"But dreams change. Fate has a way of showing you paths you want more." - Abbi Glines
Some knew the Major Leagues were not a reality, but not being able to finish their college baseball career was just as detrimental to those who weren't bound for "The Show." That's where Ryan Ellingson found himself. He knew he wasn't going to be a big leaguer, but it still hurt the same.
Ryan attended Viterbo University, a private college in Wisconsin. Ryan was a second baseman and put up great numbers for the University. In his final season, he had 28 hits, nine RBI, and hit .295 over 45 games. Those are impressive numbers for someone who knew that he wouldn't be moving on to play professional baseball after college; He left every piece of himself on the field after the previous season was cut short due to COVID.
When I asked him if it still scared him knowing he may not play anymore, he told me, "I was very scared. Baseball was everything to me. It was a huge part of my life. It was basically all I knew," he continued, "I knew that I wouldn't be going to the majors. I knew a few years earlier when I went to a few clinics and saw other guys, I internally said, 'oh yeah, I'm not that good.'"
Humility is a good thing. Ryan's gentle nature and humility helped him pursue his other passion, science, in college. To Ryan, as a baseball player, science made sense. It was numbers and formulas. But sitting on the bus between games, hearing the season was over, the unknowns were insurmountable, even for his career after college.
Ryan graduated on time and is now a biologist that works with the environment. But, like the past two fans I interviewed, his passion for baseball is what he gets excited about, so he created videos as an outlet. Thanks to a pandemic, his love for baseball, and boredom, he had 17 years' worth of baseball stories, funnies, and moments he could share with people.
When I met Ryan, I found myself on baseball Tik Tok once again (shocker, I know!), and the video that got me to follow him was his spoof on catchers. Because I am not a baseball player, Ryan was able to give an inside look at what baseball players think during games, practices, and other relatable moments. Soon, companies took notice of Ryan and his content and offered him opportunities to do collaborations. Big businesses like Baseball Lifestyle 101, Baseballism, and eventually the Minnesota Twins are just a few of the companies Ryan represents in his videos.
Ryan is an avid Twins fan. He grew up around the Twins, dugout, history, and players, so he was always wearing Twins gear when he made his videos. They reached out to Ryan and asked him to be a TikTok social media influencer for the Twins. That entailed coming to the stadium to make videos, wearing their gear, promoting the team, and continuing with the already fantastic job that he was doing with his account. He said it was like a dream come true. He couldn't believe that a few silly videos would catapult him into a new side of baseball.
Now Ryan has new companies calling him all the time to do collaborations. Along with being an ambassador for the Twins, Ryan had the incredible opportunity with Baseballism. They sent him to Cooperstown to cover the Hall of Fame, where Twins fans worldwide saw two of their favorites, Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat, introduced into the Hall of Fame. I teared up listening to him talk about going to Cooperstown, the town, watching the induction, and touring the museum. You could tell that his love for baseball runs deep. He loves knowing that his videos inspire kids to keep playing, try playing or become an influencer.
"Some things that make it worth it, of course, are the collaborations. They help me be able to keep doing the content that I do. But those videos inspire kids to play."
He put his hands on his chest as he started to think about the messages he receives from kids all over, saying, "This made me want to stick it out.", or "I related to that video.".
Ryan is passionate about being able to bring the game to people and get fans excited about the game.
Where the pandemic threatened to take away so much, it has given us a lot. A new perspective, a new love for the game we almost lost, and for some of us, an opportunity to grow in sharing the game we love with millions of followers on social media.
Teams are finally starting to follow suit after seeing what individuals and fans are doing for the game, and wanted to join in. Teams across MLB are finding new and inventive ways to interact with their fans, by getting players to answer silly questions from their favorite book to ice cream flavors. Next article we explore what teams are doing on social media and how it's improving fan contact and an inside look at the team.
Follow Ryan on Instagram and TikTok for fun, relatable baseball content here: RyanEllingson8