We’re all used to engaging with the social media of our favorite Major League Baseball team. In some ways, especially for those of us who are more fond of using Twitter, the social media account of “insert your team here” has become the face and voice of that team. It used to be that such a distinction was reserved for the radio or television announcer. These days we don’t just spend a few hours with our team for five or six days a week. Thanks to the online world we live in we spend every waking moment with our team and thus the social media account has become the face of the team to many people.
The people handling the accounts of affiliated clubs are, generally, doing great work. They’re doing work that is pretty simple though. It’s not all that hard to get people to engage with the account that represents a team they have grown up loving. Being the person in charge of the social media account of a relatively new independent baseball club is another story altogether. The content is often presented in the same manner, but there’s an added element of needing to try to bring fans to you instead of counting on them simply showing up like they always have. The social media coordinator of an indie ball club is equal parts comedian, storyteller, conveyor of news, and gateway to a different breed of baseball.
Denning Gerig has been the man behind the social media of the American Association’s Cleburne Railroaders since 2018. One year into the team’s existence he became the person responsible for growing an online following for a brand spanking new team in a league that nowhere near enough people know about. It’s a daunting task, but one that Denning felt prepared to handle. He had previous experience as the social media coordinator of the now-defunct Wichita Wingnuts. Sure, Cleburne was new, but the approach would be much the same.
That approach is one that is built on simplicity and honesty. Scrolling through the Cleburne feed it’s easy to see why Denning’s approach works. When there is information to get across he does just that, but he knows when to toss in the humor and lightheartedness that is the signature of the social media coordinator. The key is dealing with the lack of time on your side. This isn’t always the case, but every team’s social media is busiest when said team is in action. That’s when the social media coordinator has to juggle getting information out and doing so in a way that will engage with fans. For Denning that has equated to hitting the relevant info quick and hard while couching it in the sort of meme-based fast bite humor that has come to define social media.
There’s a kicker to Denning’s role with Cleburne. He’s not just the social media coordinator he’s also the play-by-play announcer for every Cleburne game. That means that during games he’s not only dealing with the usual time crunch of getting out Tweets, Facebook posts, and Instagram photos, he’s calling the game as well. It’s hard for me to imagine being able to budget your time with so many things going on at once. Denning assures me that while it is difficult it’s something that he’s gotten used to and relishes. Again, scrolling through his gameday tweets there’s no dip in quality as compared to pre or post-game tweets. I watched a handful of Cleburne games in 2019 and each time the Cleburne booth was up to the task.
Denning is enjoying his time with Cleburne, but that doesn’t mean he’s without goals. Broadcasting for his alma mater Wichita State remains in the corner of Denning’s view. That type of high profile college job is hard to come by and that’s why as much as Denning would love the gig he’s mainly focusing on the here and now with Cleburne. He’s part of a young team that has a fun online presence, mostly thanks to him, and has slid naturally into the role of a steward of independent baseball.
That Denning measures his success based on how he’s able to get people to relate to independent baseball is a testament to both the person and his ability as a broadcaster and social media coordinator. The next time you see that funny tweet from your team or someone retweets something good from an indie team’s account just remember that it’s only possible because of someone like Denning. The baseball world, affiliated or otherwise, keeps on moving because of the work of so many people behind the scenes, and we never thank them enough for adding to our enjoyment of the game we love. Thanks, Denning.
Editor’s Note: An earlier edition of this story incorrectly stated that Denning only announced for Cleburne home games. It has been corrected to state that he announces all Cleburne games, home or away.
Lead photo courtesy of Denning Gerig – Twitter