Fan Cave experience is closer to reality

Perrysburg woman, Hens worker a finalist for ultimate fan package

2/14/2013
BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Kate Longenecker, who lives in Perrysburg and is from Downington, Pa., is one of 52 finalists for the Major League Baseball Fan Cave experience.
Kate Longenecker, who lives in Perrysburg and is from Downington, Pa., is one of 52 finalists for the Major League Baseball Fan Cave experience.

For Kate Longenecker, Major League Baseball’s Fan Cave is a dream come true.

If it’s not enough for a baseball fan to have the opportunity to watch baseball games, interview famous players, and interact with passionate fans around the planet, the Fan Cave has a bonus that appeals to Longenecker.

The bonus is “The Slide.”

“They have a huge slide that you have to go down every time a home run is hit,” she said. “I think that’s the first thing I want to do.

“I don’t think they let you [slide down before a home run is hit], but I have to try. Anyone who knows me knows that if there’s a slide on the premises, I have to go down it. I’m like a 12-year-old child that way.”

Longenecker, who lives in Perrysburg, may get a chance to fulfill that fantasy, as well as a fantasy for baseball fans of every age. She is one of 52 finalists competing for one of nine spots in MLB’s Fan Cave for 2013.

In 2012 more than 22,000 fans applied for the opportunity, but that didn’t deter the 24-year-old Longenecker from applying this year.

“I was watching the MLB Network, and I saw the little clips on what they were doing in the Fan Cave,” she said. “I watched the girl who won in 2012, Ashley Chavez, and I said, ‘I think I can do that.’ "

So she made a video explaining why she should be chosen for the Fan Cave, and six weeks ago she got a call back asking for more information.

“I was so surprised,” she admitted. “It was confidential, so I couldn’t tell anybody, so that was a couple of weeks of wondering what would happen.

“When I found out [I was a finalist], I was at work — and I freaked out, I was so excited. It was a great day.”

Longenecker works for the Mud Hens and Walleye, providing graphics for their television broadcasts. She also runs the production booth at the Huntington Center during non-Walleye events and has served as an announcer for BCSN, all skills she has used to drum up votes for her candidacy.

“I’ve been using Twitter to tell my story,” she said. “I’ve used Facebook and other social media.

“And [Monday] I was on WIP, a Philadelphia radio station, trying to get support back home.”

While she lives in Perrysburg, that’s not home for Longenecker. She grew up in Downingtown, Pa., which is roughly 40 miles west of Philadelphia, and has been a life-long Phillies fan.

“My favorite [player] is Jimmy Rollins,” she said. “I followed him when he first came up in 2000, and I’ve followed him ever since. He’s such a positive player, and he always gives 100 percent.”

One of Longenecker’s favorite keepsakes is a glove that is signed by Rollins and other Phillies.

“When I played in middle school, he signed it,” she said. “I have a diary at home, but the only [names] I still recognize on it are Rollins and [former Phillies manager] Terry Francona.”

Longenecker moved to Perrysburg with her college boyfriend, and she laughingly said she may be the only person living there who doesn’t root for native son Jim Leyland, who manages the Tigers.

“I’m not anti-Jim Leyland,” she said. “I like the Tigers — especially since I work for the Mud Hens.

“I think the only time I would have an issue with the Tigers is if the Phillies played them in the World Series."

Fans can vote for Longenecker at http://mlb.mlb.com/fancave/vote.jsp#fbid-gTIDjlaCESk.

Contact John Wagner at:

jwagner@theblade.com,

419-724-6481 or on

Twitter @jwagnerblade.