Manager's bat boy son escapes injury in close call at platePosted: Friday October 25, 2002 12:34 AM
Updated: Friday October 25, 2002 4:11 AM
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Dusty Baker had barely reached his office when his phone started ringing.
It was the manager's mother, calling from Sacramento. Christina Baker had a little lecture in store. Just what was her 3 1/2-year-old grandson doing in harm's way in the middle of the World Series?
"Yes, ma. OK, ma," Baker said.
Baker's son, Darren, got so excited while retrieving a bat in Game 5 on Thursday night that he nearly got run over at the plate. When J.T. Snow scored for the Giants in the seventh inning of San Francisco's 16-4 victory, Darren ran out of the dugout to pick up Kenny Lofton's bat after he hit a two-run triple.
The problem was, David Bell was running full-speed behind Snow.
Snow made sure Darren was safe at home. He scooped him up by his oversized black jacket and asked, "You OK, buddy?"
Darren, whose helmet had fallen off, nodded yes and patted the San Francisco first baseman on the back.
"He's so eager all the time," Snow said.
Baker looked a little sheepish and a tad shaken, too.
As for Darren, he was fine in the dugout a moment later, sticking his finger in his nose for a national TV audience.
While it may have appeared to be an adorable World Series moment, it was a little bit scary for just about everybody.
"I think he was arguing with the other bat boys on who was going to get Kenny Lofton's bat," Baker said. "He's one of his favorites. I saw the play unfold, and I was thinking about what my mom told me, 'He shouldn't be out there, he's going to get hurt.' I said, 'Mom, I know what I'm doing.'"
The bat boy said he learned a lesson and was grateful to Snow.
"I told him, 'Thank you,'" Darren said. "It didn't scare me at all. (My dad) told me, 'J.T. saved you.'"
Angels catcher Bengie Molina was about to step in and grab the child.
"I thought he might get hurt big time," Molina said. "I was scared when I saw him wandering into the play. Luckily the ball was hit a ton and as I went to scoop him up, J.T. grabbed him in the middle of the plate. You worry that he's going to get hurt bad. We were lucky that J.T. was thinking out there."
Darren and several other little boys were standing at the top of the steps leading from the field to the clubhouse when Snow came up. Snow rubbed his hands through the boy's hair and they walked into the clubhouse together.
Snow said he has a 4 1/2-year-old son at home, so he knew how to grab Darren.
"I reached down. Luckily, I grabbed him by the collar," Snow said. "His eyes were huge. I don't think he knew what was going on.
"He's our good-luck charm. We can't have him going down. We need him as much as we need any of our players."
Snow added a little humor.
"I finally might get on the highlights for once by saving Dusty's kid," he said.
Baker said his son would accompany the team to Anaheim.
"A couple of the guys said if he didn't go, they wouldn't go," the manager said.
Darren, who is shorter than the bats he struggles to carry, is one of the most popular attractions at Pacific Bell Park.
He missed Game 3 on Tuesday night with an earache and sinus infection, but his dad couldn't keep him away for Games 4 and 5. He woke up early Wednesday, eager to get to the ballpark and make up for missed time.
Baker, in his 10th season managing the Giants, has been receptive to having players' kids around -- both in the clubhouse and on the field. They rotate as bat boys. Rarely is there such on-field participation by players' children in other ballparks.
Right fielder Reggie Sanders alluded to Darren's safety before the World Series, saying he hoped the boy wouldn't get hurt.
"It was a little bit of a scary moment," Sanders said after Thursday's game. "It tells you how much we're watching him. We all have our eyes on him."