This is just about the craziest thing I’ve ever heard:
If you’ve ever watched a baseball game, you’ve probably seen a “bat boy”. Bat boys are like “field assistants” in baseball. When a batter hits the ball, he drops his bat and runs to first base. It’s the bat boy’s job to pick up the bat and take it back to the dugout. Bat Boys have other duties too, like cleaning equipment, fetching a new bat if a batter wants one, taking a fresh supply of baseballs to the umpire if needed, keeping beach balls and other debris off the field and removing foul balls from the field of play if they land near him. Every baseball game features two bat boys, one for the home team and one for the visiting team. Bat boys almost never travel with the team, so in most cases both bat boys are employed by the home team.
Bat boys are often male, and are usually between the ages of 16-20. Because bat boys are so young, and might need to miss games for school or family, teams have a “pool” of bat boys that they’ll call on for each game. Remember this point, OK?
Here’s where it gets weird: although bat boys are not officially “members” of any team, they still wear a standard baseball uniform on the field. In the case of minor league teams, the home team’s bat boy wears the home team’s home jersey, while the visiting team’s bat boy wears the home team’s road jersey. Got that?
But here’s what doesn’t make any sense at all: in Major League Baseball, the visiting team’s bat boy is required to wear the visiting team’s jersey. And because every team uses a pool of bat boys, a visiting team has no idea which bat boy will be assisting any given game. Which means that every road team must bring along a couple dozen of their uniforms for the bat boy, since they have no idea which boy will assist them.
As if that weren’t confusing enough, there’s little uniformity between teams when it comes to the bat boy’s uniform. Some teams give their bat boys plain uniforms without a number or name on back. Others have uniforms with “Bat Boy” on the back, like a player name. Others say “Batboy” on them, so apparently MLB can’t even decide on how to spell the position! Still others skip the issue by putting “BB” on the back as a number. And some teams give their bat boys “player numbers” that are the last two digits of the year (2007 = 07). This was all well and good from the 1970s to 2009, since no player uniforms have any of those numbers. But in 2010 they’ll face a problem, since “10” is a legitimate player number.
Who knew the world of the bat boy could be so complicated?