By David Krueger The Herald
From what I’ve been told, all good things must come to an end.
I had the time of my life during the summer of 2012 working as a batboy for the Everett AquaSox. But, sadly, the summer flew by. Toward the end of the season, I figured I would be a one-and-done batboy. There was no way, I reasoned, I could have more fun in 2013.
Fortunately, I was convinced otherwise.
The other batboy, Patrick Callaghan, and clubhouse manager Dave Hunter both decided to return for one more summer. The duo can be very persuasive. I didn’t want to leave my friends hanging.
It didn’t hurt that they were coming back to help send off a legend, as longtime AquaSox trainer Spyder Webb had announced that 2013 would be his 35th and last season.
In the end, the chance to be a part of Spyder’s Farewell Tour was too much to pass up.
Webb was our “adult supervision” in the clubhouse. I’m the oldest of the three at 24. Hunter and Callaghan — who recently transferred to Washington State University and I don’t want to get a lot of angry e-mails from readers so that’s all I’m going to say about that — are both 21. We’re all hard workers, but it’s still nice to have an “adult” presence in the clubhouse.
A few things about Webb. First, he loves his guys. The players — and the batboys — trust Webb implicitly because a guy who’s been involved in minor-league baseball for more than three decades knows what he’s talking about.
He’s also the nicest guy in the world. He’ll pose for as many pictures and sign as many autographs as you want. He doesn’t have an ego. He’s earned the right to have one, but doesn’t. He actually thanks you for requesting his signature.
And his accent is awesome. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard Webb call you a “mo-ron.” He’s smart. Webb has given me more life advice — some of which isn’t what we in the business call “printable” — and helped me with more personal dilemmas than I can count (there are a lot).
Because of all this and more, the AquaSox wanted to send Webb out with a championship ring. Heck, I wanted do everything in my power to send him out on top.
Unfortunately, the Vancouver Canadians — who are apparently the New England Patriots of the Northwest League — ruined those dreams with an 11-4 win over Everett last Wednesday, ending the AquaSox season in the first round of the playoffs for the second straight year.
Even though the season ended a few games earlier than everyone hoped, I can’t begin to describe how happy I am with my decision to return to Everett Memorial Stadium for one last season. I got to hang out with professional baseball players on a daily basis and watch their games from the best seat in the house.
And I got to be an All-Star batboy! The first time I worked as a batboy at an AquaSox game was in 2009. I was filling in for the regular guy and got to wear No. 3, my favorite number. The afternoon of this year’s All-Star game in Everett, hanging on a rack, was a No. 3 “North” jersey for the batboy. Sure, I had to fight Callaghan for it (not literally) but I was able to secure it for the game and, thanks to $100, beyond.
Honestly, it’s pretty cool to have “Northwest League All-Star Batboy” on my resume.
Along with Webb, the coaches for the AquaSox were again top notch. I loved chatting with hitting coach Rafael Santo-Domingo and performance specialist Taylor Nakamura, throwing a football around with pitching coach Rich Dorman or just hanging out in manager Rob Mummau’s office talking baseball.
This season also produced the highlight of my batboy career. After All-Star utility player Bryan Brito was hit by a pitch, he sent his bat flying (and spinning end over end) in my direction. I ran up, not really paying attention to the situation, and saw a bat hurtling toward me. I stepped out of the way and put my arm out as the bat spun around my wrist. I closed my hand — and, if I’m being honest, my eyes — and was able to catch the barrel of the bat.
I turned around and calmly ran the bat back to the dugout as a couple fans applauded. A few high-fives later I returned to my chair, more surprised than anyone by what had just happened.
Now, I’m not saying that was a SportsCenter Top 10 play, but it was definitely in the David Top 10. Another highlight was getting to watch Webb throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the big-league club at Safeco Field. Afterward, I got to sit in a suite for the first time in my life and watch a Mariners game while critiquing the M’s batboys and secretly hoping they call me up to the majors next season.
After the Frogs’ season-ending loss, I asked Webb to sign a baseball for me. It’s now in a protective case on my desk. In retrospect, I wish I had gotten a few extras to sell on eBay. Demand is high and with the season over, I just lost one of my two jobs.
It’s been great hanging out with Webb these past two years, along with Hunter, Callaghan and everybody else at the ballpark, including two of my biggest fans, Bill and Sandi Thomas.
I’m sad it’s over, but I have a lot of memories — and AquaSox jerseys that I’ve purchased over the years — to remember my time at Everett Memorial Stadium. I’m 24 now and feel like I’m too old to be an AquaSox batboy. It’s time to hang up my cleats.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little excited to watch an AquaSox game from the stands next season. I imagine it will be a weird feeling sitting on the other side of the net and being able to enjoy an adult beverage — as Webb did at home plate after the Frogs ended the regular season with a 9-3 victory over Spokane.
It was a good two-year run. I’m proud to leave the stadium with Hunter, Callaghan and Webb, as well as the outstanding group of players the AquaSox assembled this season.
During the final playoff game, there was mounting pressure from Corey Russell, Kristi Simmons and a couple other season-ticket holders to be (likely) the first batboy to get ejected from a game. I chatted with a couple umpires about the possibility and requested an ejection in the ninth inning, but they weren’t too excited about being the guy who tossed a batboy.
In hindsight, I’m glad they didn’t. I’m glad I got to savor every last second of the season. Because from where I was sitting — a chair near the Frogs’ dugout — 2013 was even better than 2012.
David Krueger covers high school sports for The Everett Herald and was an all-star batboy for the Everett AquaSox (it’s on his resume, you can check). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.