It was summer while I was in Missouri working for Stry.us. We realized early on that the Springfield Cardinals, the major league team’s Double-A club, was often the best show in town.
I don’t remember exactly how many games we attended before realizing that one of minor league baseball’s icons was right there in the stadium. But somehow, we figured it out.
Now, you don’t become iconic in minor league baseball for superior play. For better or worse, minor league baseball is more often memorable for bizarre team names, or out-of-left-field promotion nights. And on some summer nights, it steals the spotlight with showstopping manager tirades.
The man anonymously coaching the Cardinals’ young hitters, we discovered, was also the man who threw the most famous baseball tantrum of the YouTube-era — Phillip Wellman. I contacted the team and Wellman, who was manager of the Mississippi Braves when he became a viral video legend, agreed to talk to me. And I wrote the story of his life as an anonymous Internet sensation, The Fake Grenade Toss Heard ‘Round the World.
At the time, Wellman was perfectly content to talk about it or taking ribbing from his players, but didn’t have any plans to trumpet his 2007 star turn to the masses any more than necessary.
That is usually SportsCenter’s role, or BuzzFeed’s. But he agreed to a planned cameo for a Super Bowl commercial. He appears in a Volkswagon commercial alongside other viral video stars distinguished by their anger, and the idea is that Volkswagon makes Wellman and the others happy.
So happy they sing together atop a hill on a sunny day.
According to the Springfield News-Leader, Wellman actually owns a Volkswagon and received some payment for the appearance. At least this time, his appearance on TV was intentional.
Photo by Dan Oshinsky/Stry.us