I’d estimate there are less than 500 people in the world that are in the same profession as I am. You can say we’re all in competion to get one of the 60 coveted big league jobs that exist. The saying is, though, “Clubbies don’t retire, they die.” The national media caught wind of the story of Mike Murphy, the Home Clubhouse Manager of the San Francisco Giants, this past fall. “Murph” began working with the Giants as a bat boy in 1958 and has held his current position since 1980. With a turnover rate like that, I’d say it’s tougher for us to get to The Show than our players.
You’d think, then, this would be a pretty dog-eat-dog, cut-throat, step-anybody-you-have-to-to-get-to-the-top world of people trying to fight for jobs at the tip top of our industry, but it’s not. We have a bond. We all sharing stories with each other stories and I don’t think any of us are above sharing tips (the advice kind, not the money kind,) with each other. For example, if any of use have had great (or horrible) experiences with a certain manager who we see has been named manager of a team of one of our pals, we’ll let him know.
Visiting clubhouse managers in our league often help prepare other visiting clubhouse managers in the league for the teams in our league with a phone call. Such as, “Team X are a bunch of jerks. They thrashed my clubhouse when they left and I think somebody stole my blender. They’re coming to your place next week, just thought I’d warn you.” Call it, “professional courtesy.”
Dan Brick, the Visiting Clubhouse Manager of the AAA Buffalo Bisons for the past eight seasons, says, “I talk to most of them [clubbies of the International League], but I’ve only met one of them before, but I like to think we all work together pretty well. When it comes to calling each other when a team leaves for a heads up, that kind of stuff.”
We’ll also, occasionally, strike up conversations with players about their home clubhouse manager or other visiting clubhouse managesr. I’ve been told that the food in Chattanooga is legit. I have don’t have too much pride to tell John White, the Lookouts’ clubbie, that I hear good things about his work. If I overhear a team talking abut how lazy their clubbie is or how nasty their clubhouse is, I won’t say “Yeah, I’ve heard that from a lot of guys. I don’t know how he still has a job.” If I know it’s a new guy or if it’s somebody I know, I don’t mind giving him a call to give him a heads up. I’m not going to bash anybody to make myself look better.
I’ve become familiar with the clubbies at the Sox affiliates above and below Birmingham and I wouldn’t be affraid to talk to them if I needed something. Players will occasionally be promoted or demoted and accidently bring their old team’s jerseys with them or forget to pay dues. If I’m hearing those negative reviews about one of my “competitors” within my own organization, I will definitely act professional about it.
Each individual minor league team works differently with their clubhouse managers. Some teams provide things that others don’t, some teams pay more than others don’t, some teams have better facilities than others. We can converse with each other about how our situation compares to that of other clubbies. I had a discussion with one of my brethren with a different team, in a different league, at a different level, with a different organization, in another state. He wasn’t sure if he was being treated fairly by his team and was considering searching for greener pastures. After our discussion, I guess he decided it was likely best for him to stay put.
I’ve also received tweets, emails, and Facebook messages from people who are either interested in becoming a minor league clubhouse manager, or are were recently hired and looking for advice. I don’t have a problem with that, I can always make time to talk baseball. In fact, one of the teams in the Southern League recently go a new home clubhouse manager. He hit me up on Facebook to introduce himself and ask for pointers. He was formerly a bat boy and assistant clubhouse manager in the big leagues. Seems like a cool guy and he is going to make a nice addition to our fraternity.
With Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg during the 2009 season.