Two years ago today, I had my 15 minutes of fame, my viral moment, in this social media driven world. We are probably all destined for one, at least according to Andy Warhol, and he made that claim before Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube existed – let alone the concept of the internet. Or the “information super highway”, as those early (very confusing) commercials called it.
A lot of viral moments are not very flattering at all, and most seem to be downright scandalous. Some are funny and some are heartwarming, though. And the vast majority are completely unplanned, both good and bad.
That last descriptor applies to mine: It was completely unplanned. So let’s start at the beginning.
In 2011, Texas Rangers fan Shannon Stone died when he fell from the outfield bleachers trying to catch a ball that Josh Hamilton had tossed his way. It was a freak accident, and obviously very sad. So in 2012, the Rangers erected a statue near the home plate entrance to the park in honor of all Ranger fans, though specifically (and rightfully) mentioning Shannon and his son Cooper.
Now we can fast forward to March 31, 2014. The Rangers home opener.
What happened that day has been blamed on bad planning, lack of trash cans, disrespectful fans, drunken tailgaters, and any other scapegoat you can think of. But the outcome was a preposterous amount of trash (almost exclusively beer bottles and cans) placed on the base of the memorial. An alert Twitter user (@kmattio) posted a photo with the caption “This is the statue of the Rangers fan who fell to his death at the ballpark in ’11. Look what people did to it today.”
We all know Texas is a red state when it comes to politics, but after that Tweet, it was also a state red with complete embarrassment. And rightfully so.
Two nights later, I was at the game with my friend Peggy. The Rangers won in the bottom of the ninth on a walk-off walk, and we started making our way back to the car for the drive home. On the way, we passed the memorial statue and noticed that it had not one speck of trash on it.
Instead, there was just one single red rose in a small planter.
Peggy took a picture of it and I Tweeted it out while tagging a few national scribes that I thought might find it interesting. Then, when we got home (after having the entire drive home to think about it), I blogged about it.
It was not my best work – not even close. My Texas jingoism was on full display, probably fueled by a few (few?) beers and the win. When I was done, I sent the link to a very small handful of people, and Yahoo! picked it up and wrote about it.
The full Yahoo! story lives on HERE, complete with the original Tweet showing the trash and my Tweet showing the flower. This stupid site got almost 1000 views that day, mostly thanks to the Yahoo! story, all thanks to a single Tweet.
But Yahoo! was not the only outlet that picked up on the Tweet. The Dallas Morning News also had a story on their website about it, and Peggy’s photo even showed up on Keith Olbermann’s show on ESPN2 (or whatever channel he was on then). Others also did something with it, but those three were the biggest highlights.
My one regret is that I really wish I would have written about the moment with a little more clarity, a little more tact, and a little less beer.
But what is done is done, as the saying goes. My 15 minutes could have been a lot worse.
Did you ever see me playing air guitar on a broom to “Boom, Boom, Out Go the Lights” by the Pat Travers Band?
Sentimental gestures never meant that much to me
– The Smithereens, “Cut Flowers”