A Brief Tale
Jimmy the intern ran into the office of Don Howard, his boss and the general manager of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats minor league baseball club.
“Sir, sir, I think I’ve got it,” Jimmy said breathlessly. “I think I know how to cure our attendance woes.”
Howard glanced up briefly, then returned to his paperwork. A grunt served as the only indication that Jimmy should continue.
“What if, Mr. Howard, what if instead of a traditional batboy, we had a bat dog?”
Suddenly, Jimmy had Mr. Howard’s full attention. He pushed his paperwork aside, and stared at his underling long and hard, then cleared his throat.
“That’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard!” Mr. Howard finally yelled, proving that he was both an unsupportive jerk of a boss and the awful sort of person who serves only to drag down true visionaries. “What happens when the dog grabs a bat the player has just dropped, mid at-bat? Or he dives into the stands to retrieve an accidentally-flung bat?”
“Well, he’d have a handler to tend to him, of course,” Jimmy calmly replied.
“A handler who’ll probably sue if the dog ever gets so much as a splinter!” Mr. Howard shot back.
“I’m sure the team’s lawyers can draw up a favorable contract, Mr. Howard,” Jimmy said with a seemingly-impossible mix of reassurance and exasperation. Really, you had to be there to hear it, it was quite something. Fortunately for our hero Jimmy the intern, and the landlady to whom he owed rent, Mr. Howard didn’t notice the undercurrent of frustration.
“Alright, perhaps we can handle the handler”, Mr. Howard said, winking proudly about his truly terrible word play. “But we’re sure to face sexual harassment suits when this canine of yours starts humping fans’ legs.”
“He’ll be trained, boss.”
“Pfft! I tried training my dog. It doesn’t matter; whenever we play fetch, that mutt never gives me back the stick. I can just picture it, players fighting to get their damned bats back from a dog. We’ll be laughingstocks.”
“Sir, we’re a Double-A minor league baseball team who no one’s ever even heard of. Our players have to walk down the street, because of how little we pay them, but that’s ok because no one recognizes them anyway. Our average attendance is hovering in the high double digits, and as you’ve told me countless times while explaining why my paycheck is late, we’re a hair’s breadth from going bankrupt. Laughingstocks seems like it would be a step up.”
“Ok, Ok. We should be open to anything. But who’s going to want to step up to the plate and use a bat with teethmarks?”
“Boss, golden retrievers were made to carry game back without damage. They were specifically bred to have soft mouths, for heaven’s sake! I don’t know why I bothered having this whole discussion with you though,” Jimmy said, “when I could have just shown you this.”
“Holy hell, that’s the greatest thing I’ve ever seen!” Mr. Howard exclaimed. “Where do I sign up?”
Why Wouldn’t You?
However it happened, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats did indeed sign up for a bat dog named Ollie several years ago. They’re not the first team to do so either – Ollie’s father Chase served as bat dog for the Trenton Thunder for over a decade before his recent passing. Frankly, if a minor league team doesn’t have a bat dog, I have to question their GM’s fitness for the job. A bat dog won’t try to drink a gallon of milk in an hour on a dare, or wander out onto the field in the middle of play, and he certainly won’t deal steroids to the players. Honestly, why wouldn’t you get a bat dog?
To close, please enjoy these photos of Ollie.
At the start of the game, Ollie was nowhere to be seen.
But lo, he emerged from the dugout!
Ollie warmed up with a bit of fetch.
Then it was off to work.
Check out that sweet-ass bandana.
A close-up of his “soft mouth” at work.1
The boy may have the jersey, but the dog has the bat.
Baseball owners and GMs take note: This is how fans look after a bat dog.
“Soft mouth” is a ridiculous, albeit technical, term used by dog breeders. It indicates the light touch a dog uses to carry something in their mouths. ↩︎