On the ball


Photo Contributed

Roehling attends a Cardinals game at Busch Stadium last year.

Genevieve Konijisky, Staff Writer

After ditching his backpack at the door, the sweet sounds of the latest Cubs game greet junior Ryne Roehling. The crack of the ball and the roar of the crowd plaster a smile on his face, and it reminds him that thankfully, school is out. 

Roehling has been an avid baseball fan for as long as he can remember. In fact, he is named after Ryne Sandberg, who was inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York in 2005.

This interest in baseball pushed him to actually start playing the sport in elementary school, which he continued for 12 years after. He ultimately ended this baseball career to focus on football, but Roehling still has an interest in all things baseball, especially the Chicago Cubs.

“I remember my first big time favorite player was Darwin Barney, who is a big hitter and glove guy. When the Cubs were bad, he was the good. I also paid a lot of attention to Kris Bryant, Wilson Contreras, Ben Zobrist in the World Series,” Roehling said. “Watching got me really interested in mimicking things that some of my favorite professional players would do, and I got really into the analytics.”

After becoming devoted to baseball it was only a matter of time until Roehling found himself interested in the analytical side of things. As a mathematically-inclined student, he enjoyed learning about game statistics and then positioning himself in places on the field that he had seen consistent success in in previous games. 

Both Roehling’s favorite players and his devotion to the strategic side of the game had a significant impact on his own personal play, and watching the sport live was where he could see everything come to life. During his younger years, Roehling visited the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, Ohio, which gave him the desire to explore all of the stadiums around him and to relive the major league experience as much as he could.

Roehling has visited all of the stadiums within a three hour radius of Greenwood. This includes the White Sox’ Guaranteed Rate Field, the Cardinals’ Busch Stadium, the Brewers’ Miller Park, the Reds’ Great American Ballpark and the Tigers’ Comerica Park. However, Roehling has high hopes to visit more in the future; the Braves’ Truist Park and the Giants’ Oracle are just some of the big names on Roehling’s list. 

The Truist is a recently built facility in Atlanta, GA, where he wants to get a new state-of-the-art experience, and The Oracle, which is located in San Francisco, CA, is a hot spot for Roehling because of his family in the city. 

Roehling attended his first Major League Baseball game in 2013. As a kid, watching the play did not make as large of an impression on him; however, in retrospect, Roehling found the experience to be very beneficial. 

“Looking back on it, it was a great experience to first see some Major League Baseball,” Roehling said. 

He watched this game with his dad and great grandpa, and since then the sport has acted as a way for them to bond. Fostering a family connection over a common interest, especially one that calls for travel and excitement, has shaped Roehling’s formative years.

However, it isn’t all necessarily about the thrill of the game itself. There are some key components that make up the ultimate baseball experience for him as well. 

He much prefers seats in the outfield. There, he can keep his eye on the game. 

“I would rather sit along a baseline than the back because you can’t really see any of the fielding action in the back. Right in front of the outfield you can always see what’s going on, and the only thing you’re missing is bad calls,” Roehling said. 

Not only does Roehling believe that certain seats will contribute to a better experience in the stands, but he believes the atmosphere is important as well. 

 “I really enjoy how the crowd interacts with the game, winning or losing,” Roehling said.

Roehling values the emotions within the crowd almost as much as the players on the field. 

Specifically, a massive comeback in a Cubs versus Reds game that Roehling attended in 2015 stands out. 

“It was a pretty pointless game and it didn’t really matter,” Roehling said. 

However, Roehling watched his beloved team, the Cubs, come back and rally from a depressing loss. The team fought back and managed to close the six point gap that had been created early on. 

“I think it would have been the tenth inning that the game ended, and I remember my parents wanting to leave really badly, but I just didn’t want to leave. I wanted to watch the game, so we stayed there,” Roehling said.

The Cubs prevailed, and the moment was immortalized in Roehling’s memory.

The connection and nostalgia that the sport of baseball carries for Ryne is something he can realize by visiting stadiums and watching the big time players up close. 

“It all came from my interest as a younger kid,” Roehling said. 

He anticipates that his aspirations to visit more stadiums in the future will fall into place as his busy schedule dwindles, and he has several plans for the upcoming summer as well.