“Our players have a lot of interesting stories – stories about how they train, or their interest in food, music, style or fashion,” Timpone said. These can help casual or younger fans “stay close” to players, she said, and help baseball establish a “legitimate connection” with them.
Ballplayers choosing the background music that local stadiums use to accompany their game appearances provide opportunities for baseball to tell those stories, Timpone said. Other players might express an interest in food, like Mets outfielder Mark Cahna, whose Instagram account reveals how a wealthy young foodie/athlete who spends all summer traveling feeds himself while doing it.
MLB is also interested in influencer fans for whom baseball and these larger cultural movements intersect. Part of the upcoming Baseball All-Star Game festivities will be what Timpone described as an “All-Star home” of influential content creators who have “incredible ways to tell the story” of baseball. One of the plans is to have a “pro-am” style competition between 16 players and creators who will play the MLB The Show 22 video game together in front of a live audience.
The All-Star Game, scheduled for Dodger Stadium on July 19 and broadcast by Fox, culminates from July 15 with a “tentpole” showcase 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 part of the festivities, for example. There will be family events, a performance by Latin crossover star Becky G, a celebrity softball game and the Futures Game featuring up-and-coming minor leaguers.
Be on the lookout for things like “celebrity front rows” and new twists like live DJs in the dugout during the Home Run Derby. “You’re going to hear about it all over social media,” Timpone said. “People are going to want to be there.”