By: CJ Harbach
Game entertainment is a staple in minor league baseball. Fans hold high expectations-not only for the game, but for the man holding the microphone, throwing the t-shirt, and picking a dance battle with the team mascot. For the IronBirds, that man is Shawny Shawn. He may look like a self-proclaimed “goofball watching baseball,” but he is unique to Aberdeen.
Even after a deceptively long day’s work, Shawny gave up twenty minutes of his time at 10:30 to talk about exactly that: his long day’s work. He had since retired the performer title for the night, but still couldn’t resist cracking jokes and playing the comic role.
For various reasons, most importantly being his brothers enrollment at the University of Maryland, Shawny spent nearly four year passing Ripken Stadium on 95 and applied for the position of game entertainer three seasons ago in hopes of finally seeing the inside, even though he disliked Maryland weather.
“I said, I think this stadium is the one on 95 that I always drive by. At the very least, hopefully I’ll have my interview there and can finally see I can see what it looks like,” Shawny said.
Given his history, it’s clear why Shawny shows no sign of embarrassment in Aberdeen. Shawny began his career as an unpaid “fan entertainer” in which he was simply a “goofy fan” who was repeatedly put on camera. From there, he worked in Arena Football for the Philadelphia Soul and then for the Philadelphia Phantoms in the American Hockey League. Before graduating college, Shawny worked as an intern for the Philadelphia Flyers.
“Being on a dugout in front isn’t embarrassing to me. When I get everyone cheering and that leads to a base hit, that thrill will always mean more than the worst embarrassment,” Shawny said.
In addition to publicly being the game entertainment, Shawny is officially the Associate Producer of the IronBirds Radio Network. When the Birds are on the road, he is in charge of the audio levels for the radio broadcaster, Tim Murray. He also troubleshoots any potential problems, ensures the correct advertisements are played, and sends the broadcaster information to keep Murray abreast to situations as they occur.
“I was originally asked to come in and push some buttons. But I said, let’s try to make it more professional in terms of making out own in house commercials. Even though we’re only on the Internet now, why not produce the show like we were on AM/FM radio?” Shawny said.
For Shawny, fan entertainment is all about buying into the team and becoming a fan, regardless of previous loyalties. “The fun part about this level of baseball is that it’s developmental. The fact that I saw Manny Machado here and now I see him with the Orioles is a thrill for me.”
Coming straight from his internship with the Philadelphia Flyers, Shawny intended to build onto the work left by Maverick, Nat, and previous Flight Crew leaders in a way fans and employees had never seen.
“My style is that I take my job way more seriously than I should,” Shawny said. “I go home after games and think about the bits that failed and of the chances we missed to get the crowd hyped. In the end, fans say ‘You throw t-shirts and dance on the dugout.’ That’s what my job looks like, exactly.”
“I’ve been in those seats, and I know there are people who don’t want to clap every two seconds and there are people who don’t want to yell and scream,” Shawny admits. “But those same people, at some point are happy to join. So I have to create the environment as a facilitator and get fan involvement. I might be leading it, but the fans are running it.”