Juan Soto. Kyle Schwarber. Francisco Lindor. Justin Verlander. Any baseball fan could see them on the big screen or as a speck from the stands. For Liam Holland ’24, these players were mere feet away.
As one half of the baseball content platform @batboysbaseball, Holland has interviewed them all. A joint effort with his friend Eric Shellhouse, a junior at James Madison University, @batboysbaseball has amassed almost 195,000 followers on TikTok and 77,000 on Instagram.
Childhood friends Holland and Shellhouse have always loved baseball, sharing their passion for the Washington Nationals and playing together for years on travel teams. However in their senior year of high school, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, leaving them without a formal league to play in. So in May 2020, they devoted their time to something new.
“So we basically just started making videos,” Holland said. “At that point, it was any videos you could think of. We would go out and play with our friends, do any kind of MLB analysis videos, little challenges — just anything you can imagine your friends screwing around on a baseball field.”
After a year, the duo began filming content at stadiums. They reached out to minor league baseball teams, working with four teams until their connection at the Fredericksburg Nationals gave them an opportunity with the Washington Nationals.
“Basically, through this connection, we were able to get this media access at the major league games and that’s how we started talking to all these players that we’re kind of recognized for,” Holland said.
“I realized, ‘no, there’s a demand for this. There’s an audience for this.’ And once Liam opened my eyes that this is actually a future career path for us… then it became a lot more serious to me.”
Starting college at different schools less than a year after starting the accounts, the two had some initial doubts about continuing their endeavor.
“I was telling him multiple times, ‘I just don’t know if this is worth it, like we’re growing a pretty cool following, but maybe this was just a one summer thing,’” Shellhouse said. “And I didn’t know if I saw much of a future…And then I realized, ‘no, there’s a demand for this. There’s an audience for this.’ And once Liam opened my eyes that this is actually a future career path for us… then it became a lot more serious to me.”
The duo strategized their way to success, learning to better understand content creation and algorithms. They continue to spend time editing and uploading content daily.
“[Liam] would spend a lot of time watching videos, researching when to post, how often you should be posting, how many hashtags you should be using and what kind of hashtags you should be using,” Shellhouse said. “We, for a long time, struggled to find what our niche was going to be… it was going to be baseball, but where in the baseball community?”
Now, the account is known for short interviews with major league players. Using their press passes, Holland and Shellhouse enter stadiums hours ahead to capture baseball’s pregame energy and speak with players warming up.
“When they come on the warming track, where we’re posted up, we basically say, ‘Excuse me, do you have a minute for a couple personality questions?’” Holland said. “A concise way to describe what we’re doing — not just another basic interview that will take up a bunch of time, it’s just actual fun questions that will market these players and give them a social media presence.”
Asking players about anything from their walkup song to their favorite pregame meal, Holland and Shellhouse keep the tone light on their platform. To Holland, these interviews are a way to build a genuine connection with the players.
“I think [the best part is] being able, especially because of our style…to show the genuine respect we have for them,” Holland said. “I feel like we can speak for a lot of fans when we’re interacting with them…we want to hype them up and we’re spreading good vibes.”
“My favorite, just because he’s known to many as the G.O.A.T, was being able to interview Mike Trout. He came into the league in 2011 when I was in elementary school then and I’ve just seen him grow up in the league while I’ve grown up. That was really surreal because it was a full circle moment.”
Over the years, Holland has interviewed several greats and has had the chance to meet childhood heroes.
“My favorite, just because he’s known to many as the G.O.A.T, was being able to interview Mike Trout,” Holland said. “He came into the league in 2011 when I was in elementary school then and I’ve just seen him grow up in the league while I’ve grown up. That was really surreal because it was a full circle moment.”
When he’s not contributing to @batboysbaseball, Holland plays club baseball at the College of William and Mary and is recruitment chair for the Sigma Chi fraternity. Balancing these activities with his coursework as an international relations major and Spanish minor can be a challenge.
“[Eric and I] are both college students, it’s so hard to balance anything on top of classes because you still want to take academics seriously,” Holland said. “And with playoff baseball going on right now, it’s the most important month of the year for baseball, especially in terms of being in the loop with MLB stuff. Half of our communication is about what to post… because there’s strategy involved with like, players that are in the headlines, you want to post our interview with them.”
However, Holland’s coursework and content creation aren’t completely unrelated; he finds applications for his coursework in the realm of baseball.
“What I’ve learned in the international relations major here… can be applied to the baseball world because they have all these international relations with the countries that players come from,” Holland said. “This summer I talked to players from 16 different countries… and a quarter of the league right now is from Latin America. So there’s a huge demand for Spanish speakers…first off, to help the players get adjusted to American life, but also to market them because a lot of the time the Latino players aren’t highlighted…just because they can’t speak English.”
Holland predicts a bright future for @batboysbaseball, viewing it as a solid foundation for future endeavors.
“I think it’s gonna lead to something,” Holland said. “We’ve been told so many times that life’s about who you know, not what you know, and [in] the sports industry, you need connections to find the right path. This has already opened up a lot of doors to where we both don’t know exactly what we’re going to do, but we trust that it’s gonna help us figure that out.”