The next time your better half complains about all the baseball you've been watching this summer, you might just want point to this guy. He's Aaron Roberts, a 29-year-old high school substitute teacher from Huntington Beach, whose eyes haven't left the TV screen (or bank of TVs, actually) for a single second of baseball going all the way back to Opening Day, on March 31, 2013.
And that's not just Dodger baseball — if such a phrase can even be contemplated — we're talking all of Major League Baseball. He's watched every inning of every game that's been played this year. That's Dodgers versus Giants, Yankees and Red Sox, Angels and Astros, and yes, even the Mets and Marlins. Twelve of the latter, as a matter of fact.
Roberts is the Dodgers' representative in the MLB Fan Cave, a state-of-the-art interactive space housed on Fourth Street and Broadway in New York City's Greenwich Village. From an original group of over 20,000 applicants, narrowed to 50, then to 30 during Spring Training in Arizona, nine finalists were chosen to start the season as “Cave Dwellers.” Seven remain, with a winner to be crowned during the World Series.
Roberts explains the purpose of the Fan Cave as “…a way for baseball to interact with fans and bring them closer to the game and to the players. The Cave Dwellers watch every baseball game while tweeting, blogging and creating various forms of content that relate to the game of baseball [and to] what's going on in the world of pop culture.
“A little info about the Cave itself. We watch the games from a gigantic wall of 15 TVs. Inside is everything from a Dirt Bar that has dirt from all 30 stadiums, to a home run slide that we each go down whenever our team hits a bomb. There's an awesome center called Mission Control that compiles stats for every team that we can access at the flip of a switch.
“The Cave is three levels, with a lounge and a game room that includes a ping pong table and a pinball machine. There's also a big Ball Wall with over 700 baseballs that are arranged to form the MLB logo. Whenever a player or celebrity comes in, they sign one of the baseballs. We don't live here. We all live in apartments up the street and come here every day to watch games from the first pitch to the last pitch.”
A typical day goes something like this:
“Today [June 20] the first game was at 1:05, but we had to be in at 11 because [former big leaguer and All-Star Futures Game World Team manager] Edgardo Alfonzo was coming through to see the Fan Cave and film an All-Star Game video. So I got a coffee and a bagel and headed to the Cave. Each week two of us film Player Poll with [MLB Network's] Greg Amsinger, which airs on Fox.
“This week it was Mina (the Rangers' Cave Dweller) and my turn, so after giving a tour to Alfonzo (who was a super great guy) we put our mikes on and taped the show. After that it was time for the Dodgers' game, which was on the majority of Cave Monster screens. The Dodgers unfortunately lost and of course it wasn't a great feeling. After the Dodger game and all the other afternoon games, we had a short break before the night games started. I like to move around a lot so I walked down the street to grab a cup of coffee.
“[At night] we had an NYU alumni event going on downstairs in the lounge, so I talked to a few very cool people about NYU and watched the Dodgers win 6-0 [in the second game of their doubleheader with the Yankees]. It was awesome because not only did Yasiel Puig connect for his fifth home run, Vin Scully took over the Dodgers' Twitter for the night and live-tweeted the Dodger game. There are no bad days in the Fan Cave, but they're always a little bit better when the Dodgers win.”
With the Dodgers in New York and a day off before their series with the Yanks, Puig paid Roberts a visit:
“Puig visiting was incredibly amazing. It was seriously one of the coolest experiences I've had this season. I mean, here's a guy who is the future of the Dodgers and doing historic things on the ball field and I got to play ping pong with him. I even got to do the Dodgers swimming handshake with him, which was awesome.
“We had an interpreter and he was really pumped to see I was wearing a Dodgers shirt, especially since it was his Dodger shirt; Puig on the back and # 66 on the front. He spent almost two hours hanging out with us in the Cave. He was such a nice guy and really funny too. We have instruments in the Fan Cave. There's an electric guitar, an acoustic guitar, a bass guitar and a drum set. I mainly play the guitar and bass but dabble in drums and the piano. Puig asked if anyone played the instruments and I jumped at the chance to jam with him. He didn't play at all but he grooved a bit while I played.”
Does Roberts ever get homesick, or just plain sick of watching some 100 ballgames a week, and what, if he makes it to the end, will amount to 2430 games in total?
“I really did think that I'd start to get homesick and miss my normal routine, but to be honest I haven't yet and I don't think I will. I'm enjoying this experience so much that I'm truly dreading it being over. Every single day there's some new thing to see, something else to do or some other amazing event that's happening. I'm literally living baseball in the coolest place in the world and having the time of my life doing it. Every day I get to wake up in New York City and walk to the MLB Fan Cave, where I watch baseball all day. It doesn't get any better than that.
“I'm a baseball fanatic (which is probably why I'm in the Fan Cave) so no, there hasn't been a day where I've gotten sick of baseball. With that being said, obviously there are people that I love and miss but I've been fortunate to have most of those people come out to visit me. My mom and two brothers recently were out here to see me and my girlfriend is trying to come to New York once a month.”
And what will Roberts do when it's all over?
“I'm not completely sure what's going to happen after I go home. I have a teaching job that I'll go back to but how does anything measure up to the summer I'm having right now? I guess the first thing I'll do is give my girlfriend a kiss then take my motorcycle for a long ride down Pacific Coast Highway. Hopefully I'll be able to figure out where to go from there. This is the most incredible thing I've ever been a part of and I just love every single day.”