Jon Scott felt the ball hit his mitt. A lump came in his throat. Was he really playing with Reggie Jackson? It seemed like a dream. As a bat boy with
the Los Angeles Dodgers his dream job had come true. During his four years a Los Angeles Dodger bat boy, Jon had experienced many exciting moments, but warming up Reggie
Jackson between innings during the World series in 1981 is high on his list. The first base bat boy handles foul balls during the game and between innings warms up the
Jon's regular job is homeplate bat boy and you can often see him on TV when the camera pans to Manager Lasorda because Jon is the dark haired, young man sitting on the chair just outside the dugout. "During the game," Jon says, "if you're working at home plate you run out and get the bats after the players hit and take them back to the dugout. You also keep the umpire supplied with new balls (about 65 balls a game) and get the balls that are fouled back off the screen."
There's enough to keep two bat boys busy at home plate. They alternate innings to pick up bats but both are running as much as they're sitting.
A bat boy's job isn't just what you see him do at the game. "We get there about one and a half hours before the game," Jon explains. "Before we put our uniforms on we do whatever the equipment manager, Nobe Kawano, has for us to do and then we run errands for the players." They take things upstairs to the front office, sometimes they cash large checks for the players and carry the cash back to them. Often a player has something he needs from his car or presents and fan mail to be put into his car.
"Then about 30 minutes before the game we get dressed out," Jon continues, "and take the equipment out to the dugout. One of us stays with it to be sure no one walks off with anything the players will need. I make sure everything is out there, towels on the bench, our two chairs, and all the player's helmets and bats."
Four bat boys work on the field during a game. There are two at homeplate and one on the first base line and one on the third base line. At least two other bat boys work below in the locker room.
"After the game we take all the equipment back inside. Then we gather up the dirty uniforms."
"How messy are the players?"
"Not bad. We have a couple of bins at each end of the club house and usually tjhey throw their dirty clothes in there. We scrub them and put them in the washing machine. We clean up the locker room and straighten out each locker and make sure the shoes are all shined. We also vacuumn the club house and clean the kitchen so everything is ready for the next day. By then, the uniforms are ready to come out of the washer and we usually just hang them up to dry and put them back in the lockers early the next day."
If it's an evening game that starts at 7:30 p.m., the boys get home after midnight. This means careful planning to keep up with homework (most bat boys are in high school) Jon managed a 3.8 average at San Marino High School for three years while he was a bat boy. "I get it straight with my teachers ahead of time," this handsome young man explains. "I find out what I'm going to have to do so I can do most of my work BEFORE it's due. I juggle it around so that I don't have as much to do when the Dodgers are in town. (Each home club supplies bat boys for visiting teams so the boys seldom travel with the club. Jon has gone to San Francisco and San Diego occasionally, and in 1982, as a special treat, the organization took him to Houston.)
"It has helped me budget my time better. When you don't have anything else to do, it's easy to put things off until the last minute. I plan ahead now."
Jon is a freshman at Pasadena City College this year and is a left handed pitcher on their Lancer Baseball team. Luckily the PCC season ends before the Dodger's season begins.
"I've been playing baseball since I was 7 years old," Jon explains. "Being able to play baseball and especially to understand the game probably helped me get the job, but it isn't a requirement to be a bat boy."
Bat boys are usually 16 years or older. It is necessary to have a car and be able to work the late hours. Almost all bat boys are acquainted with someone who already works for the team. It is crucial that they be trustworthy. They are trusted with thousands of dollars worth of equipment. they must be dependable, too. The players need all the assistance they can get to make sure they are in a good mood to start the game.
The odds of becoming a bat boy for your local major league club are almost as bad as becoming a major league player, but if you think you qualify, give it a try.
As Jon says, "I'm sure glad I have the opportunity to work for the Dodgers and be part of the game." His engaging smile starts in his brown eyes and spreads over his face. " Besides, I've got the best seat in the house."