Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon

news

MLB News

He Who Wears the Backpack

At one time or another in our lives we've all been subject to a little playful hazing. Being the new kid at school or at the office, you just assume there will be some fun at your expense—like it or not. It helps us not take ourselves too seriously and to show that we can be part of the joke, even if it's on us.

As a rookie you know you are going to get it from the veteran players. Breaking in the new kids is a time-honored tradition and everyone goes through it to some degree. Whether it's making the rooks wear outrageous outfits, or giving them false information about a big team meeting, this rite of passage for Major Leaguers is as much a part of the game as baseballs and bats.

I was team "Song Master" as a senior for my team at Syracuse University. Basically, I was the guy on the Varsity who came up with interesting ways to welcome the freshman to the team. We would throw a party dubbed "The Re-formal" and invite the frosh to attend in their best sport coat and tie. They were given nicknames (From now on your Delta Tau Chi name is Pinto), put through "drills" often in the snow, and were subjected to a night of meet and greet with the Varsity team, as well as some Alum. It was always good natured fun and when you left you felt part of the team and had stories to tell for years after you hung up the Orange jersey.

I recently read of one Major League club with their own tradition that made me laugh and also kind of feel bad for the man that has to carry the torch or backpack in this case, as the New York Times writes.

Andrew Keh:

"But decades of hard work could be coming undone thanks to the smiling faces of Hannah Montana, Dora the Explorer and Hello Kitty."

"In this tradition-bound sport, in which managers wear the same uniforms as the players and Cracker Jack can still be bought at concession stands, a hazing ritual that has gone on for years seems to have reached a new level of absurdity at major league ballparks: rookie relievers are being forced to wear schoolgirl backpacks — gaudy in color, utterly unmanly — to transport gear."

The Arizona Diamondbacks make the low man on their bullpen totem pole wear a gaudy and extremely dainty, schoolgirl backpack. The ones that Miley Cyrus fans beg their parents for as they shop for back-to-school suppose.

This year's lucky "Back Bearer" is a 23-year-old rookie reliever named Bryan Shaw. Before each and every game, Young Mr. Shaw must make the long walk to the bullpen sporting his big league uniform and another not so glamorous accessory, a bright pink backpack with little white unicorns.

He is subject to jabs like, "Nice bag, sweetie." not only from the opposing club and fans, but from his own teammates, coaches and even umpires.

I think it's a great motivation tool! I'd literally spend every waking minute in the film room, gym and doing side work to get that monkey or unicorn off my back! I wouldn't stop until they started talking about me with the likes of Hoffman and Rivera!

The great thing about this type of hazing is that it's harmless fun and something that can actually bring a team closer together. You have to earn your stripes in any profession, may as well have some fun with it and show your coworkers or teammates you have the sense of humor that will come in handy of the course of 162-game schedule.

At one time or another in our lives we've all been subject to a little playful hazing. Being the new kid at school or at the office, you just assume there will be some fun at your expense—like it or not. It helps us not take ourselves too seriously and to show that we can be part of the joke, even if it's on us.

As a rookie you know you are going to get it from the veteran players. Breaking in the new kids is a time-honored tradition and everyone goes through it to some degree. Whether it's making the rooks wear outrageous outfits, or giving them false information about a big team meeting, this rite of passage for Major Leaguers is as much a part of the game as baseballs and bats.

I was team "Song Master" as a senior for my team at Syracuse University. Basically, I was the guy on the Varsity who came up with interesting ways to welcome the freshman to the team. We would throw a party dubbed "The Re-formal" and invite the frosh to attend in their best sport coat and tie. They were given nicknames (From now on your Delta Tau Chi name is Pinto), put through "drills" often in the snow, and were subjected to a night of meet and greet with the Varsity team, as well as some Alum. It was always good natured fun and when you left you felt part of the team and had stories to tell for years after you hung up the Orange jersey.

I recently read of one Major League club with their own tradition that made me laugh and also kind of feel bad for the man that has to carry the torch or backpack in this case, as the New York Times writes.

Andrew Keh:

"But decades of hard work could be coming undone thanks to the smiling faces of Hannah Montana, Dora the Explorer and Hello Kitty."

"In this tradition-bound sport, in which managers wear the same uniforms as the players and Cracker Jack can still be bought at concession stands, a hazing ritual that has gone on for years seems to have reached a new level of absurdity at major league ballparks: rookie relievers are being forced to wear schoolgirl backpacks — gaudy in color, utterly unmanly — to transport gear."

The Arizona Diamondbacks make the low man on their bullpen totem pole wear a gaudy and extremely dainty, schoolgirl backpack. The ones that Miley Cyrus fans beg their parents for as they shop for back-to-school suppose.

This year's lucky "Back Bearer" is a 23-year-old rookie reliever named Bryan Shaw. Before each and every game, Young Mr. Shaw must make the long walk to the bullpen sporting his big league uniform and another not so glamorous accessory, a bright pink backpack with little white unicorns.

He is subject to jabs like, "Nice bag, sweetie." not only from the opposing club and fans, but from his own teammates, coaches and even umpires.

I think it's a great motivation tool! I'd literally spend every waking minute in the film room, gym and doing side work to get that monkey or unicorn off my back! I wouldn't stop until they started talking about me with the likes of Hoffman and Rivera!

The great thing about this type of hazing is that it's harmless fun and something that can actually bring a team closer together. You have to earn your stripes in any profession, may as well have some fun with it and show your coworkers or teammates you have the sense of humor that will come in handy of the course of 162-game schedule.