As the dog days of summer are replaced by a chill in the air, and the boys of summer have been winnowed down to the few, the proud, the postseason victors, we choose to reflect on the best parts of playoff baseball. Cold October nights awash with excitement and dread, the tension of a two-out at bat with runners in scoring position and your favorite team behind, and (still) watching the Batting Stance Guy with his ridiculous imitations of our favorite players.
Gar Ryness, the inimitable YouTube sensation known as the Batting Stance Guy, has long called it “The Least Marketable Skill in America.” Ironically, it’s turned into a boondoggle of sorts, sending him on trips around the country to perform the batting stances in Major League Baseball parks across the country as part of the pregame festivities. It has also catapulted him onto such high profile shows as CBS’s “Late Show with David Letterman” and ESPN’s “SportsCenter.” The “Least Marketable Skill” also netted him a book deal with Scribner, called (what else?), “Batting Stance Guy: A Love Letter to Baseball.”
We recently caught up with Gar, somewhere between his numerous posts on Twitter (@BattingStanceG):
1. Tech geek or Luddite?
Right now the middle. We grew up in a home with no answering machine. But in 1994 my now wife and I began early stages of dating on email. So geek/luddite simultaneously.
2. You obviously spend a lot of time on the road traveling to all the ballparks. What gadgets do you take with you? What can you not live without while traveling?
I bring my laptop along to document the experiences on flights home. I usually take a video camera and microphone for player interactions. But, ultimately, I try to pack light. My iPod, music and headphones are the lone must.
3. Since your wardrobe usually consists of shorts, a t-shirt, a baseball cap and an old pair of Chuck Taylors (as seen on national TV with your Letterman appearance), do you have any travel packing tips besides “Keep it simple?”
Be comfortable. Wear your sweatshirt or jacket on the plane, so your bag can be smaller. Double up: Wear your coolest tennis shoes that you can also jog in. Reality is your friend: When you are packing workout clothes and basketball shoes ask yourself, “Am I really going to work out enough to warrant bringing these?” Try to never return home with anything clean/unworn.
4. What has been the single most surreal moment of the Batting Stance Guy’s last two years?
Tough choice. Probably when Biff Henderson tapped my shoulder to cue my entrance on Letterman. But I was doing the Cardinals pre-game show with local TV announcer when the Dodgers were in town, and I had to hold my finger up to Manny Ramirez screaming from other side of field, as if to say, “Wait Manny, let me finish this, then I’ll come over.” That was a near out-of-body experience.
5. What comes to mind when I say “Bristol, Connecticut”?
Going through the Bristol Carwash. ESPN invited me to partake in SportsNation, FirstTake, ESPNews, SportsCenter and lunch. [ed. The “car wash” is when guests are run through a full schedule of ESPN properties in one day]
6. Which team has given you the warmest reception?
Rockies. They were the first team to plop me in the middle of their stretching circle.
7. You’ve seen a game in every ballpark. Which is your favorite?
Wrigley Field is a national treasure.
8. What is it about baseball that has totally captivated you?
Its wonderfully slow pace. It’s not manic. You can have a 3 inning conversation, then watch for a while, then check the Team Shop, then watch some more. I like having conversations. You can’t do that at an NFL or NBA game. Too manic.
9. Tell me about your day job.
Wait, this isn’t my day job? Non-profit world. Lots of listening to artists and helping them settle their differences. If I’d been born sooner, I might have saved the Beatles.
10. How do you make the world’s least marketable skill marketable?
You become unwavering in doing what you love. You make decisions based on what will make your 10 closest buddies laugh, not try to create something for the masses. Then you wait for a buddy to ask if he can post it in YouTube. That’s how.
Ultimately, Gar may not even be the most talented member of his family. His brother is a Broadway performer, one of his sisters storyboards Hollywood blockbusters and his other sister is a gifted singer. He graduated from Syracuse in 1995, is married with two young daughters, and is the starting pitcher on his league champion church softball team and starting power forward on the basketball team.