Caught looking: Tigers new bat boy taken by old ball trick
Caught looking: Tigers new bat boy taken by old ball trick Braeden Ward, 18, the bat boy for the Detroit Tigers, poses for a photo after a spring training baseball game against the New York Mets in Lakeland, Fla., Monday, March 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Ben Walker/Brynn Anderson)
Caught looking: Tigers new bat boy taken by old ball trick
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This rookie got caught looking.
Eager to do well, Braeden Ward reported to the Detroit Tigers to work his first day of spring training as a bat boy, and it didn't take long for the college freshman to fall prey to a clubhouse prank that's been around forever.
"They asked me to get the key to the batter's box," he said in Lakeland, Florida.
Despite his best efforts - oh, and plenty of help from the Tigers, New York Mets manager Terry Collins and the umpires - the 18-year-old nicknamed "Bugsy" never got it locked down.
"The oldest trick in baseball," Ward said, laughing. "Yes, sir, they got me good."
He won't be the last one, for sure, because every year, stories grow about teams sending earnest, young employees on searches for nonexistent ballpark items as a playful rite of passage.
Mets assistant general manager John Ricco recalled an intern at Citi Field last season who was dispatched to retrieve the left-handed fungo bats.
"They went to 15 different departments and never did find them," Ricco said. "It's a tradition in the game, it's fun. But the key to batter's box - that's the gold standard."
This gag played out at the Tigers' spring training park, fittingly named Joker Marchant Stadium in honor of a local official.
Ward's quest began when Detroit third base coach Dave Clark said he needed the key and suggested the umpires might have it. Wearing his Tigers uniform and a batting helmet, Ward knocked on the door at the umps' locker room and politely asked.
Veteran umpire Bob Davidson quickly sensed what was going on.
"First day?" he inquired.
Having seen this routine before, Davidson pointed the Florida Southern College student toward Collins. When Ward left, the ump deadpanned: "He might be back for the box of curveballs, too."
Ward then went over to the Mets' locker room and told a clubhouse worker why he needed to see Collins. The skipper is no stranger to these sort of shenanigans, either.
"He tapped me on the chest and said, 'Don't worry, son, you'll find it,'" Ward said.
Eventually, a staff member in the Tigers' clubhouse clued in Ward.
"I can't believe I fell for it," a smiling Ward said. "I've played baseball my whole life (and) I played tricks like that on the freshmen in high school, but this time, yup, they got me."

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Why doesn't the batter's box have a key?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • tristinb1-lew
    4/20/2016 - 12:42 p.m.

    There isn't really a "batter's box key". The batter's box is on the field and the players stand in it, therefore there is no key needed to stand in it.

  • ethang2-lew
    4/20/2016 - 12:44 p.m.

    The story is pretty funny because playing jokes on your teammates in baseball has been around forever. It's pretty cool to see that being done during spring training.

  • kylief1-wal
    4/29/2016 - 01:56 p.m.

    The batter's box doesn't have a key, because it was a joke that the Tigers players were pulling on the new bat boy. It's said to be a tradition to mess around with new young employees working for their team. The Tigers players asked the new employee if he could get the key to the batter's box. They did this knowing that he would be flustered trying to find it because it's non existent.

  • alexm-ver
    4/29/2016 - 04:01 p.m.

    That is mean and funny all at the same time.

  • nicks6-har
    1/27/2017 - 02:35 p.m.

    The batter's box doesn't have a key because there was an old trick of getting into the clubhouse. There was this thing called the clubhouse prank and that is how you would get into the batter's box. This gag played out the Tiger's spring training park. Today this is known as the oldest trick in baseball.

  • daltona-lew
    9/29/2017 - 01:06 p.m.

    I like how he said that he played baseball his whole life and actually thought that there was a key to the batters box. Also I really like the umpires response.

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