Daddy, Daughter and 81 Memories Together
By Mike Brandyberry
This guy has to be the Indians’ Fan of the Year, and if you are a baseball fanatic, a contender for Father of the Year.
Because when it comes to Major League Baseball, if Keir Kurinsky does something, he does it all the way. Kurinsky is a first-time season ticket holder this year and has dedicated himself to taking his 1-year-old daughter Ada to every Cleveland Indians home game. To date, they have made the first 34 games, with today’s Father’s Day game being their 35th.
“When we took Ada last year to Opening Day when she was 2 months old, I knew that baseball would forever be part of our special bond,” Kurinsky said. “I have always dreamt of having season tickets to go to every game, but the opportunity has never really presented itself, until now.”
His opportunity came by way of being a full-time, stay-at-home father running his own business, Sillycone Inc., which manufactures a line of silicone bake ware.
Kurinsky never had the chance to own season tickets growing up outside of Chicago. “I am a lifelong Cubs fan,” Kurinsky said. “I am approximately number 30,038 on the Cubs season ticket waiting list.”
He hasn’t missed an Opening Day since the mid-1990s, even flying to Tokyo to watch the Cubs play.
Looking for a change of pace and adventure in life in 2002, Kurinsky, then 25 and single, flipped a coin. Heads was the East Coast, tails was the West Coast. Life took Kurinsky to Baltimore for a while, but a lakeside drive —with now wife, Jennifer — through Bay Village caught his eye and brought him to Cleveland. The lure of a cheaper cost of living, a great school system and a small sense of community became an easy decision to make.
“In mid-2007, we were driving back home to Baltimore from Chicago and decided to take the scenic route along the lake, and absolutely fell in love with Bay Village,” Kurinsky said. “A year later, we bought a house and moved here, rescued two Golden Retriever brothers, got married in the back yard, and three years after that, Ada was born.”
“When looking to relocate from Baltimore, my only stipulation to my wife was that the city had an MLB club,” Kurinsky said.
This season, Kurinsky and his wife made the decision to purchase season tickets, and Keir dedicated himself to taking Ada to all 81 home games. Their seats are in the 200-level, behind home plate. The overhang from the upper deck knocks down most of the wind and provides shade from the sun.
Most Indians fans and season ticket holders dread the early season games where the weather is sometimes cold or dreadful, but Kurinsky and Ada have taken the weather out of the equation.
“Having access to both the Kids Clubhouse and the Terrace Club makes weather a non-issue really, though we always dress for success,” Kurinsky said. “And if it’s too hot, Grandpa has always been on call to go and ensure Ada gets an ice cream cone.”
Ada’s grandmother makes her special ballpark outfits and accessories for all weather climates. She has mustard, ketchup and hot dog broaches for her outfits and approximately 65 different hats for her game-day wardrobe. Ada’s other grandmother made her an array of Indians colored blankets for those early April games. Since the Indians do not require a ticket for children younger than 3, everyone in the family has been able to join Keir and Ada in their second seat.
“I think Keir and Ada really embody the Indians’ philosophy of creating memories, connecting generations and celebrating family,” Anne Keegan, Indians Assistant Director of Communications, said. “They’re clearly creating memories every single day they are here. It’s a great way to connect generations and something they’ll remember as a family.”
The Kurinsky family has celebrated milestones and special moments together at the ballpark in the first half of the Indians season. They used their complimentary suite for being a full-season ticket holder to celebrate Jennifer’s birthday with family and friends and even brought their dog to the first Puppypalooza of the season at Progressive Field.
“Our family went to the first (Puppypalooza) with our Golden Retriever Oliver, which was bittersweet after losing his brother, George, two months prior,” Kurinsky said. “What is more American than having your entire family, including your dog, at the ballpark, while drinking a beer and having a hot dog?”
The experience, so far, has come without any close calls of missing a game. Kurinsky attributes most of their success to his and Ada’s excitement to go to the game, and the generosity of the Cleveland Indians’ staff. They have become friends with the other fans in their section, as well as the ticket takers and ushers.
“(Indians employee) Carol meets Ada every game at the ticket entrance at the Terrace Club. She has given Ada gifts, one complete with the original Higbee’s price tag still on it — a bit of storied Cleveland history,” Kurinsky said. “(Indians employee) Gillian greets us as we enter the stadium to find our seats, giving Ada a snack bag of goldfish each and every game. I would be surprised if any other ball club gave the fans access to such amenities and experiences.”
Kurinsky and Ada were invited to the opening of the Kid’s Clubhouse in the mezzanine and were able to meet Indians General Manager Chris Antonetti and Team President Mark Shapiro. They often go to the Kid’s Clubhouse for the kid-friendly orange juice and milk options. Kurinsky enjoys the mezzanine because Ada can play while he can still see the game. Another fun experience for Ada each game is to have her Indians Passport stamped in the Tribe team shop. The Indians have probably earned a fan for life in Ada.
“That’s what we’re trying to do is to start getting fans when they are really little and get them used to the organization,” Keegan said. “We can introduce them to the older generation of Indians fans and we can all grow up together.”
One of Kurinsky and Ada’s remaining goals of the season is to try and get Jennifer’s 92-year old grandfather, a lifelong Indians fan, to attend a game with them. “I am still trying to convince him to go to a game, but I think he’s still pissed from the 2009 Cliff Lee trade.”
You can follow Kurinsky and Ada’s journey to all 81 home games through Facebook and Twitter (@eightyonegames). Each game Kurinsky posts a picture and often some highlights of the day throughout the game.
If the pictures Kurinsky posts are each worth a thousand words, the experience for he and Ada has many indescribable moments that will bond them forever.
“I think my most cherished experience has been the simplest,” Kurinsky said. “Having my child sleeping quietly in my arms while I watch a complete game. Life doesn’t get much sweeter.”
Photo submitted by Keir Kurinsky