For the past six years, James Palko has been living a dream on Progressive Field.
“Last year was a dream,” he said.
But being a bat boy for the Cleveland Indians isn’t as glamorous as you may think.
"People don’t realize how long our days can be I guess. After the game if it ends at 11 or goes into extras we'll be here until 1-1:30 in the morning. We do the laundry, clean shoes and make sure everything gets cleaned up after the game,” said Palko.
Palko, 22, grew up in North Royalton. He’s following in his dad’s footsteps. Palko’s father was an Indian’s bat boy in the early 80s when the team played at the former Municipal Stadium.
"He knows a lot of stuff that goes on. He knows the job so we get to exchange stories. The team wasn't very good when he was here so he didn't get to experience a lot of stuff I did,” Palko told News 5.
It helped, when looking for a bat boy gig, that Palko’s dad previously held the post. The roster stays pretty consistent as well.
"We’ve stayed really consistent for a while we've had a couple new kids come in, but new is kids I’ve worked with for three years. It’s been crew that stuck here for a while," said Palko.
The job, as you might expect, has its perks.
"The best part of the job is sitting and watching a baseball game as a job,” said Palko.
But make no mistake, it can be tedious and tough work. If you’ve watched an Indians game, you know Manager, Terry Francona has a bit of a gum habit.
"Us bat boys unpeel it all, you know, so he doesn't get a bunch of gum wrappers in the corner. So we leave him a nice bucket of unpeeled gum,” said Palko.
Palko is finishing up his degree at Cleveland State University, so 2017 will likely be his last season in the dugout. He has plans though to continue with baseball. Palko dreams of one day making it to the big leagues and working in a front office.
As for his last season, he’s hoping the Indians give him the ultimate graduation gift.
“Yeah I don't think you can go out any better way, last year was the best year of my six years and they lost. So the only way to make it better is to win that final game,” he said.