevelt, "Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorius triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat."

JOEL: What are some other possible journey ideas that are currently rolling around in your head?

LOYAL: As I hike the 2000+ miles of the Appalachian Trail, I didn't expect to be hit so hard by bouts of extreme loneliness. It's a major issue I hope to correct by bringing others along in the future. As for upcoming journeys, I'm looking seriously at long distance biking along the Great Divide from the Canadian border south towards Mexico. I would also like to kick-start the Seven Summits. Start with the closest and most readily accessible mountains like Denali, Kilimanjaro, and Aconcagua. A great amount of money can be raised for charities like Habitat for Humanity via these journeys. I welcome those interested in my Appalachian Trail hike and the upcoming biking and mountaineering journeys, whether they want to come along or pledge donations, to contact me at for more information.

You can follow and support Loyal at or on Facebook at He will be visiting my school to talk to my students some time this fall, and I will be sure to update you on his journeys then.

I have five award-winning children’s books A GLOVE OF THEIR OWN to give away to COUNTY STADIUM KID readers who post comments about their or someone else’s volunteerism. Who are the all-stars among you?

(To view our living Presidents tribute to the ALL-STARS AMONG US that was aired before the All-Star game, go to: )


Monday, July 27, 2009


I just sat down to write this post while listening to tonight’s Brewers game against the Washington Nationals. Ryan Braun just hit a two-run homerun bringing the Brewers to within one run and giving us Brewers fans some much needed HOPE.

Only a few minutes ago, dedicated Brewer fan Nic W (nwest33) twittered, “Boycotting Brewer games for now...still a fan, just can't watch listen or take the agony.” He’s not alone. Brewer fans everywhere are uttering sentiments similar to Nic’s.

Earlier this spring when the Brewers lost Rickie Weeks and his hot bat, I began touting, “Craig Counsell 2009 World Series MVP.” A few Brewer fans rallied behind the idea of Counsell hoisting up the MVP trophy while his Brewers teammates doused the Milwaukee native with champagne.

Milwaukee radio legend Gene Mueller (genemueller) responded to my tweet, “@joelkatte Love it! I don't think Weeks a fatal blow. Lots of faith in Melvin to find the right parts to keep things going.” (Via Twitter May 18)

Hey, I believed Counsell could win 2009 World Series MVP earlier this spring, and I still believe it now! The man is clutch! He’s a gamer. He gives every second of the ballgame his best and leaves it all on the field. He was instrumental in helping the ’97 Florida Marlins and ’01 Arizona Diamondbacks win World Series titles. In short, he’s money and deep down we know it!

Baseball is a game of statistics; everybody understands that. However, there are a few things numbers cannot account for. How do you measure a player’s heart? How do you calculate the impact a player’s quiet, lead-by-example demeanor has on an entire team? Do we have statistics for keeping track of good base running? How do we keep track of moving runners over to third with less than two outs with a selfless groundball to second?

However, one of the most important factors to a winning team is FAN ATTITUDE. Trust me, it’s huge, and you can’t keep stats on it. I’ve felt the importance of fan attitude when I played in front of as few as 25 fans as well as in front of a few thousand fans. There is an energy fans emit that drives players and motivates them to dig deeper when fatigue and slumps have set in.

Remember last year’s 2008 postseason run? Fans began touting “WE BREW-IEVE!” The slogan showed up on t-shirts, posters, and was heard in many conversations.

Well, we’re nearing the pennant race stages of 2009 and the Brewers need you. No doubt, they’ve given you plenty of reasons to give up on them. Let’s not talk about the last time we won a series this season. Let’s not dwell on the fact that we’re in fourth place. We’re going to be grateful that we are only 2.5 games back. Yeah, I agree with you; fourth place feels crummy.

However, being back 2.5 games feels pretty darn good. Remember all those losing seasons? Any one of those years, Brewers fans would have given anything to be 2.5 games back near the end of July with a weak schedule ahead of us.

Baseball is a game of highs and lows. A coach once told me, “In baseball, you gotta figure out a way to keep your highs low and your lows high.” Sure, the past few weeks Brewers fans took a bean ball in the spine, but we gotta brush ourselves off (Don’t rub it!) and jog down to first no matter how badly it stings.

Darn, I know this is a tough sell because as I finish this post, the Brewers are now losing to Major League’s worst team the Washington Nationals 14-6 in the 8th inning. We’re still in this thing and we gotta let the BREW CREW know we’re behind them. Think COMEBACK! Remember what Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.” The Brewers have a chance, and wouldn’t we all love to see Milwaukee’s home grown Craig Counsell wear three World Series rings?

Drop a comment below if you’re still backing the Brewers this year and drop Brewers beat reporter Tom Haudricourt a line at or via twitter @haudricourt saying “CRAIG COUNSELL 2009 WORLD SERIES MVP.” That way I guarantee your support will filter its way into the Brewers’ clubhouse and dugout and help boost the team’s morale. Trust me, I’ve played a lot of baseball. Players are superstitious for a reason. It’s not the unwashed socks that are magical; it’s the belief that the unwashed socks are magical.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

“The Milwaukee Brewers ‘ALL-STAR AMONG US’ 2009 All-Star game representative is now on COUNTY STADIUM KID blog!”

First, of all I want to say thank you to everyone who has helped support this blog. I am overwhelmed by its initial success. I could not have reached so many of you so quickly without the help of everyone pitching in. Please continue to read and pass on the link to others who might be interested.

Also, please continue to keep the comments coming. We have already received over 60 comments! You’ll definitely want to scroll through the previous posts to see all of the amazing baseball memories.

Here are just a few CSK blog comments I wanted to highlight:

-Jeff Montgomery, former All-Star relief hurler for the Kansas City Royals, reflects on his first MLB game for the Cincinnati Reds under manager Pete Rose who happened to be his childhood hero.

-A cancer patient vows to beat cancer so he can fulfill his dream of attending a game at Yankee Stadium.

-San Francisco Giants fan: … my kid comes up and I say, “Richie, who's your favorite ballplayer, Will Clark?” ... My son smiles and looks at me and says, "Nooo, You Are Dad!”

-“Big Papi rolls a ball over dugout to me - someone snatches it. He points at me, smiles, and rolls another.”

-“My father catching a foul ball at Tiger Stadium w/ a pizza slice in one hand & napkins in the other. He used the napkin hand.”

-“Watching the Angels win the 2002 World Series with my son while my dad was still alive.”

Lastly, I can proudly report that the Milwaukee Brewers “All-Star Among Us” representative Loyal Mehnart found this blog and posted a few comments. What an inspiration this man is! Watch the WTMJ 4 video clip to hear his story.

Also, be sure to read Mehnart’s comments in the previous CSK post “All Stars Among Us.” I will post more on Mehnart’s All-Star experience and Habitat for Humanity journey in future posts. I am very excited that Mr. Mehnart offered to visit my school to talk to my students about his experiences.

Remember Todd Civin and Bob Saloman of the award-winning children’s book A GLOVE OF THEIR OWN offered to give 5 books out to people who “PLAY IT FORWARD” by commenting below about people you believe are “ALL-STARS AMONG US” for the work they do in our communities.

Summer’s a flyin’ by, so you’ll want to catch a baseball game. Stop by a Major League stadium, minor league ball park, or Little League diamond to breathe in some baseball and slow down your summer days.


Friday, July 24, 2009


During this year’s All-Star game, my wife, daughters, and I were road-tripping across the country. As we traveled in a Chevy Chase National Lampoon’s Vacation–like manner, we listened to the game on the radio. I was fascinated by the pre-game tributes and wished I could have seen Stan “The Man” Musial’s facial expressions as the sell-out crowd honored his legacy.

I was particularly moved by the ALL-STARS AMONG US tribute that our living Presidents presented. Later, I was able to watch this inspiring tribute at: I have not stopped thinking about it. I’ve thought about how it seemed two years ago volunteerism was contagious. Remember Oprah’s THE BIG GIVE reality TV show? Around the same time, many people were reading and discussing President Clinton’s book GIVING. It seemed churches, schools, business, and neighborhoods were teaming to support those who were in need more than ever. Although some of this momentum remains, I can’t help but ask, “Can or should we be doing even more?”

With all the work I have done in schools, I have been a part of many causes that reach out to those who are struggling. No matter what the drive is, it seems many of the neediest families are the ones who donate the most food, clothing, care packages for soldiers, and money for penny wars. I once saw a single, working poor mother carry in over 10 bags of groceries to donate to our food drive! I asked other principals if they’ve noticed the phenomenon of many of the neediest families giving the most. They too have seen it. Our best conjecture is that these once barely surviving families are perhaps the most generous because they know firsthand just how critical those donations are to the survival of someone who is down and out. Therefore, at a time in their lives when they consider themselves as surviving comfortably, they want to give back to the food shelters and thrift stores who supported them back when they needed the help.

No doubt times are tough in our economy. Donating money at a time when many families are already struggling is very challenging. However, donations can come in the form of one’s time. We can help others meet their basic needs by simply volunteering some of our time and finding ways to provide words of encouragement and compassion to those around us.

I have decided that I will donate 10 percent of the royalties I receive from COUNTY STADIUM KID to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. and will blog about this decision more in the near future.

I hope you too reflect on how you might support those who are in need. Now more than ever our neighbors need us. To help each other brainstorm how our talents and resources can best be shared, please comment below or tweet to some of the ALL-STARS AMONG YOU. Also, please do not be shy to comment on the ALL-STAR WITHIN YOURSELF who might be shining bright in your community. The people you highlight or the acts of kindness that you perform could inspire other readers to go on and help others, who then may also in turn help others, and so on .… The impact that your commitment to this cause or any cause will have is infinite.

Here are my two ALL-STARS AMONG US selections:

1) THE TIME IS NOW. Simply click on any one of these letters and see how Sal and his foundation’s supporters reach out to those in need in their community.

2) The team behind the award-winning children’s book A GLOVE OF THEIR OWN is challenging people to donate used sporting equipment to boys and girls in their communities who cannot afford their own equipment. My daughters and I love reading this book! Its “Play it forward” message resonates on so many levels, well beyond the baseball field.

Please comment below to recognize your own ALL-STAR AMONG US status or to recognize some other ALL-STARS from your communities. We need at least 18 to have two starting line-ups, and 5 people who leave comments to this post will be randomly selected to receive a free copy of A GLOVE OF THEIR OWN courtesy of Todd Civin and Bob Saloman.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009



To say I am ecstatic about the response I have received from my first blog entry would be an understatement. As I write this, we are at 39 comments and counting! Thank you to all who contributed to the “Twitter Favorite Baseball Moment Challenge” and to those who passed my link on to others. The link even landed in the hands of Wisconsin Governor Candidate Mark Neumann who tweeted (Dang, I told myself I wasn’t going to use those Twitter expressions!) me the following message: “@StrongWisconsin One of my all-time favorites was Dale Sveum's Easter shot: .”

Our favorite baseball experiences are fascinating snippets into defining moments of our lives. Often times these moments stick with us close enough to replay in our heads like an ESPN highlight. These memories make us feel something deeply; they take us back to important times in our lives; they’re shared with loved ones, some who may no longer be with us. Some baseball moments seem to slow us down, which we like since we can all attest that every year seems to go by just a little bit faster than the last. However, some of the best baseball memories were spent with happy strangers nudging us to share the same grandstand elbow rest. Whoever you played out your favorite baseball moments with, you were united with them as you all experienced the same thrills of the games.

Keep dusting off your favorite baseball experience memories and replay them in your minds like an ESPN Plays of the Week montage. Please continue to tweet the memories to The tweets so far have been very exciting! I must say, the idea of someday compiling a more detailed account of these recollections would make for an outstanding book project.

Please continue to spread the word about this blog and my memoir. Email this link, re-tweet, Facebook, or simply share the old-fashioned way, word-of-mouth.

(SIDENOTE: If you do not Twitter, simply share your memories with the comments below by clicking on the pencil icon. Also, feel free to share more than one response in order to provide more details.)

Best wishes,

Joel Katte

Saturday, July 18, 2009

TWITTERing baseball experiences


Okay, it’s hard to believe a 32 year-old man who listens to audio books on cassette tapes during his morning commute and who transfers home videos onto VHS tapes is starting a blog, but I am. And away we go …

“Look, Mom! No hands!”

With a little help from my friends, I imagine in a few weeks I might even be able to create podcasts and E-Books. So far about the only thing I figured out is how to TWITTER. It seems every time I pick up a newspaper or watch the news there's a story that is somehow tied to Twitter. I admit at first the name "Twitter" turned me off. In a Ralphie-like "You'll shoot your eye out" voice from the film CHRISTMAS STORY, my psyche warned "Don't do it; you'll Twitter your life away." Nonetheless, I gave it a go, and I'm glad I did.

I have connected with some pretty interesting and extraordinary people. (Don't worry, I'm not one of those guys who would have written "Tweeple" but the fact that I had to replace "people" with my first choice "tweeple," plus the fact that I am admitting this on my blog is rather concerning.)

I will start this blog with a Twitter challenge. (Don't worry I'm not selling anything and no prizes although I'd be happy to give some out if I can scrounge some up.) A few parts of my memoir COUNTY STADIUM KID describe some of my favorite experiences attending Milwaukee Brewers games as a child. Therefore, I am challenging you to “Tweet” (Dang, “write” lost out!) one of your favorite baseball experiences in 140 characters or less. Please feel free to post your responses on this blog, but be sure to send to @joelkatte at so that we can see that indeed you pulled off your description in 140 characters without having to count each character.

I look forward to reading about your experiences. Who knows, I might ask you to feature your recollections in an upcoming book. (Of course, we will be sure to use more than 140 character to fully capture the essence of your baseball experiences.)

Thanks for reading! (Sorry for all the parenthesis. I don’t know what happened. I promise I won’t use this many in my future posts.)

Best wishes,

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Baseball Memoir Coming Soon!

My name is Joel Katte, and my new baseball memoir THE COUNTY STADIUM KID will be available soon.

Thank you for reading.