Mike Ditka, the NFL Hall of Fame player and Super Bowl winning celebrity coach, and Hall of Fame baseball player Johnny Bench visited Harford County this week to shoot a commercial for Blue-Emu ointment.
The production was coordinated by Baltimore-based Storyfarm, and scenes were shot Monday and Tuesday at The Arena Club’s Arena Sports Factory – the club’s indoor sports training facility – and at the neighboring baseball field at Harford Community College, according to Keith Rawlings, owner of The Arena Club.
“They’re both really personable guys,” Rawlings said of Bench and Ditka.
The former pro athletes shot scenes with local high school and college athletes, including HCC baseball players, in the background.
They also interacted with the young athletes, signing autographs and posing for pictures and later eating lunch with the group Tuesday afternoon, according to Rawlings.
“[They’re] just down-to-earth people, so it was really cool to have them here in Harford County,” Rawlings said.
Ditka played in the NFL for the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys in the 1960s and ’70s and he was head coach of the Bears in the 1980s and early ’90s, leading the Bears to their Super Bowl XX victory. He has been a network TV analyst since his coaching career ended. He was the first tight end inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Bench spent his entire Major League Baseball career, from 1967 to 1983, as a catcher with the Cincinnati Reds. The team won four National League and two World Series championships during Bench’s career, according to the Baseball Hall of Fame website.
Rawlings talked about the impact meeting legends such as Bench and Ditka had on the young athletes.
“It’s valuable knowledge to come from a great player like Johnny Bench, probably one of the greatest catchers that we’ve seen,” he said. “To hear Mike Ditka tell stories about his years as a player, years as a coach, coaching Walter Payton [we heard] just some really cool stories from him.”
Nutrition & Fitness Inc. manufactures, markets and distributes the Blue-Emu line of products for muscle, joint and skin conditions, according to the company’s website. “Blue-Emu products are made with real emu oil,” the website states.
The Arena Sports Factory is a new facility on The Arena Club’s main Churchville Road campus, adjacent to the community college campus east of Bel Air.
“It’s a performance center built specially for training athletes,” Rawlings said.
It can be used to train athletes in any sport, ranging in age and level from youth to high school and college, even professionals, Rawlings said.
He said it has facilities such as an indoor turf field, training racks and weights, equipment that was put to use during the commercial shooting.
“We really made it easy on this production company to have everything right here,” according to Rawlings, who said this week was the first time a commercial has been shot at an Arena Club facility.