With the threat of disconnection upon us all, Easton has stood out as an example of keeping people connected to the game — both baseball and softball — they love as ambassadors and influencers alike swarm to the California-based brand’s social media presence to engage with each other, players, parents and coaches.
“We don’t want these games to stop because we can’t all be on the field together,” says Austin Hurwitz, Easton vice president of marketing and e-commerce. “Baseball connects us all and we are hoping this doesn’t last any longer than it needs to, but it is cool to see all these folks share the same kind of love and interest. We are all finding ways to share ideas and keep the love of the game alive.”
From Delino DeShields to Justin Turner and so many more, Easton wants to build connections by offering a home on its social media channels for a “Stay Ready” campaign that encourages video and conversation about baseball and softball.
“It started out as one thing and really in an unexpected way has taken a lot of directions,” he says. “It is about keeping conversations going, keeping the flow of ideas going. It is a really cool mix of pros, amateurs, parents of players, coaches of players, current players and retired players.”
Hurwitz says it has been overwhelming to have so many athletes want to be a part of the conversation and community of players. That has allowed Easton to do everything from having professional athletes walk people through a workout routine to having game influencers conduct conversations about life during lockdowns.
While Instagram has proven the most engaging platform for Easton, the brand has also made its presence felt on YouTube, its new TikTok account and so much more. But having players and the game’s biggest influencers and personalities come to join Easton has really given the Stay Ready movement something to engage in.
“Normally all these guys are in the season and it is impossible (to engage with them),” Hurwitz says. “I would say that there has not been a single person we have asked that has said no. It has literally been them asking ‘When?’ Now some of our players are doing it more than once.”
The Stay Ready effort will continue, especially as more and more people want to get involved. Hurwitz says they expect to keep taking it in new directions, maybe even by crossing baseball and softball by having big-name representatives of the sport have chats with each other. He hopes he can set up a conversation about catching between Austin Hedges and Jen Schroeder, the type of idea that actually came straight from MLB players hoping to connect with as many players of both baseball and softball as possible.
Hurwitz says that while the entire list of Easton brand ambassadors has been great to work with, he’s been especially impressed with DeShields and Turner. DeShields has made a conscious effort to express himself through social media and he’s using his connections with Easton to make that more evident. “He’s been asking, ‘What else can I do?’ and that has been crazy,” Hurwitz says.
Then, there’s Turner, who signed with the brand March 12, just when the coronavirus concerns really started taking a serious tone across North America.
“Justin is so brand new to the team and he is literally asking when can I help, what can I do and how can I help,” Hurwitz says. “There are some really fun things we are planning with him.”
The role Easton can play in sports stems from the brand’s decision to put a stronger focus on social media since 2018. That has opened up the door to relationships with folks throughout the industry, not just player ambassadors, that help create new content that connects with people.
“It has been cool,” Hurwitz says. “Across the map people are hungry for ideas. There are way more important things happening right now health wise, but in our little way all of us, not just Easton, we are going to come out of this and when we do come out of this, we will be remembering these relationships and what we did together. I think people will get back to routines and get busy, but I think it will advance social media and for baseball in particular. I think this will advance how we experience the game together.”
Tim Newcomb covers gear and business for Baseball America. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.