Field Investigation-Jarrad DeLarso

Media for the Richmond Spiders

The media for The University of Richmond Spiders baseball games is unlike anything I have ever experienced on the baseball diamond. This is due to the fact that this year, our new Sports Information Director(SID) is out of this world. Dan Wacker does an amazing job working everything about our games. It is very evident how powerful his work is by the daily comments that my teammates and I get about the fan experience at our games.

One of the first things that I was informed about upon joining the Richmond Spiders was about how bad our media people were. Coming off of a record low 17-win season, the 2018 season was a mystery for us. Despite the criticisms going on, the Spides turned it around and doubled our previous win total that year. Although we were finally winning games, we were still lacking support from the media and in attendance at our games. This all took a drastic turn leading up to the 2019 baseball season.

Dan Wacker was hired as our new SID and changed things in the best way possible. On his very first day of work, we were filmed for the GIFs that would be posted on Twitter for various things such as: appearances, strikeouts, wins, home runs..etc. Although this aspect didn’t affect our attendance much, the fans at home would be able to see a funny video of their son, brother or former teammate making an impact for the Spiders. Some of this media is even funny enough to be reposted by very popular Twitter accounts. One of my teammates had his GIF retweeted by an account that has almost fifty thousand followers.

In addition to the gifs posted on Twitter, Dan does an amazing job providing and posting updates from the game. If someone at home is too busy to tune into the stream of the game (which is always posted on our page) Dan provides play-by-play updates from the press box. Recently a local Richmond fan account tweeted about the fact that the spiders have gained a larger Twitter following than Richmond Basketball and VCU Baseball. This is a feat that never would have been accomplished without the hard work from our amazing SID.

In addition to the amazing work that Dan does in the social media realm, he may even do a better job for the viewing pleasure of the fans in attendance. As a ballplayer, there is always that one song that gets you going and ready to perform on the diamond. These walk-up songs are selected by each player and are supposedto be played before each at bat or pitching appearance. Last year, there were many occasions in which the wrong song would be play and sometimes no song at all. Wacker certainly would not allow such a thing.

Not only is Dan right on que for every single walkout song, but he even provides enjoyable sing-a-long songs for the fans in between innings. He even gets a laugh out of us players sometimes when he plays songs such as “Hit the Road Jack”, “thank you, next” and “Say” when the other team is engaging in a mound visit or making a pitching change. Especially in a close game, this can help get the other team rattled and Dan’s impact is directly seen on the diamond. This type of player-fan engaging music is what has helped our attendance so much this year. It is unbelievable how many comments I have gotten from my friends in the stands about how much they enjoyed and laughed at the work of Dan.

This is where the biggest impact can be seen for us players. Last year, playing in front of a small crowd, and sometimes lack thereof, is tough. At every home series, the stands are filled to the brim with fans eager to cheer on the rejuvenated Spiders baseball team. It is truly amazing how much the work of a man, whose face you rarely see, can impact a team. Dan Wacker is exactly what the Spiders Baseball team needed as we aim to go to a regional this year. The growing media attention has really put us on the map and is going to help us in this season in which we aim to make history.