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Fan Cave finalists head to Arizona for last tests

Fan Cave finalists head to Arizona for last tests

NEW YORK -- The traditional competition for jobs is about to begin at Spring Training, and for a second year in a row, that is about to involve 30 Major League Baseball fans.

Following two weeks of furious campaigning, 30 finalists vying to be contestants in the 2013 MLB Fan Cave earned trips to Spring Training for the final step in their quests for their baseball dream job. These finalists, culled from an applicant list in the thousands, will travel to Arizona next week for a series of interactive challenges and interviews designed to determine the Opening Day lineup that will hunker down to watch every game in the 15,000-square-foot facility at Fourth Street and Broadway in Greenwich Village.

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The 30 finalists are: Lindsay Beaver, Calder Cahill, Kaitlyn Cernek, Michael Clair, Vanessa Demske, Sam Dingman, Jeremy Dorn, Jay Ducote, Daniel Farris, Andrew Fleming, Pete Gourlie, Katie Gregerson, Marcus Hall, Martin Jones, Alexandria Justice, Eitan Levine, Christine Lorigo, Bryan Mapes, Nick Mendillo, Travis Miller, Hayden Moss, Mina Park, Thomas Roberts, Stephanie Rodriguez, Angalena Scavuzzo, Jay Tuohey, Kelsey Shea Weinrich, April Whitzman, Ben Wietmarschen and Ally Williams.

The men and women from the U.S. and Canada include recent college graduates, journalists, bloggers, comedians, musicians, a chef, an announcer for a college Quidditch league and a former reality show winner. They have been touted by the likes of Colin Hanks, David Price, Justin Verlander, David Ortiz, Jose Bautista and Dale Murphy.

"Once again, our fans have raised the bar and brought a new level of creativity and passion to their efforts to be a part of the MLB Fan Cave," said Tim Brosnan, MLB executive vice president of business. "We've had to make a series of increasingly difficult decisions along the way, first in selecting the initial group of finalists and now picking the top 30. Every one of these people is truly in rare company among baseball fans, and should be very proud of their efforts to make it this far."

The Fan Cave is part of a massive overall presence by MLB throughout social media. On Facebook, there are a combined 35,398,450 likes on the MLB and club accounts, with 4,426,678 alone on MLB. On Twitter, there are a combined 8,417,104 followers of the @MLB and official club accounts, and 2,687,016 for @MLB alone. On Instagram, there are a combined 788,930 followers on the @MLBOfficial and club pages, with 126,455 on MLB alone. The Fan Cave's Facebook page and its @MLBFanCave pages on Twitter and Instagram have more than 1.2 million combined followers.

You can see the contestants' videos at MLBFanCave.com, and fans and finalists can look for updates on the Fan Cave's Facebook and Twitter pages.

Those who head for the Cactus League earned the trip in large part by actively campaigning for votes and promoting their candidacy through such platforms as MLB.com Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr and other social avenues, media interviews, and other creative means. In just two weeks, the candidates combined to earn more than 400 endorsements from players and celebs on camera and through Twitter, and participated in more than 200 interviews with national and local TV and radio, newspapers, and online outlets.

Some of the highlights of the campaign activity include Park's Photoshop Tumblr; Demske's "Married to Baseball" video featuring some of the A's wives; Scavuzzo's "Best Friends" video featuring the Royals' Sluggerrr mascot; and the first known Fan Cave couple.

Miller, Tuohey, Weinrich and Williams earned their second straight trip to the final-30 spring camp. Will any of them survive the final cutdown this time? Many questions will be answered through a battery of tests and trials involving MLB spring camps.

After the Spring Training visit, MLB will select the final group of Cave Dwellers, who will begin the season in the MLB Fan Cave with the goal of watching all 2,430 MLB games while chronicling their experiences online through videos, blogs, and social media. Along the way, they will be eliminated or remain in the MLB Fan Cave based on the quality of their contributions, with one eventual winner crowned before the end of the World Series.

In 2012, nine Cave Dwellers started the season in the MLB Fan Cave, with Giants fan Ashley Chavez crowned the winner at the World Series.

More than 400 celebrity visitors, including nearly 200 current MLB players as well as musicians, actors, former players and others have visited the MLB Fan Cave since its launch in 2011, participating in more than 500 online videos for fans to share via social media.

Some of the biggest stars in baseball have visited the Fan Cave, including Bautista, Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano, R.A. Dickey, Bryce Harper, Ryan Howard, Derek Jeter, Adam Jones, Matt Kemp, Andrew McCutchen, Ortiz, Price, CC Sabathia, Chase Utley, Justin Upton, Verlander and David Wright, as well as Hall of Famers galore. Celebrity guests have included Kevin James, Kate Upton, Jesse Eisenberg, Nick Offerman, Craig Robinson, Charlie Sheen and Eric Stonestreet.

Concert acts have included such top artists as Adam Lambert, Daughtry, Nas, Jason Aldean, The Fray, OneRepublic, Far East Movement, The Avett Brothers, Ziggy Marley, LMFAO and Neon Trees.

Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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