The box of curveballs and the key to the batter’s box. That’s what started my job as clubhouse helper, then batboy, for the visiting teams at Wrigley. I found my passion early!
Eleven or twelve years old and I had a set of keys to get in and out of Wrigley as I please. Back then there was only one guard, and it took everything and anything to keep him awake all night. This was the old Pinkerton guard company. The guy would make his rounds every so often and when he was drunk or tired and I was up and about I would sometimes make the rounds on my own. It was the coolest thing, me walking with this encased pc of equipment that I could key in to various locations around the park. Ticket office, check. Concessions areas, check! Up the ramps to the press box, done. Out to the bleachers, done. Visiting and home clubhouses, done. Front office, done. Oh those smells of the ballpark were priceless.
Sometimes I would have dinner with the guy, or even order from Pat’s Pizza.
What a trip. Just me and the guy in the chair at Clark and Addison. He was usually asleep at the rickety warn down pass gate. I loved the guy so, as he was one of the main reasons I got access to the park every day.
There was Gene the guard, Ron the clubhouse attendant, Gary and his wonderful loving father Bill, Dennis the clubhouse assistant, and me. We would handle everything from unpacking bags to lining up bat bags, doing player laundry and uniforms. There were so many towels, the Four Seasons housekeeping department would have a hard time keeping up. And the industrial dryer that was big enough for several players to get in and take a spin.
And we would feed them. Rarely did a guy get up at the hotel in Chicago and go to the coffee shop or even better yet, order room service. The big shot guys, of course. The rest of the team including coaches and athletic trainers needed to eat, especially with such early arrivals.
Remember, they were all day games back then. So the clubhouse became the player’s restaurant as well. Eggs made to order, no problem. Food takeout, Money!
Every morning started with a grocery run: Two dozen donuts, three gallons of milk, two loaves of bread and some eggs! And don’t forget the newspapers at the El.
Thank G-d for YumYum donut shop in the parking lot. I made a lot of money running back and forth to YY. Three double cheeseburgers, fries, a malt, NLT! Fred and his ladies knew the food was for the players so they would let me throw the burgers on the grill and help them wrap the order. Lines were long at the favorite spot, especially for the glazed, and I just walked right up to the grill and threw my orders on. This led to huge tips as I could be back in no time just to repeat it. Rain delays were the best…
And the reason I title this the box of curveballs and keys to the batter’s box?
Those are the two things I was on a constant running search for days… (until I figured that I was on a wild goose chase…)
“Hey Sandy, can you go find the “box of curveballs” or, “Sandy go to the front office and get the keys to the batter’s box. ” Lol. Growing up fast @ Wrigley.