By KATHRYN ACREE
The summer job. For many teens, it means working a drive-through, bagging groceries, scanning items for checkout or babysitting. What if they could spend evenings near the dugout of a minor league baseball team assisting Chicago White Sox hopefuls?
That’s the experience shared by a group of Oak Mountain High School students who are bat boys for the Birmingham Barons. Dusty Register, Travis Rocha and Chris Trippeer are winding down their summer with the Barons and shifting focus to their junior year at OMHS.
“I like the flexible schedule and getting to see players that have come down from the majors to rehab,” Dusty said. “It’s been a great job to have each summer.”
Dusty and Travis have worked as bat boys for two seasons; this was the first summer for Chris to work for the team. They are part of a group of six bat boys that rotate working two at a time for each home game, one in the Barons dugout and one in the away team dugout.
Bat boys get the dug out ready for the baseball players by arranging the essentials— sunflower seeds and bubble gum, along with bats and equipment. They retrieve bats from the batter and foul balls that are not picked up by the team. When the game ends, they clean out the dugouts so they are ready for the next night’s game. It’s a three to four hour process with the benefit of a flexible schedule during the months of May through September.
“Every game ends up being a little different,” Travis said. “There are nights the fans really get into the game or really get into yelling at the umpire. You never know what you’ll see.”
When asked how often they talk with the players, the bat boys say they don’t pester them, knowing everyone has a job to do.
“We all have our favorite player, but they are focused on the game and we respect that,” said Dusty. “Sometimes the players will have a little fun with us and point out cute girls in the stands we should check out.”
Bat boys are given uniforms to wear, and their moms add that they also have the benefit of leaving the uniforms after a game to be cleaned by the organization. At the Rickwood Classic played in June at Rickwood Field, bat boys wear vintage uniforms just like the players.