Tuesday, April 26, 2016

It’s a “ball” game

Not all of the competition was on the field at Monday’s Detroit Tigers game.

In the stands there was a battle between two fans to see who could catch more baseballs, and my boys and I got to see it played out over social media and Comerica Park.

Roseville resident Bill Dugan – who received national attention for catching five foul balls in a game at Comerica Park – was seated in his seat between sections 124 and 125 when my boys and I passed his prime foul ball catching location.

As we passed, I told my boys about this legendary fan who sat in this area behind the plate and caught five balls. Then the affable Dugan turned around with a big smile and waved his mitt.

He shared that he caught a few balls during the game and batting practice Monday, but one of the most prolific “ball hawks” in the nation was in Detroit and challenging him to see who could catch more balls.

Zack Hample, who according to the New York Post has caught more than 8,000 baseballs including A-Rod’s 3,000th hit and Mike Trout’s first home run, was in the park.

After a short chat, we settled into seats along the first baseline and watched as Hample worked to snag foul balls. When righties were up, he was on the third base side of home. For lefties, he was on the opposite side of the plate. And with every foul, he sprinted to catch the ball.

This made for entertaining viewing between pitches during the game. 

According to Hample, he caught 10 and Dugan caught six. He even gave a hat tip to Dugan, saying he was “talented and super-friendly.”

Hample’s Twitter feed showed that he was in Detroit again for Tuesday’s game and he caught eight(!) batting practice balls.

What a hustler to get all those baseballs. I’ve only been lucky enough to catch one batting practice ball at old Tiger Stadium, but we’ve collected nearly a dozen balls from spring training and Florida minor league games over the years.

I guess we’ll just have to get to the park earlier to scope out the best spot to get batting practice balls or get standing room seats behind home plate to get some game-used souvenirs!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Classic Cars Cruise Through St. Clair Shores (Video) #SelfieStickDiary

Traffic on Harper Avenue in St. Clair Shores moved at a snail's pace Wednesday night as hundreds of cars, trucks and motorcycles cruised through the heart of the city to the delight of thousands of classic car enthusiasts for the annual Shorewood Kiwanis Harper Charity Cruise.

From old Eight Mile to Bayside Street, cruise fans packed Harper to see the classic cars, custom vehicles and the latest in models from domestic and international manufacturers. Some started arriving as early as 6 a.m. to get the perfect spot, meet with fellow car owners and take in the sites and sounds of the annual event.

New this year was a Mustang Meetup hosted by Roy O'Brien Ford - as part of the 50th anniversary of the pony car - where owners showed off different models of the sports car.

Other businesses along Harper also joined in the festivities by hosting parties with live bands, car clubs and events for car lovers of all ages.

While the high-octane event celebrated cars, there was also a greater purpose. Proceeds from the cruise benefit local charities including: Tree of Hope Foundation, CARE of Southeastern Michigan, Macomb Chamber Music Society, Wigs 4 Kids, St. Clair Shores Cultural Committee, Lakeshore Family YMCA and the Shorewood Kiwanis.

This is the latest in my series of #SelfieStickDiary posts from the community. Have a suggested topic for my next video? Send me an email!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Telling Stories Through A #SelfieStickDiary

During the past year when I was out on stories I often had a selfie stick to help balance my camera, get better photo angles and film stand-up shots on location.

My former colleague Jeff Gilbert introduced me to this technique of shooting video which he utilized for his Car Chronicles stories. I quickly embraced this method of filming video and also became a one-man crew when covering stories.

Public relations professionals, those I interviewed and even those who I didn't interview started calling me the "selfie stick guy."

As I continue to my search for my next professional opportunity, I've found there are a number of great visual stories here in St. Clair Shores and other Eastside communities.

In between filling out applications, interviews and networking, I'm going to take my iPhone and selfie stick around town to capture some of the events happening around town, positive changes in the community and unique landmarks. I'm going to call these videos my #SelfieStickDiary

Let me know what you think of my videos. Is there an upcoming event which may make a good video, let me know! I enjoy telling stories and showcasing my community.

Here is a link to my first official #SelfieStickDiary from the Assumption GreekFest. The annual event started Friday and runs through Sunday.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Using Apps And Electronic Media To Find My Next Job

This week I had the opportunity to be interviewed on ABC-12 WJRT-TV about the Switch app I am using as part of my job search.
How this interview came about was interesting.
I first learned of the app in June after my wife saw it featured on Good Morning America.
I thought it would have been a good story on my old tech beat: the app posts location-based jobs, and similar to Tinder, users can swipe left to pass on a job or swipe right to connect with a hiring manager to learn more about the job. But unfortunately the restructuring occurred before I could post it.
Since I'm happily married - and in the job market and not the dating market - I was still interested in the app and downloading Switch to find my next career opportunity seemed like a smart move.
A short time after I began using the app, the CEO of Switch contacted me directly and inquired if I would be interviewed about my experience with the app.
This is a great example of the culture in start-ups where silos are non-existent and it's all hands on deck to build the company (something I saw first-hand when I spoke with the leadership of the start-ups in Detroit).
After few more emails and a Facetime meeting (always check what is behind you when you work from home and schedule video meetings. There were some Lego sets initially in shelves in my makeshift home office) I was off to Flint for the live interview.

It was a quick ride and great to be on air on a different medium talking about tech.

This is just another example of how you just never know what great opportunity or adventure may be around the corner!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Blame it on Eruzione

The Olympic flame has been extinguished, and another page in sports history has been written by athletes from around the world who competed in Sochi Winter Olympics.

Throughout the 17 days of competition, I was glued to the television, laptop, and iPhone to catch everything from the opening and closing ceremonies including the Jamaican bobsled and another epic battle between the United States and Russia.

Some may call this an addiction, or an obsession. I blame "The Miracle on Ice" for my extensive Olympics viewing habits.

Back in 1980, I was 6-years-old and my mom sat me down in front of small cathode ray tube television - the one you needed to get up and change the knob to switch channels between the three VHF Detroit stations and Channel 9 from Windsor - to watch the American hockey team make history against the Soviet Union.

Ever since Al Michaels uttered "Do You Believe in Miracles" in Lake Placid, I have been glued to the television every Olympiad for 17 days to catch the next amazing athletic feat.

From Los Angeles to Seoul to Vancouver, I have been drawn to the games. While I enjoy the behind-the-scenes stories about the athletes, the competition between the best athletes from around world draws me in every four years. Track-and-field, bobsled and speed skating. It doesn't matter if it is marquee, or minor, I watch.

Looking back, I should have invested in an industrial size bottle of Visine to keep my eyes moist as I switched between screens on Comcast. Between cable, Internet, broadcast channels, there was nearly 1,700 hours of content available through Xfinity according to The Detroit News,

Additionally, for those of us who can see Canada from Jefferson, the Olympics returned to CBC-TV after losing the rights to the Vancouver and London games. Throughout the games I was able to get the games with a Canadian angle. And instead of Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday night, I was able to join other Red Wings fans who may have been up early Sunday for Hockey Morning in Canada and cheer on team Canada - which was led by General Manager Steve Yzerman and Coach Mike Babcock - to the gold medal.

While Sochi had a number of great moments, I don't know if any will stand the test of time like that of the victory over the USSR. Only time will tell, but thanks to members of the men's 1980 hockey team, I am an Olympic fan for life.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

When Detroit Was Super (And Still Is!)

It took some time, but I was able to locate a photo from the night I took field at the Super Bowl.

I'm a little small to be a lineman, my aim may be a bit off to hit a receiver and I might not have the leg to split the uprights - but maybe my pants - but I did have my moment on one of the biggest stages in the world.

For Super Bowl XL, I was part of the halftime crew that assembled the stage for the Rolling Stones. Not only did I get a front row seat for the show, but I was also on assignment
for The Detroit News.

As a reporter for the paper, I chronicled the rehearsals and experience as part of our Super Bowl coverage. It was an unforgettable experience transporting the stage into a packed Ford Field, help assemble the stage and then wait for Stones to perform.

While waiting for Mick to "Start Me Up," I took a moment to look around to soak in the moment and enjoy the moment. After the show, I worked my way into the stands to catch the second half of the game to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers defeat the Seattle Seahawks.

This was a great moment for the city of Detroit. Despite being a cold-weather host city, the organizing committee embraced the weather and planned events to celebrate winter. The Winter Blast, Super Bowl activities and related events attracted crowds downtown. And those who attended even used public transportation!

(By the way, Super Bowl Boulevard in New York this year looked reminiscent of our festivities.)

After the game I walked down Woodward Ave. and was amazed at the crowds who were celebrating the game, the city and activities. One local television reporter, who is in New York now, asked me "can you believe this?" And another fan was on the phone stating that he was "Detroit's version of Michigan Ave."

This was a great time for the city, but like the fortunes of the Seattle Seahawks, the following years saw some losing seasons. The Seahawks had losing seasons while rebuilding, and Detroit had to deal with the Kilpatrick scandal, automotive bankruptcy and economic downturn challenged the city and region.

But the Seahawks rebuilt, and so did Detroit. The administration changed (full disclosure - I did work in the Bing administration as a press secretary) and brought respectability back to the office, Quicken Loans moved into the city and residences downtown are renting at a premium.

Is it time to throw a parade like they will have in Seattle? Maybe not yet. But Detroit, and the region, are moving the ball forward and driving in the right direction.

About the blog: These are occasional ramblings from the shores of St. Clair Shores. The name of the blog, XACO Communications, is a tribute to my dad's company. He called his import/export business XACO, which I always admired the name, his logo and how he traveled the world for work and to support his family.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Welcome to XACO

XACO Communications Blog

Xaco Communications…strange name with a great personal and professional history.
I chose this name to honor my father, who used his first name of Xavier to create a name of his import-export company.
While it may not have been as successful as he would have wished, his travels to far away lands on business trips gave me a window to the world beyond Metro Detroit and appreciate other cultures, people and firms.
After his death in 1995, friends asked if I would be continuing his business. Well with a wife and two little boys that would not be possible, but I could continue the name when I decided to create a blog which integrates his name.
I look forward to utilizing this blog to share my experiences as a reporter and communications director, comment on media issues, baseball, travel and other items of interest to those in the Metro Detroit region.
I welcome your comments, job leads and responses to my postings … and hopefully X will mark the spot.