That’s the number of baseball games die-hard Yankees fan Mike O’Hara and his “wingman” Ryan Wagner watched this year in the Major League Baseball Fan Cave, a “first-of-its-kind immersive fan experience.”
Set in New York’s Greenwich Village at the corner of Broadway and 4th St., the Fan Cave is a state-of-the-art 15,000-square foot space lined by glass from the ceiling to the floor.
And since March 31, Wagner and O’Hara sat in the centre of the fishbowl – everyday, for every game.
“It’s absolutely been an insane ride,” described Wagner in between shooting scenes with baseball great, Fred McGriff.
At a friend’s suggestion, the former “Punk’d” writer and “Invasion Iowa” actor – although his contributions couldn’t crack imdb.com – became one of nearly 10,000 applicants to a baseball fan’s “dream job.” After submitting a writing sample, multiple video submissions, and enduring several interviews, O’Hara got the call.
The job was his.
The next thing he knew, the Los Angeles resident finished his tour duties as front man for the Irish punk band, “The Mighty Regis,” and moved across the country.
“We liken this experience to being on tour but not going anywhere,” O’Hara joked about his time with Wagner, who was touring the country with the World Series trophy, the first time the two had been separated since the season’s start.
With the two holed up all season, baseball brought the entertainment to them.
In addition to watching baseball, O’Hara and Wagner were tasked with chronicling their experiences on Twitter, Facebook and an MLB.com blog. They also appeared regularly on MLB network and produced a host of web videos featuring musicians, celebrities and athletes.
O’Hara may be 37 years old. But he doesn’t look it. Nor did the job allow it.
“In a single day, I’ve interviewed Jessie Eisenberg in the morning. Got a call from John Kruk in the afternoon. And been told Joba Chamberlain is stopping by at night,” O’Hara recalls. “It’s not just watching baseball.”
But there was plenty of that.
The Fan Cave’s centrepiece and crown jewel, the “Cave Monster” is a wall of 15 televisions (three 60-inch screens and a dozen 33-inch TVs) that aired all 2,429 regular season games throughout the year. O’Hara greeted the monster everyday for baseball’s first pitch and couldn’t wouldn’t leave until the night’s final out was recorded.
“I never get sick of baseball,” he said. “It’s like listening to a good record, it never gets old.”
Nor did it get sick for O’Hara’s girlfriend, also a baseball fan. She accompanied O’Hara to New York for the life changing experience. But his wasn’t the only life that changed.
“When she did that, I decided to sign her long term and made her my fiancée,” O’Hara said with a smile.
Thursday, Sept. 29, was another monumental day. Rays and Cardinals fans awoke the morning after the regular season’s final day elated. Red Sox and Braves fans awoke confused and bewildered.
And O’Hara opened his eyes to his first day off in over six months.
For the first time since the season began, O’Hara and his fiancée sat down that night for a real dinner. At a real restaurant.
But don’t think he regrets a single moment of the experience.
“I wouldn’t change it for the world,” he said. “As tired as I was, as much as I had to throw people’s lives into upheaval…this is a once-in-a-lifetime type of thing.”
So what’s next for the Irish punk lead signer?
O’Hara hopes this experience, and the connections he’s made, opens industry doors. In a perfect world, he’ll host his own baseball-themed talk show. If his humorous back-and-forth with the crew and engaging repore with the “Crime Dog” was any indication, O’Hara could have an opportunity.
But O’Hara, who constantly referenced how lucky he is, understands life won’t remain as easy as watching a baseball game.
“If it doesn’t work out – I’m a hard-working Irish kid,” he said. “I’ll just go back to what I was doing. Try to go get the next [job] – hell or high water.”
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