1. Briefly describe yourself, and what you do, to those who may not know.
I possess the least marketable skill in America of imitating most every baseball hitter in the past 30 years.
2. When did the idea/desire to imitate MLB players batting stances come about?
As young as I can remember. I went for Halloween in 1980 as Pete Rose. I was 7. I grew up going to Oakland A’s games when they featured lineups of Rickey Henderson, Carney Lansford, Dave Kingman, Joe Morgan, Mickey Tettleton and Tony Phillips. All zany stances in my book.
3. Why take the time to memorize and imitate players batting stances at all?
Good question, Matt. I didn’t set out to memorize them. For some reason my brain captures the stuff I love. And I love baseball. Only way to explain it is there are a lot of song lyrics we all know that we never decided to memorize.
4. How many total batting stances can you imitate?
I’ve been asked this before, especially when Sony Playstation had me do the motion-capture for MLB The Show. I’ve never counted. I don’t have a list, but probably most starters since 1979. Could be 500? Could be 1,000? Honestly don’t know. A dozen times a MLB team has invited me into the middle of the team stretching circle. The players will call out names and have me clown each player. I’ve received requests of players I’ve never considered imitating….so the list is probably long if I actually had one.
5. Which players batting stance is your favorite to imitate?
My favorite is whichever one makes people laugh. MLB players laugh hardest for Kevin Youkilis and Hunter Pence. Fans love Derek Jeter and Rickey Henderson. I love three that most people don’t request: Ben Oglivie, Moises Alou and Gary Matthews Sr, “The Sarge.”
David Letterman. My brain could understand meeting a few players and coaches but when The Late Show wanted me on as a guest..that was out of the blue.
7. Talk a little about your book ‘Batting Stance Guy: A Love Letter To Baseball’.
It is a love letter to baseball framed around the greatest 50 stances of my lifetime. It’s more a journey through my life of loving baseball and getting rejected by girls than it is about how much Gary Sheffield wiggles his bat. There is first hand account from every stadium and funny art work. I’m really proud of it. Even received letters about it from Ken Burns, George Will and three supreme court justices.
8. How did you narrow the vast number of batting stances down to 50 for the book?
Scribner (an imprint of Simon & Schuster) had an idea of a fun paperback book about that size so 50 seemed like a good round number. But it did mean Matt Diaz and Carl Crawford just missed the cut.
9. How long can you see yourself imitating batting stances of MLB players?
To be honest, I had no reason to think it would last more than that first year these video entered the world (2008). Teams kept having me out, and players like it and are familiar with the videos. Now MLB Network is having me do SNL Digital Short-ish spoof segments for Intentional Talk. However, mostly imitating announcers and players talking, not their swings. The whole thing has been the most fun I’ve ever enjoyed around baseball. In fact, the last locker room I was in, the players called “Let us hear Tim Kurkjian discussing Darwin Barney.” That was a first.
What a country.
Big thanks to Gar Ryness, the ‘Batting Stance Guy’, for answering my questions.
Be sure to visit his website: battingstanceguy.com
Also, follow him on twitter: @BattingStanceG