Michael Volpe was a die-hard New York Giants fan—even after they moved across the country to San Francisco. But when they traded away his favorite player, third baseman and shortstop Matt Williams, that was the last straw. Volpe mailed his memorabilia back to the Giants and declared himself a “free agent fan,” open to root for any other team that wanted him. The stunt attracted media buzz and even earned Volpe a national tour of major league stadiums.
That was 1996. More than 20 years later, Michael’s son Andrew Volpe (BFA ’09), a Kinetic Imaging alumnus, documented his father’s story in “The Free Agent Fan.” The award-winning short film combines interviews and archival footage to retell one of baseball’s most amusing tales.
VCU News dug into the true story behind Volpe’s film, and learned how much baseball mattered for both father and son.
During his childhood, Andrew saw first-hand how much baseball meant to his father.
“He used to be my Little League Baseball coach when I was very young all the way through middle school,” Andrew said.
As an assistant Little League Baseball coach for roughly six years, Andrew said his father always stressed the importance of having a good time rather than winning.
“He would always sit down and do one-on-one teaching with kids and had a good idea of the nuances of each kid’s better qualities, in terms of sportsmanship,” Andrew said. “And he knew how to push those qualities. Even if someone wasn’t as good of a player, he always made sure to recognize their hustle and dedication to the sport. Or if they did something really good, he always made sure to call them out.”
While Michael no longer coaches baseball, he is still an avid fan. He said he is also hopeful that his journey as a free-agent fan inspired all sports teams to recognize that fans essentially make up the backbone of the sport.