By Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network
Joey Votto wasn’t the only Canadian wearing an all-star jersey at Marlins Park in Miami.
A young Canadian woman was there too after growing up on a grain farm west of Portage La Praire, Man. near the community of Macdonald as Melissa Elgert.
Melissa met Brandon Kintzler of the Winnipeg Goldeyes in 2008, were wed Dec. 30, 2012 and now that Brandon is an all-star reliever with the Minnesota Twins reliever were at all the festivities in Miami.
While there aren’t any clocks in baseball -- at least not any that signal: “sorry time is up, you have to leave” -- the clock was ticking on Melissa.
“We were going to get married and Melissa were running out of time,” said Brandon from Minneapolis, this week, explaining that Melissa was about to hit the six-month mark allowed on her visa. “We weren’t going to be able to get all the family down for a wedding.
“So we sped up the process got married, then went on a destination wedding the next December.”
Melissa said that she did not find dropping in at a Clark County court house in Vegas very appealing and besides “this was a better story to tell.”
The two met while Brandon was pitching for the Winnipeg Goldeyes in the independent Northern League in 2008.
And what a story ... take it away Brandon ...
“We did a drive-through wedding,” Brandon said explaining how he borrowed his grandfather’s classic 1940 Chevy Special Deluxe.
Then, Brandon put his dog -- Bo, a white boxer named after Bo Jackson -- in a tux in the back seat alongside his agent Kevin Kohler. Then, Melissa and he headed off to The Little White Chapel with ... “the same place Britney Spears got married.”
“The minister literally comes out of a drive-through window, you say your vows and you’re gone, it took us a little longer because another wedding was going on inside but it was quick ... 10 minutes, no more.”
Quicker than an In-N-Out Burger drive-thru or a McDonald’s?
“Quicker than Starbucks,” said Brandon.
And unlike Starbucks ... Brandon’s order was correct: the lovely Melissa. In the Twin Cities they use a phrase Minnesota Nice ... well, Melissa is Manitoba Nice.
“The cost of the wedding was $50, cheapest ever, the video was more expensive ... $85.”
Melissa wore a while cocktail dress, while Brandon wore dress slacks, a dress shirt and tie. Kohler, Brandon’s former coach with the Las Vegas Yard Dawgs (age 10-12) and agent for Eddie (Every Day) Guardado, was the witness. Bo’s name is on the marriage certificate too.
They were wed again a year later on the same date ... a destination wedding on island of Jamaica.
* * *
The Little White Chapel had not added Melissa Elgert and Brandon Kintzler to its list of famous couples wed there, but after the all-star appearance it won’t be long before they are added to join the likes of Spears and ...
Judy Garland, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ricki Lake, Sinead O’Conner and James Caan,
Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow, Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, Freddie Prince Jr., Burt Ward (Robin, TV’s Batman), Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks and Gladys Knight’s daughter.
Michael Jordan, ex-New York Met Darryl Strawberry, boxer Sugar Shane Mosley, former Heisman winner Charles Woodson, wrassler Stone Cold Steve Austin and boxer Leon Spinks.
Joan Collins and Peter Holms, Paul Newman and JoAnn Woodward, Steve Lawrence and Edie Gorme, George and Alana Hamilton, Rita Hayworth and Dick Haymes.
Mary Tyler Moore (first husband), Mickey Rooney (twice), Patty Duke (first and third husband) and Mel Torme (first wedding).
And renewals by Sylvester Stalone, Victoria Principal and Ryan Young of the Dallas Cowboys.
* * *
So how does a woman rasied on a 1,800-2,000 acre grain farm near Portage La Prairie come to marry a baseball player first at The Little Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas in 2012?
In one word?
A friend of Melissa’s asked her to help out working the Goldeyes annual golf tournament in 2008. Melissa’s officials duties were to measure whose shot on a par three, second hole landed closest to the hole and who would win the top prize.
Was Brandon closest to the pin?
“Not closest, maybe second,” Melissa recalled.
Was it love at first green?
“To be honest, no, I knew that they were all baseball players and I didn’t want all a part of that,” Melissa said. “But we did talk.”
Melissa guessed it was six weeks later when Brandon and her went for lunch at Earl’s Kitchen.
“Back then you were charged for text messages, so we spoke a lot on the phone,” Melissa said.
Imagine talking on the phone. What a wonderful concept.
Melissa grew up attending French immersion, went on to attend Brandon University and the University of Manitoba. Bilingual in French, Melissa took Italian and excelled at languages in university. Her sister Alicia was involved in basketball, softball and figure skating, while brother Travis Giavedoni played hockey.
“I did a lot of work on the farm growing up, but my chores were mostly in the garden or cutting the lawn.”
* * *
Brandon was a 40th round draft in 2004 from Dixie State College and spent two seasons in the San Diego Padres -- at class-A Eugene, rookie-class Arizona League Padres, class-A Fort Wayne -- was out of organized ball in 2006 and the next year pitched for Goldeyes manager Rick Forney.
The 2007 Goldeyes were led by Walter Young (.313 average, 21 homers, 78 RBIs, .889 OPS), Brent Metheny (.304, 21, 70, .967), Fehlandt Lentini (.321, 10, 54, .880), Max Poulin, of Beauceville, Que., (.283, two, 30, .767), Joel Posey (8-6, 4.81) Ben Moore (8-7, 5.06) and Mikey Kusiewicz, Ottawa, Ont. (7-4, 4.20). Brandon Kintzler went 5-2 with a 4.07 ERA in 29 appearances making eight starts. Brandon walked 13 and struck out 41 in 77 1/3 innings. The Goldeyes were 52-43 finishing in second five games behind the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks.
And in 2008 the best Goldeyes were Metheny (.357, 10, 57, 1.009), Kevin West (.317, 18, 74, .938), Chad Ehrnsberger .312, three, 21, .883), Andrew Walker (9-4, 4.45), Bear Bay (8-7, 5.28) and Zach Baldwin (5-7, 4.70). Kintzler pitched the third most innings (112 1/3) going 7-6 with a 4.65 ERA, walking 36 and striking out 73.
The Goldeyes were 51-45 finished third, behind the Fargo-Moorhead and the Gary SouthShore RailCats.
Brandon was dealt to the St. Paul Saints for the 2009 season where he went 8-3 with a 2.79 ERA in 14 games, making 11 starts, walking 24 and fanning 46 in 80 2/3 innings before being signed by the Milwaukee Brewers scout Tim Collinsworth, now with the Boston Red Sox. Assigned to the double-A Huntsville Stars, he was 1-2 with a 4.54 ERA in nine game, making six starts, as he walked nine and fanned 32 in 35 2/3 innings.
He was 24-for-27 converting saves in the first half with a 2.29 ERA, which is what earned he and his a trip to Miami. He walked eight and struck out 24 in 39 1/3 innings. Since then, he’s added three and now has an ERA of 2.72 .
* * *
Brandon was reluctant to visit Manitoba in the winter time according to Melissa. But one winter he came home to the farm around Christmas and helped Melissa’s father Ian hauling grain and emptying the barn.
“Work is never done on a farm,” Melissa said, “You have to shovel at the end to completely empty the bin, Brandon was so exhausted, so dirty when he came back. He really respects my father, but he was so dirty he says ‘never again.’”