My story is unique because I gained entry to Tout Wars without an invite. I was a staff member at RotoJunkie and a regular content contributor, so when Bob Kohm and Byron Cox both had late family issues which popped up to prevent their travel to NYC for the 2007 NL Only draft, they asked if anyone on staff was available to occupy the RotoJunkie seat at the table so the seat would not be lost. I quickly volunteered without thinking because I was sitting on a bazillion travel miles due to my day job, so it was easy for me to get to NYC from Orlando and I thought an auction was an auction and I could handle myself well.
I had a rather massive imposter syndrome panic attack as I got to what I believe was the Marriott Residence Inn on 38th & 6th, which only intensified when I walked into the draft room and realized I did not personally know anyone there and I was seeing many of the people I had read in print or online in a three dimensional setting for the first time. There were a few glances from people who did not know who I was but I could not have had better fortune picking a seat at the table between two of the best people in Cory Schwartz and Scott Pianowski who provided some level of comfort to me with their friendliness despite us meeting for the first time.
I honestly do not remember much from the auction other than I was spending my draft budget like a college freshman with a new credit card and built a stars and scrubs team despite my intentions of avoiding such a plan. Later that day I got to meet Ron for the first time in person and all I remember from the interaction was the amount of nervousness I was trying to hide because I was clearly out of my place in a room full of people who had put years of blood, sweat, and tears into creating the very content I voraciously consumed online since joining my first fantasy league in 1993.
I would assume I showed just how much I did not belong by finishing 9th place that season because a declaration came forth in 2008 or 2009 from the Tout Ward Board that participants had to be site owners and sub drafters were not allowed. Now that I had my first taste of expert leagues, I did not want to be a one and done story, so I volunteered to apply my day tech skills to update the Tout website as well as run the draft board, while sitting on the floor, of the 2008 AL Only draft which is best known for the one being filmed as part of the Fantasyland movie. I believe that willingness to do those things, and my second place finish in the 2008 NL Only draft helped me keep my seat at Tout Wars now for 17 years.
A Tout Wars title continues to elude me, but the friendships I have made over the past 17 years are more valuable to me than that eventual Tout Wars title will ever be. I continue to learn more about baseball, life, and world views from the Tout Wars community that make me a better fantasy manager and a better person.