Daniel Paulling ’08
Batting a Thousand
By Kristin Hurst
Daniel Paulling is living the dream of anyone who’s ever obsessed over pitching rotations or on-base percentages. Interning as an associate reporter for MLB.com, the official Web site of Major League Baseball, Paulling chronicles America’s pastime from the enviable position of the stadium press box. He covers the Texas Rangers, one of the top teams in the American League West Division.
Not bad for a guy who hasn’t played baseball since Little League. “I wasn’t too terribly good,” said Paulling of his grade-school stint, “but I guess you can say that about every current sports writer: if you can’t make it as a baseball player, you can make it as a baseball sports writer.”
Paulling secured the three-month internship before heading into his final year of graduate school at the University of Missouri, where he’s pursuing a master’s degree in journalism. He expects to report on a total of 45 Rangers home games, posting about six articles per game. That’s a lot of baseball, even for an enthusiast. “I’ve lost all track of time with this internship,” he said.
As part of the inner circle at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas, Paulling has lunched with baseball legend and Rangers president Nolan Ryan. He’s interviewed All-Star outfielder Josh Hamilton. He’s met Colt McCoy, the celebrated quarterback for the University of Texas. And he’s even mingled with household names from the Yankees. Yet Paulling, decidedly low key by nature, remained unfazed by the brushes with greatness until former President George W. Bush attended a game. “That got me kind of awestruck,” he admitted. “After all, he is the former leader of the free world.”
Paulling’s greatest challenge has been winning over skeptical seasoned players who question his ability to write about a sport he hasn’t played since 8th grade. “If they’re in a slump or not pitching well, you have to write about that, and they’re probably going to be offended. The biggest key is being there every day and building relationships with them.”
A tour of Boston’s Fenway Park when Paulling was 12 stoked his interest in sports reporting. The defining moment came when he checked out the press box. “It was a great seat and a beautiful place to watch a baseball game,” he said. “I was thinking that writing about baseball for the rest of my life wouldn’t be such a bad career.”
Paulling may not have been a baseball standout, but he swam competitively for 14 years, was captain of the Tars swim team his senior year, and was awarded the College’s Jorge F. Heemsen Memorial Scholarship for Swimming. An English major, he built an impressive résumé writing for USA Today, the Orlando Sentinel, and Rollins’ own Sandspur. Paulling also covered games and issued press releases for the Sanford River Rats, a Florida Collegiate Summer League team.
He credits Connie May Fowler, author and former Rollins English professor, for developing his passion for writing. “She had a big influence on me as a writer. She just seemed to love writing so much that I realized this could be a fun thing to do.” While Paulling looks forward to a future as a baseball writer in any capacity, landing a position at Sports Illustrated would be his own Field of Dreams. “The pinnacle would be Sports Illustrated. When you think of sports journalism, you really just think of SI. But I just want to be around baseball and writing.”