Fan Stories: 10 Questions for Baseball Uber-Fan Mike Dies (President, West Akron Baseball & Softball League)

For the next few weeks, FoulBallz.com will include a series of short interviews with ballhawks and uber-fans of baseball. These fans all agreed to answer 10 simple questions, no pressure, and very little editing. It’s been a wonderful experience for me to get to know these individuals in some capacity through Twitter. I hope you enjoy reading the answers as much as I have.

First up is Mike Dies, President, West Akron Baseball & Softball League (www.wabl.org and www.facebook.com/westakronbaseball).

1) When did you snag your first ball? 

After going to many games at an empty Cleveland Municipal Stadium as a kid, and lots of games at Jacobs Field when the Old Stadium closed, my first foul ball came in 1997 at Canal Park in Akron. I was walking in the concourse and caught it on one bounce.

 

2) What do you think about the extended netting issue?

I am all for it. I would like to see the netting extended to the end of each dugout. I would like MLB to be proactive in protecting the fans before someone is killed by a foul ball at a game. I understand that paying attention is 99.9% of it for Save big on MLB merchandise in collectibles in the MLBShop.com outletthe fans but it is not realistic to think that fans will sit and watch baseball for 3+ hours and not let their eyes wander from the action … especially with all of the distractions that the MLB clubs have created in the stadium. Attending baseball games today is nothing like attending games 10-15 years ago.

 

3) Did you play ball growing up?

I played baseball from the time that I was six all the way through high school.

 

4) What’s your greatest memory of the game?

When I was a kid, there was nothing that I looked more forward to than playing with my friends. Now that I am coaching my kids, I think that having my dad coach my teams as a kid is #1. Also, something that I never appreciated until now … my mother was in the stands every single game, whether I was on the bench or playing, she was there – rain, sleet, snow or sun.

 

5) What’s the w0rst?

Senior year in HS and not starting on senior day… there were only 5 seniors on the team. I only went in to pinch run, that’s it. To this day I have no idea what the coach had against me but I can point to that day and can say that is when I developed the love for baseball for reasons other than the game on the field. Two of my best friends today are friends of mine that sat right alongside of me that season – although one of them would leave me on the bench every 4 days when he had to go pitch!

 

6) Is there a favorite spot in your park to sit?

I like to sit behind home plate at the top of the lower level section (Canal Park is only one level)

 

7) Tips for others who might want to try snagging more balls?

Find a section that is in a “foul ball zone” and be patient. Don’t jump around the stadium. Foul balls are hard to get.

 

8) What advice do you have to other fans? In general, or specifically.

Pay attention. Baseballs come so fast in to the stands, pay attention. If you’re not going to pay attention, sit behind the nets.

 

9) Do you prefer MiLB or MLB and why?

MLB TicketsI used to be a huge MLB fan until it became so commercialized and expensive and less fun for the kids. We go to the MiLB games here in Akron and the kids like it more – the in between inning stuff on the field, being closer to the field, accessibility to the players, etc. For a parent, it is a lot easier on the wallet too! MiLB teams seem to care more about the fans than the MLB teams.

 

10) If you could create one rule for pro baseball, what would it be and why?

I have 2, the post-game hand shake & World Series/All Star games earlier start times. I want the post-game (or post-series) hand shake between the teams to promote sportsmanship to the kids that might be watching. I think it would be awesome for the kids to see the big league guys doing that. I think because pro sports have become so money driven, kids are missing out on how great of a game it is. Kids can’t watch the World Series & All Star game because it comes on so late. Is there a better way to generate interest from kids in the game than having them able to watch the biggest games of the season. MLB is missing out.

 

BONUS QUESTION: Anything you’d like to add that’s not covered by the 10 questions?

I wish all MLB players played the game like Francisco Lindor and Adrian Beltre. They love to play. They’re a couple of kids on the field who love to play. I know that not every day is perfect for them, but they have so much fun playing the game and it is really fun to watch. I love to show my daughters and nephews highlights of them just to show them how the game should be played.

 

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