Professional athletes have a reputation of having everything handed to them, not having to do anything themselves, and being taken care of like little kids. To an extent this is true, and the person that is doing most of this work for them is the team clubbie. A clubbie is the person who works countless hours in and around the clubhouse; they do laundry, stock the bathrooms and showers with supplies, handle game equipment like balls and bats, make food, and any other tedious task that players need done but do not have the time or willingness to do.
I was recently at a tournament for an organization called Play at the Plate in New Orleans, and we had the luxury of getting to play at Zephyr Field where the AAA affiliate of the Miami Marlins plays their home games. We were granted access to the clubhouse and locker rooms with laundry service, food daily, and got a taste of what it is like to be a member of the New Orleans Zephyrs baseball team. This meant full access to the team clubbie as well.
I have played in a few other tournaments like this where there is access to the locker rooms and treatment like a professional player. There aren’t trainers, coaches, and scouting directors to give you advice, but there is always a clubbie who is ready to take care of you. These people are not well known to fans but are a critical part of the team and its upkeep as the players get ready from day to day.
One of the duties of a clubbie is to make sure all of the lockers are intact and ready for each player. This means that names and numbers are placed on each locker, either with a nameplate or written out by hand so players know which locker is theirs. There need to be hangers, chairs, and any other items that a player might need to make his locker his home away from home. One of the most important items to make sure every locker has is laundry loops. These have the locker number written on them and allow for a player to have all his clothing items looped together so it is easy to wash and then separate once they are dried and ready to be worn again.
The laundry process is relatively easy, except for when players mess it up. Shirts and tops are able to go on the loop so they stay together. Socks are secured on the loop by a separate loop, but if players throw them in off the loop, there will be socks roaming around without an owner and guys can get upset rather quickly about not having their personal socks. Pants are not put on the loop and need to have the player’s name, number, or locker number written on the inside so that the clubbie can put it in the appropriate locker once they are washed. If a player doesn’t have anything written on the pants, there is little that a clubbie can do to distinguish 10 pairs of the same pants.
The bathroom area is an important function of the clubbie’s duties, as there needs to be shampoo and soap (usually a 2-in-1 bottle), toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant, Q-tips, shaving cream, and anything else that a player may need to look his best before and after the game. These items go quickly and need to be restocked regularly so that players don’t smell like dirt and grass in the locker room. That stench can become grotesque quickly if 30 guys have the same hygiene issue.
For minor and major league players, restaurant recommendations are important. A clubbie needs to have information about the local area to suggest places for players to go with their family and friends. This won’t necessarily make or break their performance on the job, but players that are happy with what they do outside the ballpark are much easier to work with than players who are disgruntled because they got food poisoning from a bad restaurant or couldn’t find a place to buy new clothes.
Clubbie is the key to keeping players happy
Food in the clubhouse is another job that the clubbie will partake. While out running errands, a clubbie may have to stop and get certain meals for players who have special requests. Once in the clubhouse, they have to make sure that pregame and post game meals are ready on time and that there is enough food for all the players. This can range from fruits and veggies, to home cooked meals, to bags of chips and crackers not to mention water, Gatorade, and soda. Again, these items need to be tailored to player requests if possible, but there is usually a rotating menu and budget that needs to be kept to.
There may even be some somewhat fun tasks to do, depending on the interests of the clubbie. Most clubhouses have TVs which means there needs to be ESPN, MLB Network, and every other sport available to watch at a player’s request. This is really up to the cable service that is in the clubhouse, but players may not know what channel a certain game is on and need help like a child finding the game. Enter the team clubbie. Another ‘mom’ chore is making sure that an Xbox or PS3 is working with a plethora of games that the team can enjoy before and after games. Video games can entertain players for hours on end, and it is an essential item for keeping morale up in the clubhouse.
The Clubhouse Director in New Orleans was Brett Herbert. Here is an interview he did last year about his job duties and what it is like to work in the clubhouse. Brett did an excellent job even for a bunch of guys playing baseball for a few days. He was a top notch guy and very well respected and liked among the guys I was there with.
If you want some more insight into the jobs and duties of a clubhouse manager, or clubbie, here are a few articles that explain more about what goes behind the scenes in the clubhouse of a baseball team.
A clubbie can be a college intern or an aged veteran who knows the ins and outs about everything that happens beyond the tunnel. The main idea is that they are hardworking dedicated people who love what they do and are willing to get the job done long hours into the night. While some people complain about their 9 to 5 work hours, clubbies are working relentlessly from morning until the next morning taking care of players needs and essentially running a home of 30 grown up kids. While it may be easy to just do the basics of the job, players can give tips for getting the job done the best way possible and with a good attitude. There may be less tedious jobs out there, but this is a dream job for any baseball enthusiast and fanatic.