By David Krueger Herald Writer
Most brothers hand down clothes, toys or advice to their younger brothers.
Dan Hunter gave his brother the keys to the Everett AquaSox clubhouse.
Thanks to brothers Dan and Dave, the Hunters have supplied the clubhouse manager for the AquaSox seven of the past eight seasons. Dan, 27, held the position from 2006-08 and, after a Hunter-less year in 2009, Dave, 21, took over in 2010 and has been running the clubhouse ever since.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Dave said. “You get to meet a lot of cool guys and then a lot of them play in the majors. You might get a different opinion from me at 2 a.m. when I’m going home, but it’s a lot of fun. I enjoy it.”
The clubhouse manager is one of the first people to arrive at Everett Memorial Stadium on game days — and some off days — and is the last person to leave. Dave is responsible for making sure everything runs smoothly for the players and coaches.
“I give out all the equipment, jerseys and pants,” Dave said. “The catchers’ gear, bats and then I wash all the laundry after the game. I also fold towels and basically do whatever these guys need me to do for them.”
Both brothers had a similar path to being clubbie. Dan started working for the Frogs as a vendor in 2003. He moved to batboy the next season and was a fill-in batboy in 2005 while working another job. When he heard the clubhouse position was going to be vacated in 2006, he called people he knew at the AquaSox and was able to get an interview and, ultimately, the job.
Dan said his favorite part of the job was hanging out with longtime AquaSox trainer Spyder Webb and seeing some of the Frogs he took care of — including Doug Fister, Adam Jones and the late Greg Halman — make it to the big leagues.
“It’s kind of fun to see players that came through the system that have made it to the big leagues,” Dan said. “Every now and then I’ll see a player get called up and remember that I had him in Everett.”
“Dan was one of our batboys and was fun to be around,” said Webb, who oversees the clubbie and batboys. “He seemed, to me, to be an obvious choice to move up in to the clubhouse position. Adversity did not frazzle him which is a tremendous attribute for this position because everything that we have planned changes in seconds up here.”
The second-oldest of seven Hunter children, Dan held the clubbie position for three years. In his final season in Everett, one of his batboys was a familiar face: his younger brother Dave.
Dave was 17 years old when Dan left the Frogs, and spent one more year as a batboy while Justin Hopper took over clubhouse duties. Hopper left after one season and, now that he was 18, Dave was chosen as his replacement.
“He went the same batboy world,” Webb said. “Did a great job down there. When Dan took off and he was old enough to come up here and start doing this position it was a natural fit because he had seen his brother do the job. He has all of the same attributes of his brother.”
Both Hopper and Dan helped show Dave the ropes and helped him during his first season as clubhouse manager. Dan came to his younger brother’s first game as clubbie, the annual Everett Cup between the Frogs and Everett Merchants, just to walk him through how he did things and answer any questions.
“My brother just kind of gave me some basic tips and just told me what he did,” Dave said.
Currently in his fourth year as clubbie — one more year than his older brother Dan — Dave also enjoys watching his former players move up the Mariners’ farm system. Dave has spent time with Nick Franklin — while he was a batboy — as well as Stephen Pryor, Yoervis Medina and Mike Zunino.
Pat Callaghan, who has been a batboy for three of Dave’s four years as clubbie, thinks Dave is an invaluable member of the AquaSox.
“He’s really important. Everyone’s always looking for him and we can never find him,” Callaghan said. “He makes it look really easy. He’s constantly doing something. You don’t see him sitting down or taking breaks. He’s getting towels or food or doing laundry or getting stuff for players. He works his butt off.”
Callaghan’s also noticed another impressive skill that Dave boasts.
“He’s got magical beard growing power,” Callaghan said with a laugh.
While Dave handles duties at Everett Memorial Stadium, Dan has done what many AquaSox players hope to do: make it to the big leagues. He currently works in the visiting clubhouse at Safeco Field, doing some familiar work.
“It’s a lot like what I did up in Everett,” Dan said. “The big thing is the laundry. Just washing the uniforms after the game and getting that stuff packed. We’ll do everything from stocking fridges to cleaning shoes. It’s pretty similar to Everett just on a bigger scale.”
Dan, who has another job remodeling houses when the M’s are out of town, went to the baseball’s winter meetings in Nashville, Tenn. in early December to apply for jobs with major and minor League teams. He met Ted Walsh, who is in charge of the visiting clubhouse at Safeco Field, and wound up working for his hometown team, making the jump from Class A to the majors.
“It was kind of good timing,” said Dan, who is getting married in September.
Once again, Dave, who has lived with Dan the past three years, has followed in Dan’s footsteps, scoring a part-time job working with his brother in the visiting clubhouse at Safeco Field.
“It’s interesting to see both the major leagues and (Class) A ball. It’s a little bit different,” Dave said. “Just the amount of things we do for them.”
Dave said this will likely be his final season in the clubhouse at Everett Memorial Stadium. He is moving to Seattle at the end of the season and wants to find a job down there, perhaps again with his brother at Safeco Field.
Webb had high praise for the Hunter boys during their time at Everett.
“Their mom and dad just did the greatest job you can do,” Webb said. “Anybody would be very happy to claim them as their kids. It’s been a privilege for me to work with both of those guys.”
Early in his clubbie career, Dan received the nickname “Lieutenant Dan” from Webb, in honor of the character from the movie “Forrest Gump.” Once Dave became clubbie, Webb found a moniker for him too.
“With David, he couldn’t be Lieutenant David because he was (just) a batboy … so he had to be a private,” Webb said. “You have to work your way up. Even though he has moved to Lieutenant Dan’s position he’s still a private. Private Dave. It’s simply a name of love from me.”
Like Dave, Webb, who has been a trainer for the Seattle Mariners’ Northwest League affiliate for 35 seasons, is also retiring at the end of the season. He said the fact that Dave is leaving as well wasn’t a coincidence.
“That’s why I’m retiring. He said he was going so I had to go,” Webb said. “There are no more Hunters ready to take this position and my current batboys — who are the best ever — both are not returning so the whole world may collapse here.
“I had to go because really, the only reason I do a good job is because of Private, and Lieutenant before him, and (the batboys). They really make the world go here.”
All hope is not lost. With seven children the Hunter family still could produce another clubbie or two before it’s all said and done.
Although, it might be awhile.
“The next youngest Hunter boy (Erik) that could take over just turned nine, so he’s going to be a while out,” Dave said.
Erik Hunter already has one important Frog on his side.
“You know, I guess if we wanted to try a nine-year old, he would be my vote to be the first nine-year old to do this position,” Webb said. “Maybe in a few years the next trainer and staff here will have another Hunter to run the show.”