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Mike O’Hara Interview: Memories of the MLB Fan Cave Experience

Sunday March 4th, 2012

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen: Ah to live the American Dream. Imagine the feeling of being able to sit in a room, filled with televisions. All of them are playing baseball. Not only that, but real life baseball players come to your pad to visit you and hang out. Welcome to the world of Mike O’Hara. Overnight, Mike went from Yankees fan to living in the MLB Fan Cave in New York. Along with his wingman Ryan Wagner (an Orioles fan), Mike was the inaugural winner of the MLB Fan Cave contest. Despite thousand of applicants, Mike was the lucky one to have his submission chosen. From Irish Punk Rocker to MLB employee. The job? Watch baseball. Tweet baseball. Blog baseball. Interview celebrities. Mike got to do it all. Truly an experience of a lifetime. Something that all baseball fans dream of…but few will ever experience.

With the 2012 MLB Fan Cave winners about to be selected, we took some time to speak to Mike today on his MLB Fan Cave memories. From getting the call to join the Cave, hanging out with Ryan, his favorite celebrities and future plans. We got to cover the whole gauntlet of experiences in this one. The feeling is a bittersweet one, at least from a fan’s perspective. While we are looking forward to all the changes to the Cave and the new hosts, we will have a void left now that Mike O’Hara has departed. He was with us throughout the 2011 season. A baseball fixture and icon. Now the characters in the Cave are changing, but the baseball love for Mike O’Hara remains as strong as ever. Mike was a great choice for the Cave. Well done MLB! He brought energy and life to the Cave. We have to remember, Mike and Ryan were working in the dark so to speak. They had to learn on the fly, as the whole MLB Fan Cave experience was new and developed around them. Mike helped blaze the trail for all future Cavemen and Cavewomen. The MLB Fan Cave is here to stay. But when we look back to remember its roots, the story will always begin with the name Mike O’Hara.

Today on MLB reports, we proudly present our good friend and newly anointed MLB Fan Cave Alumnus, Season One winner- Mike O’Hara:

How did you find out that you were first selected for the MLB Fan Cave? First reaction?

I was on tour, the band was playing Chicago…I got the call on St. Patrick’s Day morning. I was really excited to have booked the job, a bit confused as to what I would be doing exactly…but happy as heck to be working for Major League Baseball and moving back to New York City.


Did you know when you first came on board that you would have a sidekick?  Did you have any input in Ryan’s selection?

I didn’t know I’d have a partner in the Cave…again, I wasn’t sure what the Cave was going to be. They kept saying it will be whatever you want to make it. When I got the call saying I was the “Caveman” they asked what I thought of Ryan becoming my “Wingman”. I had only met Wagner a few days before, he seemed like a good guy so I was all for it…heck, he spent that whole day auditioning right along with me, so I was glad I’d have someone to take the ride with. Ryan is a great guy and I’m glad to have worked with him.


Initial impression of Ryan Wagner?  Friends throughout the process and did you live and work together?

I thought he was a good dude. He knew his sports and liked good music. I was curious as hell to hear about his days on tour with The Wizard of Oz…It seemed like a strangest trip anyone could take and he has a truck load of funny stories…including how they make the Witch melt…That one I can’t share with you. Apparently if you spill the beans flying monkeys show up at your door and throw you a beating “Goodfellas Style”.

Working together was pretty easy. We lived in the same building and were sharing an experience that nobody had ever gone through before. The great thing about working with another performer is that you know how to find your space and get a moment to yourself. Wags and I shot pool, played Bag O and even some late night wiffle ball…which we probably shouldn’t have…I blame Jon Rauch…long story. Bottom line is Ryan is a guy I will always know. We had a great time and became friends.


Ryan becoming the new PA for the Orioles…pretty exciting stuff eh?

I was so excited to hear that news. He loves the Orioles the way I love my Yankees, but Ryan also has a deep love for his hometown and bleeds B’more. I think it is a case of good things happening for good people. And I wish him a Bob Shepard-esq career as the voice of Camden Yards. He’ll do great.


Favorite part of the cave when you were there?

I’d have to say working with our writers and producers. It was a really creative space. On top of watching baseball, which was awesome, I was constantly writing and collaborating with two unbelievable friends and writers, Gideon “G Money” Evans and Dave “The Coach” Benson. From our EP Bobby “Brooklyn” Maurer, Endemol Producers, Editors and all the great PA’s and interns we had at Fan Cave I’ve made friends for life.  And on top of that we had the wonderful folks at MLB. Jacqueline Parkes and her amazing team (Ann, DK, Felicia, Stephanie, Dana, Jason, Lance, Matt, Lauren, Jeff, Kim, Colin…) keep us feeling at home throughout the season. It was truly a family in many ways. Can’t beat that!


Favorite celebs that you met as part of the cave- baseball and non-baseball

Meeting Goose Gossage and Reggie Jackson was something I’ll never forget. Growing up a die-hard Yankee fan they were mythic heroes to me…Goose even named my dog Thurman. It was surreal. But whether it was sitting with DMC, cracking wise with Judah Frielander and Jim Breuer, or having Less Than Jake as our musical guest there were too many unbelievable guest and moments to mention. And the friendships I made with the players, Joba Chamberlain, Jeremy Guthrie, Jon Rauch, Jose Bautista…yeah, it was an amazing day every time I went to work.


Anything you would have differently looking back at the experience?

I am pretty focused and driven…I say if I could do anything over again, I would have tried to relax a bit more…I just wanted it to be such a hit that I would get tunnel vision and forget to stop and enjoy it all.


What was the feeling like leaving the cave? Anxiety or relief? Do you miss it?

I felt like it was time to go…turn over the keys to the next Caveman or woman and move on to whatever comes next. I miss it there, but more because I don’t get to see those great people everyday. A wise man said, “You never want to stay at the party too long.” I loved every minute of Fan Cave Season 1 and will never forget it.


What have you up been up to since MLB Fan Cave season one completed?

I have been auditioning for shows and touring a bit with The Mighty Regis. I hope that some of the stuff I did at Fan Cave will help open some doors, but either way I’ll keep looking for my pitch and swing away…sorry for the baseball metaphor…I watch a lot of baseball.


What is the future of Mike O’Hara?

I hope for some great things…I’d love to have a show that brings the worlds of Sports, Pop culture and Music together…that’s my goal. I guess we’ll see.


How are active are you in season 2- do you have input in selections at any stage?

I am a spectator. I’ll watch and cheer them on. I have no say in who, what or why, but I wish them all the best and to have as much fun as Wags and I did.


How many of the candidates have you met?  Who are your faves?

I have gone back and forth on Twitter with a few of them and they all seem like fun-loving, qualified folks. To pick a favorite would be poor form…but it seems that the ladies brought their “A game”. So I would bet there is a solid female force in Fan Cave 2012.


What improvements would you/ did you suggest for the MLB Fan Cave?

I really didn’t offer any…that’s not my call and the MLB people have a clear vision of what the Cave will be year to year. I would only say…maybe put in a batting cage…it would cut down on late night wiffleball games…again Rauch did it.


When the MLB Fan Cave was first conceived, it appeared to be a dream come true for the hardcore baseball fans. Did the dream become a reality?

That’s a great question…I’m still chasing my dream but Fan Cave 2011 was as close to catching it as I’ve been. It’s like winning a World Series Championship I guess…once you get that feeling you want it every year. I can’t thank MLB enough for the opportunity to have been the Season 1 host.


How is your life different now, having been part of the MLB Fan Cave?

It’s great to say I worked for MLB….not too many people can say that. As of now only one other, Wags, can say they were the first to work at The Cave.


Final question:  Final tips for all future MLB Fan Cave Dwellers?

Be who you are and make the Cave yours…the season is long, 2430 games…and the next thing you know…it’s over. Enjoy the ride!


***Thank you to Mike O’Hara for taking the time today to speak with us on MLB reports.  You can follow Mike on Twitter (@mikeyoh21). On behalf of MLB fans everywhere, congrats on the stellar job you did as the first ever host of the MLB Fan Cave. We look forward to catching your next projects and will miss you greatly on the Cave. Best of luck Mikey Oh!***

 

Jonathan Hacohen is the Founder & Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports:  You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)

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