Confessions Of A Clubhouse Manager

When news broke this week that Mets clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels was under federal investigation for allegedly running an illegal gambling ring, it reminded us that no matter how accessible our favourite baseball team may seem, there will always be elements of the clubhouse that are shrouded in secrecy.

As strange as it may seem that Samuels received a $50,000 tip from Jeff Francoeur, let Francisco Rodriguez stay at his home after the Mets closer was ordered to stay away from his common law wife, or was given a Lexus by Mike Piazza, it’s not surprising to learn that a baseball team operates under substantially different rules from the office environment or blue collar workplace that most of us are used to.

Fortunately for us, these recent revelations have inspired other clubhouse managers to speak up about some of the other strange occurrences that they’ve been privy to.  Matt Pignataro from the Mets blog 7 Train To Shea spoke with a former clubhouse manager from an AL West team who spilled the beans on a couple of polarizing figures from the baseball world.

When Manny Ramirez was still with Boston, he tipped the entire visiting clubhouse attendant’s crew $50,000 for a three-game series. Believe it or not, Manny’s pregame drink of preference [was] vodka and a whole jug of cranberry Ocean Spray, adding, “He drank the whole damn thing… I couldn’t believe it. Here is a professional athlete and he’s drinking before the game.”

The informant, who probably should be taken with a grain of salt considering he’s an unnamed source on a baseball blog, also had an interesting tale about Alex Rodriguez.

All the stories of how the media portrayed A-Rod to be full of himself, having a big ego, and being self centered were all true, he said to me. He told me of how before MLB had cracked down on clubhouse accessibility, A-Rod had a kid straight [out] of college, a former clubhouse manager summed up to me as,  “Someone who would basically tell Rodriguez, how good he was, how he was the best, and etc. Almost like a personal assistant.”

Being around baseball in any capacity, even as a lowly blogger, you’re bound to hear stories that won’t make it to print.  Some involve food, most involve women and all involve an embarrassing moment for a player or someone else attached to the team.

However, clubhouse attendants are on an entirely different playing field when it comes to secrets.  No regular mortals, not even the beat reporters, are as close to the team on a day in and day out basis, witnessing all the ups, downs, highs and lows that a professional ballplayer goes through.

Their livelihood depends just as much on their ability to keep the clubhouse in working condition as it is to keep the things that they witness to themselves.

With a clubhouse manager of Samuels stature, having worked with the Mets for almost 30 years, I wonder how many players are sweating the coming revelations from the ongoing investigation.