In a recent Moth Radio Hour, author Matthew McGough tells the story of having moxie enough to pursue a job as a bat boy for the New York Yankees.
The high-schooler calls the club, gets told that someone will call him. After they don't call, he calls again. That gets him an interview. At the interview, he's told to come back in the spring. On his first day in the locker room, his hero Don Mattingly tells him that his bats are full of moisture from a recent trip, and that he needs a bat-stretcher.
He goes from Yankee to Yankee, and they all string him along. "No, I don't have it anymore, but I think so-and-so has it now. Besides, Mattingly is a left-handed player, so you'll need to get him a left-handed one."
This goes on and on, even over to the visiting team's locker room. There, he's told not only do they not have one, but that they need one, too! Somebody even gives the kid a couple of bucks to go to a local sports store and buy two bat-stretchers.
The kid realizes that it's probably a joke, but doesn't want to give up. He persists long after others would have given up.
He learns later that it's that same persistence that got him the job. Until then, every other bat boy had gotten the job because of someone he knew in the Yankee organization.
I was reminded of that story earlier this week, as we were wiring up an old dining facility for use as a brigade human resources and logistics office. I made some reference to a "bit bucket," and the commo warrant officer instantly recognized the old joke. Back in my old Army signal days, we'd tell new lieutenants that the network was leaking data, and that we needed a "bit bucket" to help stop the digital signal loss. They'd run off like ... a Yankee bat boy.
The other soldiers and I started remembering wild goose chases we'd on which we'd been sent when we were younger and less worldly:
- A "contour line."
- A "map legend."
- A "box of grid squares."
- A "rating chain."
- A "can of blinker fluid."
- A "left-handed muffler belt."
I fell for that one, too.