The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

More than just a game of catch

Former WSU football player turns small decision into big idea
Courtesy of John Scukanec/Instagram

The idea was not originally his own. Rather, it was a podcast he found after players held a lockout over Collective Bargaining Agreement disputes that delayed the opening day of the 2022 MLB season. But, former WSU football player John Scukanec (WSU ‘91–96) added his own twist.

Coming from the Baseball Bucket List podcast, John made the decision to do Catch365, an initiative to play catch every single day for a year with anyone, anytime, at least once a day. Whether with one of his sons, a neighbor, a grocery store clerk or someone he met passing by, John set out to complete Catch365.

He accomplished that over 250 days ago, but he continued to play catch after completing his goal. He said he is now over 620 days of playing catch every day, having played catch with more than 800 different people and heard 800 people’s stories.

It all started March 2, 2022, when he said he came out bummed out about the MLB season being delayed. He decided that was the day he would do what he heard about on the podcast; he would be another guy to play catch every single day for a year.

“I dragged my older son out into the yard and we played catch for 10 minutes and he thought it was kind of silly and it just began,” John said. “ It’s become kind of an obsession and a passion and something I love to do. It’s been really cool.”

His son, Jackson Scukanec, WSU freshman digital technology and culture major, said the idea was not something he thought would get off the ground. He did not think it would become a routine in his dad’s life, especially not something that would run through the end of his senior year of high school and into his first year of college.

“I genuinely thought it was a joke at first or that he wasn’t going to go through with it,” Jackson Scukanec said. “Around two, three months in, he got invited on a podcast to talk about his journey, which is when I realized that he actually was gonna go through with it.”

Courtesy of John Scukanec/Instagram

Over the 620-plus days of his journey, John said he has played catch with a lot of really cool people, from his two sons on days one and two to Travis Demers, radio play-by-play announcer for the Portland Trail Blazers in his backyard on day 151. It all culminated in playing catch with Seattle Mariners legend Ken Griffey Jr. in Seattle on day 365.

John also played catch with former Mariners pitcher Jamie Moyer, “Napoleon Dynamite” actor Jon Heder, former WSU quarterback Ryan Leaf, actor Carl Weathers and more.

Originally, John said that Griffey was going to be the end, a perfect ending to a full year of playing catch every single day. He went home without plans to play catch again. But the opportunity to play catch with Bob Hendrick, the director of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, arose, and he could not refuse the opportunity.

Then, on day 367, he got a text from a man asking if he was still playing catch every day. Since John had done it on day 366, he technically was. John said the man, whose name was Rick, wanted to play catch in the first 365 days but was in the hospital. While playing catch with Rick, John learned about his story, but he also learned more about what he had been doing for the past year.

John said Rick told him he would check X every single night to see who John had played catch with.

“I said, ‘Wait a second. You’re in the hospital dying and some stupid thing I’m doing made a difference.’ He said, ‘More than you’ll ever know.’ That was emotional for me,” John said.

John said he realized that at that moment, he decided to stick to Catch365 and get rid of the 365. Jackson said that even from a third-party perspective, his idea of Catch365 and his dad’s journey has changed since March 2022.

“My dad’s Catch365 journey has not just impacted him but really everyone in the family and those he played catch with,” Jackson said. “When he first started on this journey, I thought it was kind of silly, I just thought ‘Why would you want to throw a baseball back and forth for a whole year?’ But every time I’ve been his catch partner or just listened to the story of who he played catch with on whatever day, I realized catch is more than that.”

John said the people he has met and the stories he has learned, and subsequently shared on his Twitter and Instagram pages, have been fascinating and something he would not trade for anything. One story that stuck out to him was a homeless man whom he otherwise would have never spoken to.

His first interaction with the man was when John was playing catch with a different person. He said he was talking about the Mariners and every time he would mention Griffey’s name, the man would do an impersonation of Griffey’s swing. When his game of catch was over, John went over to the man.

Quickly, the two set a day to play catch. John asked if he had a phone, an email or even just a pen and paper to get his details down. The man had none, and that was when John said he realized the man might be homeless.

Still, the two set a date and time to play catch. When John went, he was not sure if he should expect the man to be there or not. But the man was there. He told John that it was the highlight of his week and he had been thinking about it since the two had met under a week prior.

“We get done playing catch and he comes over and gives me a hug. He says, ‘Thank you for just talking to me.’ I said, ‘What do you mean?’ He said, ‘Nobody talks to the bum in the park. So just thank you for talking to me and making me feel normal today. This is the best I’ve felt in a long time,’” John said.

John said this interaction not only made a difference for the man; it made a difference for him. It taught him that everyone has a story; you just have to talk to them, and what better way to do that than playing catch?

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About the Contributor
BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor
Brandon Willman is a junior multimedia journalism student from Vancouver, Washington. He started working as a sportswriter for the Daily Evergreen in Fall 2022 and worked as copy editor in spring 2023. Brandon was elected to be the Editor-in-chief starting in summer 2023 and served in the position from May 2023 to February 2024 before transitioning to the role of multimedia editor. He enjoys watching sports, backpacking, and watching horror movies.