When Brewers fans Mark Korpela and Heather Hilgendorf heard that the hit MLB.com game show "Bucks on the Pond" powered by Ford was coming to Miller Park, the first thing they did was go to MLB.com/bucks and see what all the fuss was about.
MLB.com has handed out $18,425 in cash to fans at 24 of the 30 Major League Baseball stadiums over the last 52 episodes since host Jeremy Brisiel and 2014 Hall of Fame candidate Frank Thomas began firing pop-culture and baseball-trivia questions at them on spirited game-day concourses.
"I've been a Brewers fan for 34 years," said Korpela, who works in sales and attends "30 to 40" Brewers games a year. "I love the people, everything about the park, I love the friendly environment that goes with it, everything about Miller Park. I'm a big fan.
"We had seen the 'Bucks on the Pond' clips the day before on the Internet and we were stoked -- we were pretty excited about it. We were speechless to say the least."
The Milwaukee couple was snagged for the show on the same day that four Brew Crew work buddies from Eau Claire, Wis., wielded their lucky Carlos Gomez Bobblehead and bagged 230 bucks from MLB.com. You'll have to watch the latest episode, released on Tuesday, to see if Brewers fans are now 2-for-2 -- or whether it was a strikeout, something more prevalent among duos than larger contestant teams.
"If you don't know the answer, guess. It worked for us pretty well," said Hilgendorf, a graduate school nursing student at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. "And just have fun with it. It's really not that hard."
You might be a part of "Bucks" 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 game action inside. Shows are posted each Tuesday and Thursday. 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 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 and value 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. There is bonus money that goes along with certain offensive explosions by the home team, too -- case in point, Bernie the Brewer going down his familiar slide during this episode. If the contestant lasts longer than the team's at-bat, they win the bucks in their bank.
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 each episode by the Big Hurt. Answer correctly and you win, answer incorrectly and you lose that amount ... and it's another strike.
Topics covered in the latest episode include farm animals, outdoor sports, MLB mascots, city mottos, TV reality shows, fast-food restaurants, managers, technology pioneers, scheduling, movie ratings, "The Simpsons," Brewers batting leaders and 1980s music.
Hilgendorf told MLB.com: "He is unfortunately my boyfriend. He has to deal with me." In reality, they are a pretty good "Bucks" team.
"I'm a Brewers fan since I was born -- 1980," Hilgendorf said. "The fans are incredible, awesome people. The food is good. And, of course, beer."
In addition to the Brewers, teams visited by the "Bucks" crew include the Angels, Astros, Athletics, Cardinals, Cubs, D-backs, Dodgers, Giants, Indians, Marlins, Mets, Orioles, Phillies, Red Sox, Reds, Royals, Padres, Pirates, Rockies, Tigers, Twins, White Sox and Yankees. Bookmark MLB.com/bucks and be on the lookout for the "Bucks" crew at your ballpark.
"I would say to be loud and energetic," Korpela advised, "and go with your guess if you don't know the answer."