|CHICAGO, IL -- There's nothing like the thrill of a big league ball game to make a grown man feel young again.
Tony Gianunzio, a 92-year-old World War II veteran and Kalamazoo resident, said throwing the ceremonial first pitch Sunday at Wrigley Field took him back to 1942 when he was a 19-year-old, up-and-coming pitcher, being recruited by the Chicago Cubs.
"I thought it would just be an echo of the excitement of 1942, but it was like a roar. It went so far beyond what I could have imagined," Gianunzio said.
Gianunzio was set to have a tryout with the Chicago Cubs when the the draft age was lowered to 19, and he was called upon to serve in World War II. After several years as Coast Guard gunner's mate on the USS Machias, his opportunity to play pro ball slipped away.
But more than 70 years later, Gianunzio got the chance to live out his dream.
Wearing a Chicago Cubs cap, he threw from just in front of the rubber of the mound and tossed the ball over the plate on a single bounce, Gianunzio said.
"When I took the mound, I felt like I owned the place. I used the same form that I used to. I threw it, and it took one bounce. ..." Gianunzio said. "If I had a few more practice sessions, I think I could have made it without a bounce."
He said the crowd roared after the pitch.
"I had a rapport with that crowd like nobody's business," Gianunzio said. He got onto the field again in the fourth inning for a special salute.
Gianunzio met many of the Cubs players and shook "hundreds" of fans' hands.
"They couldn't believe I look so young and move so young," he said. "It gave them a joyful shot in the arm. They realized it's possible to grow old and still be young."
The opportunity came about after students from Compass College of Cinematic Arts in Grand Rapids contacted the Cubs organization about Gianunzio, whom they are profiling in a documentary film about World War II veterans. When the Cubs confirmed the details, they invited him to throw out the first pitch.
The film crew was at Wrigley to document the experience for the documentary. The cameras caught an exchange between Gianunzio and a young boy during the game.
"Don't stop playing baseball," Gianunzio told him.
Born in Methuen, Mass., a small town just outside of Boston, Jarrod is a 33 years-wise, up-and-coming filmmaker who is currently studying for his Associate of Applied Science degree at Compass College. Jarrod currently lives in Cedar Springs, Mich. with his wife, Jessica. Ever since he saw it as a young man, his favorite film has been “Braveheart” because of the significant impact it made on his life. In the picture here, you’ll see him working as a Director of Photography on a Fall Term Project earlier this school year. We asked Jarrod a few questions about his experiences at CCCA.
CCCA: Why did you decide to attend Compass College?
Jarrod: I was searching for film schools. I looked into New York, Los Angeles, and even Australia, but my wife and I had just started to enjoy living in Grand Rapids. In the end it was a faith-based decision for me. I felt God’s hand guiding me and looking back now, it all makes sense!
CCCA: What or who inspired you to pursue filmmaking as a career?
Jarrod: I started working in the outdoor industry as I spent years of trying to figure out what it was that God had put me on this earth to do. I never would have guessed I’d end up in the “Film World” but somehow – deep down – I kind of always knew. When I picked up my first camera, I was hooked. It was a way to be in the outdoors and use my creative talents, two things that always agreed with me. From there is blossomed into a love and passion with bigger dreams and plans. And who would have guessed? I have an eye for it!
CCCA: What are you most excited about in the near future?
Jarrod: Because I’m planning to graduate with the Associates of Applied Science degree, my classes will wrap up on campus in August. I’m very excited about an internship possibility after my time on campus is finished. I’m not exactly sure who it is going to be with yet, but I have some ideas and I have a feeling it is going to be epic!
I’m also very excited about putting my first documentary into motion. I have had the concept for years and now I feel confident that the concept will become a reality. There are other opportunities as well, but most of all, I’m excited for the unknown.
CCCA: Finally, what do you want to be when you grow up?
Jarrod: I want to be a filmmaker that makes a difference on and off the screen. I want to be a part of creating and telling stories that can change a person’s life. Ultimately though, I want to be who God wants me to be and allow Him to guide me and use me for His purpose.
Thank you, Jarrod, for your willingness to share your heart, passion and love for the Lord and filmmaking with us! Your hard work and dedication will certainly pay off. Keep your eyes open - we're certain you'll see Jarrod's name in the credits of a documentary soon!
Students Present Marketing Plans at
DO MORE GOOD
The students in the Bachelor of Fine Arts marketing course were a little nervous. It was expected.
"A lot of planning goes into something like this," said Compass College faculty member, Les Raebel. Raebel and his marketing students packed into cars and headed out on a field trip, but this wasn't any ordinary field trip. It was a journey into the art of successful pitching.
"Nothing gets done in the production business until someone has made a successful pitch," Raebel shared upon his return from visiting the largest advertising agency in West Michigan, DO MORE GOOD | Hanon McKendry. Raebel's students drove across town to the corporate headquarters of the agency.
And waiting for them was the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer, Bill McKendry, who is also the founder of Compass College.
"Bill was very gracious with his time and expertise," said Raebel. "My students had to make a pitch to Bill⎯stand up and orally illustrate a marketing business plan for a nonprofit agency. Not only did Bill listen carefully to the students, he gave them a detailed critique of their proposal and the way they pitched it. Bill shared that he thought the presentations were very thorough, and provided details of how plans like these can be carried even further on a social and digital platform."
Whether it is pitching a script to a studio or pitching a creative perspective to produce a television commercial, the art of pitching is truly the art of the deal. Producers, in particular, or anyone in almost any business, need to refine those skills⎯especially in the entertainment and production industry.
BFA student, Brandon Tarleton, said the pitching session was an exercise in building his confidence level. "I really enjoyed doing it and hearing what Mr. McKendry had to say. One thing I learned is, yes, you can impress people with demographics, charts and statistics about algorithms, but if they aren't impressed with you as the presenter ... none of the other stuff matters. You have to learn how to mix confidence, grace and humor, too."
Raebel concurred. "That's what we're teaching. It's all part of the mix. It's extremely important that they learn these skills. We look forward to doing this again!"