Curran: The Rare Player, Fan Experience Independent Baseball Offers

The Traverse City Beach Bums kicked off their season this weekend in Normal, Illinois against the CornBelters, which means independent professional baseball is back. And so is a roster full of expectations and hope.

Tommy Lasorda once said, “There are three types of baseball players; those who make it happen, those who watch it happen, and those who wonder what happens.”

It takes a lot to be an independent player, I’d imagine. Players are traveling, playing games consistently atop practice and workouts, many live with host families and some leagues are paying the players enough for equipment and rent. And all this is done for an unknown level of certainty of playing at the next level. So, what keeps these players going and being the next Rich Hill (former independent professional who pitched in game 2 of the World Series last year)? Or former Detroit Tiger and three-time Cy Young winner, Max Scherzer who played independent ball? Or Stephen Drew who has now played 12 years in the major leagues? The answer, quite literally, is you.

Independent baseball leagues thrive off the fans and are heavily invested in the fan experience and the player’s role to make the experience is the best it can be. That’s why at any game you will go to you can converse with a pitcher in the bullpen, warming up to pitch the ninth inning of a 3-3 game, or give a high-five to an on-deck batter that is aware of the MLB scout in the crowd but realizes that interaction can make someone’s day.

Seth Brenner is in his first year with the Beach Bums after spending two seasons in the United Shore Professional Baseball League in Utica and he has learned to weigh the fan experience while developing into the pitcher that will get him the most exposure.

“At the Indy ball level the fans are right there next to you. It’s part of your job to be a performer to them, to be a good character and do what you can to make them enjoy their time at the field,” Brenner said. In his first season for the Utica Unicorns, his manager Greg Grall told his team it’s as if they are in a show and entertaining on stage. In both his seasons in the USPBL, Brenner’s team entertained by hoisting the championship trophy.

Brenner, from his early independent baseball stages, knew that his character off the field would play a role in his development on the field and this could be attributed to his success he has had. He has possessed the mindset of making the experience gratifying for all. “I try to be that character that messes with kids and makes people laugh and to enjoy themselves,” Brenner said. Brenner will now be the third pitcher in the Beach Bums starting rotation and will look to continue to impress scouts in hopes of being signed to a major league affiliate.

The Traverse City Beach Bums will have their home opener May 23 against the Florence Freedom. A great way to spend a day at Wuerfel Park with family or friends. It’s also an opportunity for kids to see quality baseball on display with player interactions that are unforgettable. For tickets and more information on the Beach Bums 2018 season, click here.

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