Earning Their Pinstripes

September 22, 2002

So, kid, you want to be a New York Yankees batboy? Hang out with
Derek Jeter? Ride in the parades? Great. But, first, maybe you'd
better take a look at a batboy's typical day.

2 p.m.--Pete Shalhoub, 17, shows up for a 7:05 game and starts
setting up the dugout. Sure, most of the players won't be
arriving for at least two hours, but so what? Pete'll be here two
hours after the players have left, too.

You think batboys still only run out and get Johnny Blanchard's
bat? Get real. Pete and the six other Yankees batboys-clubhouse
boys are valets, cabbies, maids, deliverymen, shrinks and
short-order cooks. And they're not 12 years old anymore. They're
all 16 and older because the average sixth-grader doesn't do well
when he's also working 75-hour weeks.

Some nights Pete has to show up at 3 in the morning to help
unload the road-trip truck, do laundry and set up players'
lockers. That takes four hours. Then he goes straight to high
school in Jersey City, and then right back to the Stadium, where
he'll work until about 1 a.m., go to bed at 2 and get up again at
6 the next morning to go to class.

"It's like I tell him," says Joe Lee, another member of the crew.
"In this job you've got to sleep twice as fast."

3:45 p.m.--One of Pete's 1,000 jobs is mixing Gatorade for the
dugout. That can be dangerous. A few years ago former visiting
team batboy Joe Rocchio made green, not knowing volcanic
Cleveland Indians star Albert Belle drank only red. Belle spit it
out, knocked the jug over in the dugout, and Joe had to clean it
up. Glamorous job, no?

4 p.m.--When players arrive, batboys start hopping. They're each
player's little Jeeves. "Anything they ask for, they pretty much
get," says Pete. That includes everything from, "Go get my wife a
birthday present" to "Go get my brother-in-law at the airport."
From going to a player's home to pack his bags to making dinner
reservations. One player asked Lee to go to the ballpark every
day during a 12-day road trip and idle his car for a half hour.
"Keeps the engine clean," the player said.

Of course, there are rewards. When Jason Giambi was with Oakland,
he sent an A's batboy to McDonald's. Giambi got three hits that
day, so he kept sending the kid for the rest of the season. When
Giambi won the MVP, he tipped him $5,000.

4:30 p.m.--A new kid shows up, the winner of a contest to be a
batboy for a day. He's lucky he doesn't get the initiation Craig
Postolowski got. To start, Jeter sent him off to look for the key
to the batter's box. Then Joe Torre told him to go get the
knuckleballs ready. Then Don Zimmer needed the lefthanded fungo
bat. Finally, when Bernie Williams asked him to get a bucket of
steam from the shower to clean home plate, he realized he'd been
had.

5:45 p.m.--It's Pete's day to shag flies in the outfield and run
the balls back to the batting practice pitcher. This is a gas.
There's other cool stuff too. Some nights the clubhouse is lousy
with celebs. You get to be in the team photo. And players have
been known to lend batboys their sweet sleds for the prom. Of
course, two years ago Manny Alexander of the Boston Red Sox lent
his car to a batboy. Problem is, the kid got pulled over and
police found steroids in it. Oops. Always check the glove
compartment, Kid.

7:05 p.m.--Tonight Pete works balls for the home plate umpire.
Another guy works the rightfield line, snagging foul balls, and
another works bats in the dugout. (The rest are stuck in the
clubhouse.) Problem is, sometimes a kid will be so tired from
lack of sleep that he'll be out there nodding off in front of
50,000 people. "I've done it," says Lee. "I'm just glad a line
drive didn't wake me up."

10:30 p.m.--Game's over. The real, nasty work starts. "Everybody
thinks this is when we go home," says Pete. "But we've still got
two hours of work to do." They pick up dirty uniforms, vacuum,
straighten lockers, make food runs, empty trash, clean and polish
40 pairs of shoes. And they've got to do it all while dodging
flying jocks, socks and towels thrown at their heads by
millionaires. Fwomp!

12:30 a.m.--O.K., everything's done. Pete's spent, but he'll be in
bed before 2 a.m. for once. At least he saw some baseball. The
boys who worked the clubhouse have to watch the highlights later.

So there it is, Kid. And remember, don't ask for tickets,
autographs or a raise. With the Yankees, you get the minimum,
$5.15 an hour, even if you've been on the job 10 years. Hey,
don't forget your boss is George Steinbrenner!

So, you want the job? Kid? Kid?

COLOR PHOTO: DANA FINEMAN/SYGMA

When players arrive at the ballpark, batboys start hopping.
They're each player's little Jeeves.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)