Renzhofer: Baseball fans embrace social media
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Sports and social media is a perfect marriage.

There's nothing like a shared experience, especially among sports fans watching on television or in arenas and stadiums.

This is especially true with baseball, a sport which offers spectators plenty of time to use digital media, as long as they have a free hand.

It might be difficult to engage in Facebook at Pittsburgh's PNC Park after ordering the "Brunch Burger." This mountainous morsel features a hamburger patty topped with maple bacon, a fried egg and cheddar cheese served on a toasted glazed donut. After eating that, the next Tweet might be for an ambulance.

Major League Baseball has embraced social media and the interaction with its fans.

In January, MLB.com's director of new media, Andrew Patterson, told Viralblog.com, "Baseball is really a social conversation for us. There's a game going on, but there's a conversation happening too."

There's always time for conversation at baseball games. As author and blogger Joe Posnanski once wrote: "I never argue with people who say that baseball is boring, because baseball is boring. And then, suddenly, it isn't. And that's what makes it great."

So, there is time to text, Tweet and use Facebook and still enjoy a home run. At last look, MLB had 2.8 million followers on Twitter. The New York Yankees have nearly 900,000 followers as well as 6.3 million likes on Facebook.

According to MLB.com's "Fans At Bat Panel," 60 percent of respondents use their digital media when watching baseball. Forty-three percent of those continue to use some sort of multimedia device at the ballpark, mostly for Facebook and Twitter. Not surprisingly, the survey also revealed that whether at home or the stadium, a whopping 77 percent of fans at games felt the need to remain connected to those close to them, friends or family.

And let's not forget fantasy leagues. When at home, more than half of those surveyed kept track of their teams. They also searched for more commentary on the game they were watching.

In his book Ball Four, author Jim Bouton wrote about certain self-aware players who could update their batting averages on the way to first base.

Now, baseball fans can have it ready for them, as well as their slugging average, on-base percent and a picture, to boot.

martyr@sltrib.com