ELYRIA — The home opener may be 63 days away, but Cleveland Indians baseball fans already are looking forward to the 2014 season — and to selecting the governor of Brohio.
Perhaps no one is more excited than 25-year-old Elyria resident Ben Henceroth, who is one of four finalists vying to win the Brohio title.
What is Brohio?
It is a way of life. Introduced during the 2013 season when the team signed first baseman Nick Swisher, Section 117 at Progressive Field is a sea of fans wearing blue T-shirts with a white outline of the state of Ohio and the word Brohio.
These fans are enthusiastic. They are boisterous. And they have fun, just like Swisher.
The governor of Brohio makes sure that fans in Section 117 — down the right-field line near the visiting team’s bullpen — perform their aforementioned duties.
If elected, Henceroth will attend all Friday and Saturday home games to pump up Brohio and cheer on the Indians. He is ready for the job.
“When I was younger, my parents introduced me to all different sports,” Henceroth said. “There was something about baseball that always interested me. I played T-ball and then baseball. I played baseball all the way through high school.”
Henceroth remembers the Indians’ glory days in the mid-’90s when Jim Thome, Kenny Lofton, Omar Vizquel and Albert Belle were playing.
He remembers going to Jacobs Field — now Progressive Field — with his dad and feeling the energy from the crowd.
“My dad and I used to go to games all of the time,” he said. “It finally feels like we have a team again and kids today have baseball players to look up to, like Swisher, (Justin) Masterson and (Asdrubal) Cabrera.”
One of Henceroth’s most vivid childhood baseball memories is of a game that almost was rained out. It was the bottom of the ninth, and the game was on a rain delay. Henceroth and his dad waited, and waited, and waited, and when they were just about to leave, the game resumed. The Indians were down by a couple of runs, but managed to load the bases. Then, Belle hit a grand slam and the Indians won the game.
“To be able to see that in person was pretty amazing,” Henceroth said.
To create memories like that for today’s kids is what Henceroth wants to help do as governor of Brohio.
His buddy since their Elyria High School days, Corey Blaz, has been helping Henceroth with his campaign.
“This is definitely right up his alley,” Blaz said. “He is the most die-hard Tribe fan I know.”
At a recent event where the four candidates were interviewed for the position, Henceroth seemed to strike a chord with the audience, Blaz said, putting on his sunglasses, chest bumping Swisher, and getting the fans to repeat a cheer.
“What time is it?” “Tribe time” — a chant Henceroth recalled from his time playing high school baseball.
“He will definitely live up to the role (of governor),” Blaz said. “That’s for sure.”
Henceroth, an accounting major at Notre Dame College, will graduate from Notre Dame in May.
No matter where life takes him after graduation, Henceroth said he will remain a Tribe fan for life.
To check out Henceroth’s videos on why he should be elected governor, visit www.benforbrohio.com or vote at www.indians.com/brohio.
Voting continues through Friday.