Mr. Selig recently offered me a one-year internship working as MLB.com's youth reporter. I am thrilled and honored to serve in this capacity and will be working to bring readers a fresh new viewpoint on America's national pastime.
"We have a lot of kids all over America that are baseball fans, and that are fans of MLB.com," Commissioner Selig said. "I think a perspective on that really helps us."
There have been talks at MLB headquarters in the past about getting younger audiences involved, but never a concrete way to make it happen -- until now. Commissioner Selig has high hopes that the new position will generate even more youth interest.
"Kids love baseball," Commissioner Selig said. "Our demographics in your age group are better than ever."
I earned the job after winning the Breaking Barriers essay contest, sponsored by MLB and Scholastic. The contest, in honor of Jackie Robinson's historic breaking of the color barrier, is headed by his daughter Sharon and encourages youths to share their stories and how they used Robinson's values to overcome their own personal obstacle.
"Just like Jackie Robinson was a pathfinder, you're going to be a pathfinder," Commissioner Selig told me.
The barrier I wrote about in my essay is HSAN II (Hereditary Sensory and Autonomic Neuropathy, type 2), a very rare disorder that I was born with. Because of HSAN II, I don't feel pain, temperature and touch to the same degree as everyone else, and I am completely deaf without the aid of my cochlear implants.
Even though I can't really play the game myself, I love to watch baseball and collect baseball memorabilia. And from the moment my social studies teacher told me about the Breaking Barriers contest, I knew it was a perfect fit for me: a combination of my two loves, writing and baseball.
I've been a baseball fan since I was 7, avidly following my hometown Cincinnati Reds and redecorating my bedroom to reflect it. As an 8-year-old, my Halloween costume of choice was a Pete Rose getup, and I've been hooked ever since.
Even so, I'll be reading up on the game to beef up my knowledge, since I'll be covering plenty of events (such as the 2012 All-Star Game and World Series) and working as an assistant Reds beat writer. I aim to bring a young person's perspective to the table here at MLB.com, and hope to hear from many of my fellow kids -- whether it's to comment on my stories, ask questions or tell me what they want to hear about.
I think MLB.com will be a great forum for my writing, being that I check the site daily.
"It's the most amazing story in sports," Commissioner Selig said of MLB.com. "Nobody could have ever dreamed it would grow the way it has. No [other] sport has anything like it."
Indeed, MLB.com is a website like no other, just as baseball is a sport like no other. I hope I can pay homage to this great game, and maybe even be part of the next chapter in its storied history. I'd love kids to read the work of one of their own, and for adults to be able to remember why they loved the game so much in the first place.
Meggie Zahneis, winner of the 2011 Breaking Barriers essay contest, earned the job of youth correspondent for MLB.com in the fall of '11. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.