[Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest entry from Rick Friedel, who got to be an Orioles batboy-for-a-day back in 1981. Here’s his story. — PL]
By Rick Friedel
When I was nine years old, my parents bid on — and won — the opportunity for me to be an Orioles batboy. This all happened because of the then-annual Orioles wives’ auction, which took place in the bullpen to benefit charity.
Actually, I was a co-batboy. I shared the duties with a leukemia patient who was granted the same opportunity. His name was Eric. I don’t know what he was thinking, but one of my first thoughts that day was that I hoped I’d get to keep the uniform. No luck there, unfortunately.
The date was September 2, 1981. My day basically started by being escorted to the Orioles clubhouse and seeing the likes of Eddie Murray, Al Bumbry, and Jim Palmer, all preparing for that night’s game that night. We were shown to equipment manager Enrnie Tyler’s office, where the batboy lockers were located, to get dressed for the game. Gary Deaton was the “real” batboy assigned to work that night, so he showed us the ropes. He gave us our uniforms, which were just off-the-rack jobs. Mine had “Bat Boy” on the back, which was fine by me — I never really thought they’d put my name on back. But I felt bad for Eric when I noticed that his jersey was blank on the back.
We were then instructed on how to get dressed, with special attention paid on how to get the pants and stirrups just right. I followed the instructions it exactly because I wanted to look the part, although it didn’t quite look right because the pants and jersey were a bit big. Then they gave us an adjustable hat to wear. I remember being disappointed by that, because I really wanted a fitted cap.
So now we’re all dressed except for our cleats. In the bottom of the batboy lockers were boxes of black and orange cleats. I so wanted to wear those cleats, but they didn’t have any my size( remember, I was only nine at the time, and most of the batboys on staff were in their teens), so I wore my own cleats that I had brought along. Then I noticed that Eric was putting on white cleats. Now I felt extra-bad for him — a blank jersey and the wrong color cleats [and, um, leukemia! — PL]. Looking back, though, I’m sure he was just happy to be there and wasn’t too worried about these differences.
Once we were dressed we then went out to the dugout to get the rundown of our duties for the night. I remember feeling pretty good overall about the whole uniform.
I had a few memorable experiences before the game got started. I got to play catch with Eddie Murray while he was wearing his white turfs for warm-ups (he switched to black and orange for the game), and I was able to do a quick interview for the local news. Even got to chit-chat with the Demper!
Once the game got started, I had a few hiccups. Gary, the real batboy, had to come out and move me over to the other side of the on-deck circle so I wouldn’t be in the players’ way (I got it right after that). Also, after one of the innings I attempted to gather all the gear at one time and ended up dropping everything on the way back to the dugout. I got a few laughs from someone in the stands. Another time I even forgot to go get the bat from the batter’s box after a hit, simply because I was just taking everything in. I remember pitching coach Ray Miller calling to me to make sure I go get the bat next time.
I was also fortunate enough to get to count pitches with Jim Palmer. He demonstrated to me how he used a towel on the dugout step to sit on, so he wouldn’t get his uniform dirty. Cal Ripken (he was up during a brief stint) also had fun with me by throwing sunflower seeds at me while on the step and blaming it on other players.
All in all it was a great experience — even if I didn’t get to keep the uniform or wear the orange and black cleats.
Another giveaway? Sure, why the hell not: Paul here, with yet another giveaway. Chris Speakman, the man behind longtime Uni Watch advertiser Sports Propaganda, is generously offering one of limited-edition screen prints to a lucky reader. The winner will be able to choose any of the unframed prints listed on this page.
To enter, send an e-mail with your shipping address to the giveaway address. by 10pm eastern this Thursday, September 23rd. One entry per person. I’ll announce the winner on Friday.
Uni Watch News Ticker: Is your name William Sanderson, Walter Smith, or something else that reduces to “W.S.”? Then you may want to buy this jersey. … Some of the most beautifully textured chain-stitching you’ll ever see can be found on this boxing jacket (awesome find by Ben Wideman). … Really beautiful typography on this old tobacco tin. … A reader who prefers to remain anonymous reports that college lacrosse officials will have some uni adjustments next year: “Pants: All black for both shorts and long pants. (We will no longer be wearing white shorts.) Jackets: We will transition to all black coats. It is preferred to go to black sooner than later. The Board OK’d one-year waiver for black and white striped that we have worn in the past. All officials must wear the same jacket if jackets are worn. Socks: Either the high black-over-white socks we have worn in the past or the short (just out of the shoe) black socks are acceptable. No calf-length black socks.” … Last winter I wrote about my friend Sherman’s book about professional rasslin’ in Memphis. He’s now producing a documentary film about that same topic. It’s in the final stages of editing, post-production, etc., but meanwhile check out the groovy poster. … Attention Matt Powers and all other sneakerheads: The excellent design site Core77, which I used to write for a million years ago (the material is still there), is running a cool contest based on making sneakers out of Play-Doh (thanks, Kirsten). … Hey, speaking of Powers, he reports that Majestic umpire attire is now available at retail. … New mask for Michael Leighton (with thanks to Matt Pesotski). … Justin Bates reports that Arkansas is planning a red-out for this Saturday, although it isn’t clear if that will have uni-related implications. … Oregon State is preparing for Boise State’s blue turf by painting their practice field blue (with thanks to Ryan Dowgin). … New mask for Alex Auld. … James Spears sent me a photo of this Mizzou helmet cart, but I was intrigued by one of the links in his signature. So I clicked on it and found something interesting: a high school team that manages to rip off two NFL logos at once. … The story behind each NHL team’s name can be found here (with thanks to Eric Bunnell). … Man, the last time the Redskins wore gold pants, they had plaid carpeting in the locker room (thanks, Brinke). … I’d previously reported that Colorado State would wear orange jerseys this week against Idaho, but no photos of the orange jerseys had shown up until now. My understanding is that they’ll be sticking with their usual gold helmets, which I’m pretty sure is gonna look awful. … What do the Islanders and Cubs have in common? Take a look at this shot. See that little right smudge to the right of the “S” in the logo crest? That’s a circle-R trademark symbol. “If that’s not a sign of hell, I don’t know what is,” says eagle-eyed Rob Siergiej. … Very odd situation brewing in Hartford, where the Wolf Pack — that’s the Rangers’ AHL affiliate — is about to become the Connecticut Whale. The weird thing, aside from the new name being one of the worst in all of professional sports, is that the team will get a new logo and uniforms in the middle of the season. Bizarre. … I asked Joe Skiba about the super-wide pants striping on some of the Giants. He said it’s a new seamless pant design, “and remember — seamless stretches.” He also said he thinks the Jags, Colts, and Bengals might be experimenting with something similar, so let’s keep a close watch on those teams. … Before Mike Scott wore the tequila sunrise design for the Astros, he wore it for Pepperdine (good find by Jim McCue). … Also from Jim: Check out Pepperdine’s unusual 1944 hoops uni. The “GPC” stood for George Pepperdine College.