MCALESTER, Okla. -- Turns out there is some truth — and some confusion — behind the Texas A&M bullpen prank video that went viral this week.
Former Eastern Oklahoma State College baseball player Zach Torres tweeted a video last Friday of himself and teammates apparently prank calling the Texas A&M baseball team’s bullpen two years ago. The footage went viral, receiving more than 43,000 retweets and 82,000 likes within 24 hours.
The video was picked up by national sports media outlets including Bleacher Report and SportsCenter. Torres said he had no idea it would get that big, and it didn't take long for people to question its authenticity.
Torres and his friends maintain that the video is real, while thousands have called the video fake.
So did it really happen, or is this "fake news"?
The McAlester News-Capital confirmed that Ryan Lasneske — current Texas A&M baseball video coordinator — was the person who answered the phone that day.
Lasneske also tweeted at Torres on Monday “Real phone call, fake video. Fake results. Enjoy the 15 seconds” — seeming to prove the phone call actually happened.
The video recorded by Jace Pitchford shows Troy Meadows calling to tell the Texas A&M bullpen to get pitcher A.J. Minter warmed up during a game on Feb. 17, 2015, against Stephen F. Austin State University.
A voice on the other end of the line responded that Minter was in the dugout, not the pen. However, the video then showed three A&M players going from the dugout to the bullpen, and the Eastern guys all went crazy.
So what really happened?
It seems the Eastern players did talk to someone in the bullpen that night, but that person brushed off the call.
The number the group called has a College Station, Texas, area code and continued ringing without going to voicemail — typical of a land line — when the McAlester News-Capital called it three different times on Monday.
However, someone answered in the fifth inning of Texas A&M’s game against Dallas Baptist on Tuesday and responded “this is the bullpen.”
In the viral video, Meadows tells the bullpen to get Minter warmed up, but it was former A&M pitcher Kyle Simonds who jogged to the bullpen and started to warm up — not Minter.
It looked like the Eastern phone call led to a pitcher being sent to the bullpen with the bases loaded, but it was most likely coincidental.
Still, the timing of Simonds going to the bullpen shortly the call led to the pranksters bouncing off the walls and one legendary viral video.
“It wasn’t really planned; I didn’t know anyone was taking video,” Torres said. “But I’m glad (Jace Pitchford) took it though, because I’ll tell people the story that we called the pen and got a guy hot so now, they’ll believe it.”
Torres said he got the bullpen number after playing a summer league game the year prior to the prank call and waited two years to post it because he didn't want anyone to get in trouble.
Now, he has trouble keeping his phone active.
“My phone has been freezing up,” Torres said. “When I get on twitter, it won’t let me look at everyone’s tweets without freezing up with every one that I’ve liked.”
This wasn't the first viral video for Torres.
He gained notoriety last year for a video of the Eastern baseball team's bull-riding pregame ritual that was picked up by ESPN and FOX Sports 1, among other social media accounts.
The bull-riding video starts with one player riding out of the “chutes” and into a ring of fellow Mountaineers, all whooping and yelling for the rider.
After staying on for eight seconds, the player was then hoisted on the shoulders of his hyped-up teammates.
FS1’s At The Buzzer tweeted the video with the caption “This is one of the best pre game rituals ever!” and ESPN labelled the video as its “LOL Of The Day” on Snapchat.
O'Hanlon III writes for the McAlester, Oklahoma News.