“Our players have lots of interesting stories—backstories about how they train, or their interest in food or music or style or fashion,” Timpone said. These can help casual fans or younger fans “stay close” with players, she said, and help baseball make a “legit connection” to them.
Ballplayers who choose walk-up music that home stadiums use to accompany their appearances in games offer opportunities for baseball to tell those stories, Timpone said. Other players might express an interest in food, such as Mets outfielder Mark Cahna, whose Instagram account reveals how a wealthy young foodie/athlete who spends all summer traveling feeds himself while doing so.
MLB is similarly looking at influencer fans for whom baseball and those broader cultural movements intersect. Part of baseball’s upcoming All-Star Game festivities will be what Timpone described as an “All-Star house” of influential content creators who have “incredible ways to tell the story” of baseball. One plan is through a “pro-am” style competition between 16 gamers and creators who together will play the video game MLB The Show 22 in front of a live audience.
The All-Star Game, scheduled for Dodger Stadium on July 19 and broadcast by Fox, culminates a “tentpole” showcase beginning July 15 of other ways the game wants to present itself to fans, also produced with Observatory. For the first time, baseball’s annual amateur draft will be a part of the festivities, for instance. There will be family events, a performance by Latin crossover star Becky G, a celebrity softball game, and the Futures Game featuring promising minor leaguers.
Be on the lookout for things like “celebrity front rows” and new twists such as live DJs in the dugout during the Home Run Derby. “You’re going to hear it about everything over social,” Timpone said. “People are going to want to be there.”