11/12/2004 4:27 PM ET
A batboy ready for the bigs
By Tim Hagerty / Special to MLB.com
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It is approaching 1:05 p.m. and the Scottsdale Scorpions are getting ready to play the Peoria Saguaros. Dozens of scouts gather in the seats behind home plate armed with their stopwatches. They are ready to time the best prospects in the Arizona Fall League, but they would probably be impressed if they checked the speed of someone else -- the batboy.
|Scottsdale Scorpions batboy Lenny Miller is known around the league for his hustle. (Bill Mitchell)
Scorpions batboy Lenny Miller is in his fifth year as a fixture at Scottsdale Stadium. The 16-year-old is known for sprinting to the batter's box to retrieve his team's lumber and for hustling to pick up foul balls.
"He seems like he enjoys it every time he goes out," said Scorpions manager Ivan DeJesus. "He doesn't miss too many balls out there."
Once Miller turned 12, the minimum age required to be a batboy, he started working at Scottsdale Stadium as the Scorpions' batboy. He admits that the job is the envy of many classmates, but like the players, Miller is here for a purpose.
"It is my life dream to work for the Diamondbacks," he says. "When I was little, before the Diamondbacks existed, I always wanted to be a batboy for the Dodgers or Red Sox."
In a game earlier this season, Miller's quickness caused some brief confusion. A Scottsdale batter hit a foul ball just down the right-field line. When the batter returned to the box to finish the remainder of his at-bat, he was surprised to notice that Miller had already run from the dugout to home plate, taken the bat and returned it to the bat rack.
"Everybody has fun watching him. That keeps everyone loose. They get on him, and he just laughs," said DeJesus.
For many AFL fans, watching Miller has become the undercard to watching the ballgame.
"I remember one year at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, there was a church group at the game," said Miller. "And every time I ran out to get a bat or a ball, they'd start singing the Batman song, but instead of saying 'Batman,' they would say 'Batboy.'"
Lenny has now become part of the Scorpions team. Scottsdale is the only team in the AFL that brings its own batboy on the road, putting Miller to work on the visitors' side of the field as well.
"He is a character," said Scottsdale coach Lee Tinsley. "He is fired up when he gets out there. He goes hard."
Miller's hustle has caught the eye of other AFL coaches over the years.
"I remember one year Ron Jackson used me as an example in his speeches about hustle. A couple other coaches have done that, too," said Miller.
And what is the best part of the job?
"Just being there, because I love baseball."
In a league known for the development of players, managers, coaches and umpires, this batboy is already at the top of his game.
Tim Hagerty is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.