Batting Stance Guy Travels The Country Emulating Stars
By Mike Brandyberry
Normally, when we conduct an interview we like to work the quotes into the story, but our conversation with, “Batting Stance Guy,” was so good, we felt the need to run the entire conversation. Gar Ryness became the Batting Stance Guy in 2008 when a youtube video went viral. He now is a published author, promoting his book, “A Love Letter To Baseball.” We were able to talk to Gar about batting stances, his books, players he has worked with and the Cleveland Indians.
DTTWLN #1: I understand you are born and raised in Los Angeles, but you don’t have a favorite team. How can someone be as big of a baseball fan as you and not have a favorite team? Have you never had a favorite team? What about favorite player?
BSG: First love was the early 1980s Expos. We were family friends with shortstop Chris Speier. His son Justin is a buddy and pitched with the Tribe. Then for some bizarre reason I became a Kent Hrbek, Twins fan. I rooted for them throughout his career. When he finished I found myself more drawn to good stories than a single team.
DTTWLN #2: So, in 2008 you and some buddies went to your back yard and started video taping batting stances? As I understand your friends put the video on youtube. How long was it before you gained notoriety and went viral?
BSG: Two days. I wouldn’t have posted it. Buddy asked me to imitate Red Sox during a neighborhood wiffle ball game. He wanted to show friends in Boston. He filmed it and posted it. That weekend Bill Simmons posted it and a week later it ran on front page of YouTube.
DTTWLN #3: What did you do for a living before you became, “Batting Stance Guy?” Do you still do this now?
BSG: I have worked in non-profit my entire life. In fact, my sister was a talent agent, my other sister was a storyboard artist for TV/film, my brother won a Tony on Broadway. I’m the only sibling sans talent.
DTTWLN #4: Is it true that you can do the batting stance of all 30 team’s starting lineups? How much time does it take you to search out and learn a new stance? You have to have thousands at this point to remember.
BSG: Most players that started for at least a year since 1980 have somehow become locked in a compartment in my brain that should have been working on school. If I watch a player a few times, it tends to stick. I don’t have any notes written down. No idea how many.
DTTWLN #5: When you were approached to write a book, what were your initial thoughts? Seems like a book about batting stances, at first glance, might not be a hit.
BSG: Agreed. The buddy that videoed the initial video thought it would work. We wrote it together. He knew I’d watched a game in every stadium before any of this BSG stuff happened. It was a blast to write. Needless to say, my teachers and parents are most stunned I’m a published author.
DTTWLN #6: I see you have had appearances with the Texas Rangers, Colorado Rockies and Minnesota Twins. What other teams/appearances has this brought your way?
BSG: Teams that have put me in the middle of their stretching circles: RedSox, Giants, A’s, Rockies, Rangers, Angels, Padres, Dodgers, Braves, Pirates, Nationals, Rays, Cubs, Brewers, Twins, Royals and Cardinals. I am emceeing events now too. I did one for Ryan Zimmerman and Harmon Killebrew charities and MLB Players Trust, including Kenny Lofton, Eddie Murray, Bobby Bonilla, Fred Lynn and more. Ridiculously fun. The players are more responsive than I could have ever imagined.
DTTWLN #7: How do players normally react when you imitate their stance for them? What are some of the most memorable reactions?
BSG: They have huge reactions. Honestly, it’s the best audience you could wish for. My friends certainly don’t get the nuance they pick up on. They seriously notice every little joke. Eddie Murray pulled me aside telling me about a Jerry Hairston Jr. imitation I did. Players like Ryan Howard, Ian Kinsler and Pablo Sandoval introducing themselves and asking for themselves will always be surreal.
DTTWLN #8: Jim Thome has one of the more recognizable stances in MLB. How was he to work with and how much insight or advice did he give you regarding his batting stance?
BSG: He was surprised to be one of the chapters in my book. The book is a love letter to baseball framed around the 50 greatest stances of my lifetime. Thome doesn’t think his facial expression while holding samurai pose is befuddled and appears he’s clearing cobwebs in his mind. He just thinks he’s finding a comfort zone. By the way, players have sworn to me he’s the nicest man in MLB. Carlos Quentin once practically grabbed my arm and added, “No, dude, for real. He’s the nicest person in the league.”
DTTWLN #9: I think my favorite Cleveland Indians stance you do is Kenny Lofton because of the explosion out of the box, throwing your hands in the air. What are you favorite Indians’ stances? Why?
BSG: Good news for you, Kenny loves him some Lofton. I’ve met him twice and each time from the stage his peers request him and he jumps up laughing. Especially the dancing saunter from on-deck circle to batter’s box. I love the stances for Julio Franco, Oscar Gamble, Thome, Sean Casey, Marquis Grissom, Coco Crisp, Mel Hall, Ron Hassey and Jason Kipnis.
DTTWLN #10: Have you ever been to Progressive Field? How many ballparks have you visited through your love for baseball and your BSG fame?
BSG: In 2004, with a trip to Minute Maid Park in Houston, I completed a lifelong dream of seeing a game in every home team’s stadium. Then in 2008 I caught up to having seen a home game in every current stadium. And Progressive Field was the final one. The JumboTron asked me and my daughter to do the speed pitch between innings. She thought they knew it was my final stadium or that I was Batting Stance Guy. Nope, neither, purely random. I drove cross country to college in 1993 and fell asleep on those horrible bleachers in old, cavernous Municipal Stadium during batting practice. We had no shot of getting reached 7,000 feet from home plate. Progressive Field is nice.
If any of you have ever dreamed about seeing a game in every park…DO IT. Take weekend trips, schedule special trips, tack it on to weddings/reunions/conferences. Take your kids, take your dad, take a date. One of my daughters has already been to 17. And she’s in elementary school. I hit 17 mid-college.