By Mickala Signor, '23
Albion baseball pitcher Tristan Ellis may have one of the most enviable summer jobs working at Comerica Park as bat boy for visiting teams playing the Detroit Tigers.
Ellis says working the visiting dugout is "way cooler in my opinion because I get to meet everyone that comes in."
What may seem as a simplistic job is much more time consuming than what anyone may think. As Ellis explains, "My role varied from day to day...Before a series their bags come in. Sometimes at noon the day before and sometimes at 5 a.m. the day of the game. I've been there for 24 hours straight before. Once the team is here and the series is playing there are [four] main jobs."
Bat boy one is the guy on the field, doing "the real stuff," as Ellis would describe the position. The role includes shagging balls during batting practice before the game and allows him the opportunity to great connections with the Major Leaguers.
While another bat boy is the backup in case the primary one gets hurt on the field. He spends his time in the clubhouse cleaning shoes, doing laundry, and stocking food.
There is a late guy who does everything backup the bat boy does; however he shows up at game time instead of four hours before the game.
The trainer is the most experienced member of the crew, managing the players daily needs, including runs to the store and occasionally taking players to the airport.
"Generally we're at the ballpark for the team four hours before game time and are there about three hours after the game. Typically, including the unpack and get away day, we spend almost 40 hours in three and a half days at the ballpark," Ellis said.
Ellis says the job involves a lot more than attending to the players needs.
"I was responsible for working with them on game days. A lot of the players are very superstitious so you have to get to know them the day before the first game. I would usually meet the equipment manager first and get any needed info from him and a uniform, and then just casually go around and meet some of the players if they weren't too busy. I would take batting practice with them and shag balls in the outfield with their pitchers and outfielders and then take in the balls when needed.
"In the dugout, I would set up all of their waters, Gatorades, candy, seeds, towels, batting helmets, gloves, guards, and bats. Once the game started I had to get all of their pre hitting stuff out (pine tar, bat weights etc) and I would go through their bats and see who used what bats and memorize them so I knew which bat to get if they broke one. I also have to pay attention to where they put their stuff because I try to keep their routines consistent and keep it in their familiar spot.
"The super fun part is when they score I go out to home plate and fist bump, high five, or jump into them shoulder to shoulder to celebrate and if they got a double or triple I would run out to grab their gloves or guards and fist bump them out there.
"You really get comfortable with the guys after working with them for a series. I even have handshakes with some of the guys. Some of them even remember me when they came back to Detroit," Ellis said.
But when the chance does arise for fun times Ellis shares his.
"My last series this summer I was a bat boy for the Chicago White Sox in a double header and their pitcher Dylan Cease (a rookie from Vanderbilt) threw a great game and got the win. Former Tigers catcher James McCann, as a celebratory gift, and for fun, made him go to Starbucks in downtown Detroit to get coffee for the whole team. He didn't have enough hands though and no car…. So! He says to me and my co worker, 'Hey guys I need extra hands can you take me?' So we take my car with all three of us and show up, him and I, in full uniform at Starbucks to get this coffee. Everyone in the coffee shop wanted pictures and thought I was on the team, too. It was pretty fun, and I felt like I was actually an MLB player for a minute there.
"[There are] so many things [that make being a bat boy great], ranging from my co workers, to the team managers, to the players and the all stars. The souvenir here and there, being around our hometown Tigers. Being under those bright lights on a Friday night with a cool breeze and thousands of people watching. Watching a walk off homerun from just 25 feet away. Having friends and family yelling at me from the stands, people sending me videos of myself, having professional photographers get me in action, and being caught on TV. Having a hand shake with a player after a home run. Snagging foul balls and having the whole entire stadium rupture in applauding and cheering- for you. No job will ever beat this job, it is really one of a kind. Something I will never forget and never take for granted," Ellis said.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mickala Signor, originally from Quincy, Mich., is a first-year student at Albion
Get the latest information on the team by following @BritonsBaseball on Twitter. General athletics news can also be found @GoBrits on Twitter, AlbionAthletics on Instagram and at facebook.com/albionathletics.
Joe and Julie Serra have given a $5 million leadership gift to launch a fundraising initiative to make two dreams a reality. The first is a newly expanded fitness and student activity facility at the site of the current Dow Recreation and Wellness Center. The second is a new or renovated facility for the volleyball, men's basketball and women's basketball teams that currently call Kresge Gymnasium home.
The College is continuing to raise funds in support of both projects. To learn more, call 517/629-0446 or email email@example.com.