Liam Holland ’23 has put his own unique spin on international relations, earning him the company of some of the biggest names in sports while propelling him into becoming one of the most popular social media influencers in baseball.

Through the content platform Bat Boys Baseball the William & Mary student created four years ago with his best friend and business partner Eric Shellhouse, Holland has traveled all over the U.S. and to a handful of other countries in an effort to create entertaining content to promote baseball.

Through it all, Holland and Shellhouse, a journalism major at James Madison University, have gained a massive following that continues to grow. At the close of the 2023 baseball regular season, their channels boasted 152,000 Instagram followers, 100,000 YouTube subscribers and more than 359,000 followers and 32.2 million likes on TikTok.

It’s been a dream arrangement for Holland, an international relations major who has seen his passion for baseball and IR collide in a big way. He and Shellhouse have created content that has attracted engagement from fans from all over the world, including Latin America, where many of the game’s brightest stars are from.

“My international relations courses have given me such a broader perspective on how the world works and have provided inspiration that some of the things I think about are possible,” Holland said. “I have learned so much about how the world is interconnected, and I’ve been able to translate that on a micro level to baseball and the global interconnectedness of baseball.”

Throughout his pursuit of success with his business venture, Holland has found a supportive community at William & Mary that has helped him follow his dream career, which aligns with one of the main pillars of the university’s Vision 2026 strategic plan.

“I’ve always felt like I’ve had a unique perspective on certain things, and I’ve always been obsessed with baseball, and nobody here is going to knock you for that,” Holland said. “Everybody at William & Mary is so accepting. People respect when you work hard at something, no matter what it is.”

Holland is part of the Tribe Ventures Accelerator, a group of students who have their own startup companies, and he has his own personal workspace at the Entrepreneurship Hub where he edits many of his videos.

“Liam stands as a prime example of the entrepreneurial thinker we hope W&M becomes increasingly known for,” said William & Mary Assistant Provost for Entrepreneurship Graham Henshaw. “His proactive drive with Bat Boys Baseball demonstrates not just his dedication to learning but his exceptional ability to turn classroom concepts into real-world action.

“Despite the challenges of balancing academics and a growing venture, Liam’s blend of prioritization, hustle and commitment to ‘learning by doing’ makes him both a standout entrepreneur and an inspiration to his peers.”

International relatability

A rapid-fire music trivia challenge with a Dominican baseball player might not fit the academic definition of international relations, but it’s a prime example of how Bat Boys Baseball connects players and fans through relatable content.

Holland and San Diego Padres superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. went toe-to-toe in an on-field interview to determine who could name the most Dominican musical artists off the top of their heads, and Holland came out victorious in the back-and-forth battle.

“I work out to that music,” Holland said. “I try to find new artists just like I do with any English-speaking artists. I also listen to a lot of Dominican podcasts, where they speak in Spanish the whole time. That’s just how I learn, and it’s something that I enjoy. I’ll even watch games broadcasted in Spanish, like Dominican League games and Winter League games.”

Holland posted a short video of the challenge to Bat Boys Baseball social media and in just more than a month it had more than 335,000 views on TikTok and 32,000 likes on Instagram.

Those are only modest numbers for the duo, who logged more than 900,000 views for a YouTube video of Holland interviewing Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani after the World Baseball Classic.

Holland and Shellhouse have grown their content from zany videos of them breaking wooden bats while swinging at dumbbells to interviews with Minor League players to quizzing the game’s biggest names on topics ranging from their favorite baseball caps to walk-up music and weightlifting stats.

“It blows my mind sometimes. I don’t think I could have ever imagined Bat Boys Baseball would become what it is today,” Shellhouse said. “What really shocks me sometimes is that people will recognize us in public. When someone says they enjoy watching our videos, it makes my day.”

Holland said that he and Shellhouse have grown so popular that the Topps trading card company is considering producing a card of them for an upcoming Allen & Ginter baseball set.

“Of course this is all surreal, but I put in the work for this,” Holland said. “I planned to see this through no matter what. I have been dedicated to this for so long.”

Baseball culture

Bat Boys Baseball’s recipe for success has been straightforward. The partners create short, punchy videos of interviews they do with baseball players and the occasional star from another sport, like boxing legend Mike Tyson.

The interviews don’t focus on the same topics covered by mainstream baseball media. The Bat Boys aren’t fixated on barrel percentages, exit velocities or spin rates. They’re more engrossed in popular culture, player interests and things that happen behind the scenes.

“We’ve always been obsessed with being around baseball,” Holland said. “That’s why I feel like everything we do is so natural, because it’s what I’ve been doing with Eric just as friends. We’re never going to lose sight of that. We just enjoy being there. We enjoy the vibe and the culture of baseball.”

The videos are entertaining because Holland and Shellhouse relate well with the players. They both have been passionate about the sport since they were children; they both played through high school, and they are active consumers of popular culture in the U.S. as well as Latin America.

Holland is fluent in Spanish, allowing him to conduct his interviews with Spanish-speaking players in their native tongue.

“Fourteen percent of our followers live in Latin America, and a ton of people send direct message comments that I’m able to respond to in Spanish,” said Holland, who traveled to the Dominican Republic with Shellhouse in the summer. “We have fans of our work who only speak Spanish, so being able to interact with them is really important.”

The Bat Boys Baseball channels churn out content at a staggering rate. Since the start of the current baseball season in March, the duo has produced hundreds of clips. That’s a lot of work, but partnering with Holland makes it easy, Shellhouse said.

“Liam is so determined and disciplined and probably the hardest worker I’ve met in my entire life,” Shellhouse said. “I’ve seen him stay up to edit videos until 3 or 4 a.m., just so that our interview would be the first one up after a game. He’s always thinking of ways to innovate our page with new ideas, and he’s excellent at taking initiative when it comes to setting our plans in motion. He’s brought our audience to a number I never thought would be possible, yet here we are. It’s seriously amazing.”

, Communications Specialist