As the Arizona Diamondbacks’ in-game hosts, Mike Bauer and Vanessa Ramirez have become family to the baseball team’s fans—and each other.
The duo, who energize the crowds with their impromptu banter and games, receive holiday cards, hugs and even birthday presents from fans. Bauer and Ramirez are celebrating their 11th season with the D-backs.
“A lot of fans turn into really good friends,” Ramirez says. “Some of them feel like family. I love the hugs from little kids. The neat part is we’ve seen these kids grow up over the 11 years.”
Bauer and Ramirez were just kids themselves when they were hired by the team. Ramirez, an only child, says she was shy as a youngster, even though she participated in plays, dance and recitals.
“My mom knew I loved the entertainment world,” she adds.
Ramirez’s world was broadened when she enrolled in a public speaking class at Grand Canyon University.
“I knew I wanted to be somewhere in the news world, somewhere in the entertainment business,” she says.
Bauer’s future was a little more challenging. An only child as well, Bauer wanted to be a fireman, astronaut or a professional baseball or football player. One thing he did know: He yearned to be surrounded by sports.
“I moved to Arizona from southern California to go to the ASU Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication,” he says. “That was my career path. I worked with the Phoenix Roadrunners for a season and found out this job was open.
“I tried out at Fan Fest before the 2007 season. I was standing out on the rotunda outside the ticket offices saying, ‘Hey fans! It’s T-shirt time!’ I impressed the right people and got the job.”
Ramirez was discovered during a fashion show that introduced the D-backs’ new jerseys before the 2007 season.
“They had models walk out with the players,” she says. “I was having fun, being silly and laughing. I think that’s what got the boss’ attention.”
Ramirez was employed by CW6 at the time. The D-backs tracked her down there and asked her to audition for the in-game host job.
“I took some pictures and after that the rest is history,” she says.
Bauer and Ramirez came together and clicked right away.
“We’re almost like brother and sister because we’ve grown up so much together through all the years,” Ramirez says. “I say he’s my brother from another mother.”
“She’s my sister from another mister,” Bauer adds with a laugh. “It’s fun. There isn’t a single day when I get bummed out about having to work. It’s really cool when people tell me it looks like we’re having fun. We have fun at what we do and that makes it easy.”
Both keep busy schedules. Bauer hosts trivia nights throughout the Valley, as well as Morning Fanatics with K-Ray and Bauer on AM 1580 and FM 99.3 The Fanatic from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday to Friday. Ramirez starts her day at 2:30 a.m. so she can arrive on time for her traffic reporter job at 12 News and hosts the local TV show Su Vida.
“Our success started with our parents,” Ramirez says about she and her partner. “I’m an only child, like Mike. My parents were really strict growing up. They set me up for success. Just seeing their hard work and dedication made me want to do them proud.”
Ramirez adds that her busy schedule is a piece of cake.
“I get asked all the time how I do all of this,” Ramirez says. “It’s easy because it just doesn’t feel like work. I love what I do. I have a passion for it. We joke with our bosses all the time and ask if we’re going to be here until we’re 50.
“We don’t see ourselves leaving the ballpark. Why would we want to let this go?”
Bauer adds, “It’s amazing to have the relationship we have with the fans. We get Christmas cards and birthday cards. It’s great to see the faces of kids who are walking into the ballpark for the first time, or the first time a little girl sees Baxter. Their eyes are as big as dinner plates. It makes it all worthwhile.”