Extra Innings: Ethan Bryan and How a Single Game of Catch Can Change Your Life

Ethan Bryan is the author of “A Year of Playing Catch” which chronicles his project of playing catch for 365 days straight. He originally appeared in Episode 40 where he shared his entire baseball story. 

In this episode we discuss some new research which highlights the importance of play, and how the perfect storm of Covid and an increase in screen time have led to a new epidemic of isolation and loneliness, and how a simple game of catch can combat those effects.  

We also touch on some exciting things Ethan has planned for the year, including a visit to Friendly Baseball, The Rippey Ruckus, and an important presentation he’ll be giving at the Cooperstown Symposium in May. 

Find Ethan Online:
Book: Amazon | Barnes&Noble

Twitter: @BaseballBucket
Facebook: @BaseballBucketList
Instagram: @Baseball.Bucket.List
Website: baseballbucketlist.com

This podcast is part of the Curved Brim Media Network:
Website: curvedbrimmedia.com


Read the full transcript

[00:00:00] Ethan: we live in a culture that is play deprived. the summary statement is, uh, The opposite of play is depression. When we don’t play, we get depressed. And how, especially since the pandemic, depression is on the rise. And when we’re depressed, um, we isolate ourselves.

[00:00:14] Ethan: And that isolation turns into loneliness. And what we turn to instead of reaching out is we often turn into our screens, what has become is this perfect storm play deprived, depressed, lonely, and digitally distracted  we have trained our brains. To be distracted.  I believe that playing catch is a simple solution to all of these 

[00:00:42] Anna: What’s up Bucketheads?. Thanks for tuning in and welcome to another episode of extra innings on the baseball bucket list podcast. I’m your host, Anna DiTommaso. And in the extra inning series, I catch up with former podcast guests to discuss bucket list events and other important topics. 

[00:00:57] Anna: This week, I’m joined by Ethan, Bryan, who has played a huge role in so many people’s lives, including mine. And I know several of yours as well. 

[00:01:05] Anna: If you haven’t listened to our first conversation, I’d encourage you to go back and find episode 40, where Ethan shares his entire story. , He’s the man behind the idea of catch 365, which is simple in premise. Every day for a year, he played catch with someone and chronicled it in his book “A Year of Playing Catch”. 

[00:01:21] Anna: In this episode, we catch up about several very exciting things coming up for him this year, including a presentation he’ll be giving at the Cooperstown Symposium in May about the benefits of catch. We take a pretty deep dive into the disappearance of unstructured play and the consequential problems that many kids and adults are facing because of it. We also talk about how simple it is to overcome many of these problems with a single game of catch. 

[00:01:44] Anna: I always enjoy chatting with Ethan, our outlooks on baseball and what it really means are pretty much in lock step. 

[00:01:49] Anna: I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did, and I hope it inspires you to pick up a glove and ask someone “wanna to play catch?” Now without further ado, sit back, relax and enjoy some bonus baseball banter with Ethan Bryan. 

[00:02:04] Anna: Ethan. Thank you so much for coming back on Extra Innings. I am thrilled to be seeing your face right now and, uh, can’t wait to catch up. And, you know. Hear a little bit more about this phase 2, 3, or 4 of your journey here. How you doing?

[00:02:20] Ethan: Uh, well, it is, it is almost 50 degrees in Missouri in February and the sun is shining. There is no snow on the ground, uh, today. Now there was a couple of days ago, but so today is gorgeous and I’m looking forward to getting outside. Throwing the ball and maybe hoping to go to the batting cages and get ready for, uh, for some of this stuff that’s going to happen this year,

[00:02:45] Anna: Yeah, well, you got to take your little victories where you get them. We have a beautiful day here today in North Texas, too. But it’s been kind of a weird winter. A lot of, you know, freezing cold weather followed by like 70s, followed by 30s. It’s just, it’s been weird.

[00:03:01] Ethan: bipolar weather.

[00:03:03] Anna: that’s a good way to describe it, but for folks who haven’t listened to our first interview together let’s give them kind of a brief overview of who Ethan Bryan is and and what he’s all about and You know, we touched base several years ago on Twitter.

[00:03:21] Anna: I heard about this project you were doing again. I believe it was the second time you were going through this project. , there’s a book about it. You gotta tell listeners what Catch 365 is.

[00:03:34] Ethan: So, um, the very, very short version is, it is a project that was inspired and encouraged by my daughters back in January, 2018. my youngest daughter is an artist and she gave me a baseball that basically said, dad, want to play catch on. on January 1st, 2018, I thought that was a good way to kick off the year.

[00:03:55] Ethan: I played catch with both my daughters on January 1st. And that night at the dinner table, they said, they asked dad, what would happen if you play catch every day for a year? And I laughed and kind of joked, said, you know, I wouldn’t need surgery. But they were the ones who really encouraged it. So I did for 2018, and I didn’t know, I had no idea it was going to be such an incredible experience.

[00:04:19] Ethan: So I go on to write a book about it, even writing the book was a blast. And then the book publishes in the middle of COVID, and the publisher said, you know, you got the short straw, you could not have picked a worse time to publish a book. I couldn’t do any author greetings or anything like that. Well, somehow it still found its way out.

[00:04:37] Ethan: People started reading it and then other people started reaching out to me for permission to play catch. And I was like, yes, absolutely. here’s the rules. You go play catch and just stay in touch with me so I can encourage you. Because what would happen and what happened during my year was almost, almost every night at dinner, my daughters would ask, well, who did you play catch with today?

[00:04:55] Ethan: What was it like? And so it became a way of, they would encourage me and, and checking in. And that support was so, was just phenomenal. And so now I’m reaching, others have reached out to me and, just let me encourage you, let me support you. And it’s just continued to grow and grow. And, uh, finally last December, I was like, I just want to do it again.

[00:05:16] Ethan: I just, I really just want to get out. And so, you know, what’s weird is it’s still challenging. Like yesterday, somebody said, who are you playing catch with today? I was like, I have no idea, but I have my gloves ready. I’m going to drive around until I find someone will, and turned out I was able to connect with the twin brothers who play.

[00:05:33] Ethan: And so that was, that was a lot of fun. and now I’m trying to travel and play ball and make new friends and hope that my arm holds up and that my body holds up and that my eye, just all of this, you know, six years older, things happen. But gosh, it’s so much fun still.

[00:05:52] Anna: I Love this story so much because you know, we initially chatted I want to say it was man I think it might have been three years ago at this point. It might have been that long ago that we touched base 

[00:06:03] Ethan: sounds right 

[00:06:04] Anna: and so since I was introduced to you, I’ve kind of watched so many other people Kickstart their own catch playing journeys and you know, we’ve had some of them on the show to come talk about it You know, Adam Hazel and John Scukanec, of course come to mind and just watching the 

[00:06:22] Ethan: Kevin 

[00:06:23] Anna: Yeah, exactly Kevin Neegard.

[00:06:25] Anna: That’s another great project that he put together. What an incredible thing, um, with the Miracle League there. And, uh, man, just to see the breadth of this, just to see how kind of long the roots and the tentacles have grown, stemming from,, a gift you were given by your daughter, you know, five plus years ago at this point It’s it’s phenomenal and I love it so much and that’s one of the things that resonates so much with me is I view baseball as a vehicle for connection among people and that’s the way we watch the game.

[00:07:01] Anna: It’s the way we talk about the game It’s the way we feel about the players to take it even a step further and actually become physically involved with the game It’s been so incredible to watch the stories and hear the things that are coming out of people picking up the ball and tossing it across the yard again.

[00:07:23] Ethan: Well, and it’s like the things that you’re doing here I mean you’ll interview people and then you’ll go to them and then you’ll go to alaska to go to games with I mean the the way you said it about baseball being connection that that is so true and and uh, one of the The ways that I mean I had no idea how much I would learn and continue to learn after that initial year You And you know, so much about how important play is and somebody, what I didn’t know is even how, how hard it is to actually define what play is and, and the, the very base meeting, meaning definition someone gave, I read, I can’t even remember who, who do it appropriately attribute this to, but they said at heart play is joy and connection. And I was like, yes, and that’s what, that’s what playing catch is. That’s what it’s like to be a baseball fan is you want those moments. Of joy and connection whether it’s the people in the seats around you or just cheering on your Your beloved team and watching them finally win the world series. Oh my god

[00:08:27] Anna: that’s what it’s all about and it’s a, it’s a really cool thing that, that we get to do. Have in life every day, you know, it’s just it’s one of those things that we took for granted until a year where we didn’t have it and then all of a sudden we found out what it meant to us and, you kind of alluded to.

[00:08:46] Anna: A couple of things that are coming down the line, Can we get into, to some of that?

[00:08:53] Ethan: Yes um, and there’s so much that’s that’s looming on the horizons There’s three I want to touch on today. I’m really excited about first one is I’m going to travel to Friendly Baseball for opening day You And I’m going to play there and hopefully I’m going to hit the ball and hopefully I’m not going to embarrass myself in the field.

[00:09:15] Ethan: but we’re going to actually, we’re going to kick off a, uh, a catch playing project there. And Rawlings baseball donated two of their gold leather baseballs. And, and the idea is we’re going to send one out with the hashtag, something like dad’s play ball. And so if you get this ball, you have 24 hours to play catch with another dad.

[00:09:36] Ethan: And post it online. 

[00:09:38] Anna: I love 

[00:09:38] Ethan: And then the other one is just going to be something like hashtag friendly ball. And if you get this ball, it’s for anyone. But you have 24 hours to take it and we’ll just see where the balls go. And so I’m, I’m excited to get down there and, and, uh, and just kick that off to, to meet Mark, to, to meet all the Friendly Baseball crew.

[00:09:58] Ethan: I’m actually going to bring books in case anyone wants to buy books. And my mom’s going to make that trip with me, so that’ll be fun just to make a trip with my mom. That’s thing number one. That is Friendly Baseball, end of March. And then I have two things in May. At the beginning of May, another one of your guests, Bruce, uh, uh, from Rippey Baseball and the Rippey Ruckus, I’m gonna go play with him.

[00:10:22] Ethan: Up in Northern Iowa, Northern Central, Middle of Nowhere, Iowa. I’m gonna be on his team. I’m gonna be wearing purple. I have to get purple long socks. I don’t have purple long socks yet. Tall socks. And so, uh, so I’m gonna go up there and I, if I understand it, we’re playing four games in three days. I don’t think I’ve ever played games in three days

[00:10:45] Ethan: So that, so, uh, you know, uh, that’ll be, that’ll be something. I’m really looking forward to that experience. Uh, again, playing catch meeting, making new friends, taking some swings, and then. At the end of May, the very, very end of May, for the last several years, I’ve submitted a proposal to the Cooperstown Symposium trying to talk about why I think Blanketch is good sociologically, psychologically, just the benefits of it as an activity in and of itself.

[00:11:17] Ethan: And, you know, I kept getting rejected, rejected. Well, I think there’s either my fourth or fifth application proposal. And they said, we like this. We want you to come present. One game, it’s the title of the paper is “One Game of Catch” at the Cooperstown Symposium at the end of May. So I’ll, I’ll get to go to the hall of fame and, and, uh, yeah, that’s, I, I’m, I feel like I’m 10 and just so giddy to just think about it conceptually.

[00:11:48] Ethan: And then I haven’t thought about all the logistics of it yet. I’m sure that will come. It’s not there yet.

[00:11:54] Ethan: those are just the three things I’m really excited about right now.

[00:11:57] Anna: it sounds like you got a busy year planned. And, um, I am. Thrilled that you were coming down to Fort Worth, Texas for opening day Friendly Baseball. I like I told you it’s on my calendar I plan to be there here over my left shoulder is your book right there on the the bookshelf there I plan to bring that with me so that you can sign it finally And, uh, then it’ll be official.

[00:12:21] Anna: We will have officially met in person. We will have played a game of catch together, which will be just phenomenal. And Mark and that whole crew at Friendly Baseball, I love what they’re doing. I just, you know, it’s in lockstep with you. Just this game is for anybody. You don’t have to be a superstar. You don’t have to have world class equipment.

[00:12:42] Anna: just get out there and play and the benefits are just unmatched. So, um, I love that. I love that you’re going up to the Rippy Ruckus. That will be wild. I’m sure that Bruce, as he always does, will be doing a phenomenal job of kind of broadcasting that on social media. So I’ll be following along for highlights and things like that.

[00:13:02] Anna: And, um, Cooperstown is just out of this world. That is, That’s the stuff you dream about when you’re a little kid, it really is.

[00:13:10] Ethan: I just, I’m just giddy about all of it and, and I look and, you know, the, the first one is the end of March. I’m like, ah, I still got a month. Okay. Hurry up. And the good news is I still have the, the daily play and catch every day that is starting to get my arm in shape and get, get my mind around everything.

[00:13:34] Ethan: So I look forward to those just as the daily motivator of preparation.

[00:13:39] Anna: And, you know, one of the things that I’m beginning to get a little worried about is because, as you mentioned, we’re about a month out from, from Friendly Baseball’s opening day and, um, I’ve got to start training. I think I gotta get, I gotta get ready because. a, I have a feeling it’s not one of those things I can just probably jump into.

[00:13:56] Anna: And it’s been a while in particular since I have swung a bat because I’m not as fortunate as you, the batting cages are no longer just around the corner from me. So I got to figure something out, but I’m sure, I’m sure I can make it happen.

[00:14:10] Ethan: with this gorgeous weather today. I know, I think, I think the owner says it has to be above 50. And so I know that open it’s holiday here. No one is doing anything. I’m absolutely going to go get some swings in today. Uh, and it is, I mean, these are the cages I grew up on as a kid. And as a kid, it was a quarter for 10 pitches.

[00:14:30] Ethan: Well, you know, inflation hits, even the batting cages. So now it’s a quarter for five pitches, but, uh, it’s still good.

[00:14:37] Anna: Yeah, that’s my, that’s my, uh, you know, we talk about bucket list items here on the show, but like that is one of my life bucket list items. Like one of my overarching goals is to basically, I will hit a stage in my life. I know where I become financially solvent enough to. Have an outdoor batting cage. It could just be a single machine.

[00:14:59] Anna: I don’t know, but like, I love the idea of creating something like that for this community that I’m a part of, and not even necessarily caring if it makes money, but just giving an opportunity for people to go out there and hit balls because Man, what a great part of childhood, and they just, they don’t exist anymore.

[00:15:16] Anna: Like there’s one in all of DFW, and otherwise they’re these indoor powerhouse baseball academy type places that, uh, a person like me does not belong.

[00:15:28] Ethan: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, there’s some of the, the, the training facilities around here that have been very generous and they’ve lent me, lent me space and I mean, they have amazing tunnels and top notch equipment, but there’s something about going to the Iron Mike and just giving them a quarter and you have the yellow dimpled balls and, uh, it’s, and the people you meet there, like, you know, Last week, uh, yeah, I think it was last week.

[00:15:54] Ethan: I just like again looking for catch partners. I figured it’s a gorgeous day There’ll be somebody up there. I go up there I take a few swings and notice a couple guys a couple couple lanes down So i’ve been using john succanic science like so i’m doing the thing. Um I’m playing catch and they’re just kind of looking at me Well, it turns out that one of them is moving to seattle to start a job The other of them is an online friend from canada who figured he needs help driving to seattle.

[00:16:27] Ethan: So Flew to missouri to meet him where they met for the first time the night before at dinner And they’re driving to seattle together. I was like, this is an incredible story. I’m like, what are you guys doing here? Well, I wanted him to experience something in Springfield before we left. So he went to the batting cages.

[00:16:46] Ethan: How cool is that?

[00:16:48] Anna: Great idea. I love that. That’s awesome. You touched on this, this Cooperstown symposium kind of thing that you’re looking forward to here in May. I want to talk a little bit about kind of the subject matter at hand, right? Like, what is it that, that you are planning? I know you don’t have your, your speech or your presentation drawn up just yet, but let’s say, give us the uh, The bullet points of kind of what playing catch is, is really all about.

[00:17:18] Ethan: the title comes from, uh, a Tom House quote. Uh, actually, I think, I think I started off with, uh, former Major League pitcher Dr. Tom House is probably best known for being the person who caught Hank Aaron’s 715th home run in April of 1974. Cool. 50 years later, Dr. House said you can change someone’s life with one game of catch.

[00:17:43] Ethan: I completely agree. And then I’m going to talk about, I’m going to start by saying about the, the, the ball that Sophie gave me. And, and I yelled out to her, I said, Sophie want to play catch? And I said, now hold on to that for just a second. Talk about how, , play, Is central to what it means to be being human.

[00:18:03] Ethan: And the researchers talk about that. That we live in a culture that is play deprived. And, and uh, the summary statement is, uh, the opposite of play is depression. When we don’t play, we get depressed. And how, especially since the pandemic, depression is on the rise. And when we’re depressed, um, we isolate ourselves.

[00:18:20] Ethan: And that isolation turns into loneliness. And that. That clinical loneliness is also on the rise and and instead of doing that very very hard work of reaching out Connecting with someone and I learned this this week that when you are When you’re depressed when you’re anxious when you are lonely If you can do one thing and call a person and just talk to them They said it takes eight minutes an eight minute phone call will help rewire you and I thought that was That was just powerful in itself.

[00:18:48] Ethan: And I don’t know if i’m gonna work that into the presentation, but so Plate deprived depressed Lonely. And what we turn to instead of reaching out is we often turn into our screens, uh, phones, and I mean, it says the statistic is the average American looks at their phone 144 times a day. And I was like, Oh yeah, I’m finally above average at something.

[00:19:10] Ethan: Um, but, um, and so, so what, what has become is this perfect storm play deprived, depressed, lonely, and digitally distracted that it trains we have trained our brains. To be distracted. I believe that playing catch is a simple solution to all of these because playing catch, first of all, is play.

[00:19:36] Ethan: the whole point is literally to throw a ball again and again. And, you know, the perfectionist part of me says you don’t have to be good. 

[00:19:46] Ethan: You’ll make bad throws. You will drop the ball. It’s part of being human. I was playing catch with a friend a couple weeks ago and I still don’t know what happened. I sailed it over his head by 4 ft.

[00:19:57] Ethan: I just looked at it. I was like, I don’t, I don’t know where that I felt bad about it. He’s like, uh, It happens so the very next one instead of being four feet over said I buried it at his feet I was like what is going on and he thought it was Hilarious just absolutely love he said I thought you were good at this and I was like, well, I guess i’m not today He says the good thing is you’re still playing are still and we get into we are so We’re so critical of ourselves.

[00:20:29] Ethan: We’re so quick to be critical and judgmental of ourselves that if we can give ourselves grace even as we play It opens up so much, so much wider. So, playing catch is play. Playing catch is win. So, it’s not lonely. The endorphins that are released in your brain when you play catch are literally the opposite of depression.

[00:20:51] Ethan: And it gets us away from screens. And gets us outside, hopefully outside, I mean, sometimes you do have to use those training facilities because ice happens. but it gets you outside breathing, fresh air, vitamin D from the sun. And so it’s just this, it’s a simple little infinite game to, to use Simon Sinek’s and Seth Godin’s words that the whole point of it is just to keep, to keep doing it.

[00:21:19] Ethan: And so I think that’s the whole, the whole scope of it. And then I’m going to get to the very end of the presentation. say, which brings me back to my dad, because I, I, when I think of my childhood, I think of growing up playing catch with my dad. And now there’s a researcher, David Ogden, out of out of University of Nebraska.

[00:21:37] Ethan: And he says the reason that that kids stop playing ball so young today is we’re looking at a generation who didn’t grow up playing catch with their dads. And so it’s easy to interpret that quote as being on the onus of the kids, but then you look at the latest statistics and the, uh, U. S. leads the world in fatherlessness and dads who are not engaged in their kids lives and the repercussions literally affect, literally affect all of society.

[00:22:07] Ethan: I was visiting with a, uh, a homicide detective, this week and he said, I can’t tell you the impact of dads and kids lives. It is, it is just. Monstrous. And so I’m going to come back, talk about what it was like growing up with my dad and then how I didn’t realize, learn any of this. I have my daughters to thank for all of this and how they encouraged me as a dad.

[00:22:35] Ethan: And they encouraged me to go on this journey and how it all started with one game of catch. So there you go.

[00:22:41] Anna: The CliffsNotes version of it. I, uh, I, I think it’s going to be absolutely awesome. And, I think again, that one of the reasons that your message resonates with me so much is because I grew up playing catch with my dad. I grew up in the front yard almost every day.

[00:22:57] Anna: He would come home from work and I would, I mean, he would never say no. I could count on, you know, one hand the amount of times where he was like, I can’t do this today. And he would throw balls up over my shoulder. I’d have to dive, you know, he would, he was just masterful at it. And, I don’t know how much of who I am today is because of, playing catch with him, but I, I have a feeling it’s probably a little more than I usually think.

[00:23:26] Anna: So, I mean, that, that to me is just one of the, the biggest things that, uh, a parent can do with their kid is just, be excited about something with them. And, , I love hearing that. So I’m glad that, That that’s one of the points that you’re going to touch on because I think we know it internally intrinsically we understand that power of connection the power of play and all of that, but Sometimes your brain can’t really dial in on it until it’s it’s put into to words from somebody else’s mouth

[00:23:58] Ethan: And then, and even then, um, it’s, it’s such a, it is a more academic presentation. More theoretical. excuse me, I got choked up when you were talking about your batch. Um, there’s a, uh, gonna be a time for q and a and uh, I always start. Q& A with the same question. I was like, all right, I get the first question.

[00:24:20] Ethan: Who will play catch with me? Well, I do Q& A so I don’t have to think about anything and it’s so much fun even if you 10 feet away and just tossing the ball back and forth and you get this visual representation of everything that you just talked about and you’re like now it makes sense now it feels right I was actually at a rotary club I guess it was last week and gave a, a form of the presentation.

[00:24:48] Ethan: And at the end asked, asked if anyone would be willing to play catch. And that guy was at 88 years old. He said, I’m in. And he just, he walked right up, grabbed a glove and just started toss. And you could see, and, and presentation ends, people leave. And he’s like, I got, I got one more story I want to tell you.

[00:25:11] Ethan: And just that heart of connection. this is it. I

[00:25:16] Anna: definitely to your point about you know, some of the the academic Research behind it. I remember reading something You several years ago about walking and the power of walking with someone and why there is a deeper level of connection if you go on a walk with someone. And a lot of the theory behind it, I don’t know if it’s theory or not.

[00:25:39] Anna: I can’t recall how much science actually was backing this up, but was that, you know, when you walk with somebody and let’s say you’re going for a slow walk around your neighborhood, you’re on the same plane. you know, you’re not necessarily facing each other like you would be in a game of catch, but you’re walking shoulder to shoulder.

[00:25:58] Anna: And there’s something about our brains that are, however, you know, however old that, uh, still symbolically, that means something to us. It means that we’re, we’re on the same team. And I got to imagine that standing face to face or in a triangle or in a, uh, Rectangle if you got four people kind of it does something similar.

[00:26:24] Anna: It’s , you know, I don’t have kids But i’ve got nieces and nephews and i’ll tell you If you want to learn something about a kid or you want to get a piece of intel out of that kid You take them outside and you start tossing a ball and then you start asking them questions Because the information will come flooding out much much differently than it does if if we’re sitting inside somewhere

[00:26:45] Ethan: think, I think as pertaining to a walk, um, and catch, we’re forgetting what it means to be human.

[00:26:54] Ethan: And these things remind us that the best part of being human is, is being with someone else. And, and, and, and how that, how the, how just the, the interplay, uh, of relationships. And, and, and we have, uh, delegated so many of our relationships to being online or a quick note or an email or a text or whatever, but, but that we’re, we’re meant to rub elbows and, and, and share experiences together.

[00:27:23] Ethan: that’s what it means to share life on this big, beautiful ball of dirt.

[00:27:28] Anna: Definitely. You’re right about that. You definitely are. Let’s say someone who’s listening, this is the first chance they’ve had to hear about you, about Catch 365, about really just kind of this idea of finding time and making a priority to play.

[00:27:46] Anna: What do you suggest they do as kind of a let’s get started with some of this. Maybe, maybe they’re like me, maybe they’re not quite ready to, to jump into committing to 365 days in a row of, of playing catch, but just trying to work more of it into their lives. How, how can they get started?

[00:28:05] Ethan: I challenge you to do it for a month. 

[00:28:07] Ethan: You know, the, the, the, the, the logistics are simple. You need three gloves, you need your glove, and then you need a right handed glove and a left handed glove for whoever you’re going to meet, which is really funny. I was just at played against sports this morning because I had given away my left handed glove again.

[00:28:23] Ethan: I don’t know how many I’ve owned. I think I’m at, but like five or six, and I just keep running into the lefties who need gloves. And, and, you know, it’s just like, if you have something and someone’s Who am I to deny a left handed? Maybe it’s just the Southpaw mindset. I don’t know. Anyway, so you need gloves and what I would challenge you to do is literally, um, just try and do it for a month. And I’ve got one friend up in New York who started last March, March 1st, and he still hasn’t stopped. He’s like, this is great. I don’t, I don’t want to stop. I just want to keep, um, try 10 minutes a day. You know, and what’s really weird is, you know, of course you got family members, but then co workers and, and then when it really, when it really gets interesting is when you start asking strangers and, and I am, I get so nervous every time.

[00:29:15] Ethan: I am an introvert. And I mean, if you put me in a room with a dozen people and tell me after to introduce myself. My heart will pound. I will get nervous having turning and then my mind will be going, what am I going to say about who I am? And it’s usually my name is Ethan. I lost all my hair when I was six years old.

[00:29:36] Ethan: I like the Royals and Dr. Pepper. And that’s there you go. That’s usually my introduction. When you go up to a stranger and you’ll get rejected and people look at you really weird. And you’re like, So, I’m doing this thing. I think John Scukanec has that perfect. I’m doing this thing where I’m just trying to play catch every day, uh, just 10 minutes tossing the ball.

[00:29:56] Ethan: You, you got a time and a stranger will say yes. And then all of a sudden, so I connected to Carlton, who’s a stranger and I’m hoping to get him to come to Friendly Baseball. He’s in, uh, he lives in Houston, and he was, he was in Springfield working and he was at these batting cages, and we were taking swings.

[00:30:15] Ethan: It’s been two years ago now. And he said, You wouldn’t happen to know anyone I could play catch with, would you? I was like, hey, that’s my line. I ask that question all the time. And he’s like, what are you talking about? But there will be a time when someone will say yes, and you will make this connection.

[00:30:32] Ethan: And you’ll be like, And then you go home and talk to your spouse. So I met this guy today and, uh, what’d you do? Well, we were playing catch, and you start and, and it opens up so many avenues to, to new relationships. And, you know, as, as adults we struggle with, with friends, you know, we still clinging on to to, to friends from high school and.

[00:30:54] Ethan: You know, occasionally you get, you’re lucky to have friends from work or other social, so social or civic clubs, but you make these serendipitous relationships with catch partners. Man, it is awesome. And then baseball season, you get texts from all kinds of partners. Did you see what my team did? I mean, I’ve forgotten who your team is.

[00:31:14] Ethan: What is going on? And it’s, it’s awesome. It is. It comes back to everything that you said. It’s about connection. so the short thing is just try it, work up the courage and try it just a week even. Um, what’s really, I need to tell you about this. Uh, I, I met my wife at Missouri State University. So both of my daughters went to college.

[00:31:39] Ethan: Um, they’re going to do a study. We’re going to do a study on to see if the effects of playing catch can be measured. 

[00:31:46] Ethan: Um, they have, they have set up all the parameters and all this stuff, and I told ’em, I was like, you know, I am. So, I mean, I guess it’s part of what it means to live in the show me state.

[00:31:56] Ethan: I’m so skeptical about it. Um, I don’t know that the effects can be measured, but I know that there’s gonna be like these ripple effects of connection spreading across the community. These are the guys like, I don’t want to get involved in this point. It’s just going to be ripple effects of joy and connection.

[00:32:14] Ethan: And, and I think that’s what our culture really needs is joy and connection.

[00:32:20] Anna: definitely, there’s going to be, um, an influx of, of catch playing on campus. That’s for sure. And I think, uh, I think they should be able to, to measure it. I mean, if they can measure all these other effects of happiness thing, you know, things that have the impact of happiness or whatever it is.

[00:32:38] Anna: This thing’s impact on happiness. I think that’s what I was trying to say the whole time. They should be able to do it with, with playing catch. And, um, I love that. And, you know, one of the things that I think people should remember if they are a little nervous about playing catch or asking strangers in particular to play catch, which I get, it’s totally intimidating,

[00:33:00] Ethan: Yes.

[00:33:01] Anna: but I think it’s much like most things in life is that.

[00:33:07] Anna: If it’s a part of a human experience, most people want to do it, they’re just waiting for somebody to ask them. And so, everybody’s just as scared, everybody’s just as standoffish, but, you know, the worst thing that can happen is someone says no and then you move on, so.

[00:33:25] Ethan: Yeah. And then they watched and they’re like, Hey, can I, can I join in? I 

[00:33:30] Ethan: can’t change my 

[00:33:30] Ethan: mind. Yes. You can change your mind. I’ve got another glove. It’s absolutely. Um, one of the things I’ve been. Learning that, that it was actually a book written in the mid eighties, um, finite and infinite games by James Karrs.

[00:33:47] Ethan: And then Seth Godin and Simon, Simon, Simon Sinek picked up his research and in elaborated it and further things. And one of the, uh, the rules of an infinite game is one new participants can join anytime. Absolutely. And two, the rules change so that. New participants can join anytime. And so if that means, you know, if you’ve got a three year old kid.

[00:34:15] Ethan: And you have to roll them the ball, but he is getting to experience joy and connection, you roll the ball so that new participant can join in at any time. seeing their description and, seeing them talk about how important we, how important infinite games are now, when we live in a culture that is obsessed with finite games, where there’s winners and losers and this kind of stuff and definite ends. Playing catch becomes this infinite game that they would say, the end goal is wonder. And I was like, I like that. The end goal is wonder. I

[00:34:56] Anna: I love everything about this movement I think it’s been so fun to kind of watch and and be tertially and far involved in and

[00:35:05] Ethan: One month. We did the play

[00:35:07] Ethan: catch. 

[00:35:07] Anna: cannot wait to uh It’s it’s finally gonna happen, you know, and uh, I’m really excited about that Can’t wait to give you a big old hug and just uh, you know, finally meet in person Which is something i’ve been looking forward to and you gotta sign my book.

[00:35:21] Anna: You really do

[00:35:23] Ethan: Okay, sure.

[00:35:24] Ethan: It’ll say, thank you so much.

[00:35:27] Anna: where do we send people if they want to find out a little bit more? I know you’re you’re chronicling this new kind of phase two of catch 365 on social I know you got a website. Where do we send people?

[00:35:40] Ethan: they can come to, uh, just ethanbryan. com. I’m doing occasional blogging once or twice a month. Just telling some of the bigger stories, uh, but I, I’m, I’m posting on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, just pictures of the guys I’m playing catch with every day. The new friends and I, I’m out there, I’m available.

[00:35:59] Ethan: Um, if you wanna play catch with me, that was my email. Wanna play catch@gmail.com, reach out. We will find a way to make it happen. as much as I want to be a hermit and a recluse with every fiber of my being. I’m not there yet. So,

[00:36:17] Anna: Well, good. I don’t think you should be there. I think, uh, you, you got an important story, an important message to spread, and I love it, and I cannot wait. We’re just a, a few short weeks away from actually having our, our game of catch finally, so I, I look forward to it, Ethan, and I can’t thank you enough for coming back on.

[00:36:36] Ethan: oh, what a joy. Thank you so much.


[00:36:39] Anna: And that will wrap up this episode of Extra Innings. Special, thanks to Ethan Bryan for joining us again and sharing that incredibly important message. 

[00:36:47] Anna: If this sounds like something you’d like to do, if you think you might like to be a guest or a repeat guest on the show had to baseball bucket list.com/podcast and fill out an application I’d absolutely love to hear from you. 

[00:36:58] Anna: While you’re there, take some time to check out the site, build your own baseball bucket list, track your ballpark visits, connect with other fans. If you find yourself enjoying the show each week, please take a moment to rate and review it in the podcast app of your choice. I’d really appreciate it. It goes such a long way. That’s it for this week. Thanks so much for listening. We’ll see you. Next episode. 

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