By: Austin Alexander - September 20, 2006
For those of you who have ever been there and spent considerable time in one, you may realize the importance of a baseball field’s dugout. Even if you’ve seen hundreds of great ballgames from the dugout, what remains with you in time are some of the zany things that are heard, seen or experienced while spending time “on the pine.” Many friendships are made, relationships formed and silly stories we never forget occur from this sacred area we affectionately refer to as the “dugout.”
For many people, this area of a baseball field is simply the roof that houses the baseball players or the area where those not fortunate enough to be in the game sit and rot.
These thoughts could not be further from the truth.
The dugout is where players “keep their same spots” during a rally.
The dugout can be where tomorrow’s starting pitcher sits next to yesterday’s starting pitcher. “Timmy” shows “Tommy” how he grips his curveball. In exchange for that information, “Tommy” shows “Timmy” a couple of different change-up grips that have worked for him. In a matter of moments, both moundsmen have now advanced their repertoire of pitches.
The dugout is where many of us learned to juggle!
The dugout is where a coach can have a meaningful conversation with a player about their future.
The dugout is where we decide what we’re going to eat after the game, it’s also where we learn to steal our opponent’s signals and spot a cute blonde in the bleachers.
The dugout is where a kid can sit on a bucket for eight and a half innings and not say a word, then drop the funniest line of the day.
The dugout is where the “hot foot” prank was invented, perfected and passed down from generation to generation. If you’re not familiar with that term, you better keep your head on a swivel, you’d be an easy candidate!
The dugout is where an old coach taught me what to look for in a hitter, then how to exploit a particular weakness.
The dugout is where I was once corrected by our 11-year old batboy about where our right fielder was positioned. Since he had a good point, we promptly shifted our outfielder where he should have been playing…and the ball was hit right to him.
The dugout is where you can pull a player aside and share with him what he should have done in that last situation…and then see the light bulb go off.
The dugout is where I first heard many of the jokes and phrases I still use today.
The dugout is where I had the opportunity to observe a former player of mine, coach a current player of my mine, on theories of how to stay inside the baseball at contact. Funny how much of it sounded familiar!
The dugout is where I shared time with five people who eventually became groomsmen in my wedding.
The dugout is not just a bench, it’s not just a place where we leave our equipment during a game and it’s far from where we wait for the bottom of the ninth to roll around.
The dugout is where sights, sounds and even really bad smells will stay with a baseball player long after his turns at bat are a distant memory.
While we spend our entire young life trying to find ways to get on the field, we spend our adult years applying many of the lessons we learned in the dugout.
DP Update: Remember that comment on the 11-year old bat boy? That kid grew up to be a pretty good player - Corey Seager, SS for the Dodgers. At that time he was has hanging around as the younger brother of Kyle Seager, 3B for the Mariners.