Major League Baseball today revealed the nine fans who will begin the season in the MLB Fan Cave, watch every single MLB game each day, chronicle their experience via social media while creating videos with MLB players and celebrities, and compete with each other along the way for the right to stay in the Fan Cave through the World Series. The nine "Cave Dwellers" campaigned extensively to be among 30 finalists earning a trip to Spring Training last month, then survived two days of interviews, challenges and other activities in Arizona to ultimately be selected by MLB as one of the final contestants.
The nine "Cave Dwellers" - Daniel Farris, Marcus Hall, Alex Justice, Nick Mendillo, Travis Miller, Mina Park, Aaron Roberts, April Whitzman and Ben Wietmarschen - will relocate from across the country later this month to the MLB Fan Cave, which returns for a third season in 2013 following a year of tremendous growth in social media activity, fan engagement and video content, as well as a highly successful concert series featuring top musical acts. With more than 1.2 million combined followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, the MLB Fan Cave has built a large community of baseball fans that the Cave Dwellers will have a chance to interact with during the 2013 season, an audience whose average age is 20 years younger than the average baseball fan. Supported by MLB Advanced Media, the MLB Fan Cave is a unique event space at 4th Street and Broadway in New York City's Greenwich Village mixing baseball with music, popular culture, media, interactive technology and art.
"The MLB Fan Cave has far exceeded our goals and expectations these past two years, and 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 it," said Tim Brosnan, Executive Vice President, Business, Major League Baseball. "Choosing these nine fans out of the finalists we had in Arizona last month was our toughest challenge yet, but we've arrived at a great group of fans that are truly representative of our fan base. Fans will enjoy interacting with them on social media and following their adventures in the Fan Cave all season long."
Danny Farris (@ohshootitsdan), 24, is a Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim fan from Garden Grove, Calif. He graduated from Virginia Tech in 2011 where he was a member of the baseball team. Prior to joining the MLB Fan Cave, he managed a group of sports blogs in Southern California. In his submission video, he demonstrated a wardrobe largely dominated by Angels gear. While in Arizona during Spring Training with the other finalists, he convinced Rangers prospect Ben Rowen, a friend from his college days, to appear in a video.
Marcus Hall (@_MHa11), 27, is a Chicago White Sox fan from Aurora, Ill. Aside from his obsession with the White Sox and deep dish pizza, he is an avid music fan who amassed an extensive CD collection while attending Columbia College, where he majored in Music. During his audition video for the MLB Fan Cave, he confessed to leaving his prom date so he could catch a few innings of a White Sox game. Needless to say, his favorite baseball memory is the White Sox winning the 2005 World Series.
Alex Justice (@AlexJustice4All), 21, is a Cleveland Indians fan from Cleveland. She is currently attending Ohio State University, studying English with hopes to teach Special Education, but is temporarily putting those plans on hold to join the MLB Fan Cave. A self-described owl and whistle enthusiast, Alex leaves behind her job at a concert venue where she witnessed Metallica's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She plans to stage dive whenever possible during the MLB Fan Cave Concert Series.
Nick Mendillo (@grevalt), 27, is a Boston Red Sox fan from Cranston, R.I. He graduated from the University of Rhode Island with degrees in English, Education, Film & Media, and Theater. Nick went on to join the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York where he specializes in improv comedy. A self-proclaimed "Jack of All Trades; Master of None," Nick plays guitar, drums, and mandolin while also studying space and quantum physics when he's not attending heavy metal concerts.
Travis Miller (@AtTravisMiller), 27, is a New York Mets fan from Red Hook, N.Y. A freelance sportswriter who has spent over four years working in Chicago for the Associated Press and other publications, Travis plans to bring his sharp wit, baseball knowledge, and customized Ping Pong paddles to New York. He graduated from Marist College in 2008 with a degree in Sports Communication. His favorite Mets memory is Robin Ventura's "grand slam single" in the 1999 NLCS.
Mina Park (@MinaPark), 25, is a Texas Rangers fan from Plano, Texas, where she grew up playing guitar, drums, piano, bass, and the cello. After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in marketing, she found herself in Los Angeles working for an advertising agency in the entertainment industry. Mina became a devoted Rangers fan in the late 90s after witnessing Juan Gonzalez and Ivan Rodriguez play and receiving a ball signed by Jeff Zimmerman.
Aaron Roberts (@BertsBalls), 28, is a Los Angeles Dodgers Fan from Huntington Beach, Calif., where he recently picked up a guitar and started a pop/punk band with his best friend. Aaron will be leaving behind his life as a substitute high school teacher to join the MLB Fan Cave. He graduated from Cal State Long Beach where fellow alumni include current MLB players Evan Longoria, Jason Vargas and Jered Weaver. During his MLB Fan Cave campaign, he trotted around Los Angeles on his motorcycle with a giant Dodgers flag fashioned into a cape.
April Whitzman (@AlleyCat17), 25, is a Toronto Blue Jays fan from Toronto. After receiving degrees from Mount Allison University and Mount Saint Vincent University in English, Public Relations, and Marketing, April went on to work with the London Rippers, a now-defunct independent team in Canada, and is currently working as a U.S. tax consultant. April learned how to speak French while watching Expos games with her father as a child. She is a popular baseball blogger in Canada, writing about up and coming Blue Jays prospects for her website JaysProspects.com.
Ben Wietmarschen (@BenWietmarschen), 28, is a Cincinnati Reds fan from Cincinnati who recently moved to New York to pursue his dreams in comedy writing. While in New York, he has worked on a food truck selling lobster while performing at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. He previously wrote for The Onion News Network and helped to create the Long Haired Businessmen YouTube series. During his MLB Fan Cave audition video, he recalled witnessing Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 500th career home run on Father's Day with his brother and father.
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, including Jose Bautista, Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano, R.A. Dickey, Bryce Harper, Ryan Howard, Derek Jeter, Adam Jones, Matt Kemp, Andrew McCutchen, David Ortiz, David Price, CC Sabathia, Chase Utley, Justin Upton, Justin Verlander and David Wright have visited the MLB Fan Cave, while celebrity guests have included Kevin James, Kate Upton, Jesse Eisenberg, Nick Offerman, Craig Robinson, Charlie Sheen and Eric Stonestreet. In addition, the MLBFanCave.com Concert Series has featured top artists including Nas, Jason Aldean, The Fray, OneRepublic, Far East Movement, The Avett Brothers, Ziggy Marley, LMFAO, Neon Trees, Daughtry and many more (footage from these and other concerts available here).
Some of the most popular recent MLB Fan Cave videos have included Miguel Cabrera and Adam Jones starring in a parody of Rihanna's "Diamonds" video, Andrew McCutchen impersonating Tom Cruise's greatest hits, Bronson Arroyo and Aroldis Chapman singing a new version of "Red Hooded Sweatshirt," Justin Verlander surprising a special young fan, Ryan Dempster and Derek Holland performing dueling Harry Caray impersonations, and pranks involving David Price and James Shields, Cameron Maybin, and Buck Showalter, Jim Johnson and Darren O'Day.