During a Wednesday evening stint with the New York Yankees Double-A affiliate, Trenton Thunder, third baseman Alex Rodriguez (and the rest of the internet) found out about one of the best things in all of minor league baseball…
…the “Bat Dogs”.
For the first two innings of Trenton home games, golden retrievers Derby and Rookie pickup the bats after each player’s at-bat. Below are the dogs in action after Rodriguez grounded out early on.
The New York Daily News has a great story on the origins of the bat dogs. As is the way of minor league baseball, Trenton was looking for something new and different that would attract fans to the ballpark. When a fans fell in love with traveling act “Jake, the Diamond Dog” in the late 90’s, the team knew they needed one to call their own. Jake’s trainer found the Thunder a puppy named Chase, who served as Jake’s understudy before going full-time with the club.
The bat dogs have been a staple in Trenton since 2003. Chase bred Derby in 2009 and Rookie was born in 2013. When the team goes on the road, the dogs go home with Thunder Sr. VP of corporate sales and partnerships Eric Lipsman. They don’t leave teeth marks on the bats and the only issue is that dogs really don’t like pine tar, which is understandable.
Some Major League organizations host their “Bark at the Park” promotional nights, which is an awesome opportunity to bring your pup to a ballgame. Others have their own Team Dog, like the Brewers and their little bichon frise named Hank. The first MLB team to implement bat dogs will be the real winner though. It’s not like they are taking jobs from bat boys, as they the dogs could just retrieve bats for the first two innings like in Trenton.
Having dogs around the clubhouse may be good for morale, unlike Adam LaRoche having his child around 24/7 (I couldn’t resist). Just take it into consideration, MLB marketing executives. Who doesn’t love dogs?