Touring the Bases with…Garrett Totty
Garrett Totty is the Head Batboy for the Texas League Tulsa Drillers. Garrett also plays catcher on his high school baseball team at Morris (Oklahoma) High School, where this past season he was teammates with Yankee’s 18th round draft choice Hayden Sharp.
Seamheads: Being a batboy on a professional team is probably something that many young players would love to do. How did you go about getting this job, and how long have you been doing this?
Garrett Totty: This is my third year as batboy for the Drillers. I started going about getting this job in the later part of the 2008 season. My family and I are season ticket holders and we know a lot of people in the front office so I went to Mike Melaga, the General Manager, and asked him about getting a job as a batboy. He set me up an interview with Peter McAdams, who was the Director of Field Operations at the time. I got hired in the spring of 2009, and the rest is history.
Seamheads: How did you first get interested in baseball?
Garrett Totty: Well, my Mom and Dad tell me that, at 9 mos-old, I would sit and watch an entire baseball game and never take my eyes off the field. I don’t remember that but I do know that I have ALWAYS loved baseball. As I got older I studied the game and learned how to hit and field the ball the right way. Even as a little kid playing T-ball I worked at learning the game and constantly improving. Hahahaha… I think I was the only kid on my T-ball team to catch the ball the right way, with your fingers over the top of the ball and your thumb under it.
Seamheads: Obviously a batboy is responsible for bats and balls during the game, but what are some of the not so obvious responsibilities that you have that either are not seen by fans, or happen before or after games?
Garrett Totty: Bats and balls are all of what fans see during the game, but during the game we also have to check on a lot of things in the dugout. Playing in the middle of summer in Oklahoma the weather can get pretty brutal so the water jug that we have in the dugout has to be filled and have ice in it so the players can stay cool and have water. The umpires have to stay cool and hydrated too so I take them water every so often during the game. We also have a jug of Gatorade in the dugout and sometimes I have to fill that up and make more Gatorade. A lot of the time we’ll run out of water cups in the dugout and I’ll have to run into the clubhouse to get more. I’ve almost run out of baseballs a few times because if a baseball gets a scuff on it we can’t use it again so a lot of times we go through quite a few baseballs.
Before the game, I get there an hour and a half before the start. I put out all the gum, sunflower seeds, and towels on the dugout bench and on the bench in the bullpen. I have to make the Gatorade, and fill up the water jugs on both the home and away bench and bullpen.
About 30 minutes before game time I put my uniform on and I go to the umpire’s dressing room to get the game balls. The umpires usually prepare 120 baseballs for the game.
After the game I take in all of the gum, sunflower seeds, and towels from the benches and bullpens. We dump out all of the excess water and Gatorade from the jugs and take them up to the clubhouse. I sweep the dugout on the side I work on and the other batboy does the same on his side. If any players leave any of their equipment in the dugout we take that up and give it to them. After all of the postgame responsibilities I clock out about an hour and a half to two hours after the game.
Seamheads: You always seem to know when the umpire needs some more new baseballs. How do you know when to come out with more balls?
Garrett Totty: Most umpires carry six baseballs in the two pockets that they carry on their belt and I learned early that when three balls would get hit out of play or thrown out they would ask for three baseballs so I started counting how many baseballs got hit or thrown out and when it got to three I wouldn’t wait for them to ask I just went ahead and took out three baseballs. The umpires liked that so I just kept doing it.
Seamheads: Could you describe what your interaction with the players is like, and how they treat you?
Garrett Totty: The players treat me very well. They treat me better than a lot of the fans treat me. I interact with the players a lot more than people think. Between innings and before the game I talk to the players a lot. I’ve made a lot of good friendships with players. I still talk to a lot of them on Facebook. The players will talk and joke with me during the game if they’re not playing or if they’re on the steps of the dugout while they’re in the hole they will talk to me till they have to go on deck. So I interact with the players a lot.
Seamheads: What have you learned about what goes on ‘behind the scenes’ that you didn’t know before?
Garrett Totty: I’ve learned that there is a lot of interaction between the batboys and the umpires. I didn’t really realize how much the Umpires and the batboys talked during the game.
Seamheads: Yes, you seem to have many conversations with the home plate umpires between innings. What are some of the things that they talk about with you?
Garrett Totty: We talk about a lot of things. Mostly it’s about how many baseballs he needs or if he wants a drink of water, but we’ll talk about mostly anything. We’ll talk about what is going on in our lives, the weather, what town and ballpark is the best in the Texas League, and I ask the question a lot of the time which team has the best batboys. The other day an umpire and I were talking and we ended up debating if John Wayne or Clint Eastwood was a better actor and which one was in better Westerns. So when I say we talk about anything I mean ANYTHING.
Seamheads: This is the second year the Drillers have been in their new stadium. From the perspective of someone who gets to see the inside areas, what is the greatest are of improvement over the old stadium?
Garrett Totty: The new stadium is a lot more player friendly than the old one. The clubhouse is a lot bigger. The batting cages are a lot bigger and more convenient for the players to get extra batting practice before the game. The dugouts are a lot bigger and substantially wider and that makes it a lot easier for all of the players to walk through there. Having the clubhouse area underground is better because at the old stadium a few times fans tried to get through the back way to the field or to into the clubhouse. I think the players feel a lot more secure than they did in the old stadium.
Seamheads: What do you love most about your job?
Garrett Totty: What I love most about my job is that I get to be on a pro baseball field and I get to interact with pro baseball players.
Seamheads: What is the most difficult part about being a Batboy?
Garrett Totty: The most difficult part of being a batboy is probably the postgame cleanup. I think it’s the most difficult part of the job because after the game you’re tired and you’ve been running everywhere. If it’s been a long game and you still have to clean everything up.
Seamheads: Who is the most interesting person you have met in this job?
Garrett Totty: I’ve met a lot of interesting guys but the most interesting group of guys have been the pitchers on the teams. For example, the bullpen pitchers last year would line up in different formations out in the bullpen during the National Anthem and do other fun and crazy things.
Seamheads: What has been your most special memory so far?
Garrett Totty: Every day that I get to step on a professional baseball field is special for me. I have a lot of special memories since I’ve been a batboy.
In 2009, opening day was the first ever game that I worked. During that season I went on part of a road trip with the Drillers. Two games before the last game of the season the Drillers needed to win out to make it to the playoffs. In the 9th inning, there were two outs, a runner on second base, the Drillers were down by one run when Michael McKenry came up to bat. He hit a ball over the left field net that won the game and extend the Drillers playoff hopes. The Drillers lost the next night but that moment was amazing.
In 2010 I worked Opening Day of the new stadium, OneOK Field, and saw Tim McGraw throw out the ceremonial first pitch, that was pretty awesome. That year I went on part of a road trip again. Seeing the first half and how much bad luck and losses that they had in the first half of 2010, and the second half was a totally different story. In the second half they were in the playoff race till the day before the last day of the season.
Opening day is always a special moment for me. This year Opening Day was also my 16th birthday. This past month we had a rain delay and they didn’t want to call the game. We kept hearing that the tarp was going to be pulled in ten minutes while it was still pouring rain. That evening, just hanging out with the players and talking with them was really cool.
Seamheads: What are your plans for the future?
I hope to play college baseball and then eventually professional baseball but if that doesn’t happen I want to go into a profession like an athletic trainer or a strength and conditioning coach for a pro baseball team.