A Conversation of the Road
The Interview Series where I talk to people who spark my curiosity or make me interestingly examine my views.
How can you not be romantic about baseball?
-Brad Pitt as Billy Beane, “Moneyball” (2011)
Ultimately, this interview was entirely unplanned. Regardless of some conversations that I have had on the road, including some readers, when learning that I am paid (a pittance) to write for True Blue LA, cannot stop themselves from vomiting their opinions on every related subject they can think of. It’s a minor complaint at worst. I am ridiculously blessed and fortunate to be in a position where I am a professional fan. I go to Los Angeles Dodgers games and share my stories with friends, family, and you.
One such story is the story of Nick Pesch (pronounced as it looks), a 22-year-old communication major who works for both the Milwaukee Bucks and the Milwaukee Brewers as a tour guide. Nick has been a tour guide for the Bucks for three seasons and in his inaugural season with the Brewers. The rest of the time, Nick will attend using his family’s season tickets.
[Author’s Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.]
Who is Nick Pesch?
Michael J. Elizondo (MJE): For someone who does not know, what exactly do you do at American Family Field?
Nick Pesch (NP): I give standard ballpark tours and I give abridged tours that involve people going down the slide where [David Vassegh] was injured. [Author’s note: We will discuss that incident more in Part 2.] I work about 40 games a season, where I am usually either helping direct people where to go or I am working at the Selig Experience. The rest of the time, I’m usually going to games as a fan.
[Author’s Note: The Selig Experience is an exhibit honoring Bud Selig and his role in bringing baseball back to Milwaukee. It has a hologram of Selig that appears at the end of a movie where Bob Uecker is narrating the history of baseball in Milwaukee. The attraction is open during games, but if you take the standard Ballpark Tour, your tour begins by going to the Selig Experience.]
MJE: One thing that stuck out to me while going to games in Milwaukee is how passionate the fan base is. Does that description apply to you?
NP: Totally. I went to my first Brewers game when I was 22 days old. I have been a diehard Brewers fan since I was old enough to care about such things. My family has had season tickets for all that time and going to Brewers games is just something we do during the summer. I never questioned what we did.
MJE: Do you notice any generational gap in the tours you give?
NP: When I’m giving stadium tour, I notice that most of my tours are filled with folks who are older than I am. I always encourage them to share their own stories, even if it means interrupting my tour speech because they have experienced than me.
MJE: Have you been to any other ballparks? If so, what’s your favorite? Please note: you can’t say American Family Field.
NP: I have been to 21 ballparks. My favorite is Oracle Park with Great American Ballpark in second. I love the ambiance, the architecture, and the variety of fans in various ballparks. These two stadiums stood out to me as my favorites if I am not allowed to say American Family Field.
The Mookie Moment
In case, the moment has been forgotten in the flux of time, on August 15, 2022, a fan brought a sign that invited Mookie Betts to play catch with him, and they did. And that moment was surreptitiously caught on video, which went viral. Nick Pesch took that video.
Mookie playing catch with a young fan wearing his jersey pic.twitter.com/EAOebveRW0— ⚾️ = (@PRINCE_OF_MKE) August 16, 2022
MJE: The night you saw Mookie and the fan, were you working? What were you doing beforehand?
NP: Oh no, I was there purely as a fan. I was sitting in left field when the game started, and I moved over to right field to meet up with some friends and family. Some tailgaters came to by me and I preferred to watch the game and not get caught up in what they were doing. At some point, I noticed the kid with his sign, but that was not before Mookie started playing catch before Mookie started warming up.
MJE: In your words, what happened?
NP: It was between innings and I was just staring straight ahead as I was irritated because as I remember the Brewers’ offense wasn’t doing anything against Julio Urías. I was sitting by the right foul poll and I was just watching the outfielders warm up. However, I saw that Mookie was not interacting with the other outfielders; I saw him throwing the ball into the stands!
[Author’s note: The Brewers managed four hits against Urías in five innings of work. They did not even get another baserunner past the sixth inning where Chris Martin had the odd stat line of striking out four batters in a single inning.]
MJE: Then what happened?
NP: So I got my camera out and started recording this moment. I tried to guess when Mookie would toss the ball one final time so I could record that final toss. I knew how much time Mookie and the kid had so I was able to record Mookie gesturing to the kid to hold to the ball on the last throw. I was proud that I was able to record the moment so well when I do not take videos professionally. I just happened to be in the right place at the right moment.
MJE: What happened next?
NP: My phone blew up! Everyone from Molly Knight to local Milwaukee affiliates to SportsCenter retweeted what I shot, and it was amazing to watch everyone share what I had seen and be romantic about baseball. I was surprised when you asked me about it on the tour, as I had just mentioned the moment off-handedly. I was shocked that you knew what I was talking about and that you knew it was my video. I put my phone down for the rest of the game, but I made sure to add a secondary tweet asking folks to hit me up at the ballpark to take a tour.
MJE: That’s amazing. Do you remember what you were feeling at the time of the moment?
NP: I thought back to when I caught my first foul ball when I was younger. I was buzzing for the entire day after that game. I remember how proud and happy I was and that kid who played catch with Mookie has something even more memorable. What an amazing memory for that kid to have, you know? I couldn’t help but feel happy for him.
MJE: How often do you see people bring signs into the ballpark?
NP: Kohl’s is one of the sponsors of American Family Field, and I know they provide sign materials as a promotion that you can pick up at various places through American Family Field. [As of the date of this interview] I had been to every Brewers home game, and due to the Mookie moment, I have seen an increase in signs.
MJE: How can you not be romantic about baseball? Gosh, Moneyball was such a classic movie. I suppose we should shift gears to our final topic.
My conversation concludes as Nick and I discuss the incident that defined the Dodgers’ 2022 visit to Milwaukee: the slide of David Vassegh. See you then.