If you want something that amounts to a giant stick retrieved, you’d best go with a professional. This – and the fact that everyone loves a cute dog! – was likely behind the decision to allow pooches on the field where the Trenton Thunder play.
In a recent Daily News profile, reporter Bernie Augustine profiled the team’s popular bat dogs and got the inside scoop. This, after famed Yankee Alex Rodriguez tweeted a pic of an energetic golden retriever (what else?) making off with his bat.
Fans adore the bat dogs, which have been working the first two innings since 2002. The first of them was Chase.
“He was an absolute hit,” Eric Lipsman, the Thunder’s senior VP for corporate sales and partnerships told the Daily News. “He got the bats of some pretty famous people including Derek Jeter, not to mention A-Rod yesterday, Hideki Matsui, Bernie Williams, Mark Teixeira,” Lipsman said. “Plus players that came up through the system with us — Robinson Cano, Brett Gardner — and he became a huge favorite, not only with our fans but with our players and the front office.
“Having a dog in the office every day really makes your day a lot brighter.”
Eventually, Chase slowed down. So they bred him and his progeny, Derby, began working alongside his dad.
“When Chase passed away in 2013 we saw that Derby was totally alone,” Lipsman said. “He had never known life without having another dog with him — he had always had Chase — and then we bred Derby and in December 2013, Rookie was born, and we now have the two.”
The dogs live with Lipsman post-game, when the team travels and in the off-season.
“We have had guys come in and absolutely flip out and be totally thrilled that we have a dog,” he said. “It just makes them feel like they’re home. They’re away from home for six months and they miss their dogs, so they hang out with Derby or Rookie.” (Video: ESPN)
Check out “The Family Business,” a wonderful short told through the eyes of Derby and narrated by Bob Peterson of PIXAR: