KODAK, TN (WATE)- As the Umpire Clubhouse Manager for the Tennessee Smokies, Brady Cox is responsible for getting dozens of baseballs game ready.
“That’s the one time I can say, I really have to do this,” said Cox. “Because if I don’t, there’s no game.”
And there’s more that goes into making a ball “game-ready” than just taking it out of the box.
“I see people all the time here, they catch a foul ball and they’d say, ‘Look how dirty it is, it looks like it’s been out there the whole game.’ No it hasn’t,” said Cox. “It’s been rubbed.”
“Rubbed” meaning Brady literally rubs each ball with dirt and water.
“On a five game homestand, you pretty much say we’re probably going to go through 50 dozen baseballs,” said Smokies general manager Brian Cox.
So, it’s a good thing Brian can trust his son to get the job done right.
“The only thing we’re trying to do is take the slickness off the ball,” said Brian. “But it becomes a very traditional process that you go through every game.”
Brady attacks his duties with unmatched enthusiasm, because he knows just how fortunate he is to be here.
“Brady was born with three heart defects,” said Brian. “We had four different surgeries before his year and a half.”
At just four-years-old, Brady needed a heart transplant.
“It’s every parents worst nightmare, “said Brian. But he’s such a remarkable kid. He’s got so much energy and everyday that he gets up and does something, that’s an extra day we’ve got with him.”
And nearly every summer day, Brady has spent at the ballpark. Since becoming the Smokies Batboy in 2009, Brady has seen his share of current Cubs All-Stars stroll through the dugout. But no friendship quite compares to the one he shares with 2015 Rook of the Year Kris Bryant.
“I told him, ‘One day, you’re going to win Rookie of the Year,’ said Brady. “And I saw him in Arizona and he said, ‘you got it right.'”
Brady’s batboy days are behind him, but as the 21-year-old looks toward wrapping up a degree at Pellissippi State, he’s still shining down baseballs the right way.