The series of interviews where I talk to people who arouse my curiosity or make me interestingly examine my points of view.
How not to be romantic with baseball?
-Brad Pitt as Billy Beane, “Moneyball” (2011)
As it turned out, this interview was completely unplanned. Regardless of some conversations I’ve had on the road, including some readers learning that I get paid (a pittance) to write for True Blue LA, can’t help but vomit their opinions on all the related topics to which they can think. This is at worst a minor complaint. I’m ridiculously blessed and lucky to be in a position where I’m a professional fan. I go to Los Angeles Dodgers games and share my stories with my friends, family and you.
One such story is the story of Nick Pesch (pronounce it as it sounds), a 22-year-old communications specialist who works for both the Milwaukee Bucks and the Milwaukee Brewers as a tour guide. Nick was a tour guide for the Bucks for three seasons and in his inaugural season with the Brewers. The rest of the time, Nick will be present with 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 doesn’t know, what exactly are you doing at American Family Field?
Nick Pesch (NP): I give standard guided tours and I give abbreviated 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 around 40 games a season, where I usually help direct people where to go or I work at Selig Experience. The rest of the time I usually go to matches 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 struck me about going to games in Milwaukee is how passionate the fan base is. Does this description apply to you?
NP: Totally. I went to my first Brewers game when I was 22 days old. I’ve been a die-hard Brewers fan since I was old enough to care about such things. My family has had season tickets this whole time and going to Brewers games is just something we do in the summer. I never questioned what we were doing.
MJE: Do you notice a generational gap in the tours you do?
NP: When I do a stadium tour, I notice that most of my tours are filled with people older than me. I always encourage them to share their own stories, even if it means interrupting my tour talk because they’ve been through more than me.
MJE: Have you been to other ballparks? If so, which is your favorite? Note: you cannot say American Family Field.
NP: I visited 21 ballparks. My favorite is Oracle Park with Great American Ballpark second. I love the atmosphere, the architecture and the variety of fans in the different stadiums. These two stadiums marked me as my favourites, if I cannot say American Family Field.
In case, the moment was forgotten in the stream of time, on August 15, 2022, a fan brought a sign inviting Mookie Betts to play catch with him, and they did. And that moment was surreptitiously captured on video, which went viral. Nick Pesch took this video.
MJE: The night you saw Mookie and the Fan, were you working? What were you doing before?
NP: Oh no, I was only there as a fan. I was sitting in left field when the game started and moved to right field to catch up with friends and family. Some hookers came up to me and I preferred to watch the game and not get caught up in what they were doing. At one point I noticed the kid with his sign, but it wasn’t until Mookie started playing catch before Mookie started warming up.
MJE: In your words, what happened?
NP: It was between innings and I was looking straight ahead because I was irritated because, if I remember correctly, the Brewers offense was doing nothing against Julio Urías. I was sitting near the right poll and just watching the outfielders warming up. However, I saw that Mookie did not interact with the other flyers; I saw him throw 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: So what happened?
NP: So I took out my camera and started recording that moment. I tried to guess when Mookie would throw the ball one last time so I could save that last throw. I knew how long Mookie and the kid had, so I was able to record Mookie motioning for the kid to hold the ball on the last pitch. I was proud that I was able to capture the time when I’m not making professional videos so well. I was just in the right place at the right time.
MJE: What happened next?
NP: My phone exploded! Everyone from Molly Knight to local Milwaukee affiliates to SportsCenter retweeted what I shot, and it was amazing to see everyone sharing what I saw and being romantic about baseball . I was surprised when you asked me about it during the tour, as I had just mentioned the moment offhand. I was shocked that you knew what I was talking about and you knew it was my video. I put my phone down for the rest of the game, but made sure to add a side-tweet asking people to contact me at the stadium for a spin.
MJE: It’s incredible. Do you remember how you felt at the time?
NP: I thought back to when I caught my first foul ball when I was younger. I buzzed all day after that game. I remember how proud and happy I was, and there’s something even more memorable about that kid playing wrestling with Mookie. What an incredible memory for this kid, you know? I couldn’t help but be happy for him.
MJE: How often do you see people bringing signs into the stadium?
NP: Kohl’s is one of the sponsors of American Family Field, and I know they provide signage material as a promotion that you can pick up at various locations 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 saw an increase in signs.
MJE: How not to be romantic with baseball? My God, Moneyball was such a classic movie. I guess we should move on to our last topic.
The next time
My conversation ends as Nick and I discuss the incident that defined the Dodgers’ 2022 visit to Milwaukee: the David Vassegh slide. See you later.