Due to some great feedback from my readers, one of the suggestions that I had gotten was to try to get an interview with a professional athlete. When I was thinking about how I would go about that, I said to myself, “I know it’s going to be tough to get an athlete to answer an E-mail about an interview, or to get in contact with a professional organization. But what if I interviewed someone who is involved in pro sports that someone might not notice?” I was thinking about an umpire, referee, or maybe a front office type employee? Well, thanks to a reader (We’ll call him “Point Five”), I got into contact with someone who has done something that almost every young kid has dreamed about doing.
I got the chance to have an e-mail conversation with Matt Harris, who was the bat-boy (don’t call him that) for the New York Mets from 2006 thru parts of 2009. Here is the interview…
Total Sports Blog: How did you get the job?
Matt Harris: During the Junior year at SUNY Cortland in one of my Sports Management classes, a person in my group used to have a job, and he gave me the contact info.
TSB: Are you a Mets Fan?
MH: No, I was born and raised a Yankee fan, a pretty passionate one at that. I think this helped in a way, cause I was able to keep a better fan/employee balance.
TSB: Are you still the bat-boy?
MH: I am not currently the bat boy, or employed by the New York Mets. I worked the 2006, 07, 08, and briefly in 09.
MH: I wouldn’t say I had a “worst” guy per say. It’s like any job, where you definitely have people who you are friendlier with than others. Some of the players who were the nicest (in no particular order) were: David Wright, Billy Wagner, Carlos Delgado, Moises Alou, Paul LoDuca…just to name a few.
TSB: What were your basic duties as bat boy?
MH: The more accurate title I had with the Mets would be “Clubhouse Attendant” or “Clubbie” for short. During the games, I was the bat boy (in the dugout, in uniform), but while that was the most glamorous part of the job, it was a small part of the day. Other things we did were laundry, general clubhouse upkeep, dugout setup/break down (for BP and the game), and errands that any of the players had.
TSB: Could you go into a little detail about what exactly you did during the game?
MH: During the game I was responsible for the bats. At the start of each home inning you bring out the bag with all the on-deck supplies (rosin bag, pine tar, weights, weighted bat, ect). Then during an at-bat, you always have a spare bat in case the player breaks his. After the at bat, if the ball is put in play, you retrieve the bat and bring back into the dugout. Each player had a slot for his bats, most brought about 3 extras and 1 game bat. At the end of the inning I’d cleanup the on deck supplies. Also, the dugout ball boy and I, maintained the water/Gatorade, anything the players needed, another pair of batting gloves, ect.
TSB: Did the visiting team have their own bat boy, or did the Mets have one for them?
MH: Every Major League team employs a visiting clubhouse staff, from a “head” clubhouse manager to a few clubhouse attendants. The equipment manager for each team travels with the team, but they work with the visiting staff. Also, each team travels with a road uniform set (in a few different sizes) for the clubbie who will be the visiting bat boy that game.
TSB: Could you give me a rundown of what your day was like from start to finish?
MH: For a 7pm game, we got to the stadium around 2. We sorted mail and packages. Every day new cleats/bats and other equipment were coming in. After that, we’d prep for BP. That included bringing out the water/bats/helmets to the dugout. During BP, one clubbie would be on the field, the rest would straighten up the clubhouse. After BP was when the laundry started. The players changed and you wash their stuff they wore during batting practice. One guy would also clean up the dugout. The players then would eat, and get dressed for the game. We got dressed, quickly straightened up of the clubhouse , and the went on the field. There were 4 of us on the field. RF/LF ball boys, dugout ball boy and the bat boy, while 1 person stayed in with the assistant equipment manager. They mainly just finished up laundry, sorted it and hung it up.
After the game, you clean up the dugout and bring all the equipment inside. Two guys would start cleaning the cleats, one the catchers gear, and the rest would start collecting laundry. We wash all the game clothes/uniforms and towels. We would then, every night, sort and hang the laundry, vacuum the clubhouse, and wash the bathrooms. We’d, depending on pace of the game, get out around 1am.
Day games after night games we usually spent the night in the clubhouse, because the turn around was so quick, having to start at about 10am for a 1pm game.
We also worked night when the teams came back from a road trip unloading the equipment. Days they left after the game to go on the road were hectic, because you are doing the daily stuff as well as packing the equipment/uniforms and everything else for the road.
TSB: Did you get paid?
MH: Yes. I got paid hourly, we only worked the homestands, and the days the Mets came home and left for the road. The players did tip at the end.
TSB: Did you acquire any memorabilia?
MH: Very few items. In college I worked at a memorabilia store, and saw a lot of crazy pieces (Ali, Jordan, Gretzky) so I think that kind of numbed me to memorabilia.
TSB: Do you have a different view of the Mets now after your tenure? Especially considering that you are a big Yanks fan?
MH: Yes and no. I was never one of those Yankee fans that “hated the Mets”. It was cool to see how the gameday stuff works behind the scenes. We didn’t really get too involved with the front office, so on that end I can’t comment a whole lot.
TSB: Are you still in touch with any of the guys from the Mets?
MH: More with the guys I worked with, I definitely became friends with them. As I mentioned before, I was closer with some players than others, but as time’s gone on, it’s less contact.
TSB: How would you sum up your experience with the Mets as a “clubbie”?
MH: Overall, my time with the Mets was great. It’s probably the most fun and unique job I will ever have, and I definitely have great memories from it. It’s one of those things I’ll look back on in 20 years and really appreciate.
TSB: Thank you very much for all the great info Matt. I think lots of people will enjoy all the behind the scenes info you gave them.
MH: No problem. It was a great experience and I was glad to help out.