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Hunter Pence is a creator.
Sure, the right fielder produces runs with a patented line-drive swing for the San Francisco Giants, but that’s not the only reason he is trending.
He takes special, sentimental moments like his Disney World marriage proposal and turns them into viral content.
He has an uncanny knack for making people laugh by poking fun at himself, dressing up as robber Marv from Home Alone or Kip from the cult classic Napoleon Dynamite.
Want to see how Pence views the world? Look no further than his Snapchat.
No, really. Those Snapchat glasses provide a first-hand account on what Pence is actually seeing.
Through all of his creating, the right fielder is giving the public more than just a glimpse at his life on and off the field. Pence isn’t afraid to show the depths of his personality, a stratosphere many athletes aren’t willing to venture into.
He enjoys and deserves his privacy, but Pence’s passion is sharing his passions, experiences and every day cool moments with others.
Pence is a bit of a social media guru with active followings across Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. He actively documents what’s going on in his world, giving new light to the meaning of player-fan engagement. It’s what earned him a nomination from the Shorty Awards, which annually honors the top creators and producers on social media.
“I don’t think we can help notice it, whether it’s him or Lexi, his wife,” Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford said. “They’re both always posting something. I don’t think we have anyone else quite on his level.”
Twitter was in the beginning of its existence when Pence began his career with the Houston Astros in 2007. Back then, social media was often viewed as an invasion of privacy.
“When I started doing it everyone was like, ‘Hey, I’m going to the bathroom, Hunter. Why don’t you Tweet about it,’ Pence said.
As social media usage increased over the years, Pence was able to show his teammates what was at the core of his own social strategy.
“You open a lot of doors when you show your personality and let that shine,” he said. “This is a cool experience that needs to be shared with your family, your friends. You’re not guaranteed anything, so really take it in and enjoy it.”
Pence married Alexis Cozombolidis during the offseason and has taken the “honeymoon phase” of marriage to a new level. This goes beyond Instagramming a picture from date night or vacations.
What might the Pence’s look like 60 years from now? Hunter and Alexis wanted to find out, so they dressed up in full “old people” getup complete with grey hair, wrinkles and killer matching jumpsuits and took an Instagram video of a conversation between the two in 2077. Spoiler: Hunter becomes a little hard of hearing.
The right fielder doesn’t have to look far to draw inspiration for what makes good social content. Alexis has worked for IGN, Twitch and has taken her talents to YouTube, garnering hundreds of thousands of views the best her web series “Let’s Get Lexi” has to offer.
Alexis shoots, edits and produces these fun, lighthearted videos by herself. She’s done her own version of MTV’s Cribs, allowing viewers a look into their Scottsdale home, hosted a Newlywed Challenge with Giants’ closer Derek Law and his wife Chelsea, allowed Pence to hilariously voice over one of her makeup tutorials and shown viewers what she carries with her in a segment titled “WTF is in my purse.”
It’s easy to see how humor allows the two to cultivate unique content.
“I always make the joke that she makes a living making fun of me,” Pence said.
“She’s opened up my mind to creating, how important that is, and how good it is for your soul to try and create something. It just feels good.”
Over the years, social media has become more than a method for athletes to allow behind-the-scenes access into the locker room or their lives away from the sport.
It gives them an ability to control their own message.
With outlets like The Players’ Tribune, athletes no longer need the media to get their word out. A simple Tweet or caption on Instagram is all that’s required for the word to come from the horse’s mouth.
“Before social media, the power of the pen was huge and whatever they wrote down was all anyone had to read,” Pence said. “Now we can say whatever we want. You have to be very careful what you say but it’s also very powerful. You have the opportunity to share your message, to communicate whatever it is you’re comfortable with.”
And Pence is more than comfortable sharing. Sometimes it’s as simple as coming up with a hashtag to describe how he’s feeling in that moment.
“Whatever you come up with, always hashtag it,” he said. “The weirder the better. #LetsGetOdd.”
Follow Courtney Cronin on Twitter.