When Trevor Bauer realized the scope of the postponements and cancellations about to affect the sports world — as MLB suspended spring training and delayed Opening Day on Thursday — he knew he wanted to do something for the thousands of stadium workers impacted by the stoppages due to the coronavirus outbreak.
By Saturday, he had the perfect launch format: a “Sandlot” themed wiffle ball game in Arizona for MLB and minor leaguers who wanted to spend their night playing on a live stream broadcast by Bauer’s company, Momentum. In that stream, Bauer included the link to the GoFundMe he created for this cause, with about $22,000 of a $1 million goal raised less than 24 hours after it went live.
“It’s really about raising as much as possible for the people affected,” Bauer said by phone Sunday.
Traded to the Cincinnati Reds from the Cleveland Indians at the trade deadline last year, Bauer intends on providing some relief for what he called his new home city. Stadium workers are those who make experiences enjoyable for fans, he said, and assists his family when they are in town.
“The game was really to get a large platform of people watching,” Bauer said. “One, to connect with fans and give them some baseball. But two, hopefully spread the message and the word about the people that put on games. Playing in front of a stadium with no one in attendance is odd for everybody and we wanted to draw attention to the fact that the people who put on games are very important and struggling right now.”
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Bauer created his company to help promote baseball players’ personalities, which he has previously said MLB can do a better. It also makes executing something like Saturday night’s scrimmage all the more easier.
“Obviously you can’t predict situations like this. It’s a terrible situation for everybody involved,” he said. “Really, the company exists to try and promote baseball players and promote the game and all the good things that the guys do. This is just one example of something baseball players will get together to do to help other people.”
Once Bauer put the call out for participants on Twitter, he received plenty of interest. He also relied on his inner-circle to fill the roster spots, with former Cleveland teammates and fellow pitchers Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac in attendance.
Other major leaguers who played included Derek Dietrich (Reds), Tommy Pham (San Diego Padres) and Kenyan Middleton (Los Angeles Angels). The catch for showing up included wearing a microphone so viewers could hear all conversations during the game.
Doing that during an actual MLB game (baseball had experimented with mic’ing up players during spring training) might prove difficult.
“Are the audio streams live? Are players going to be worried about what they’re saying?” Bauer wondered. “Stuff like that.”
One aspect of the event Bauer found interesting was having some online baseball personalities, such as Coach Kent Murphy and Jomboy, on the live stream providing their own commentary.
“I think that’s something that could definitely go on during the season,” Bauer said. “Maybe have something where players that are in the dugout between innings or whatever come over and hop on the live stream for 30 seconds or 45 seconds, answer a couple questions, interact a little bit. I think it’d bring a lot of attention to the game and to baseball and give something really nice to the fans.”
With baseball out of commission for the time being, Bauer plans on ramping up the content on his YouTube and other social media channels. He wants to offer daily updates on how players are handling the layoff. Breakdowns of certain at-bats and divulging information into his thought process is another one of Bauer’s goals.
“Some things that fans may not see,” he said.