After being introduced to Visalia Rawhide third baseman Marty Herum prior to Aug. 5's game against Inland Empire, I had one simple question for him.
How's Marty doing?
"He's doing good. You know, everything's going pretty good," said Herum with a laugh, before self-consciously switching out of the third-person perspective. "I'm having a good time playing ball."
Those who may also be curious regarding how Marty is doing can, conveniently, follow a Twitter account -- @HowsMartyDoing -- dedicated solely to that purpose. The account came into being, somewhat mysteriously, in May 2015 and since then has provided daily in-season updates regarding Herum's progress. The information is factual, the tone irreverent and upbeat and, after scrolling through it, one may very well find that he or she now has a genuine interest in how Marty is doing.
And why not? Herum is a guy worth rooting for. The affable Wisconsinite, a standout for the alliterative powerhouse that is the Division-III University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Whitehawks, was signed by the Arizona Diamondbacks as an undrafted free agent in July 2013. After spending the remainder of that campaign in the backlots of the Rookie-level Arizona League, Herum logged two seasons in the Class A Midwest League (with South Bend and then Kane County). He was assigned to Class A Advanced Visalia prior to this season, which, thus far, has been his best to date.
Despite a recent cold stretch -- which, ominously, began right after I interviewed him -- Herum entered Thursday with a more than respectable .309/.348/.443 slash line. Throughout the season he has ranked among the top of the California League's batting average leaders.
Herum, an emerging social media superstar, standing outside the Rawhide clubhouse prior to Aug. 5's ballgame.
"Oh yeah, I've never been to California before but I love playing out here," said Herum. "The ball seems to fly a little better -- I'm sure you hear that a lot. And you have pretty nice weather year-round. I mean, it gets a little hot but, overall, I like California."
"Pretty nice weather year-round" is not something that Wisconsinites, affable or otherwise, are used to.
"I still get work in year-round," said Herum. "Field of Dreams is a business in our downtown [of River Falls, Wisconsin], and they have machines that will throw to you and there's a cage to the side on its own where you can get live reads and stuff like that. I work at a gym in my hometown, too, so I stay in shape there.… I don't think it's a huge disadvantage being from the Midwest."
For Herum's growing legion of fans, in the Midwest and otherwise, @HowsMartyDoing is a must-follow as it is the only, and therefore best, source of frequently updated Marty Herum news.
"It started when I was in Kane County last year and I couldn't figure out who was doing it, from when it started to the end of that season, which was like six months," said Herum. "I thought for a while it was my brother or someone different than who it was. But it all came out. I was talking to my brother about it and he said it's actually one of my best friends growing up, still one of my best friends. His name's Jace Frederick and he writes for the Pioneer Press in Minnesota, so he's always at games and logging things on Twitter for other sports, so he started that fan thing for me."
Herum said he is an infrequent visitor to the "How's Marty Doing" Twitter page because, since he is Marty, he always knows how Marty is doing.
"I'll check it once in a while, when someone in the locker room's following it and brings it up," he said. "[Frederick] texted me saying, 'Can I at least get a follow or a tweet back?' I do follow now. A lot of people bring it up often. I get texts all the time saying this account's really funny or just that's how they follow along my progress."
Herum, just like the account dedicated to him, measures his progress on daily basis.
"If you do bad in one game you've got a game the next day, so it's easier to forget," he said. "You've got goals to move up, but really you've got to take it day-by-day."
And that's just what Marty is doing.
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.