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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Deadspin: I Was Tony Gwynn’s Bat Boy

Drop whatever it is you’re reading now, and go read this instead.

One day, one of the bat boys showed up wearing an earring. Bright gold and massive. The Giants were in town. During batting practice, Will Clark walked by and sneered, “Nice earring, faggot.” The words were stunning, but we knew we had to react like it was no big thing. News must’ve gotten around, though, because before the next game, Tony walked back to the locker room area with Bip Roberts and performed an entire routine for us. They had evidently practiced it during batting practice. They stood lecturing us, using every “how to talk like an older white guy” cliché in the book. “Now listen, son,” Tony started, stopping periodically to catch his breath, as he was laughing too hard. “You’re bringing down the team here, with that earring.” “Very, very unprofessional,” Bip added, haughtily. They walked away, howling with laughter, the point made: Will Clark was a dick.

Before one game, early in the season, I stood out in right field during batting practice, arms folded. Tony walked over. “Want to toss?” he asked. Trembling with nervousness, I said, “Yeah,” and tried to act like this was nothing to me. My first toss went about 30 feet over his head. He laughed and ran after it. Second toss, only 15 feet over his head. He jogged over to me. “How are you holding that ball?” he asked. I showed him my grip. “Well hell, that’s all wrong.” A 10-second lesson, and we were good to go. He fired a rocket to me. I fielded it cleanly and threw it back using my new grip. This time only five feet overhead. He laughed again, harder this time. I got myself under control, and we threw for 10 minutes, just us. At one point I stopped, realizing that some kids were watching. They were watching me. They were watching me playing catch with Tony Gwynn. I could read their thoughts: “That kid is so lucky.” I was. On my way back to the clubhouse, one of the kids, some poor 6-year-old totally overcome by the moment, asked me for my autograph. I signed his program. Tony watched. He laughed the whole time.

Depressoteric Posted: June 18, 2014 at 02:23 PM | 24 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hall of class, hall of fame, obituaries, san diego padres

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   1. T.J. Posted: June 18, 2014 at 04:49 PM (#4729814)
Wow, Will Clark was a dick? Who knew?

Cool article.
   2. sotapop Posted: June 18, 2014 at 04:58 PM (#4729833)
Yep. Read this from the link in the other thread. This is the best of the Gwynn stories yet. E excerpted the best anecdote, but there are many more. Well worth your time.
   3. 'Spos Posted: June 18, 2014 at 05:30 PM (#4729871)
Thought I was Gwynned out. This is a must read.
   4. Magnum RA Posted: June 18, 2014 at 06:14 PM (#4729946)
Another great story in the comments of TFA.
   5. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: June 18, 2014 at 06:21 PM (#4729954)
Wow, Will Clark was a dick?


First Jack, then Will. I'm starting to wonder whether anyone surnamed Clark in baseball has ever been worth a damn as a human being.

Hell, maybe Tony was a serial killer.
   6. Lars6788 Posted: June 18, 2014 at 06:29 PM (#4729959)
Is there evidence that Clark used the 'F' word? Was this batboy actually there? Did they use those terms 25 years ago? I don't think it would be right to disparage an opposing player until we get his side of the story.
   7. Depressoteric Posted: June 18, 2014 at 06:40 PM (#4729972)
Did they use those terms 25 years ago?
Umm...yes. Yes, they did. Not only was that term used, it was quite possibly the MOST common term in that general category that someone would use.
   8. dr. scott Posted: June 18, 2014 at 06:47 PM (#4729986)
The words were stunning, but we knew we had to react like it was no big thing.


Sounds like he was there. And the word has been in use for well over 25 years. Can't say anything about if Clark agrees about the incident though.

There was a twitter exchange between Neyer about this article as he introduces it with "Does anyone have anything nice to say about Will Clark?" The answer was his Autism foundation and work, and that people who have interacted with him lately thought he was a friendly guy.
   9. Curse of the Andino Posted: June 18, 2014 at 06:59 PM (#4729992)
Sounds like he was there. And the word has been in use for well over 25 years. Can't say anything about if Clark agrees about the incident though.


It was pretty much the disparaging term for gay men throughout the '70s, when Clark was growing up.
   10. Zach Posted: June 18, 2014 at 07:34 PM (#4730021)
It's interesting how being rich and famous lets you be the person you always secretly wanted to be. Tony Gwynn apparently wanted to be a pretty nice guy. Other people, not so much.
   11. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: June 18, 2014 at 07:53 PM (#4730042)
I wouldn't be surprised if Clark said that, but it was a long time ago and he was a lot younger. He seems a lot more congenial now in middle age and it's possible he just grew up. Probable, really.
   12. cardsfanboy Posted: June 18, 2014 at 07:57 PM (#4730044)
It was pretty much the disparaging term for gay men throughout the '70s, when Clark was growing up.


Yes, but the way the world of political sensitivity works
1. You stop calling the "victims" by that term but feel perfectly fine saying it to others who aren't that way.
2. Eventually any usage of the term is taken as incorrect.


Calling a mentally disabled person a retard nowadays is wrong, and most self aware people aren't going to do it, but there are still(I'm one of them and yes I know I'm wrong on it, but I haven't reached perfection yet) people who don't have a problem using that term as a slur against non-mentally disabled people. It takes a while for the rationality and reasoning of why that is wrong for it to permeate the consciousness of the people. Same with the word faggot or any other derogatory words. 25 years ago calling a random hetero guy a faggot wasn't that big of a deal for many people. It was perceived as an insult to his masculinity, not an insult to his sexual preference(or as South Park aptly showed, just for being a douche)

I wouldn't be surprised if Clark said that, but it was a long time ago and he was a lot younger. He seems a lot more congenial now in middle age and it's possible he just grew up. Probable, really.


And people grow up... Agreed, add in the locker room mentality that reduces people to less mature and it's a bad story for Clark, but it's not fully indicative of who he is/was as a person.

   13. Canker Soriano Posted: June 18, 2014 at 08:08 PM (#4730051)
Did they use those terms 25 years ago?

Speaking as someone who was in high school 25 years ago... yes, yes they did. A thousand times a day. If you were among a group of friends, calling someone a "fag" back then was about as common as calling someone "dude" is today. Maybe we were too young or naive to understand the implications of it - it was the South, and (or so we thought) we didn't have any gay friends. I doubt we even considered it in that context. It was an offhand insult, akin to calling someone a "pansy" or "[5-letter cat word that would get nannied]".

25 years ago calling a random hetero guy a faggot wasn't that big of a deal for many people. It was perceived as an insult to his masculinity, not an insult to his sexual preference(or as South Park aptly showed, just for being a douche)

Yep, this nails it.

(Of course, you hope people grow up and grow out of it. Not everyone does.)
   14. Batman Posted: June 18, 2014 at 08:19 PM (#4730057)
So the truth about Bip Roberts finally comes out.
   15. cardsfanboy Posted: June 18, 2014 at 08:45 PM (#4730071)
Speaking as someone who was in high school 25 years ago... yes, yes they did. A thousand times a day. If you were among a group of friends, calling someone a "fag" back then was about as common as calling someone "dude" is today.


agreed 100%, although fag was one thing, going full word "faggot" wasn't as common.
   16. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: June 18, 2014 at 09:59 PM (#4730102)
READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE! I COMMAND THEE
   17. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: June 18, 2014 at 10:24 PM (#4730112)
agreed 100%, although fag was one thing, going full word "faggot" wasn't as common.


I first encountered the full word in a "Dave Berg Looks at the Lighter Side" strip in Mad, which must've been around 1970. The punchline was that the kid using it as an insult didn't really have any idea what it meant (which wasn't gone into in the strip, either). Neither did I.
   18. Random Transaction Generator Posted: June 18, 2014 at 11:09 PM (#4730135)
   19. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 19, 2014 at 12:53 AM (#4730165)
They stood lecturing us, using every “how to talk like an older white guy” cliché in the book.


Fortunately, Tony really didn't need any Meryl Streep-like devotion to the craft to pull off sounding like a lame white guy.

Nice story. Tony genuinely seemed like one of the truly good ones in the sport.

   20. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: June 19, 2014 at 07:12 AM (#4730214)
I Was Tony Gwynn's Bat Boy


I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman!
   21. JRVJ Posted: June 19, 2014 at 08:06 AM (#4730235)
FWIW, one of Eddie Murphy's 80s albums(I'm thinking "Raw"), abundantly employed the term fa--ot.
   22. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: June 19, 2014 at 09:17 AM (#4730279)
The last homestand of the season, Tony's official Nike catalog showed up in our locker one day, with a note in his familiar handwriting.


How nice to be able to recognize your hero's handwriting when you see it.
   23. Russ Posted: June 19, 2014 at 09:19 AM (#4730283)
but it's not fully indicative of who he is/was as a person.


People are are just bags of water, protein, and complicated electronic circuitry. That's who everyone *is*. How we act are choices. Sometimes we have been taught to and learned to make bad choices, in other situations the bad choices were our own selfish decision. However, at any point, someone can decide to change how they act and, going forward, try to put more positive than negative into the world.

I've basically stopped trying to classify people as "good people" or "bad people" or even "evil people". There are good things that people do and bad things that people do... generally people that do lots of bad things tend to keep doing them, but the causation is backwards. They don't do things because they're considered to be a bad person; the bad things that they do make them seem to be a bad person. The world would be a better place if we were able to believe that people can change their behavior rather than just assume they won't. Sure, sometimes we'll be disappointed, but I think the times that we aren't will make up for it.

   24. Moeball Posted: June 19, 2014 at 11:09 AM (#4730385)
One day, one of the bat boys showed up wearing an earring. Bright gold and massive. The Giants were in town. During batting practice, Will Clark walked by and sneered, “Nice earring, faggot.”


Gee, I wonder if Clark ever said that to Barry Bonds during batting practice?

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