Baseball Fan's Dream Is Two Guys' Job

PHOTO: Mike O?Hara and Ryan Wagner get paid to sit in front of televisions and watch every minute of every Major League Baseball game this season.
Share
Copy

There are jobs that take a lot of tools, and there are jobs that take a lot of training. Then there are jobs that take a lot of big-screen televisions -- 15 to be exact.

Mike O'Hara and Ryan Wagner get paid to sit in front of those televisions and watch baseball games. Every minute of every Major League Baseball game this season.

That's 2,430 games if you are keeping score -- and that's just the regular season.

"My fifth grade teacher told me I would amount to nothing. So, I showed her," O'Hara smiles.

They are the first inhabitants of Major League Baseball's Fan Cave. Their seven-month marathon of baseball watching is part publicity stunt and part reality show -- all of it designed to appeal to a new generation of baseball fans.

With 30 baseball teams, there can be 15 games to watch in a day. Some days, O'Hara and Wagner begin watching at a little after noon, and don't leave until the final out is made on the West Coast, well after midnight.

"If there was a pro level of watching baseball, we are in the minor leagues, learning how to be superstars," O'Hara says.

But this gig involves much more than lounging in front of televisions. Entertainers and athletes are always dropping by to hang out -- visits that are turned into videos posted online. The cavemen also write about baseball, pop culture and their Fan Cave experiences constantly on Twitter, Face book and MLB.com.

Tim Brosnan, an executive vice president of Major League Baseball, says the goal is to create "content for the social space" -- videos and blog posts that are shared and re-posted on social networks online, expanding interest in the games.

"What was missing in baseball was something outside the games and highlights to attract fans," Brosnan said. "To become part of the conversation with the 18- to 34-year-olds ... we had to create content for the social water cooler."

The Fan Cave is a fan's dream -- or at least a fan who is a guy, say, between the ages of 18 to 34.

Located in a former record store in lower Manhattan, it's essentially a gigantic den tricked out with a pool table, a DJ booth, an air hockey game, a tattoo parlor, a bar, a barber's chair, a graffiti wall, areas for musicians to perform and all kinds of baseball memorabilia.

In the middle of it all is the Cave Monster, a wall of 15 large-screen televisions that flicker all day with baseball games and MLB Channel programming. Gigantic 14-foot high windows allow passersby on the street to peer in and watch, too.

Nearly 10,000 people submitted audition tapes for the Fan Cave gig. O'Hara and Wagner were chosen not only because they are huge baseball fans, but also because they are entertainers.

O'Hara, 37, is a comedian, musician and a Yankees fan. Wagner, 23, is an actor in musical theater who roots for the Baltimore Orioles.

It's often said the baseball season is a marathon. There are so many games. But you won't hear O'Hara and Wagner complaining.

"There are people out there who can't find work. If you are going to get up in the morning and complain you have to watch TV, you need a rap in the mouth," O'Hara says.

Adds Wagner, "If ever I had a moment like that where I got up and said, 'Man. I don't really want to go in and watch baseball today,' I just call up my brother who's a social worker, and he'll say, 'What are you tired of? What are you doing? Oh, it's going to be rough for you to watch baseball today? I got to go and talk to a kid who doesn't have any parents. How about that?'

"Mike says it all the time: Nobody's going to feel sorry for us. This is a great job. You know, we are not laying bricks for a living. So we're not going to get tired doing this. This is a great gig."

Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
A Gilchrist county sheriffs car sits at the end of a trailer home where 7 members of a family were slain by their grandfather in Bell, FL, Thursday, Sept., 18, 2014. The grandfather, Don Spirit, pictured, also killed himself.
Phil Sandlin/AP Photo | Gilchrist County Sheriffs Office
PHOTO:
St. Andre Bessette Catholic Church in Ecorse Michigan
PHOTO: Phoenix police officers escort Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer, to the 4th Avenue Jail following his arrest, Sept. 17, 2014 in Phoenix.
The Arizona Republic, David Kadlubowski/AP Photo