Batboys and the World of Baseball

Neil D. Isaacs, Author
Neil D. Isaacs, Author University Press of Mississippi $22 (232p) ISBN 978-0-87805-772-6
Hardcover - 232 pages - 978-0-87805-771-9
Hardcover - 242 pages - 978-0-585-21346-0
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According to Isaacs (All the Moves: A History of College Basketball), a batboy's experience bridges ``the great gulf between the worlds of insider and outsider.'' In this anecdote-filled study, the author goes inside the clubhouse for a detailed look at their lives and work. It starts with getting the job, which is usually through serendipity or a family connection (jobs are often handed down from generation to generation). There are the batboy's duties, both the official ones and those that may make him the bearer of ``notes, phone numbers, room keys, and other tokens of assignation between players and their more ardent fans.'' The initiation of a new batboy is frequently via a practical joke, as when he is sent searching for a bat-stretcher or the key to the batter's box (Tom Seaver liked to send them to find some ``elbow grease''). As might be expected, many of the clubhouse pranks, however funny, are scatological--and a batboy's education might extend to extramural activities such as a sexual initiation from a ``Baseball Annie.'' Douglas's interviewees offer a field guide to common baseball-playing species: the belligerent ``Red-Ass''; the competitive ``Gamer''; the clownish ``Flake.'' And the batboys do name names, giving the skinny on the genuine good guys (Sandy Koufax, Billy Martin, Gil Hodges, Jimmy Piersall) and the ones who forgot to tip (Dave Winfield, Mike Schmidt, Denny McLain). It's an interesting study of a job that remains a genuine piece of Americana. Photos not seen by PW. (June)
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