Whip it good: how a dance move at a baseball game turned viral

By Paul Meadors

Carter Gambrell was umpiring a summer league baseball game at Buchanan when he spiced up a lagging game with some rhythmic pizzazz.

The 20-year old college student and Buchanan graduate called an emphatic third strike on a hitter and then launched into a dance called “The Whip.” The eight-second dance move was filmed on a smart phone and turned into more than 15 minutes of fame.

Gambrell posted the video on the social media web site Twitter and it quickly spread like wildfire. Within 24 hours of posting, it was viewed over 1,200 times. SportsCenter tweeted it out and as of July 17, it was re-tweeted 3,800 times and favored 3,600 times. In layman’s terms: a lot of people watched Gambrell get jiggy wit’ it.

Let me describe the moment as best as possible: after raising his right hand signaling the strikeout Gambrell lifted his left leg then replanted it like a sumo wrestler and with a head bob and hip gyration placed his right hand at a 12:00 position pretending to drive a car back and forth. We’ve come a long way from Chubby Checkers’ The Twist.

“When I first posted the video I was expecting a few favorites and maybe a couple re-tweets on Twitter but I was honestly just having fun with the coaches on both of the teams during a slow last inning,” said Gambrell, currently playing baseball at San Francisco State. “When it started to get some publicity I was shocked and couldn’t help but laugh at myself.”

And with breakneck speed as is the case in the world of social media and quick-hitting, quirky news stories, the six-second clip was re-posted and planted on such heavy-hitting sports web sites as The Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, SBNation, and yes, even ESPN. Gambrell’s moves were so scorching hot the ESPN show Sports Nation looped the clip over and over, with the hosts lauding Gambrell for his spontaneity and creativeness.

But like an episode of Sherlock Holmes, questions were swirling around in my brain and I had to don my detective cap and investigate. Were any coaches or players in on the antics? Who shot the video? Did the butler do it? Was this maneuver planned? And most of all, did Gambrell spend hours in front of the mirror before the game, perhaps with full umpires gear on, music blaring so loud the paint was peeling off the walls?

Elementary my dear Watson as Gambrell explains it this way: “I didn’t plan on doing it until between the 6th and 7th inning of the game when I was talking to some of my old coaches, Brian Marsoobian and Sammy Donald, and we talked about me doing something that would lighten up the mood of the game. That just happened to be what I came up with.”

OK, fair enough young Gambrell, but how did you perfect such moves: “I have done The Whip a few times in the past just joking around with friends but I never practiced it from a strike three call.”

No word on Buchanan head coach Tom Donald’s reaction but my sources tell me he was relaxing on the beaches of Hawaii some 3,000 miles away. But lucky for us Gambrell’s Whip will live in Internet infamy, just Google it.