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Thread: Just trying to keep my customers satisfied.

  1. #1
    breath westofyou's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2000

    Just trying to keep my customers satisfied.

    It's the same old story
    Everywhere I go,
    I get slandered,
    I hear words I never heard
    In the Bible.
    And I'm one step ahead of the shoe shine,
    Two steps away from the county line,
    Just trying to keep my customers


    What happens in clubhouse, stays there
    May 4 2007

    LAS VEGAS When the star Dodger routinely showed up for day games still drunk from the previous night, the clubhouse guy knew his role.

    "It was my job to protect the team," Dave Dickenson said. "That's what I did."

    Dickenson said he would pour a cup of beer and place it in the dugout bathroom. The star player would sneak there between innings for a drink, and continue drinking throughout the game.

    "The guy couldn't play with a hangover, so we had to keep him going," Dickenson said. "Hey, he played great, and nobody complained."

    Such is the motto of baseball's minimum-wage, major-impact clubhouse attendants.

    Keep them going, and nobody will complain.

    Make the players look good, and management will look the other way.

    Wash their cars. Walk their dogs. Bring them women.

    And, in at least one case in New York, give them drugs.

    Amid news that former Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski pleaded guilty to distributing steroids, Major League Baseball is considering examining the unusual relationship between players and the handful of guys in every clubhouse who ostensibly only order their bats and wash their jocks.

    "It's not about doing the laundry, it's about keeping the player happy," said Dickenson, a former longtime beloved Dodgers clubhouse attendant and manager. "And you'll do anything to keep the player happy."

    Known throughout baseball as "Bonsey," the wiry 38-year-old was fired last year after 14 seasons in Dodgers clubhouses for, sources say, drinking and partying too much with the players.

    He thought the alleged reasoning was interesting, because he considered it his job to be close to players.

    "Teams want their clubhouses to work smoothly," he said. "But they don't always want to understand how that happens."

    On Thursday near his Las Vegas home, where he is working in a country club golf shop and studying to becoming a teaching pro, Dickenson talked about those sometimes ugly inner workings that, until now, baseball executives have chose to ignore.

    He said he never saw a steroid at Dodger Stadium. However, he did say that before baseball's amphetamine ban, he would commonly vacuum "greenies" off the floor after games.

    "We would see them, we didn't know much about them, that medical stuff is way over our heads," he said.

    But, yes, he could see how the New York clubhouse attendant could get into trouble. Working for tips that often pay the rent, an attendant's livelihood is tied to a player's whim.

    "The hardest thing for a clubhouse guy to do is say no to a player," Dickenson said. "It took me a long time to learn how to say no."

    In keeping with baseball's unwritten code, Dickenson refused to name names. But he did discuss some of the strange requests that are often a short leap to illegal.

    Dickenson said that when a player was attracted to women in the stands during the games, he would be ordered to bring those women the player's phone numbers.

    "I wasn't anybody's pimp," he said. "After I gave the phone number, they were on their own."

    When players were caught between girlfriends, Dickenson was their alibi.

    "A player could always say he was with me," he said.

    He said he rarely saw a home game because he was in the clubhouse doing work that was not always baseball related.

    He might be watching a player's dog, or playing with a player's child, or carrying around a load of a player's wife's underwear.

    "There were guys who would bring in all their family's clothes for us to wash, and what were we going to do?" he said.

    Then there were the players' cars, which became tools of torture for the handful of young men who work the clubhouse.

    "I walked into the clubhouse once and none of my guys were there, they were all out washing cars," Dickenson said. "The job has turned from clubbie to valet."

    In the beginning for Dickenson, it was family. He became the clubhouse manager for the San Diego Padres' triple-A Las Vegas team while still a junior in high school.

    Going through adolescence with an absentee father, he learned about life from the older players who surrounded him.

    He took his first drink in a clubhouse. He took his first dip of snuff in a clubhouse. He met his first girlfriend at a ballpark.

    "I was taught that players were your family," he said. "I gave up a chance to have my own family to be part of that family."

    For the longest time, it worked. The Dodgers' players loved his loyalty. The Dodgers' executives appreciated his discretion.

    Dickenson was the kind of clubhouse guy who would carry extra cash on trips for one reason.

    "On the plane, if somebody lost big in a poker game and couldn't pay, I wanted to make sure there wasn't a fight," he said.

    When players did want to fight, it was Dickenson who always jumped between them, even once physically dragging Milton Bradley away from Times writer Jason Reid.

    "Like I said, it was my job to protect the team," he said.

    When a Dodger was late for a game, Dickenson would hang street clothes in his locker so the media wouldn't get suspicious.

    When a Dodger needed a friend, Dickenson would stay with him all night in the clubhouse if necessary.

    If a Dodger wanted to bet on a sports event, Dickenson could use his Las Vegas connections to make it legally happen.

    The Dodgers reportedly became irked with Dickenson when he became so close to the players, he allegedly starting acting like a big shot, including drinking in the clubhouse or even in the stands during games, and drinking on the team plane.

    Dickenson denies none of it.

    "Yeah, I had a drink with some players, and I had a drink with some of their girlfriends, I was just being their friend," Dickenson said. "Management wants me to take care of the player, but they don't want to know how I do it? That's unrealistic."

    Eric Karros, who remains close friends with Dickenson, agrees that clubhouse workers walk the slimmest of tightropes.

    "The clubhouse guy is in a tough situation," the former first baseman said. "If he doesn't do what a player wants him to do, he could cut his throat economically."

    Dickenson said in a good year, a clubhouse manager can make $100,000. But stingy players can cut that figure in half.

    "A clubhouse attendant has one of the most underrated responsibilities in the game," Karros said. "People think it's about ordering bats and uniform sizes, and it's so far from that."

    That's why many feel that the true reason Dickenson was fired has nothing to do with his drinking on the job. Some feel that he was fired only after he jokingly insulted the McCourt children during a company softball game in the fall of 2005.

    He was wearing batting gloves during the game, and a Dodgers official wondered why he didn't give similar gloves to the McCourt children.

    "I gave him two reasons," Dickenson said. "I said, 'The kids didn't ask for them, and I don't like them.' "

    Dickenson said he was just engaging in the usual clubhouse banter, but he heard that word of his slight reached the front offices, and a couple of months later he was fired.

    "I'm not bitter, I'm just really disappointed," Dickenson said. "I gave them my life, I did everything I was supposed to do, and just like that, they took it away from me."

    When asked about the firing, Camille Johnston, Dodgers spokeswoman, said, "I cannot comment on personnel matters."

    When told of Dickenson's tales, Johnston said things in the Dodgers clubhouse are now different.

    "Our clubhouse atmosphere has changed under the leadership of Ned [Colletti] and Grady [Little]," she said.

    The Dodgers' clubhouse has indeed become one of the most professional rooms in the game, good guys and smart guys everywhere.

    But it's still baseball. And players are still players.

    And as you read this, somewhere in baseball there is undoubtedly a rich snot asking a clubhouse kid to fetch him a towel or a drink or a clean car or even a woman.

    And somewhere, fearing for his popularity and his income, that clubhouse kid is saying yes.

    And somewhere, whether it be in a New York courthouse or a Chavez Ravine cubbyhole, the relationship takes its toll on a young man's life and a game's integrity.

    Watching the clubhouse attendants pour champagne on each other after the Dodgers clinched a playoff spot last season, Dickenson wept.

    "Who wouldn't want to be part of a family like that?" Dickenson said. "That's why I did the job. That's why I would do it again."

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  3. #2
    Are we not men? Yachtzee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    The Rubber City

    Re: Just trying to keep my customers satisfied.

    I don't know. I've been in the service industry and I've dealt with wealthy clientele. I think the problem this guy had was that he forgot that it's a professional relationship. It's one thing to do favors for players to foster a relationship and ensure bigger tips, if that's the way you're making your living. But you're also there to do a job, so drinking and carousing with players while you're on the clock is probably crossing the line. Doing something illegal, like what the Mets clubby is accused of, is over the line too. And if you're dumb enough to say something like that about the bosses kids, that's his prerogative if he doesn't want to retain your services.
    Wear gaudy colors, or avoid display. Lay a million eggs or give birth to one. The fittest shall survive, yet the unfit may live. Be like your ancestors or be different. We must repeat!

  4. #3
    Reds 5:11 coachw513's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006

    Re: Just trying to keep my customers satisfied.

    What a fascinating article...oh, if the walls could talk...

    You cannot defeat an ignorant man in an argument!
    -William Gibbs McAdoo

    Though many of us here are sure trying

  5. #4
    He has the Evil Eye! flyer85's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    south of the border

    Re: Just trying to keep my customers satisfied.

    Baseball has long had an issue with alcohol abuse. Bouton touched on it some way back in his book. It is one of those dirty little secrets that baseball really encourages.

    It needs to be addressed, I am sure Bud will do nothing. It is not entirely the players fault as alcohol is readily available in almost all major league clubhouses.
    What are you, people? On dope? - Mr Hand

  6. #5
    breath westofyou's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2000

    Re: Just trying to keep my customers satisfied.

    Bouton touched on it some way back in his book.

    "What a terrific spitball pitcher he was," teammate Rube Marquard recalled. "Bugs drank a lot, you know, and sometimes it seemed like the more he drank the better he pitched. They used to say he didn't spit on the ball; he blew his breath on it, and the ball would come up drunk." The limit of McGraw's patience was reached in an important 1911 game. Told to go down to the bullpen to warm up, Raymond snuck out of the Polo Grounds for a few quick drinks at a neighborhood bar. When he finally entered the game in relief, he was obviously drunk. McGraw immediately released him. Raymond drifted into poverty and despair. Separated from his wife, and with his two small daughters dead from an influenza epidemic, he was only 30 when he drank himself to death inside a seedy Chicago hotel room. Excerpted from New York Giants: A Baseball Album, by Richard Bak

    He once walked the sixty feet, six inches to the pitcher's mound on his hands and when short of pocket change, traded baseballs for drinks. Once when playing for Charleston, he was reportedly seen being chauffered in a wheelbarrow while in a comatose condition by the manager of the ballclub.

    In 1910, Bugs went 4-9 in 19 contests. He was forced to dodge detectives that McGraw sent to accompany him in order to keep Bugs away from the drinking establishments. When that failed, McGraw sent the money to Raymond's wife, Raymond exclaimed, "If she gets paid, let her pitch!" Excerpted from "Arthur 'Bugs' Raymond: Wry (Rye) Sense of Humor?" by Jay Gauthreaux
    Another one of McGraw's reclamation projects, Raymond had a reputation as one of the hardest players to manage in the NL. McGraw was able to coax one great season out of him, as he went 18-12 after being obtained from St.Louis, where he had a 2.03 ERA in 1908, and led the NL in losses with 25. Christy Mathewson once said, "after a night out, don't get too close to Bugs, his breath will stop a freight train".

    Bugs also had a bit of a temper too. He liked to do things his way. If he wanted to stay out late, he was "gonna stay out late". McGraw made every attempt to save the man, priding in himself that he could turn Raymond around. Axed midway through the 1911 season, he returned to his hometown of Chicago. He did a little pitching and some umpiring in semi-pro circles.

    On Saturday, September 7th, 1912, Raymond was found dead in a hotel room. Originally a heart attack was given as the cause of death, but after some investigation by authorities, it was discovered that he had a fractured skull and died of a cerebral hemorrhage. Chicago native Frank Cigrans confessed that he had gotten into an argument with Raymond at a baseball game several days earlier. The argument escalated into a fight, Cigrans pummeling Raymond about the head. It was later revealed that Raymond himself had gotten into a brawl with several men three weeks earlier and had been rapped in the head several times with a baseball bat. This compounded with the beating he took from Cigrans, and the late night partying, may have led to his untimely demise. When news of his death reached McGraw, "Little Napoleon" snapped, "that man took 7 years off my life". I guess you could say, they didn't nickname him Bugs for nothing.

  7. #6
    Kmac5 KoryMac5's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Waterloo, NY

    Re: Just trying to keep my customers satisfied.

    I smell a book deal out of these stories.

  8. #7
    Firin Away Jr's Boy's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005

    Re: Just trying to keep my customers satisfied.

    Does he get a chapter?

  9. #8
    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Cincinnati, OH

    Re: Just trying to keep my customers satisfied.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yachtzee View Post
    I don't know. I've been in the service industry and I've dealt with wealthy clientele. I think the problem this guy had was that he forgot that it's a professional relationship. It's one thing to do favors for players to foster a relationship and ensure bigger tips, if that's the way you're making your living. But you're also there to do a job, so drinking and carousing with players while you're on the clock is probably crossing the line. Doing something illegal, like what the Mets clubby is accused of, is over the line too. And if you're dumb enough to say something like that about the bosses kids, that's his prerogative if he doesn't want to retain your services.

    It's a fine line you have to walk. You want to be a professional but there's that awe factor. These guys are MLB players and you'd like nothing better than to be friends with them. Sometimes, to keep that friendship, you have to cross that line. If you're a Reds clubby and Adam Dunn asks you to go out and have a few beers with him and the boys, are you going to say no? It reminds me of the movie Almost Famous. The kid wanted to write an objective story about the band he was covering but as he got closer to them he found it more difficult to be objective. I admit, talking about the owners' kids like that was dumb. Probably shoudn't have been fired but that's the way it goes.
    Quote Originally Posted by Raisor View Post
    I was wrong
    Quote Originally Posted by Raisor View Post
    Chip is right

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