Ricky Mast watched all 1,440 games on TV to date this Major League Baseball regular season, plus the All-Star Game and State Farm Home Run Derby in person at Kansas City. He was the latest fan to be cut from the Cave on Tuesday, and he planned to go to dinner that night with fellow Braves fan and ex-Dweller Shaun Kippins ... to watch Atlanta at Miami.
"Yeah, first night out and I'm going to watch some baseball," Mast said. "I'm OK. It's all good. I mean, I'm sad I won't see the Dwellers every day, but how could you be sad about the most amazing time of your life, where you got to do all these things?"
On a day when Chipper Jones finally joined Twitter, the last remaining Braves backer in the MLB Fan Cave was shown the exit. Mast's departure leaves Ashley Chavez (Giants fan), Ricardo Marquez (Angels), Gordon Mack (Phillies) and Kyle Thompson (Cardinals) as the final four that will attempt to watch every single game in 2012.
"The MLB Fan Cave this season has exceeded our goals in every way, and the Cave Dwellers have been a huge part of that success by serving as a direct conduit to fans through social media while sharing their experiences living the ultimate baseball fan's dream each day at the Fan Cave," said Tim Brosnan, MLB executive vice president of business. "Ricky is a true baseball fan with a tremendous personality. We know he enjoyed every minute of his time in the Fan Cave, and wish him all the best in the future."
From a field of 22,000 applicants last winter, 50 finalists were chosen and fans voted on their video submissions. MLB took 30 of those to Arizona for a mini-camp at Spring Training, putting them through challenges and interviews, and deciding on nine Cave Dwellers who would start the season. Benjamin Christiansen (A's fan) and Eddie Mata (Yankees) were the first two cuts on May 30. All seven were allowed to go to Kansas City for VIP treatment at All-Star Week, and then Kippins and Lindsay Guentzel (Twins) were cut upon returning.
Now it is a barbershop quartet, considering that there is an actual barber's chair behind the 15-screen Cave Monster, the same chair David Ortiz got a trim in last season. While those four find it harder to have someone go down the giant orange tube slide every time someone hits a homer, Mast will hang around the Big Apple for the week, try to see "Book of Mormon" on Broadway and maybe a live taping of "Late Show with David Letterman," and mainly start networking in hopes that this season's experience will be a career springboard.
"I went out to lunch with fellow Cave Dwellers, had grilled chicken sandwich at Jane in West Village, then went to the Cave and Tim Brosnan came in and told us the decision," said Mast, 28, who found out at 3:30 p.m. ET. "It couldn't have been nicer. He thanked me and I hope I did a good enough job explaining to them how much I appreciated this opportunity. This is the kind of thing that has literally changed my life and it's all for the better. I'm really excited to see what the next chapter of my life holds.
"I've enjoyed doing radio throughout this thing, so I'd like to try my hand at that, start to get my feet wet in sports talk at a local radio station, or in baseball, any number of things. Given the experience at the Fan Cave, this has given me the confidence to go out and feel like I can do anything I want. I can make something of myself."
No reasons for cuts are being announced this season. MLB monitors each Dweller's progress in building followings through social networks, in their blogs, occasional challenges, in their overall participation and creativity throughout the campaign. Besides watching every game, they are host to a multitude of visitors at Fourth Street and Broadway -- most recently four members of the Nationals' bullpen on Monday.
To date, there have been more than 70 appearances by current and former MLB players and celebrities and the Cave Concert Series has hosted a dozen concerts featuring a wide range of musical acts. All of the activity has been brought to life in content that lives on MLBFanCave.com, supported by Major League Baseball Advanced Media, and is distributed via MLB's social media channels. It includes more than 50 videos created this season by Fan Cave production partner P3 Entertainment.
Mast is from Rockbridge Baths, Va. (pop. 922), and before earning a spot at the Fan Cave he was a hazmat cleanup specialist -- working with his father, former NASCAR driver Rick Mast. Ricky included multiple musical impressions in his application video, and along the way this season he brought some fun with his guitar, singing an ode to Brian McCann in "Hootie & The Blowfish" fashion, and he and Marquez stripped to something resembling shorts in a dance video with Kate Upton.
"I think you knew when we first signed up for this, it's not forever," Mast said. "The only sad part is not seeing my fellow Dwellers every day. We've become such a close-knit family. But it's not like we're not going to see each other anymore. We're a unique family with extremely unique bonds."
The highlight probably was getting to meet all four Braves representatives, and especially his "hero," Jones, at All-Star Week. When told that he was departing this social-media hub just as Jones was finally jumping aboard Twitter, Mast laughed.
"That's OK, that's a good trade for the Braves fans," he said. "I'll still be on Twitter wanting to talk baseball. But I'd rather talk to Chipper if I was a fan."