Ovations executive chef Jason Westerfield shares cooking stories and Thanksgiving recipes

Please note the Thanksgiving recipes are listed at the bottom of this blog entry.

Minor League Baseball is synonymous with a lot of things, but something that truly sticks out on a yearly basis is the variety of food one can find at concession stands throughout the country. This past year at Chukchansi Park, the “Grizzly Eggs” were the one-of-a-kind item you couldn’t find anywhere else. A brainstorm from Fresno Grizzlies Director of Marketing Sam Hansen, Ovations executive chef Jason Westerfield experimented with the original recipe and was able to produce the cream-cheese filled deviled eggs, which were wrapped in bacon, baked in an oven and then drizzled with buffalo sauce. The item was so popular that it landed on the front page of the Fresno Bee before anyone ever tasted it. Non-traditional moments like those are what Minor League Baseball marketing professionals live for, and in turn, those ideas help expand the expectations fans have when it comes to a culinary creation they can enjoy at a baseball game. While the Grizzlies are currently in the midst of the offseason, Ovations Food Services and executive chef Jason Westerfield are currently brainstorming ways to blend a Texas flavor into the Chukchansi Park menu for 2015. We recently caught up with Jason to talk about where that process currently is, get his background in cooking, as well as pull a few Thanksgiving recipes from him that people could easily execute for the holiday.


Ovations at Chukchansi Park executive chef Jason Westerfield

Q: With the Fresno Grizzlies now being the Triple-A affiliate of the Houston Astros, are there any Texas elements coming to the concession stands in 2015?

Jason Westerfield: I definitely have some ideas. Everything is bigger in Texas, so it’s really about going over the top on what’s trending. You see giant hot dogs or corn dogs, so you may see us load one of those with caramelized onions and velveeta cheese to make it bigger and better. Texas barbecue is also huge, and we’re looking at creating our own signature sauce that will include some local Fresno chili peppers.

Q: Obviously cooking comes a little more naturally to you than others. Where do you get your cooking inspiration from?

JW: The internet is a huge resource for me. At this point, I wouldn’t say anyone is reinventing the wheel, but they’re putting a new spin on old, traditional foods. One of the things I wanted to come up with was a sweet potato ravioli with a nutmeg and sage cream. Nothing came up on an internet search with those ingredients, but a pumpkin ravioli did, which helped me formulate my sweet potato recipe a littler better.

Q: Your earliest cooking memories go back how far?

JW: Wow… probably when I was 10 or 11 helping out my grandmother and mother in the kitchen. I started out learning the simple tricks, such as the correct way to peel a tomato. As the years went by, I would be asked to take care of a certain dish.

Q: Did they play any tricks on you in those early years?

JW: The first time I cut an onion I remember asking my mom why I was crying…

Q: So when did you begin cooking professionally?

JW: In high school I washed dishes for Marie Callender’s Restaurant and Bakery, then moved on to bus tables and then decided I wanted to cook. I started out prepping, then shifted to Olive Garden where I went from prep, to line cook, to line trainer and eventually corporate trainer. After that, I moved to Monterrey (Calif.) and worked at Pebble Beach. From there, I helped open up Roy’s Restaurant in Spanish Bay.

Q: What were some learning experiences you had at Roy’s?

JW: Well, that was really the pinnacle of transition from an ordinary cook to becoming a chef. Roy really pressed us to create new things on the menu. If I was working the appetizer station, I was tasked with the normal appetizers and then I had to create three custom appetizers from scratch. You couldn’t repeat any of your custom dishes, so it made you think ahead two or three days in advance. It was a constant science experiment in the kitchen.

Q: Bet that got your creative juices going!

JW: Exactly. It was a Euro-Asian fusion style we did, which is now my forte. It takes traditional Asian ingredients, but adds in European cooking techniques.

Q: How did you make your way from Monterrey to Fresno?

JW: I moved on to help open up Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino, then moved north up to Oroville (Calif.) and ran Gold Country Casino. Both of those places broadened my experience in other cuisines, considering there are different style restaurants you have to account for. I remember having a couple hundred different finger food desserts, which was a lot of fun to brainstorm and execute.

Q: Yum! Well, speaking about all of this food and with Thanksgiving rapidly approaching, what’s a favorite memory you have that deals with the meal that was on the table when you were younger?

JW: What I remember most was my mother doing a different theme for Thanksgiving each year. We went to Williamsburg one year and ended up cooking oyster dumplings and all of those old school recipes from the 1700s. Another year she had visited San Luis Obispo and the Apple Farm Inn, so we did an apple theme with chicken apple sausage, apple fritters, and apple pie.

Q: You have a little bit of your own theme for us here. What recipes have you concocted that a person could use for Thanksgiving this year?

JW: I was able to take the traditional elements of Thanksgiving and put a little different spin on it. I wrote up a few of the recipes to share (shown below), and they’re simple enough for people to follow and execute for their Thanksgiving supper. I did a butter and herb roasted turkey, turkey gravy with giblets, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, a citrus ginger cranberry sauce, and a pumpkin crème brule.

chef_wordpressThe recipe creations at their completion. Please review the time needed for each recipe if you are going to use them on Thanksgiving. This will help you line up all of the dishes so they are ready to serve at the same time.

All recipes courtesy of Ovations at Chukchansi Park executive chef Jason Westerfield.


This recipe has been tailored for a 10-12 pound turkey

Cook time: 3.5 hours

One pound softened unsalted butter

¼ cup minced Rosemary

¼ cup minced Sage

¼ cup minced Garlic

Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Let butter soften to room temperature. Then, combine the butter, rosemary, sage, and garlic in a mixing bowl. Once incorporated, rub the compound butter in between the skin and the breast meat saving enough to coat the outside of the turkey. Place the turkey in a roasting pan with a rack, pour three (3) cups of water in the bottom of the pan, and cover with foil. Cook in the for roughly 3.5 hours at 325 degrees. When the turkey has an internal temperature of 150 degrees, remove foil and brown the turkey until the internal temp reaches 165. Remove from the oven and let it rest while you finish the gravy.


Cook time: Roughly 80 minutes

Giblets from the Turkey

2 tbsp Butter

½ cup diced onion

½ cup diced carrot

½ cup diced celery

1 tbsp minced garlic

1 teas Italian seasoning

4 cups of water

Turkey drippings

3 tbsp flour

Salt and Pepper to taste

In a two-quart sauce pan, melt butter over medium high heat, then add the onion, carrots, and celery. Sweat for one-minute, then add the garlic and sauté for another minute or so. Add the water to the pan along with the giblets (including the neck). Bring stock to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer for about an hour. Remove the neck, giblits and set aside. Strain the stock into another pan and set aside.

I advise that you remove as much of the neck meat as you can and fine chop along with the rest of the giblets. When the turkey is done, remove it to a serving platter and let rest while finishing the gravy. Skim as much fat as you can from the drippings into the gravy, then add the rest to the previous stock. Add the chopped giblets to the stock, and return to the heat. Combine 3 tblsp of flour with a ¼ cup of cold water. Bring the stock to a boil and drizzle in the flour mix while whisking quickly. Let it thicken for about a minute, then it is ready to serve.



This recipe has been tailored for a 5 pound bag of russet

Cook time: Roughly 25 minutes

1 cup Roasted Garlic Chopped

2 tbsp minced Garlic

2 cup Heavy Cream

8 oz Unsalted Butter

Salt and White pepper to taste

Peel and cut potatoes into one inch cubes. Combine in a pot with enough water to cover the potatoes, then add the minced garlic. Boil until soft (about 15 minutes), then drain water off of the potatoes and return to the heat for one minute to get rid of any excess water. This will keep the potatoes fluffy. In a sauce pan, add the heavy cream and butter and heat until butter is melted. Once hot, add the cream mixture and the chopped garlic to the potatoes. Mash the potatoes with a potato masher or a whisk. Add the salt and pepper to taste.


Video Demonstration

Cook time: Roughly 10 minutes

1 bag Fresh Cranberries

6 medium Oranges (3 for segments, 3 for juice)

½ cup Brown Sugar

Juice from 3 oranges

½ cup water

Zest of 1 orange

¼ cup minced ginger

1 teas Vanilla Extract

Zest one orange and finely mince. Peel that orange and two others with a knife. Cut out segments from between the membrane of the orange, set aside. Juice the other three oranges and add to a sauce pan along with the water, brown sugar, orange zest, and ginger. Bring the mix to a simmer, then add the cranberries and vanilla. Let simmer until it thickens and have reached a jam consistency. Fold in the orange segments and serve.


Preheat your oven to 325 degrees

Overall time: 5 hours (4 of which to refrigerate)

8 Egg Yolks

¾ cup sugar

3 cup Heavy Cream

¾ cup canned pumpkin

2 Vanilla Beans Seeded + 1 teas Vanilla Extract

1 teas Pumpkin Pie Spice


1 ½ cup heavy cream

3 tbsp sugar

1 teas cinnamon

Combine sugar and egg yolks into a mixing bowl. Bring the cream and vanilla beans just to a boil, then remove. Drizzle in small amounts of cream into the egg/sugar mix to temper the eggs (about 1 cup). Return the egg mixture back to into the sauce pan. On low heat, add the pumpkin and the vanilla extract to incorporate well. Divide mix between 8 – 6oz ramekins or custard dishes. Place on a baking sheet with a water bath. Bake at 325 for about 25 until the middle is just set (should jiggle a little). Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes, then refrigerate for about four hours. When ready to serve, sprinkle with a ½ tbsp sugar to cover the top and caramelize with a torch or under the broiler. WATCH closely so you don’t burn them.

For the topping, whip the cream and sugar together until stiff peaks. Fold in the cinnamon.

Dollop the topping on the Crème Brule and serve.

Hope you enjoy! Have a Happy Thanksgiving!


Veterans Day from a Veteran Perspective

This entry is written by Ryan Young, communications manager for the Fresno Grizzlies and Iraq War veteran. The thoughts and opinions reflect his personal journey during a day where we reflect on all service members that have served in the US Military.

Today is the first Veterans Day where I woke up and broke down in tears.

I couldn’t tell you exactly why, but my mind was frozen on all of the men and women I served with during my two combat tours to Iraq with the 3-187 Iron Rakkasans Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division.Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 7.24.15 PMMe just one week into my first deployment in 2006 (Samarra, Iraq)

The feeling of isolation was strong as my eyes welled up standing inside my downtown Fresno loft. There aren’t too many times where I freeze my thoughts on the time I spent in the military. I told myself when I was honorably discharged in 2009 that if I focused on it, or continued to talk about it, that I wouldn’t progress into a successful civilian career. Right or wrong, it’s the story I told myself through the experiences I had witnessed.

So from 2009 until late 2013, I plugged away at earning a college degree (graduated Cum Laude from Loyola Chicago) and acquired as much “real world” experience in the sports field as possible through internships and volunteer opportunities. However, it wasn’t until interviewing and eventually accepting a full-time job with the Fresno Grizzlies in the fall of 2013 that I was actually asked what my military service actually did for me.

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 7.23.12 PMIraqi children I photographed on patrol outside of Yusifiyah, Iraq in 2007

Before that question from the Grizzlies, my military service was more of a talking point for a generic “Thank You” than an opportunity to understand what four-and-a-half years spent in the United States Army meant to my development and maturation as a person. Believe me, I tried to express its worth, but I often felt people took it as a novelty instead of something that actually truly shaped who I was.

At times, I went so far as to actually erase my military service from my resume, because I believed it became more of a detriment. Coincidentally, I made it through to an in-person interview twice during that span…

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 7.22.36 PMCapturing our mortar team during action in 2008 (Rushdi Mullah, Iraq)

My initial struggle to adapt to civilian life is similar to a lot of current veterans, but I do feel fortunate to be where I am today. In speaking with people I served with and veterans as far back as the Vietnam War, there are a variety of invisible challenges that are faced. Every service member has dealt with them differently. Personally, I’ve seen my friends get divorced, incarcerated, become addicted to alcohol, fail at going to college, and struggle to maintain jobs. However, I’ve also seen plenty of success stories of veterans starting their own business, graduating college, sometimes rejoining the military, or even heading into politics. And those that met the struggles have been able to fight through them and turn their life around.

During my two combat tours, one to Samarra, and the other to the Triangle of Death, my imagination went wild in the moments of solitude as I pictured where my life would be after the military. Most everyone who has been deployed to combat knows this, but the only moments of personal time come while taking a No. 2, the hours you’re given guard rotation, or the few minutes before passing out on your bed due to sheer exhaustion. On one cool evening at Patrol Base Shanghai in 2007, I distinctly remember smoking a “Miami” cigarette and silently hoping I would survive the deployment to make it to a moment of reflection like the one I’m writing about right now.

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 7.21.03 PMLuis Duenas, Dusty Schmit, Matt Adams, Me (Iraq, 2008)

Now, five years removed from being an infantryman in the Iron Rakkasans, I realize how much the United States Army has made me who I am today. It’s provided lessons that a college curriculum could only hope for, and it’s given me a mix of friends and acquaintances that I am proud to have served with.

Below is the first journal entry I made into a book I kept throughout my service. It was written on April 11, 2006 from an airbase in Kuwait, mere hours away from boarding a C-130 to Baghdad with fellow soldiers I had next to nothing in common with outside of the fact we had all sworn the same oath.

“Looking back to [2005] I now chuckle that I find myself in Kuwait on the brink of cementing myself in the Iraq War. The breeze continues to throw our tent and it’s almost as if I feel innocence in the rain that’s falling. On the plane over here, I had a feeling of innocence in a tragic sense. I know I will feel guilt and hurt while doing my time here. I just hope my innocence won’t get lost along the way. Despite my mind continuing to flip feelings, I still believe I’m as ready as I’ll ever be for this. As long as my mind stays in it the physical parts will be easier. Now… I’m just waiting for the 2030 meeting to give us some insight on our flight to Baghdad.”

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 7.32.11 PMOn patrol along a road near the Euphrates River

On a day like today, I’m proud to be in the veteran family that’s grown to almost 20 million. I thank my family, friends, fellow soldiers and the Fresno Grizzlies for where I’ve been able to take my dreams.

Ryan Young | Fresno Grizzlies Communications Manager

Inside the Core: Andrew Milios

MiliosTop“Inside the Core” is a month-long interview series with members of the Fresno Grizzlies front office. Each interview will be unique in its own way and provide a glimpse into the path each member has forged on their way to working for the club.

Q: When did you move to California from your birthplace in Arizona?

Andrew Milios: I moved to California when I was only about four or five years old.

Q: Where did you attend high school in the area?

AM: I went to Woodcreek High School, which is in Roseville, and about 20 minutes north of Sacramento.

Q: What types of extra-curricular activities did you get involved with?

AM: I always loved to participate in sports, but I mainly loved to play baseball.

Q: What positions did you play?

AM: In baseball I pitched and also played outfield.

Q: Did you have a favorite baseball player or team?

AM: To be honest I can’t say that I have ever had a favorite baseball player. However, I have always been a die-hard Giants fan. My dad is from the Bay Area so he kind of taught us the ways of the orange and black.

Q: What would you say your favorite childhood memory was?

AM: Just getting to go to baseball games with the family. We all love baseball. We did tailgating, the whole nine. We grew up going to Candlestick Park so it was dirty and freezing cold, but that’s what I remember about going. We used to either tailgate or bring in our own food, because you could do that back then.

Q: What was your first part-time job?

AM: I was a busser at a restaurant in the Sacramento area. I started bussing tables, then I changed over to retail, and I also did construction. After that I became a server for the quick easy money in college.

Q: What did you see yourself doing right after high school?

AM: Going to college. It wasn’t even really a second thought; just wanted to go to college and delay getting a real job as long as possible (laughs).


Q: You graduated from Cal State Monterey Bay, what was your major?

AM: Communications. I had no idea what I wanted to do so it was either business or communications. Business had too much math and I am not good at math so I stuck with communications.

Q: Tell us about your college experience there.

AM: Go Otters! I enjoyed college a lot. I took full advantage of being in college in all aspects. I made sure I focused on school and got my degree, but I also enjoyed the other parts of college life, the friends, parties, and social aspects. Baseball was an important part of college for me and I really enjoyed playing through my last year of school.

Q: How was it living in the Bay Area for that time in your life?

AM: It was awesome. We were right on the beach. I grew up in the suburbs, then for junior college I lived up in the mountains at a town with only 5,000 people, and then I moved over to Monterey. In coming (to Fresno) and having lived in Arizona out in the desert, I’ve pretty much covered all types of landscapes.

Q: What was it like moving to Fresno after being in a coastal area?

AM: Hot. It was really hot, but I don’t mind it. You make of it what you will. If you look at the bad, that’s what you’re going to get out of it. If you practice looking at the good things in life, the good places and the good people, you can live anywhere, no matter how hot or cold.

Q: Did you consider anyone a role model in your life?

AM: Not one person specifically, just mainly my family. Everyone kind of played their role and had a part in my life, but the closest would be my mom, dad, and sister. They were always good examples and no matter what I did they were there to support me.

Q: Is your wife from the Fresno area?

AM: No, actually she’s from Quincy, which is a town of 5,000 people. She was going to junior college there and so was I. After that, she went to San Luis Obispo and I went to Monterey to finish school. She moved to Fresno after my first year with the Grizzlies.

Q: Where did you two meet?

AM: A mutual friend introduced us at a fundraiser in college. I remember before I really knew her seeing her at college football games and parties, too.


Q: Since baseball has played a large role in your life, what was it like taking your one-year-old daughter to her first baseball game?

AM: She was all over the place! The baseball game kind of became something else; it really wasn’t about the game at that point. It was fun for my wife and I because we both love baseball and we plan on bringing our kids to a lot of games. It kind of goes back to me with my family and enjoying time together at the baseball stadium. We love the noise, the smells, the good stuff and bad stuff. For a parent, those ‘firsts’ are what you always remember. The first San Francisco Giants game with our daughter we spent more time walking around the park than actually watching the game. I put her on the big Coca-Cola slide and I went down with her because she was too little to go on her own.

Q: So you’d like to continue the baseball tradition with your kids?

AM: Yes, definitely. Hopefully our daughter will like sports, but whatever she’s passionate about we will support. As long as we’re together as a family that’s all that really matters. As she gets older it will be more about the game and what’s going on down on the field, but until that time it’s more or less just getting her acclimated to the baseball environment and trying to have her love the game like we do.

Q: What is something that you like to do on your own free time now?

AM: It’s all family. Whether it’s going to the park or going out to eat. We do a lot of play dates and going out to other kids’ birthday parties. It seems like there is something going on every weekend. We like going on walks over at Woodward Park (North Fresno), to the playground, or the dog park. All free time outside of work is devoted to time with the kid, the wife, and other extended family when they’re in town.

Q: Being a devoted family man, did you envision still being around baseball at this point in your life?

AM: Well I was hoping it would be as a player (laughs). I found out pretty early on that I was going to be able to maybe play some college ball and that was about it. I didn’t even think about working in baseball for a job.


Q: How do you like overseeing sales for the Grizzlies?

AM: I love it. I love the people I work with and dealing with the community around us. We’re working for the most part with people who love baseball. When you find people who have a common interest as you do it makes it easier to come to work every day. A bad day here is better than most good days somewhere else. Hopefully I can do this the rest of my life, but if that’s not the case, I’ll be very sad if I ever have to leave this type of environment. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

Q: If there’s something that you could leave behind what would that be?

AM: I definitely don’t have an exact motto I live by; I simply try to enjoy what I do. I think that in everything you do, you will get out of it what you put in to it. If you’re really going to commit to something, go all in and you will get that in return. If you half-ass it, you’re going to get that kind of result. You can take that to any job I think.

Q: If you can use one word to describe yourself, what would it be?

AM: I would really have to say goofy. I mean there are plenty of times where I will get serious because the job needs to get done. Some things aren’t always nice or happy, but I’m lighthearted and I just try to enjoy what I do and the people I work with as much as possible. Again, this may not be forever so you want to enjoy it.

Q: We noticed you’ve been recognized with a few awards for your accomplishments. Which one has meant the most?

A: I’ve received a few recognitions, but I’d probably point to Business Street “40 under 40.” That meant a lot to me. My big thing is whether I am here for another 50 years or five, I’d like to leave this place as successful as possible. You don’t stick around for as long as you have and gone through some of the things (the Grizzlies) have gone through without being committed and all in. I think there are a couple of us that have pretty much thrown our name in the hat and it’s staying there for a while. We’re going to make sure we leave this place better than when we got here.

Inside the Core: Chris Wilson


“Inside the Core” is a month-long interview series with members of the Fresno Grizzlies front office. Each interview will be unique in its own way and provide a glimpse into the path each member has forged on their way to working for the club. 

Q: Having lived in Fresno since you were born, have you ever been tempted to change locations?

CW: Yes, I actually have. Following my last position in education back in 2012, I left for an internship with the San Jose Sabercats of the Arena Football League. I got a job within the football operations department where I basically did the job of a scout at their training facility. I studied film of incoming players or players who had been cut from NFL Rosters. I did that for three months until I got called for a full-time job back here with the Fresno Grizzlies.

Q: How did you feel about coming back to Fresno?

CW: It was bittersweet to be honest, because I was looking for that experience to branch out and try something new. But, it also felt good knowing that I was returning to a good support system. I had interned at Grizzlies in 2011 so it was very familiar coming back.

Q: What about Fresno resonates with you the most?

CW: Family. I have a relatively small family so I’ve always looked to my group of friends as my extended family. Fresno for me has always been home. Also, I think Fresno State is a big factor in my life because I’m an alumnus there and it’s a big sense of pride. I was the first person to graduate high school from my mother’s side of the family and the first person to graduate college from either side.

Q: Who was your hero growing up?

CW: My dad as far as family goes. He was a humble, hardworking guy. He was a mechanic his whole life and worked two jobs at times to support the family. I think my work ethic and humility come from him. On the flip-side my grandfather on my mom’s side was the sports nut. He was the one who followed baseball and all types of sports. He inspired my competitive nature and ultimately got me really into sports.


Q: As a kid, what did you think you’d grow up to be?

CW: As a kid, actually other than sports, I was addicted to marine biology. I always wanted to swim with Shamu or something. I loved the Monterey Bay Aquarium and I wanted to work with animals in the ocean. I had a passion for being close to the beach.

Q: Can you describe your best childhood memory?

CW: When I was about 13 years old I got to go on an RV trip from Fresno all the way to Galveston, Texas with my grandparents and two cousins. For 33 days I was in a motorhome traveling across the United States. It was my first time out of California. The highlight of the entire trip was getting to visit NASA in Houston. It really inspired all of the creative juices that got me into wanting to further my life and education.

Q: Where did you go to high school?

CW: I went to Edison High School (Fresno, Calif). I was in a program called G.A.T.E., which stood for Gifted and Talented Education.

Q: Did you participate in any extracurricular activities?

CW: Yes, I played football and baseball all the way through high school. I also participated in journalism briefly with the student newspaper writing for the sports section my sophomore and junior year. I started working at the age of 16 at Carl’s Jr. so there wasn’t much time for anything else.


Q: How would you describe your college experience?

CW: I had a different college experience than most. Out of high school I thought I was done with school. I went to the military briefly and I was medically separated. I came back and started working. Then I decided a couple of years later that I needed to go back to school. I didn’t start college until I was 21, but I was really honed in on what I was trying to accomplish. I didn’t do a lot of partying or anything like that. I really got in the zone with school and not only completed my bachelors, but also received my masters degree in a little over five years.

Q: Is it right you initially pursued a kinesiology major before switching majors?

CW: I started college thinking that I was going to do something in the field of pharmacy. That quickly changed after I took a couple classes. From there, I wanted to get into physical therapy. I always had a passion or interest in the medical field. I thought it would be a fun, good-paying job. I started doing kinesiology and after two years of doing exercise science, I decided that my mind was more business and people savvy than scientific, so I switched to sports administration. That allowed me to be comfortable and more me.

Q: What encouraged you to get your graduate degree?

CW: I always knew that I wanted to pursue something beyond a bachelors degree when I was in college. I think a bachelors degree is not as powerful as it once was. Another reason is I felt once I started working in the industry, I would be so consumed that I probably wouldn’t have time go back and get it later. I have always had a passion for education. I worked in education before sports for about six years and having the ability to go back and teach is something I now have the ability to do.

Q: Now a little removed from college, did you ever imagine yourself in the position you’re in now?

CW: Yea, I think so. The moment that I committed to a sports administration degree I knew that I was going to do something in sports. I didn’t know exactly what, but I always felt passion of working with the game, athletes, a coaching staff, things like that.


Q: As you move forward, what are some goals you’ve set for yourself?

CW: I think baseball or sport operations is the career field I want to go into, so I really want to work towards learning that craft, and hopefully get into a position where I can progress to Director of Baseball Operations. This season is my first year as baseball operations coordinator so right now it’s really about learning the lingo, the trade, and getting used to how everything runs.

Q: What are you most looking forward to in your new role as Baseball Operations Coordinator where your main duty will be Visiting Clubhouse Manager?

CW: For me, it’s learning. I have a dedication to learning and I believe this isn’t the last stop on my road. I think that learning the ins and outs of this job is very important for my future. I’m really excited about what my role will be like a few years down the road.

Q: What is your favorite part about your job?

CW: This is tough, because I love my job but I would say my favorite part is the fact of getting to be around sports every day. I think there’s something special about sports beyond what’s between the lines. Being around the atmosphere is rewarding, but it can also be very consuming with your life and a lot of times you have to spend long hours, long nights, and early mornings around work. There’s no 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.  that’s for sure. You have to try and squeeze in time with family and friends as best you can.

Q: Any experiences that shaped who you are?

A: There is one thing. I did a lot of coaching and my very first season coaching I did really bad. My teams weren’t very good. I coached my first football team and I think we only won one game. The following season I coached basketball and I ended up breaking my arm in practice. That basketball season we finished the season 21-5. There’s just something humbling about getting knocked down and then being able to pick yourself up by the boot straps and come back and still be a leader. So I think as far as my career goes I think one of my strongest traits is being a leader.


Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

CW: I still love to participate in sports. I play indoor soccer currently and in the past I’ve played in a baseball league. I still often play basketball, football, and also lift weights and stay active.

Q: If you were to describe yourself in one word what would it be?

A: Confident

Q: What is a quote that resonates with you?

CW: “Success is not final, failure is never fatal, but its courage that counts.” – Winston Churchill. It’s a quote that reminds me, do not get to high on your successes, don’t get too low on your failures, and just be brave and have courage.

Inside the Core: Drew Vertiz





“Inside the Core” is a month-long interview series with members of the Fresno Grizzlies front office. Each interview will be unique in its own way and provide a glimpse into the path each member has forged on their way to working for the club. 

Did you play baseball as a kid?

I started playing baseball when I was probably six or seven years old and then played all the way until I was 16.

You weren’t one of those kids wanting to go to the Major Leagues?

I think every kid wants to be a professional baseball player or some kind of pro athlete.

You were born in Redwood City, California, so when did you move to Clovis?


What did you picture yourself doing outside of high school?

Something in sports. I wanted to be an agent when I was growing up, but then I realized how much law school you need for that so I rerouted into another direction. But, I always knew I wanted to do something in sports, whether it was youth sports or professional.

Did you have a role model growing up?

Growing up my favorite baseball player was Kevin McReynolds from the New York Mets. The Mets were my favorite team when I was a kid simply because McReynolds played outfield and I was an outfielder as a kid. He was probably the one I always looked up to as a kid growing up.

First part-time job?

My first job was at Wild Water Adventures. I was a catering cook making $4 an hour to work over a hot barbecue the entire summer. It was terrible!


You parlayed the teenage job into a full-time gig in radio. Where was your first radio job?

First radio marketing job was here in Fresno for KRZR and B95.

Being that it was your first job in radio, were you nervous to get in the studio?

No, you know what, it was one of those things where I did every job nobody wanted to do. I wanted to learn as much as I could so when someone said ‘I don’t want to do that’ or ‘I want to be on vacation’ I could step in and do it. And I kind of take the same route now that if someone doesn’t want to do something I’ll just do it myself and get it done because I want to learn more. Every day is a new opportunity for you to figure out how to do something new, whether it’s at work, a job assignment, or something else.

What led you to move to Las Vegas?

A radio marketing job. It was a big change. I was 24. It was pretty cool because I moved to a city that is 24 hours a day and never stops, and it truly never stops. But that’s where I started growing more of my passion with baseball because they had the Las Vegas 51s Triple-A team, and I was always going to their games for promotions and marketing. Between the job and attending games, it sparked my excitement in wanting to learn more about the business side of professional baseball.

The tough part about [Las Vegas] is the constant 24-hour cycle. With radio, you have events that don’t start until 2:00 a.m. so you’ll be working all day and you go home for a couple hours only to turn around and head back to work until 6:00 a.m.

What brought you back to Clovis?

My wife’s job transferred us back to Fresno. She’s from Fresno as well. Luckily, I was able to stay in sports marketing.

You latched on with ESPN Radio, right? How was that?

It was great. I worked for a really good guy who gave me an opportunity to learn a lot more about sports marketing. Working for ESPN, they provide a lot of tools that you don’t get anywhere else. It was always funny because you’d say oh I work for ESPN radio, and everybody’s thinking ‘Oh my god you work in Bristol, Connecticut?’ And it’s like no, I work here in Fresno and they’re like, ‘Oh how’s that work?’ And you have to explain to them that it’s a private owner that owns the affiliate here. But you know, when you up and say, you know I’m with ESPN radio, those four letters are like magic.


How has it been to be back living in Clovis where you grew up?

Um, very weird. My family now lives a half mile from where I grew up. It’s very, very weird to see that whole area when it was nothing and now how big and grown up it is.

We have to ask… where did you meet your wife?

I met her at Porky’s Bar and Grill (laughs). Classy establishment! I was doing a radio event there and we met by um, how do you say it, “cheersing” Corona bottles. Well, there’s always a dispute there. There’s still a dispute 14 years later but…

You two have a son and a daughter, but did you always picture having children?

I always wanted kids, at least two kids. I wanted three kids but we were blessed to have two kids, a boy and a girl, so it worked out really well.

What’s the defining moment in your life thus far?

Seeing my kids born was probably the coolest thing to ever see happen. Your first born comes and you think right away how much your life has changed. I freaked out when that happened. I had a panic attack that day; I was like what the hell is going on.

Do you and your wife do anything without the kids?

No, we’re very active in our kid’s lives whether it’s with school, extracurricular activities, baseball, soccer, or travel basketball. We’re doing these things all the time so we don’t really have a lot of time to ourselves. With my work here during the baseball season most of my summer is already spoken for. But I will tell you something, when you get into a relationship with someone, whether you work in baseball or radio, you have to find that person who understands the demands it’s going to be, because not everybody can handle being away from somebody for long periods of time. I think it’s better for our relationship that we’re not together all of the time. We’re both able to have time to ourselves and time with the kids. We make the most of all of the chances we get to spend as a family.

Those opportunities get a little tougher with the Minor League Baseball schedule. When you joined the Fresno Grizzlies in 2011, what position did you enter as?

I came in as VP of Marketing and since then I’ve taken over the operations and the team store aspects. Each year has presented new challenges, but I’m glad with the positive steps the organization has made in a short period of time.

Is there any time for summer vacations?

Usually at least one! The kids like going to Pismo. Two years ago we went to Phoenix to see Tombstone and the Grand Canyon. Last year we took them to the Triple-A All-Star game in Reno because I had to be up there for work and it was kind of a cool thing for them to accompany me on. They had a great time.


We learned your favorite TV show is Seinfeld. Ever have a Seinfeld moment with the Grizzlies?

I always feel like I’m George Costanza, I always feel that way. Working the different areas here there is always something happening or you’re seeing something that’s happening and it’s just like, how is this possibly happening?! There’s a Kramer here, there’s a Jerry here, and there’s definitely an Elaine Benes here. I think every character from Seinfeld works in this organization.

What’s a motto you live by?

Just don’t ever put yourself above anything. Don’t ever think you’re too good to do something. You know, just because you have a title and just because you’re at certain level with a company, you can always do things to help out others. Always follow your dreams and don’t ever have anybody tell you that you can’t do something. Lastly, always be family oriented.

Behind the Bobble: Matt Cain, Part 3

Part three of the Behind the Bobble series winds down with the final planning and production process of the Matt Cain bobblehead. These final stages included final approval and sponsorship inclusion.


January 18th

Bobblehead and sponsor must be approved by the Grizzlies before the Chinese New Year begins. Once the holiday begins, the production factory shuts down for three weeks. With the Matt Cain promo scheduled for May 18th, missing these three weeks can be the difference in receiving the bobbleheads in time or having fans wonder why the Grizzlies didn’t deliver on their promotion. As we all know, bobbleheads are not something to mess around with when it comes to Minor League Baseball fans.


January 22nd

Almost to the finish line. If you notice, the green on the back is a lighter shade of green from the front of the base. To keep it consistent, we asked the production company to make the same color throughout the base, front and back.





January 29th

One of the crucial parts of all giveaways: the sponsor. The final mock-up was sent to us with the sponsor added, PG&E.

Sponsorships of giveaways allows two businesses to work together to grow. With PG&E, the inclusion on the bobblehead is a component of the larger sponsorship deal. By including them, they are gaining the visibility on an item that fans will display at home or in the office for a long time. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies are able to offset some of the costs of the giveaway item while still hoping to increase ticket sales for that particular game.









Want to see the final version of the Matt Cain Farm Grown Bobblehead? Come out to the game on May 18th at Chukchansi Park!

Game Recap May 16th 2013

Critical Moment
Ramirez struck out the first batter in the 8th inning, but fell short after walking the next three batters Jordan Brown, Ed Lucas and Bryan Petersen. Ramirez was then replaced with Rosario who got the Grizzlies out of the bases loaded and saved the game.

Plays of the Game
Perez hits a HR on the 2nd pitch of the game off of Brad Hand.
Dominguez hits a 3 run homerun off of Brad Hand in the bottom of the 1st.

Player of the Game
Juan Perez was the player of the Game with a single, a double and a homerun.

National Anthem
1:28.8 Eloise Golden

Song of the night
Kool & The Gang: Ladies Night
It was Ladies Night at Chuckchansi park tonight.

Fan of the game
Section 214 lady in neon orange leopard pint shirt

Random Fun Fact
Drag Kings performed tonight to Lady Marmalade

Farm Grown Friday

Come out to Chukchansi Park tomorrow May 17th for Farm Grown Fridays. There will be a variety of farm grown foods for purchase from the following vendors: Vintage Cheese, Wild West Eggs, Pepichile Adams Olives, Simonian Farming Company, Friar’s Choice, lanna Coffee, Yurosek Pecans, Matt Willemns Inc, Jellyfish Jams, Circle K Ranch and Ortiz Farms. Enjoy amazing fresh farm grown food during the game and a post game firework show brought to you by Bayer Crop Science.


California State Senator Berryhill will also be joining us tomorrow night to speak about Farm Forum in The CRU Club at 5pm. Farm Forums are a series of “meet the speaker” engagements that will take place at every Friday home game during the 2013 season. This event will provide those involved in the agricultural industry, as well as those interested in agriculture, an opportunity to interact with representatives from government, businesses, non-profit, education, and health and wellness. Former Fresno mayor Alan Autry will be hosting all of the Farm Forums and the purchase of a ticket will include CRU club seating for the game.


Behind the Bobble: Matt Cain, Part 2

Welcome to part two of the “Behind the Bobble” series, showing the creation and progression of the first bobblehead in the 2013 Farm Grown Bobblehead Series. In the first part, we showed the different photos used to help the bobblehead artists design the mock-up.

January 9th
The first painted images of the Matt Cain bobblehead have arrived! Going from the clay to paint is definitely a night-and-day flip. The detail on the bobblehead is great to see, from the hat to the jersey logo to the Grizzlies sleeve patch.












The one suggestion and fix made to this version was moving him to the left. This will help center him more and not lean so heavily to the right of the base.

January 14th
This round of moldings shows the Matt Cain bobblehead moved to the left per the suggestions from last time. As shown in the photo (more visible in the photo from behind the bobblehead), the slight change makes a big difference.



Behind The Bobble: Matt Cain

To lead up to the first bobblehead in the 2013 Farm Grown Bobblehead Series, it is time to look behind the scenes into the making of the Matt Cain bobblehead.

The first step in creating a bobblehead is finding images of the player. We have to find a pose for the bobblehead, ideally with an accompanying photo.

Thankfully, Cain had a historic outing: a perfect game on June 13, 2012. There was an iconic image after the final out was recorded, Cain fist-pumping with a celebratory look on his face. As a staff, we felt this was a great shot to replicate our bobblehead after as it helped us deliver the message: Farm Grown to Perfection in Fresno.


We also had to find images of Cain from his time with the Grizzlies. Pitchers, especially top prospects, may be tough to gather photos of because they might be here temporarily, not leaving our team photographer an opportunity to get a good collection of photos (see: Lincecum, Tim).

Cain, though, was with the Grizzlies for all of the 2005 season, leaving us a bank of photos to select from. We also have to make sure we get all angles of the player to help show the bobblehead producers the small details of the hat, jerseys, pants, etc.






Up next, we show you the first images of the Cain bobblehead.