Matt Buser turned a fantasy into reality.
He got a full-time job turning reality into fantasy.
The former Warren resident, whose father and stepmother live in Warren County, is a fantasy sports writer for Yahoo!Sports.
Photo submitted to Times Observer
Day at the office
Former Warren resident Matt Buser works from his home in California as a fantasy sports writer for Yahoo!Sports online.
Yahoo!Sports is currently hosting "over four million" fantasy football players online.
Matt Buser of Yahoo!Sports, meet The Fantasy Oracle, Rob Stewart.
"Last time I was home, my grandmother saved the (Times Observer) sports section," said Buser.
"'Look, they do what you do,'" Doris Buser, who now lives in Titusville, told her grandson.
"Everywhere you go people play fantasy sports," said Buser.
"Believe me, I consider myself one of the luckiest people I know," he said Tuesday from his home in San Carlos, Calif. "When I go to set my (fantasy football weekly) lineup, my face is staring at me (on the Yahoo!Sports fantasy football homepage). I had been playing on Yahoo! for years, and years before writing was even a reality."
Buser, 33, is a graduate of Butler High School, and lived with his father, Tom, in Warren in the mid-1990's after high school.
"I worked at Perkins and went to the Y a lot," said Buser. "I wasn't happy with the weather up there."
Buser passed on an entry level job in his field in Erie and worked in the service industry for close to 10 years, including where he met his girlfriend in south Florida.
She now works for Google, by the way.
Buser graduated from Penn State Behrend in Erie with a journalism degree, and "was making real good money bartending at Damon's up there," he said.
"As much as I loved sports, my fascination has always been about numbers. I've always been a stats freak," he said. "When fantasy sports first came about, I was hooked. I figured that's what I wanted to do, but, for a long time, I didn't consider the fact I could make a living from fantasy sports."
His girlfriend was looking at the want ads on the Internet site Craig's List one day; there was an ad for a customer care representative at Yahoo!Sports.
That's when he met a giant in the business, Brandon Funston, who has written about fantasy sports for more than a decade at ESPN.com and now Yahoo!Sports.
Yahoo!Sports had Funston, the head of editorial for fantasy sports, one full-time writer and Buser became a part-time fantasy sports writer, his first-ever paid writing job. Now, Yahoo!Sports is up to two full-time editors and six full-time fantasy sports writers.
"I work from home," said Buser, though he heads in to headquarters occasionally in Sunny Valley, Calif.
Easier to get cell-phone reception there than in Tidioute, where his father and stepmother live along the river and watch Bald Eagles in the scenic countryside. Tom works in Warren at Loranger International and lived in Warren for 14 years before moving with his wife to Tidioute last year.
"I can't stay there for very long," said Matt.
They don't have high-speed Internet,
"It's kind of ironic; you can't get any (cell-phone) reception down there," said Matt, who's open to taking on The Fantasy Oracle as an owner in next year's WTO Laid Back League. Buser said he plays in four fantasy football leagues, six fantasy basketball leagues - his bread-and butter - and six fantasy baseball leagues.
"I was just up in the area not too long ago," he said. "I went camping at the reservoir with a couple buddies from Butler."
Matt gets his love of sports from his father.
"He put a lot of determination into getting that position at Yahoo!," said Tom. "He worked as a waiter for four or five years after he graduated from college. He was always concerned that I was disappointed in him because he didn't use his degree. The only way he could do it was to leave himself open to job interviews, he worked hard to get where he is. I'm so proud of him. I could talk for hours about this kid. He would be a terrific speaker to go to high schools and talk to kids about the the harder you work, the luckier you get. If you really, really want to do this thing you don't give up after they tell you we had 320 applicants."
But Tom doesn't play fantasy sports.
"No, Im just not a computer person, which is odd because both of the boys make their living at it," said Tom.
Matt's older brother Dave lives in Maine. Dave Buser is renowned for computer security systems and has had a couple of books published.
"Now if you were to Google Dave or Matt, and Dave has been tremendously successful, he's in there 30 times, you Google Matt, he's in there like thousands of times," said Tom. "'You don't even do anything real,'" Tom said Dave has said when razzing Matt.
"When (Matt) was about 12, I bought him a copy of the Guinness Book of World Records, which he just devoured," said Tom. "One evening, we're sitting at the table, and he says, 'Dad, catch this. The catapults on the Carrier Enterprise are big enough to shoot a Cadillac Coupe de Ville 500 feet straight up in the air.' His mother looked at me and said, 'Oh. my God, he's just like you, a fountain of useless information.' To this day, it is one of the happiest moments of my life."
"I think what he is happiest about," said Matt, "is that I'm doing what I love."