It’s a world nobody ever sees, not the coaches, not even the players.
The clubhouse attendant is perhaps the hardest working job in baseball. He’s at the ballpark from at least 7:00 AM until 3:00 AM. The visiting clubbie’s job is particularly unique.
After receiving the team’s itinerary, the clubbie goes to the airport to pick them up. Upon arrival, he assigns each player a locker, unpacks their bags, goes shopping to prepare for their meals. That’s only the beginning. He cleans their shoes, straightens their locker, does and hangs their laundry, cleans the sinks, shower stalls, and urinals. He’s on call if the parent club calls a player up or sends them down, then packs the player’s personals and takes it to the hotel.
Greg Grimaldo is the Visitors’ Clubhouse Attendant for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. “You feed them, give them sandwiches, chips, juice, fruit, vegetables, whatever they want before batting practice.” When the players come in from batting practice, Grimaldo starts washing clothes, cleans up the clubhouse, and prepares for the post-game meal. A typical day includes 100 pounds of laundry. Grimaldo always carries a spare. “I have two washers plus a third I keep hidden in case one breaks down.”
For a couple hours throughout the game, he cooks for 30 players and four umpires on a barbecued grill. “When they come in, you get out of their way and let them eat and hope you have enough food. The worst thing in the world is to hear a player say, ‘I didn’t get anything to eat.’
Grimaldo will have shopped for the four game series prior to the team’s arrival. He might serve tacos or burritos the first day, chicken breasts and thighs with mashed potatoes, gravy, and biscuits the next. If it’s a double-header, he’ll fix a morning meal, which may include French toast, pancakes, scrambled eggs, and sausage; in between games: hamburgers or hot dogs; then spaghetti for the post-game meal.
Each player pays the clubbie individually on the last day of the series. At the start of the season, teams will ask around to see what they plan to collect. Grimaldo says it’s $14 a day. “That buys your pop, shaving cream, soap, shampoo, and food. The clubs don’t give you anything for the visiting teams. Not a thing. If you cut it right, you can minimize the expenses down to $120 a day. You have to use everything – owe people favors – whatever you can do to save money is what you have to do.”
Some teams do pay better. The clubbie may charge $55 for four days. The player pays either $60/$65 or $55.
“I can remember years ago, putting out some baseballs for players to autograph. Everybody autographed them but one. I walked up to the player and said, ‘How come you don’t sign the baseballs?’ He said, ‘You no pay, I no sign.’ I say, ‘You no sign, you no eat.’ He signed. There are more good guys in the clubhouse than bad, but it only takes one rotten apple to ruin the whole four-day sequence.”
Being a clubhouse attendant is one of those jobs you learn from experience. Grimaldo’s best advice is to let the new guys learn on their own. “The hardest thing about this job is learning what not to do and do. You can’t take care of every individual player. One will say they want chewing tobacco, go get it for me. Another wants hamburger. As soon as you make a trip for one person, somebody else wants something else. I just tell them we make one trip only. Otherwise, they’ll have to wait for the next day. The new guy will have to learn on his own. You can tell him, but he won’t believe you. When he makes a mistake, it will cost him. When you spend money and the player don’t pay you back, that’s the hard way.”