The Major League Baseball All-Star Game has gone from its humble beginnings in 1933 to a multi-day event that includes the Home Run Derby, the All-Star Futures Game, and many other activities. Four members of the Out of the Park Developments team were at Progressive Field in Cleveland this year to showcase Out of the Park Baseball at the interactive festival known as Play Ball Park.
We talked to OOTP Co-Developer Matt Arnold, OOTP Chief Marketing Officer Rich Grisham, OOTP Community Manager T.J. Lauerman, and Perfect Team Community Manager Kris Jardine to learn more about their experiences a couple weeks ago.
Bonding over baseball
“We had kids, moms, dads, and grandparents all spend time with us and the game at the booth,” Grisham recalled. “It was fun to chat with them and discover what about OOTP ‘grabbed’ them — there were different reactions to different things. Some people were focused on watching a game unfold on the field and making play-by-play decisions, while others were interested in heading to the rosters and making all sorts of trades and free agent acquisitions. We definitely created some new OOTP fans while we were there!”
Lauerman echoed the multi-generational aspect of the interest: “My favorite moment happened when a mother and son from Akron were checking out the game. I was explaining how in-depth you can go with it. They mentioned that they go to a lot of RubberDucks games, so we called a few players up to the Indians, and the mother mentioned that Charles Nagy was her favorite player, so we imported him from 1996 to pitch for the team. Seeming them bond over baseball, even across generations of players, was fantastic.”
Not everyone in the OOTP crew had the Midas touch when it came to sales, though. Arnold told us: “I think I lost a sale when I told a guy to change pitchers and Andrew Miller came in and gave up a grand slam on the next pitch.”
OOTP is a ‘brain skills’ game
“There were lots of ‘Oh, wow’ moments when it became clear that OOTP is not a ‘stick skills’ game but more of a ‘brain skills’ game,” Grisham said. “Several people spent long amounts of time with the game, exploring options and checking out all that it has to offer.”
Lauerman added: “People were really impressed with the game, specifically with the depth, not only of the management options, but with how accurate the game is historically. People were always happy to see their favorite players of today, but seeing the guys from when they were young, and even seeing some old minor leaguer that never made the show, really surprised people.”
Jardine noted that not everyone who came to Play Ball Park was an OOTP neophyte, however: “For people who were fans of the franchise, they were pleased to see us have a presence and excited to ‘talk shop.’”
An awesome experience
“Walking into Play Ball Park put a huge smile on my face,” Lauerman recalls. “Just seeing a world of baseball consolidated was amazing, and I had a grin from ear to ear the second I walked in. The same thing happened when we walked into Progressive Field for the first time — it’s really a beautiful stadium. The Home Run Derby was really amazing too, and it’s something I can’t recommend enough to any baseball fan.”
He added: “But really, the best part was getting to see Matt, Rich, and Kris. Our company is really spread out around the world, and whenever we get a chance to get together, we have a great time, and those are the memories I’ll never forget.”
Grisham echoed the chance to spend team with his colleagues. He also said: “Seeing our name ‘up in lights,’ so to speak, at the MLB Digital Games booth at Play Ball Park was a big thrill — it felt like we’d made it.” And like many baseball fans, he was thrilled by “watching Pete Alonso win the Home Run Derby with some epic rounds, including going up against hometown favorite Carlos Santana and fellow rookie sensation Vladimir Guererro Jr.”
Arnold felt the same way: “My personal highlight was definitely seeing Vlad hit bomb after bomb in the Derby. He couldn’t pull out the win in the end, but it was a show for the ages, helped by a masterful performance by Joc Pederson, who kept pushing him. Joc had arguably the second best Derby performance in history, and he had a few balls that were ever so slightly foul that could have won it for him.”
And Jardine summed it all up by saying that his highlight was “the whole thing from start to end: the city, the people, the Play Ball Park, all the events at Progressive Field. The whole thing was an awesome experience.”