When you find out you’ll be going to a baseball game to watch your hometown team, to interview one of the best players, and then cover the game from the press box, you jump for joy. The bar for expectations is set really high, though. There’s no way it could be that good, you might say to yourself. Well, you are wrong!
This season I went to see the Washington Nationals play the Detroit Tigers, and I got to interview third baseman Anthony Rendon. I was nervous enough for my interview, but I had some trouble getting into the ballpark. They couldn’t seem to believe I was a member of the media.
Arriving half an hour late for an interview with a famous player makes one even more nervous. To add to that, I was told that Rendon had been waiting. So walking into an interview half an hour late with a famous player who’d been waiting is probably the scariest thing ever.
As I waited for Rendon, I jumped up and down and threw punches at an imaginary punching bag. Yeah, I was pretty nervous. Then he walked in. I couldn’t get any words out. I was too amazed to speak. Anthony could tell. Then he put one arm around my shoulder and said, “It’s O.K. man. Just breathe.”
I exhaled, and then the interview went well. I asked follow-up questions, and it seemed like a real conversation. It was really fun. Interviewing an MLB player is nerve-wracking; I’m not denying that. But that day, I learned something big that was very comforting: Most MLB players aren’t scary. Rendon was really nice.
Of course I didn’t do this alone. Carly Rolfe arranged my interview with Rendon and helped me find my place in the press box. Kyle Brostowitz for helped me find Rendon and made me feel comfortable in the press box. The biggest thing I learned from my interview is that it’s O.K. to be nervous for an interview, but don’t show it. Your subject may have good stories to tell you, but you have to contribute also.
After the interview, I went up to the Shirley Povich Media Center. After a tasty dinner, we found our seats. The views from the press box are amazing. You can see everything! As we sat down, we saw Dan Kolko, a Nats sideline reporter. I introduced myself, and then we talked about the Nats.
I also saw one of the Nationals radio announcers, Charlie Slowes. As I walked through the dining room again, I saw the Nats TV announcers Bob Carpenter and FP Santangelo. Everyone was so nice! I think everyone was happy to see an up and coming journalist in the booth. Besides writing stories, the biggest responsibility of a reporter in the press box is: no cheering in the press box! Even when someone hit a homerun, I couldn't yell, “Go Nationals!”
When I arrived at the ballpark, I had no idea I would witness history that night. Max Scherzer struck out 20 batters, tying an MLB record. But even if the game had been boring, it would still have been one of the best nights of my life, and one that I never would have forgotten.
Photographs courtesy of Aidan Kohn-Murphy