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A Giants minor league catcher and his side project: video blogging

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Matt Paré is making his way through the internet with the Homeless Minor Leaguer brand and YouTube channel.

Matt Paré films a vlog for his YouTube channel.
Courtesy of Matt Paré

On a baseball field, Matt Paré is dressed in a sweater, a button down and tie, and khakis. Behind him are two men playing catch.

He says to the camera, "Hi, I’m Matt Paré. Behind me are some very unfortunate minor league baseball players."

This video, parodying the ASPCA commercials you see on television that tugs at your heartstrings and tells you to adopt a pet in need, goes on to tell you that these are minor leaguers in need and today, you can adopt a minor leaguer yourself.

This is just one of the few videos that showcases Paré’s skills as a content creator on YouTube. But this is just something Paré does on the side. For his day job? He’s also a minor league baseball player.

Paré was an undrafted free agent after graduating from Boston College, where he earned a degree in Human Development and Organizational Studies. He found a place in the San Francisco Giants organization, now entering his fourth season in the team’s farm system and playing in Low-A, with the Augusta GreenJackets.

In 2015, Paré started the blog Homeless Minor Leaguer to chronicle his journeys through the minor leagues. Partway through, he switched up the format, going from written blog posts to video blogs (or vlogs) and written sketches.

Now, Paré has built a following amongst fans of baseball. Those who don’t know him for being a baseball player know him as the ballplayer behind the Homeless Minor Leaguer.

Paré says he switched from writing to video because he couldn’t really convey what he wanted to say in words. Video did the trick.

"When you’re reading it’s tough for me to show my personality," Paré says, "and you can’t figure out what my personality is like through writing, but you get to see it in action in video."

Paré uses the topic of packing for a road trip as an example. He says that sounds like a boring topic and writing about it could be as such. With video? Not so much.

"In video, you’re watching this screen that’s always changing and you have no idea what could pop up next," Paré says. "To me, that’s what video does versus writing. It gives that burst out laughing moment versus the chuckle-on-the-inside laughter."

Paré notes that Steve Buckley, a columnist for the Boston Herald and someone Paré calls a friend and a mentor, said that his "writing wasn’t [his] strong suit in comparison to the video."

Buckley says that Paré’s writing is not bad, but it’s not necessarily at a professional level. On the other hand, Buckley says that Paré has skills on the video side of things.

"You put him in front of a camera, it's a whole different thing," Buckley says. "He's a natural."

Adopt a minor leaguer today.
Courtesy of Matt Paré

Paré taught himself how to shoot and edit, watching tutorial videos on YouTube to learn. "I never did it in college, anything like that," Paré says about that. "I was a human development major—not very close to video editing."

With the help of a friend who has her own YouTube channel, Paré made his entrance into the world of being a video content creator. Even with some quick rigging of equipment—Paré says he once took his phone’s car mount and duct taped it to a cousin’s floor stand and using that as a tripod—he makes do with what he has and picks things up along the way.

Paré’s "Minor Leaguers Need Your Help...Sort Of" video has reached nearly 9,000 views on YouTube. Not only that, but it caught the eye of Alexis (Lexi) Cozombolidis, otherwise known as Giants outfielder Hunter Pence’s fiancée.

Collaborating with both Cozombolidis and Pence, they created a short sketch in which Cozombolidis and Pence "adopt" a minor leaguer in need: Paré.

Paré says that Cozombolidis reached out to him and said they should collaborate. They brainstormed during Spring Training in Arizona, throwing out ideas until the script for the sketch formed.

"We created this video very organically," Paré says. "Oh, what if this happens and then that happens, what if Hunter is showing Matt how to swing, and then Hunter is recommending these things, you’re going to take a really nice looking swing and then I’m going to show you how to swing and it’s not going to be right."

As of May 26, the video, on Cozombolidis’ YouTube channel, has nearly 16,000 views.

Buckley says about Paré’s video with Pence, "Hunter Pence doesn't have to trifle with a player in the low minors. The fact that he feels comfortable with Matt and that Matt felt comfortable to build a rapport with him, that obviously speaks very well to Hunter Pence, but think about how well that speaks to Matt."

Paré says that in addition to collaborating with Cozombolidis and Pence, Cozombolidis has been giving Paré advice growing his channel. He also says Pence was a huge help and "a very self-aware guy, very funny."

Paré also has the support of the Giants organization, he says, relating a story from Spring Training when one of his videos, called "Minor League Love Commercial," was circulating amongst the team. He says he was taking batting practice when Shane Turner, the Giants’ Director of Player Development, says to him, "I’ve been watching a lot of Youtube lately."

"Oh, yeah? What have you been watching?" Paré asks.

"Some video called… Minor League Love," Turner says. Paré asks what he thinks of it. "It’s pretty funny. I didn’t know we had an internet star in our organization."

It’s not always fun and laughs in the minor leagues, though, which is why Paré says he’s started blogging a little bit more.

"[It’s] giving people a look at what life is like in the minor leagues and how exciting this journey can be, the different people that you meet, and how many interesting stories they have to tell," Paré says. "That’s what I want to do, because there are so many guys who just play minor league baseball and that’s it, but there are so many stories down here that are just lost."

Paré says that it’s not a failure if minor leaguers don’t make it to the big leagues, because most of these guys have faced so much adversity. But he stresses that videos such as "Minor Leaguers Need Your Help...Sort Of" are meant to be satirical.

"I mean it when I say Ty [Kelly, a minor leaguer who is now in the New York Mets organization] wasn’t born into this life, he chose this life," Paré says. "That’s something that I wanted to get across. I wanted people to know, because you do choose this life. No one is holding a gun to your head saying you have to play minor league baseball."

He also wants to keep it as lighthearted as he can, being able to joke around with fellow minor leaguers while showing what life is like in the league these days.

Buckley says Paré is a good reader of people and a good storyteller, saying that Paré listens to other people’s stories. With blogs and social media, Buckley says there’s so many places to take those stories.

"Imagine what it's like to play 22 years in the big leagues and play in the World Series and be MVP and all that," Buckley says. "All the stories that you have. But this guy, four minor league seasons and he's going to have a pot full of stories and anecdotes and adventures and memories. You can't buy that."

Paré has persevered, Buckley says, calling him a hard and earnest worker and a quick study who gives it his all.

"A lot of guys quit," Buckley says. "They can't hack it. … When you quit minor league baseball, you're done. You can cherry pick certain individuals [who quit] after a couple of years and then get back into it. But we all know that's few and far between. So Matt is sticking out, as I knew he would. That's just the kind of guy he is."

As for other last thoughts he has about content creation and what he wants people to know, he asks with a laugh, "Gosh, is this where I plug something?" He says he wants to fit a sketch into his schedule soon and feels like he can fit it in, but he can’t promise anything.

And then, he settles for the YouTuber saying: "Like, share, subscribe, comment below?"