Chuck Greenberg Discusses Single-A Team's Involvement With "Eastbound & Down"
Viewers of HBO’s raunchy baseball comedy, “EASTBOUND & DOWN,” will notice that this year’s show revolves around the title character KENNY POWERS -- played by actor DANNY MCBRIDE -- and his return from Mexico to play in Myrtle Beach for the fictional Mermen. THE DAILY recently caught up with Single-A Carolina League Myrtle Beach Pelicans Chair & Managing Partner CHUCK GREENBERG to talk about how this all came about, what it was like working with Kenny F'n Powers and how the show has affected the club.
Q: How were you able to tie in the Myrtle Beach location and your team to “Eastbound and Down?”
Greenberg: I was in my hotel room in Dallas watching the next-to-last episode from the second season of “Eastbound and Down” when I heard MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY (who plays “ROY MCDANIEL”) say he was a scout with "Texas" and that he was offering Kenny a shot with the minor league team in Myrtle Beach. I just about fell out of my chair because we had just made the Pelicans a Texas affiliate. Seemed like an unbelievable coincidence. The next day I called my friends at CAA. They were my investment bankers on the Rangers deal and also repped Danny McBride. I basically begged them to help bring the show to Myrtle Beach. Our GM in Myrtle Beach, SCOTTY BROWN, worked with the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and the South Carolina Film Commission and it all came together.
Q: When did they shoot at BB&T Coastal Field?
Greenberg: Most of the filming was last summer, although the cast and crew were back the day after this season's debut a couple weeks ago to complete filming at Pelicans Ballpark and around town. Filming completed a few weeks ago.
Q: Has that caused any inconvenience to you or the organization?
Greenberg: It was a great experience. The only inconvenience was that for some reason we had a hard time locating most of the women on our staff when Matthew McConaughey was at the ballpark.
Q: Are you able to promote the Pelicans at all during the show?
Greenberg: Not directly, although one of the caps the players wear is based on our home cap. We wanted Kenny to play for the Pelicans but HBO had some licensing concerns. The name and marks they devised, the Mermen, are awesome. I wish we would have thought of them.
Q: Are people talking about the Pelicans more because of the show’s setting?
Greenberg: We will see, but we launched a wide array of new initiatives to drive ticket sales this off-season and are up more than 25% over the same point last year.
Q: Is Danny McBride at all like Kenny Powers?
Greenberg: He was awesome. Scotty Brown and I had a chance to spend a little time with him and he was really cool. I asked him if when he and JODY HILL wrote the storyline in season two if they had actually planned to come to Myrtle. He just laughed and said, "No, we just pulled it out of our ass and thought it would be funny."
Q: What has demand been like for Mermen merchandise since it became available?
Greenberg: We just put caps and jerseys on sale and they are selling well. Who wouldn't want to wear a logo of a brawny, bearded man with a mermaid body?
Q: Does the thought of Pelican players getting in an altercation at a mini-golf complex keep you up at night?
Greenberg: Nah. Having (former Greenberg Sports Group President and current Double-A Eastern League Richmond Flying Squirrels VP & COO) TODD PARNELL in town is a much bigger risk. My partner in the Pelicans, JEROME BETTIS, instituted a 72-hour rule for hanging with “Parney.” We've since abbreviated it to 36.
Q: Any scouts in the organization with the star power or good looks of Matthew McConaughey?
Greenberg: Not exactly. And I've never heard any of them describe the manner in which they chased their dream in quite the same terms as his character did either.
Q: Which character would you want to dine with at a Calabash Seafood Buffet?
Greenberg: KFP. No doubt. And we would make sure security keeps ASHLEY SCHAEFFER off the premises.
Q: Would you prefer being referred to as Chuck F'n Greenberg?
Greenberg: I'm pretty sure that at one point while we were negotiating the financing for the Penguins new arena that I was.
Q: Where do you come down on the battle for the closer’s job between Kenny and IVAN?
Greenberg: Got to go with the crafty veteran [Powers].
Q: Your favorite memories from the show?
Greenberg: Funniest story to come out of filming at our park; Our Finance Director, ANNE FROST, has a 13-year-old who plays baseball on a travel team. A couple of the coaches got parts as extras on the show. Anne had never watched it before and thought it would be a great idea to have all the 13-year-old boys and their moms and dads over to watch the season debut together and see their coaches on screen. About three minutes in, she realized she had made a terrible, terrible mistake.