After five consecutive shows at first-time venues, the MLB.com "Bucks on the Pond" crew returned to Wrigley Field for Tuesday's release of episode 16 in the series' second season, powered by Ford. For Kent Thomas, that meant having to rethink his own list of favorite experiences at the Friendly Confines.
"It's a toss-up between meeting Digger Phelps at a game when he was watching his son-in-law Jamie Moyer pitch," Thomas wrote in an email, "or that moment when my girlfriend turned to me on her first trip to Wrigley and told me she was converted from a Cardinals fan to a Cubs fan. The second memory took place in the summer of 2010."
Those are great memories indeed, culled from among Thomas' many trips upstate from Robinson, Ill., where he is a loan officer. But suffice to say this was the first time he was ever offered a chance to win some cash and help cover the cost of his day at Wrigley. Amber Hilderbrand, his girlfriend and former Cardinals fan, answered trivia questions along with him, as did friends Lauren Johnsen of Barrington, Ill., and Arnold Tedford of Chicago.
Watch this episode and see for yourself whether the quartet cashed in, as the Meola family did in winning $205 in episode 15 at New York's Citi Field.
"The day at Wrigley was terrific, other than the Pirates' win over the Cubs," Thomas said. "The weather was great, our seats in the right-center bleachers gave a great view of all the action.
"'Bucks on the Pond' was a lot of fun. The crew was comprised of nice guys and they were a blast. The questions were an interesting mix of baseball-related, celebrity info, current events, as well as basic-knowledge questions. The questions were not too focused upon one topic, so all people were able to help answer, even if they were not a Cubs historian. All in all, it was unexpected, fun, and a fun story to tell to everyone."
"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 the 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 levels and values 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 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.
Hilderbrand announced as they made their "Say The Word" wager: "Go big or go home." She is a dental hygienist who recently graduated from Lake Land College in Mattoon, Ill. Now 22, she easily identifies the highlights of a trip to Wrigley: "I've just started drinking, so maybe the beer and the baseball," she said, enjoying the Budweiser beer garden before the game.
"I love it. I have to admit that once I met my boyfriend he turned me into a Cubs fan. I don't think I'll be anything else. I love it. The block parties, everything. There's always stuff going on. The atmosphere is great. And 'Bucks' was so exciting -- I've never done anything like that."
Topics covered in this episode included U.S. states, Cubs first basemen, candy, rock stars, clocks, Cubs sluggers, "Pirates of the Caribbean," seafood, baseball terminology, Cubs strikeout leaders, birds of prey and music groups.
This is the 45th overall episode. In addition to the Cubs, teams visited by the "Bucks" crew include the Angels, Astros, Athletics, Cardinals, 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.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog.