Day in the life: What it’s like to be a Cleveland Indians bat boy
We know them as part of the game, but do we really know what the life of a bat boy is like? Sure we know they pick up bats and bring them to the dugout but there’s really more to it.
Here, we take you inside the lifestyle of what it’s like to be a Cleveland Indians bat boy on a game day at Progressive Field.
2:00 – Arrival at the ballpark: The nights can be long, but it’s important to show up before most of the team arrives.
2:30 – Tito’s gum: The leader of the team get his gum the way he likes it. Each day the bat boys come in and unwrap the gum Manager Terry Francona famously munches on during games. It’s a tedious task, the bat boys say, but it’s a unique task and one they enjoy doing every day.
3:00 – Odds and Ends, change: This time is used to just be around the clubhouse and take care of whatever is needed from the players. As the players head to the field for stretch and BP, the bat boys will head into their locker room and get ready for BP.
3:45 – Ready for Batting Practice: The bat boys head out to the field for BP in full warmup uniform. After playing catch with a couple coaches to get loose, they head behind the screen in center field to get the balls from the pitchers shagging in the outfield.
4:05 – Batting Practice: Coach is running low on baseballs in his bucket and after a round of BP from Jason Kipnis, one of the bat boys hustles behind the L-Screen with a full bucket for replenishment. After the round is over, he’ll replace the baseballs. This happens anywhere from three to five times in a normal session.
5:30 – Batting Practice ends: The bat boys will handle all the equipment and store it where it needs to go. Most players take their bats and gloves with them, so the main duties after BP are to make sure all the baseballs are put back where they need to be and bring any excess gear to the right spot.
5:35 – Game setup: This is probably the most important role of the day. First, the bat boys will grab the big helmet bag from storage and bring it up. This has every guy’s helmet, padding and batting gloves all stored in a segmented bag.
After the bag is delivered, it’s up to the bat boys to line up the gear in an appropriate way for each player’s needs and likes. Some players like to have their things all in their helmet, but others — Carlos Santana, for example — like to have theirs neatly stacked to the side because he has two helmets as a switch hitter.
5:50 – The pregame clean: After the gear is aligned in the dugout, the bat boys head to the laundry room. Here they’ll clean off any players’ shoes from batting practice and any cleats for the game.
6:00 – Bullpen and dugout setup: The bat boys gather up things to head out to the bullpen and dugout and separate. One bat boy is in charge of setting up all Gatorade coolers in positioned spots in the dugout, while the other two take a clubhouse cart from underneath the ballpark to the bullpen. Out in the bullpen, they set up a water cooler, drink cooler and coffee maker, and line up the chairs with towels for the relievers to sit on for the game.
6:20 – Change: After all items are laid out, the bat boys head to their lockers to get in game uniform. In this time, they are able to change, grab a bite to eat and do whatever else they need to do.
6:45 – Pregame: The bat boys head out to the field to take their spots beside the dugout. On this day, there will be two beside the dugout, and one along the left field line. From this time until first pitch, the bat boys are ready for any last-minute needs from coaches or players at the drop of a hat. Luckily today no one has any pressing issues.
7:10 – The game: Yan Gomes jogs out of the dugout and gives the bat boys high fives and hustles out to home plate — Michael Brantley takes his spot in left and starts playing toss with the left-field bat boy.
Top of the first inning: Ben Zobrist fouls off several pitches and the homeplate umpire immediately signals “four” to the bat boy next to the dugout. At the next dead ball, he sprints out to the umpire to deliver him four game balls from a bag specifically prepped by Jack Efta who handles rubbing up the baseballs with mud pregame and assists the umpires every day.
Bottom of the first inning: The Tribe is coming to bat and all the equipment is tossed out on the on deck circle. The weights, the rosin and extra material is out and ready for our guys to use. As soon as the inning is over, it’ll be neatly stacked — only to be thrown back onto the on deck circle next half inning.
Bottom of the second inning: A foul ball goes back onto the protective netting. One bat boy waits patiently for the ball to roll down to the field. He plays the ball on a hop and jogs over and tosses the ball into the crowd, instantly making a fan’s day.
The game continues on……..
Bottom of the seventh inning: The baseballs are running low. The bat boy hustles to the umpire’s room and grabs two dozen baseballs. This happens every game depending on how many baseballs are gone through.
10:15 – End of game: Indians win! Everyone go home happy? Not for these guys yet. For them the night is just beginning!
10:16 – Cleanup: The bat boys get high fives from the coaches and are back to work. First they grab the coolers and bring them back to storage. After the players grab the gear they want from the dugout, it’s up to the bat boys to get the rest.
10:17 – More cleanup: The first things to be put back are the helmets and batting gloves. The gear goes back into that segmented bag that travels with the team and is numbered for each player. The guys put the helmets, batting gloves and padding all back and zip it up and bring it back down to storage.
10:20 – Uniform cleaning: The bat boys head down into the clubhouse’s laundry room after changing into their street clothes; they immediately start cleaning off the shoes and cleats worn by the players. This process takes significantly longer than the pregame round because each guy needs them done. It’s especially long during September call-ups, one bat boy says; next comes the guys’ laundry. This is mostly handled by the clubhouse attendants while the bat boys are cleaning off the shoes. Once the uniforms come out of the washer, they’re hung at each respective player’s locker.
12:30AM – Exit: The work is done, but that’s just one game of 81. It’s back to work tomorrow at 2PM. Let’s just be happy that it’s not a day game the next day…
-TribeVibe Contributor, Ryan Delgado