A batboy or batgirl in sports is an individual who carries the baseball bats around to a baseball team. A batboy may also lay out the equipment and mud the baseballs to be used in the game.
Mascots and batboys had both been part of baseball since the 1880s. Perhaps the most famous mascot/batboy was Eddie Bennett, who was supposedly hired as a mascot by the Chicago White Sox at the urging of Happy Felsch in 1919, a tale Eddie told often but no White Sox player ever corroborated. After the 1919 World Series scandal, he was hired by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1920. When the Dodgers lost the 1920 World Series to the Cleveland Indians, some suggested the four straight losses on the road were due to leaving Bennett behind. He then served for almost 12 years as mascot/batboy for the New York Yankees.
Batboys typically wear the same uniform design as their associated team. They will also usually wear a batting helmet to protect them from flying balls or bats.
During any given major league game, both the home and visiting team batboys will be drawn from the city where the game is taking place (batboys typically do not travel on the road with their team, unless they are relatives of a player). Home batboys often have regular jobs with a team, and thus may wear their first names on their uniforms; visiting teams, on the other hand, usually do not know who will be serving as their batboys on the road, and thus will send uniforms of various sizes to accommodate batboys of varying heights and weights.
A batboy may be provided his own number, but will usually wear 00 or 'BB' in its place. If a batboy uniform does not have a first name on it, it will usually have the term 'BAT BOY' or no name at all.
Batboys in the news
- In the 2002 World Series, a bat boy (Darren Baker, the 3½ year old son of San Francisco Giants manager Dusty Baker) was involved in an incident when he went out to get a bat while the play was still going on. J.T. Snow grabbed the young boy at home plate while still in the middle of scoring his run for the Giants, saving him from a possible collision with runners behind him or players from the opposing team. After the incident, MLB set a minimum age limit of 14 for bat boys.
- Matthew McGough described his batboy experiences with the New York Yankees in Bat Boy: My True-Life Adventures Coming of Age with the New York Yankees, a book published by Doubleday in 2005. McGough's book served as the basis for Clubhouse, a prime-time television show that aired on CBS in the fall of 2004.
- On April 27, 2007, former New York Mets batboy (1985-1995) Kirk Radomski pleaded guilty in United States district court to money laundering and illegal distribution of anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, Clenbuterol, amphetamines and other drugs to "dozens of current and former Major League Baseball players, and associates, on teams throughout Major League Baseball." He faced a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and a $500,000 fine, but he was sentenced to 5 years probation and ordered to pay a fine of $18,575 due to his cooperation with the federal government and the Mitchell Report.
- In a pregame ceremony on May 5, 2007, Stan Bronson, Jr. received recognition by the Guinness World Records as the "Most Durable Batboy" ever. Bronson, known as "Stan The Man", has served as the batboy for the University of Memphis baseball team since the 1958 season. His 50 years of service is recognized in the 2008 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records.
- Dominick Ardovino wrote about his batboy experience with the New York Mets in The Bat Boy (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1967).
Batboys who became Major League Baseball players
Drew Storen of the Cincinnati Reds was a batboy for the Montreal Expos.
Jesse Litsch who pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays, was a batboy for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2001 and 2002.
Batboys in popular culture
The batboy, Bobby Savoy, is a supporting character in the 1984 film, The Natural. At the finale, Bobby gives the main character, Roy Hobbs, a bat that he's made with Hobbs' help after Hobbs has broken his own personally made childhood bat.
Two Warner Brothers cartoons, Porky's Baseball Broadcast and Baseball Bugs, feature sight-gags involving batboys who fly in on bat wings to deliver bats.