"It's evolve or die, really, you have to evolve, you have to move on otherwise it just becomes stagnant" ~ Craig Charles.
In 2020, the world stopped. It simply stopped. A global virus was spreading like wildfire, stopping jobs, schools, and sports. Stuck inside for months and a shortened baseball season brought on the phenomenon of a social media app called "TikTok." TikTok was full of funny dances, lip syncs, and good feelings to keep the world "together." Videos spread quicker than the virus, and eventually, we saw people's lives in 60 seconds.
Baseball fans were no different. Sharing funny stories about their teams and making skits, all while awaiting the decision on when baseball would start again. In a shortened season, there was not much content to be made, but that didn't slow down any creators. Baseball fans found new and inventive ways to share their passion for the game without being let into the stadiums.
In 2021, baseball let fans back into the stadiums, and along with the fans went their phones, and more content was being made daily by thousands of fans.
TikTok was a way to show people the other side of baseball that some fans have forgotten about, and that's what keeps the game going—reaching out to the masses and creating a new generation of fans and people interested in the game. Those who can't go to games have a fun way to interact with their teams and see highlights and inside information.
In late summer 2021, they created the "Content Creator Class." MLB paid these creators to make content specific to baseball. MLB's Marketing Department was looking to add innovative content creators to the ballparks around the league. Candidates needed a strong understanding of baseball and how to best show off the experience at a game from behind a lens for display on league and club social media channels.
One of those fans was Caitlin Hendricks, a Chicago native, and raging Cubs fan. Her hilarious content and trolling of other teams made her a great creator to be followed on TikTok. She is one of the original content creators for MLB.
The only girl with four brothers, Caitlin's family lived and breathed Cubs baseball. Initially, when the pandemic started, she was making "relatable content" before making baseball content. Some of her funniest stuff was dating advice and what it was like living in a Covid dating world.
"I was making content about dating and relatable stuff to what we were going through in the pandemic." Caitlin stated, "I wanted to change my niche.' I have always loved baseball and started by just making funny little videos, and it blew up."
Her personality radiates through her 30-second stints. Pretty soon, she was making content about MLB dating advice for dating people from other fan bases and where MLB teams would take you on your first date based on their brand personality. One of the best things about Caitlin as a content creator is her quirkiness and relatability. She isn't afraid to be herself and invites followers into her frustration, humor, and sadness as a baseball fan.
Caitlin has always dreamed of working in sports and often jokes with her brothers about being the one who works in sports. She has goals, and being a content creator for MLB has opened those for her. But what it's done for her more than anything is sharing her passion for baseball and the Cubs. She is still humbled when people get excited to get a response from her, she doesn't feel famous, but she loves that people relate her to baseball and that she engages with them.
I asked Caitlin how one becomes a content creator for MLB. "The process was straightforward," says Caitlin, "I submitted a video, they messaged me, and then I had a legit interview."
From there, her entire world got bigger. She was invited to Wrigley to hang out with other content creators to make videos, where she met some players, ate some excellent food, and hung out with Clark. She also has made tons of brand deals and has met Zach Brown from the Zach Brown band.
Her newest venture, a personal favorite of mine, is her baseball filters. Caitlin continues to grow in her content. She is terrific at making filters and has created filters for mascots, Which MLB Team are you?, and a fan favorite Backyard baseball character from the computer game created in 1997. She has made a filter for every team, and people will scroll through the teams by tapping on their screen during recording and try and guess the teams. The best ones are the ones who are not baseball fans guessing the teams, and in social media terms, they "blow up," and MLB teams around the league will comment on their videos.
Many people who aren't baseball fans are engaging with baseball more frequently and becoming more interested in the games, the outcomes, the drama, the comedy, and the beauty of what baseball is. MLB has been trying for years to engage fans but hasn't been successful at retaining them. Many of the older fans have gotten frustrated with the rules, time, and base size changes, but to continue baseball and grow the fan base, MLB needed to get creative.
Since 2020, the MLB TikTok account following (5.3 million) is now comparable to NBA and NFL, all major-league teams are using it, and even minor league and independent teams are using the video platform to engage with their fans. Now when fans go to games, they feel connected to the game, the players, and the culture because of creators like Caitlin. Caitlin went to the Field of Dreams game in Iowa with fellow creator Trevor Fahnstrom to watch the Cubs play the Reds, all because of TikTok.
TikTok is for everyone, for all fans, and even those who aren't MLB content creators have a vast presence in team loyalty and are showing that hard work, networking, and manifestation can make dreams come true.
Stay tuned to hear about Jule's journey with social media and how it helped her accomplish her biggest dream with the Cincinnati Reds.
Go follow Caitlin:
TikTok and Instagram: Caitlin_Hendricks