07/28/2023 6:52 PM
Article By: Brian Butler
Few people in the world of baseball media have seen a meteoric rise to fame the likes of which former Cotuit pitcher Stephen Schoch has had in recent years. Schoch, the subject of a viral interview following a College World Series game in 2021, took his newfound platform and ran with it, earning himself a job with D1Baseball, which he has used to draw more and more eyes to college baseball.
Schoch returned to the Cape this past week, taking in the All-Star Game and festivities, as well as returning to many of the fields that he spent two summers pitching on. The trip also provided Stephen with an opportunity to reflect on his experiences as a Cape Leaguer and his love for the game of baseball.
“It just gave me a bunch of confidence. When you’re out there, you [have to] have that confidence, and playing out here on the Cape and having success. I thought I was great at baseball, but being out here, I proved it. Now I’ve got the scientific evidence to back it up, so if I ever have to write a paper on if [I’m] good at baseball or not, I can just throw it in MLA format.”, said Schoch of the pride he felt about being successful as a Cape Leaguer.
During his week on the Cape, Stephen spent time in Cotuit, Hyannis, Chatham, and finally Harwich for the All-Star Game and Home Run Hitting Contest. He spent time chatting with the bullpen he himself once sat in at Lowell Park, took in the Harbor Hawks’ Christmas in July, and got to take in a game at Veterans’ Field, his favorite away ballpark during his time with the Kettleers.
Schoch clearly has an incredible amount of respect for the Cape League, its history, all the talented players who come through it, and the environment and experience that a Cape League game provides. As a Cape League champion and multi-summer Cape Leaguer, Schoch has a great perspective on the league and all of the incredible things that come with it. During his time in Chatham, he spent time reminiscing and admiring the unique beauty of the Cape League experience.
“It’s like a time machine to yesteryear in terms of baseball, and I mean that in the best possible way. [They’re] gonna take the best players, throw them on high school fields, and we’re going to see if they can really do it. One of the most astonishing things [about the Cape] is that before the game starts, no one’s here other than scouts, but as soon as that first pitch is thrown, people are just pouring in from the woods. It’s really incredible. There’s nothing like it. In my experience of playing six different years of college baseball or even just watching baseball, there’s nothing really like it.”
Schoch spent two summers, 2017 and 2018, with the Cotuit Kettleers, earning an All-Star nod in the second season. As an excellent collegiate pitcher, the opportunity to come to the Cape was never lost on Stephen, who spent as much time as he could enjoying his surroundings both on and off the field on Cape Cod, as well as the unique access to the fans of the league, especially the kids that come to the games.
“From working camps to just sitting in bullpens during games, you see the passion that all these kids have for the game, having all these kids around to remind you that this is a game. You’re here because, at the end of the day, you fell in love with this game, and you’re still fortunate enough to play it [at this level].”, said Schoch of how the league’s young fans inspired him to further his love for the game.
While he was incredibly successful as a player, Schoch’s rise to fame in the baseball world happened literally overnight, following a post-game press conference. The now-legendary interview featured the exhausted closer letting loose his inner feelings about what had happened during his outing, a fan attempting to bribe him to blow the game, his fear of caves and many other topics.
That interview was Schoch being the purest version of himself, a rarity at the time in baseball, especially at the college level. Fans of the sport at all levels flocked to his socials, increasing his following from 1,300 before the game to over 7,000 by the end of the night. As he checked his phone upon returning to the team hotel, Stephen realized the viral moment could be the beginning of a potential career in the baseball world.
“I was like, oh, something different is happening. It’s not just a normal interview, it’s one of those life-changing things. You know as a ballplayer your career is only gonna go so long on the field. Everybody has to hang ‘em up at some point, and it stinks, but it’s the price we pay for getting a great game to fall in love with. It’s really a dream come true just to be able to keep my toes in the water of the college baseball game. Fortunately, I’ve had enough support that I can go a little bit deeper than the toes and get to the shins. It’s a transition I never could’ve dreamed of happening.”
As it stands, Schoch has over 103,000 followers on Twitter, and he has been a large part of the increasing popularity and recognition for college baseball. This year’s College World Series saw a 48% increase in viewership, in no small part due to the constant updates provided by Schoch on his social feeds. His accounts provided both updates on game highlights and the personalities of the players, giving fans of the sport an inside look at the players that they haven’t had throughout the history of college baseball. Schoch’s obvious love for the game of baseball and easygoing attitude made him an easy candidate to draw eyes to the collegiate game. While that could have been a difficult task for other people, Schoch’s perspective on his new occupation was very different.
“My job is to go out and have fun. Why would I do anything other than just go out and have fun? When I get to go to baseball games, talk to players, and get to learn a little bit about their lives, and my work for the day is to share that? Life’s gonna happen regardless of whether you want it to or not. That’s just the way time works, so you might as well go out and have fun.”
In his first year with D1Baseball, Schoch took full advantage of his newfound opportunities. He’s been enjoying the opportunity to travel the country, attending games during the College World Series as well as returning to the Cape for the All-Star Game. While Schoch has loved all aspects of his new job so far, the interactions he’s had with coaches have been his favorite aspects.
“I think it’s the fact that I’m someone who comes and talks to them with no agenda, no goal in mind except to learn about them as a human being. I guess they know I have a ton of respect for what they do, because they allowed me to have my life essentially. Getting to know the coaches has been really fun for me. They’re much easier to get to know [now] because now they know where I’m coming from.”
Although Schoch has done an incredible job of attracting eyes to college baseball, he attempts to keep his perspective as level as possible. He has found a job promoting the game he loved at the collegiate level that was so good to him as a player. With a following as strong as his, Schoch grows the game as much as he can. His merchandise, which reads either “College Baseball is Rad” or “Grow the Game”, depending on your preference, has started to become visible in ballparks all over the country. The influence he has had over college baseball in such a short time is nothing short of incredible, but he remains humble about his role in the growing popularity of the sport despite the eyes he has drawn to it.
“I just sit on the couch and share what these guys are doing. To see other people want to watch it and want to consume it is really rewarding, because it’s something I believe in. I would die on the hill that college baseball is one of the coolest things in the world. To have [this] calling at a time where people are liking [college baseball] more and more now is working out pretty well for me. I’ll keep doing it forever.”
While his Twitter bio states that he’s a “personality hire”, Stephen Schoch is so much more for college baseball. He’s an ambassador for a sport that has traditionally been vastly under-represented in the media compared to its professional counterpart. Covering college baseball is not just a job for him. It’s a passion, a calling, that makes every day on the job a great one.
This year’s College World Series broadcasts saw a significant uptick in viewership from years past, and Schoch was a central factor, plastering content from almost every game all over social media, giving fans nearly unprecedented access to and insight into the sport. Stephen Schoch’s path into the world of baseball media, just like him, was incredibly unique, and he plans to continue to make the most of every day he has covering the game he loves.