Arizona baseball: Sawyer Gieseke combines passion for film and baseball
Arizona infielder Sawyer Gieseke slides toward home plate during a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on March 1, 2016. Gieseke has appeared in nine games for the Wildcats.
OMAHA, Nebraska — Arizona baseball coach Jay Johnson has a saying around the clubhouse.
“You have my permission to have as much fun as you possibly want to have.”
There’s no clause at the end of it. Winning and playing the game the right way come first, of course, but after that, it’s up to the players how far they want to push Johnson’s limit of fun.
From rally towels to water bottle spraying to Cheez-It box hats, Arizona baseball has relied on a unique brand of fun to stay loose. So far, it’s taken the Wildcats to the winner’s bracket of the College World Series.
Sawyer Gieseke has documented much of the mayhem on his camera.
Gieseke, a junior infielder, may not be the most well-known Wildcat on the field, but off of it he has developed quite an audience by producing up-close videos of his teammates.
Gieseke first developed an interest for film-making when he received a Go-Pro camera as a high schooler.
“I had a couple great teachers here and there,” Gieseke said. “I love the whole one-man-band thing.”
This past winter break, Gieseke invested in a higher-end camera. From there, he started filming behind-the-scenes moments of life as a college baseball player.
One Instagram video captured the team’s early season road trip to Houston, Texas. Another pans through the dugout as teammates mob one another after a big hit.
Eventually, Gieseke’s videos developed a wider audience on social media. He said his follower number on Twitter has risen by 400 over the past few months alone.
Outside of baseball, Gieseke and his teammates share another common bond—this one for nineties alternative music.
“All we sing is ‘90s alternative,” Gieseke said. “Goo Goo [Dolls]. Blink. Third-Eye Blind. Those are the big ones. Those are the ones that we mostly play.”
Gieseke, always pushing the boundaries of fun, knew there had to be a way to combine nineties-alternative, baseball and filmmaking.
One day, teammate Robert Medel called up Gieseke with an idea.
He wanted to make a music video to the Goo Goo Dolls hit, “Slide.”
“I was on a flight, I had a sketch pad and I put down a lot of stuff of what we should and how we should do it,” Gieseke said. “We put the 3-2 winner towel in there which was awesome. [Medel] always has it on him.”
Next, Gieseke came up with a few iconic locations at the UA to match the iconic late 90’s song.
He settled on McKale Center, Hi Corbett and Old Main.
The video’s pool scene is from Gieseke’s Tucson backyard.
In the video, a three-man band of Medel, Tyler Crawford and Kaleb Roper lip-sync and air-guitar the Goo Goo Dolls’ hit as Gieseke works his camera to provide close-up and aerial shots.
While shooting the video, Gieseke thought, “If we get the Goo Goo Dolls to retweet this, then we’ve made it.”
Sure enough, the Goo Goo Dolls took notice.
“That was our goal,” Gieseke said proudly.
Before Arizona’s game against Miami Saturday, Gieseke sat in the dugout talking with ESPN reporter Kaylee Hartung. Hartung had seen Gieseke’s “Slide” video and suggested that he produce another music video—this one specially made for Omaha.
The song: “This Town” by O.A.R., another 90s alternative rock group.
Gieseke and a few of his teammates spent Sunday morning filming the video, which will air Monday during ESPN’s broadcast of Arizona’s game against Oklahoma State.
Gieseke, who will play summer ball in Wisconsin, now gets to air his talents to a national audience. The Walnut Creek, California native isn’t about ready to put down his camera.
“I’d love to stay in documentary type shooting or features for sports,” Gieseke said. “That’s my niche. I think I’m decent at it because I actually know baseball and what to look for.”
As for what Gieseke’s head coach thinks of his filmography explorations?
“Jay loves them,” Gieseke said. “It’s a huge recruiting thing, too. It’s a great way to show off to America how much fun we have here.”
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