Major League Baseball today revealed the eight fans who earned the opportunity to be "Cave Dwellers" and experience the 2014 season in the MLB Fan Cave. In addition to watching every single MLB game each day, the Cave Dwellers will create a steady stream of digital content while interacting with MLB players and celebrities and chronicle their experiences in the MLB Fan Cave through social media. These eight fans survived an application process that included video submissions, interviews and two days of challenges and other activities at Spring Training last month to ultimately be selected by MLB as one of the final winners.
The eight MLB Fan Cave "Dwellers" - Benjamin Barker, Michael Bolling, Daniel Frankel, Stanten Jones, Keith McPherson, Cesar Pichardo, Serena Sanchez and Angela Lauren Yanez - will relocate from across the country this week to the MLB Fan Cave, which since its inception in 2011 has built an avid and highly engaged community of more than 2.5 million combined followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms. That audience - whose average age is 20 years younger than the typical baseball fan - has created more than six billion media impressions by sharing with their friends the 600+ videos, 3,500+ blog posts and other content the Fan Cave has produced featuring MLB players and celebrities over the years.
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. Building on the success the MLB Fan Cave has experienced creating content showcasing the personalities of MLB stars and engaging younger fans, this season marks the start of a new programming partnership between MLB and MTV highlighted by "Off the Bat from the MLB Fan Cave," a new weekly 30-minute series focusing on the nexus between baseball and pop culture and spotlighting the off-field interests of MLB stars. Premiering on Tuesday, April 1 at 11:00 p.m. ET/PT, "Off the Bat" will be hosted in the MLB Fan Cave by Sway, Fat Joe, Chris Distefano and Melanie Iglesias, with Red Sox slugger David Ortiz serving as an Executive Producer.
"With the premiere of 'Off the Bat' on MTV2 around the corner, there's never been a more exciting time to be a part of the MLB Fan Cave, and these eight fans will have a front row seat to share all their adventures throughout the season," said Tim Brosnan, Executive Vice President, Major League Baseball. "The MLB Fan Cave has evolved into a powerful and popular vehicle through which fans enjoy and engage with baseball, and our talented and passionate Cave Dwellers have been there every step of the way over the years. Selecting these eight was among our toughest decisions yet, but we've arrived at a great group that has a unique blend of backgrounds representative of our fan base - perhaps the most talented group we've ever had."
Ben Barker (@BenDBarker), 23, is a Boston Red Sox fan from Tyngsborough, Mass., who is leaving behind his job as Merrimack College's Director of New Media to join the MLB Fan Cave while maintaining a long-distance relationship with his girlfriend, the reigning Miss New Hampshire. He studied Broadcast Media at Emerson College, where he produced two MLB Spring Training Specials, which included interviews from players, coaches, and front office personnel. Ben spends most of his free time pretending to be a GM, and also plays guitar and writes original rap songs.
Michael Bolling (@mikealexbolling), 23, is a Cubs fan from Chicago. His love for baseball stems from his mother, who is from the Dominican Republic and got Michael to start playing baseball at the age of four. He played Division II baseball at Lewis University while earning a degree in Multimedia Journalism, and signed a professional contract to play for the Frontier League's Schaumburg Boomers. With his playing days behind him, Michael now works as a baseball video evaluator for NCSA Sports. He lives only six blocks from Wrigley Field, and still gets teary-eyed when he thinks back to what might have been in 2003.
Daniel Frankel (@Stan_Kankels), 22, is a New York Mets fan originally from Chappaqua, N.Y. and now lives in Manhattan. He is a pop culture and social media buff who is not afraid to voice his opinions and loves to do so in a comedic way. A sports broadcasting major at Indiana University and previously the Director of Media Relations for the Newark Bears, Daniel currently works as a sound board operator at WABC 770 radio in New York and hopes to bring his passion for sports broadcasting to the Fan Cave. Of all the great moments Daniel has experienced at Citi Field and Shea Stadium before it, his favorite was Robin Ventura's "grand slam single" in 1999.
Stanten Jones (@StantenJones), 23, is a Chicago White Sox fan from Flossmoor, Ill., who will be leaving his job as a part-time retail sales associate at Nike to join the Fan Cave. He played baseball at Southern University and South Suburban College before transferring the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff to finish out his career, where he also earned a degree in communications. Stanten credits an early memory of seeing Frank Thomas hit a grand slam for his love of baseball. Outside of baseball, Stanten has a passion for learning about travel and food. He enjoys figuring out ways to try new cuisines on a budget.
Keith McPherson (@Keith_McPherson), 25, is a New York Yankees fan from Ocean Township, N.J. Baseball has always been a big part of his family life, as his mother signed him up for Little League and drove him to baseball camp in Pennsylvania for three years, while he also recently reconnected with his father through baseball, as they bonded while attending Yankees games. Keith owns more than 100 Yankees caps and works as a DJ at local bars, while reading comic books and watching cartoons in his spare time. Working as a DJ has taught him how to "get the party started," and Keith says he will have "no problem doing that" in the MLB Fan Cave.
Cesar Pichardo (@Pichardo1468), 23, is a Marlins fan from Miami. As a first generation Dominican growing up in Miami, baseball has always been a big part of Cesar's life. He credits baseball statistics for his natural knack for numbers, and is currently studying Economics at Miami Dade College while also working part-time at a local bank. In addition to baseball, Cesar is passionate about giving back to his community, and volunteers with The Miracle League of Miami Dade, which through baseball creates positive experiences for children with special needs.
Serena Sanchez (@itsfedex), 21, is a Los Angeles Dodgers fan from Ontario, Calif. Her friends and family call her "Fedex," and she loves her fast food job delivering burgers. She and her dad are long-time Dodgers season-ticket holders, and according to Serena, "all of Chavez Ravine knows me." Luckily, her manager often lets her leave work early so she can get to Dodger Stadium for the first pitch. In addition to her bedroom, which she has turned into a "Dodgers shrine," Serena has also taken over a separate closet in her parents' house just to house all her blue and white outfits. Serena has been dancing for her entire life, and especially loves hip-hop dance.
Angela Yanez (@AngelaLauren1), 27, is a San Francisco Giants fan born in Fresno, Calif. and raised in Granite Bay, now residing in Los Angeles. Angela studied Sports Journalism at San Francisco State University and covered Bay Area sports for Comcast 27 and also worked for KCBY/KVAL-TV in Oregon and KPIX-TV. A self-proclaimed tomboy, Angela once sat in a row boat on McCovey Cove for the entirety of a Giants game. She says she didn't catch a ball, but might have caught a mild case of hypothermia, and it was all worth it. Angela also loves to dance, and has been taking classes since she was seven years old.
In addition to regular visits from MLB players and celebrities, the Fan Cave serves as a concert venue through the MLBFanCave.com Concert Series, which has featured more than three dozen top musical acts over the years including Nas, Jason Aldean, Afrojack, Avicii, Tegan and Sara, The Wanted, The Fray, OneRepublic, The Avett Brothers and many others. The MLB Fan Cave Art Gallery will also return in 2014, showcasing collections of unique pieces from a rotating selection of artists throughout the year.
Some of the biggest stars in baseball, including Jose Bautista, Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano, Bryce Harper, 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 over the years, while celebrity guests have included Kevin James, Kate Upton, Jesse Eisenberg, Nick Offerman, Craig Robinson, Charlie Sheen and Eric Stonestreet.
Some of the most popular recent MLB Fan Cave videos have included Evan Longoria interviewing the cast of "Anchorman 2," Orioles fans and players paying tribute to Manny Machado with "Hakuna Machdo," Chase Utley responding to Mac from "Always Sunny," Andrelton Simmons and the Braves attempting bouncing ball tricks, Derek Holland auditioning for (and landing) a role in the "Dumb & Dumber" sequel, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion taking BP at the driving range, and the Indians bringing the Kiss Cam to the streets of NYC.