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Saturday, May 30, 2020

Seeing baseball from the ground level

Bat.boy_online
Evan Elliott has met some of the MLB’s top players in his time as a batboy with the Seattle Mariners. // Photo by Christina Becker

Anyone watching a Seattle Mariners game recently might have seen Western student Evan Elliott retrieving bats after a booming home run or crafty walk.

The sophomore is a full-time student and is employed as a batboy for the Seattle Mariners. He also plays for Western’s club baseball team.

Elliott, a long-time baseball fan, loves meeting all the players and seeing the game from a unique perspective. He has met some of Major League Baseball’s biggest names, including Nelson Cruz, David Ortiz, Mike Trout, Kyle Seager and Dustin Ackley.

“David Ortiz, one of my favorite players since I was young, gave me one of those baseball necklaces at the end of a series,” Elliott said, refering to the braided necklaces many baseball players wear. “That was awesome.”

A batboy is a person who sits in the dugout and picks up a player’s bat, should he reach base.

Elliott got the job as a batboy over spring break during his freshman year at Western. One of his friends from high school who worked as a batboy referred Elliott for one of the open positions.

Elliott is one of three batboys for the visiting team dugout at Safeco Field. This season, he will work at least eight series for different teams, including the Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers, Oakland Athletics, Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros and the San Francisco Giants. Each series lasts two to four days.

On an average game day, he will be at the stadium for nine hours.

“It’s a lot of stuff to do, but now it’s just like second nature and it’s fun,” Elliott said.

Elliott worked with Nelson Cruz from the Baltimore Orioles last season. At the beginning of the inning, Elliott handed him the pine tar strip to put on the bat for grip.

“He hit a homerun then he came by and said ‘I’m going to need you to give me that every time now because it worked.’”

The interaction with Cruz was one of Elliott’s favorite memories from last season, he said.

“Just the little things, like Cruz saying that, have the power to make your day,” Elliott said. “I’ll always remember that.”

His responsibilities as batboy start with unpacking, where he unloads all the visiting team’s clothes and training gear when they arrive in Seattle.

“One time, the Yankees didn’t get in until two in the morning and I still had to drive back to Bellingham and got back at like five in the morning,” Elliott said.

On game days, he arrives at Safeco Field two to three hours before the game starts. He cleans out the dugout and bullpen, puts out gum and sunflower seeds, gets all the water and Gatorade in the coolers, and puts out all the player’s helmets and bats.

Before the game Elliott helps with batting practice, shagging balls and bringing them back in for the players.

Once the game starts, Elliott’s duties are to get the bat when the ball is in play. When certain players get on base, he runs out to retrieve their excess batting gear and runs it back to the dugout. If bats break, he brings them to get authenticated so they can be sold.

After the game, he cleans out the dugout again, cleans the players’ cleats and gets the players’ jerseys from the laundry to put them back in their lockers before the next game.

“The bulk of the stuff actually happens before and after the game. During the game is where it is usually most chill for bat boys,” Elliott said.

Elliott also plays for Western’s club baseball team. The team plays most weekends during spring quarter and travels to different schools in the region.

“It’s not super serious or formal, so it doesn’t take a lot of time away from classes,” Elliott said. “It’s nice that I’m still able to focus on school, but at the same time I can still play and have fun.”

Elliott hopes to work as a sports writer or sports broadcaster in the future. He found his passion for sports as he was working for the Mariners.

“Being there for eight to nine hours and loving every second of it, it made me want to be there all the time,” Elliott said. “I like to write and I like sports, so I’m going to put those together hopefully.”

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