Hens staffer’s Fan Cave bid falls short, but was fun experienceWritten by Don Lee | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Kate Longenecker of Perrysburg had hoped to be watching Major League Baseball as part of the MLB.com Fan Cave crew, but instead she was in the control room at Fifth Third Field, running the scores, stats and television graphics for the Mud Hens’ home opener.
She’s fine with that.
“I’ve only ever gotten anywhere with an optimistic attitude, so I was depressed for only a day,” she said about not making the final cut in the Fan Cave contest.
So despite not getting to go to spring training, or move into the New York City apartment where her job would have been to watch big-league ball games and talk about it on social media, she’s filing the contest under “fond memories” and “learning experiences” and getting ready for another Mud Hens season.
“It looks like I will be running the graphics from the production booth in the suites,” Longenecker wrote in an e-mail. “Keeping track of pitch count, score, player stats, and anything else graphics related for the television broadcast.”
Longenecker — a Philadelphia Phillies fan — was one of 52 people around the country who made the next-to-last cut out of about 10,000 applications for the Fan Cave. Those 52 hopefuls all sent in videos making their cases and asking for fan votes on the MLB.com Fan Cave page. From those, 30 were chosen to go to spring training and from those, the final nine Cave Dwellers were chosen.
This year’s cave dwellers will include Alexandria “Alex” Justice, an Indians fan from Cleveland, and Ben Wietmarschen, a Reds fan from Cincinnati.
On her video, Justice, 21, claimed that, as a student and fan of “The” Ohio State University, “I’m the nuttiest fan there could be” — and as an Indians fan on top of that, she’s one of the “most dedicated heart-filled fans in baseball.”
For his video, Wietmarschen, 28, listed his five favorite personal memories of baseball, which include chucking a roll of toilet paper at his Uncle Ted when the Reds won the World Series when he was 6 and spilling a Mountain Dew from one luxury box into another at Cincinnati’s stadium at age 10.
“I wonder if [the people in the other box] remember that,” he muses in the video. “I’d like to go back and apologize.”
Longnecker said she had been rooting for fellow Phillies fan Christine Lorigo of Boston, who made the cut for spring training, and thought Tigers fan Lindsay Beaver of Sterling Heights seemed “super passionate” and would have been “fun to watch in the Fan Cave.” Tigers fan Jay Tuohey of Clawson, Mich., was also a top-30 finalist.
But from her perch at Fifth Third Field, Longenecker said she’s ready for another season.
She’ll start work about three hours before game time, making sure all the information she needs is at hand for the game and for the half-hour pregame show.
She does similar chores for the Toledo Walleye hockey team and for Buckeye Cable Sports Network. She said she prefers the faster pace of hockey games, which also lets her be more creative with her scoreboard and stat displays and, not to mention, the Walleyes’ winning season made the job more fun.
“When the team is good I just get into it,” she said.
She’s hoping to “get into it” with the Hens as well this year.
“I’m just hoping for more wins!” she wrote. “Last year when we hit August and realized we were out of the playoffs it just wasn’t as fun. … I’m looking forward to seeing some of the faces back from last year like [right fielder Ben] Guez, [left fielder Dan] Kelly, [shortstop Argenis] Diaz — and of course getting to know the new guys. I’ll definitely need to practice spelling [Matt] Tuiasosopo, our new third baseman.”
If not a winning experience, it was a learning experience for Longenecker.
“It felt great to have support from so many people from Toledo, back home in Pennsylvania, and of course from Phillies fans all over the country,” she wrote. “I learned how useful social media can be, especially when reaching out to people you wouldn’t normally have access to.”
Ironically, she cut back on her Twitter use “because during that month it kind of consumed my life!”