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Roy Firestone

Rudy got his hat back....a true story.

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Much of whatever success I had in life started in Miami, my home town, but more specifically it really started for me in during spring training for the Baltimore Orioles.
As some might know on this page, I was the Orioles bat boy in Miami in the early 70’s.
I’m going to tell you a story now that, to me, shows that dreams really do come true if you are lucky like I was.
On the first day as an Oriole bat boy(I was about 14 or 15 years old), I had NO clue at what I was doing.
I knew nothing about a major league clubhouse, how to wash sanitary socks, or clean the grimy uniforms and take care of the gear and bats.The players and coaches mocked me. Brooks Robinson himself used to ask me to get “some left handed bats”..and I scurried around the clubhouse looking for something that didnt exist.
I had no idea or concept of baseball equipment or the job I was supposed to do.
One kid who DID, was a younger kid than I was.
He was probably 12 or 13. 
His name was Rudy Arias Jr.
Rudy Sr. was a pitcher for the White Sox in the late 50’s and even pitched in the World Series, but junior was, to me, at the time, a colleague and fellow clubhouse boy.
He knew I was over my head, that I was really just there to hang with the players….which was not cool .
But he put up with me.
Rudy and I and one or two other kids worked hard in the clubhouse, but deep down, those guys knew I didnt work as hard as they did. 
They would come in at about 8 am and not leave till will after 11 pm.
Me?
I was a clubhouse comedian. 
I entertained the Oriole players, Brooks and Frank and Boog and Palmer…and of course, Earl Weaver was my boss, who knew I was the worst bat boy ever..but he sortve liked that I entertained the troops…so he put up with me.
Rudy Jr. was all business.
Even as a kid, he was organized and had a great work ethic and he helped the players get what they needed.
Me?
Not so much.
I was just this goofy kid with a dream to somehow find a way in baseball, or broadcasting, though I had no clue what.
Rudy was a real athlete.
He was a catcher and he was an outstanding defensive player with skills.
I took his hat one day….by accident.
And I never got to return it to its rightful owner. 
As clubhouse kids we cherished our hats, and I had his. 
Under the bill it said in black ink…Rudy Arias.
Years passed.
I was fortunate enough to make my way in broadcasting, starting in Miami, and then moving to LA were I have been for 42 years next week.
I lost track of Rudy.
I didnt realize that, like his major league dad, Rudy also had a brief career. 
He played with Seattle, until he was hit in the face by a ball…which effectively ended his career.
I somehow never followed Rudy’s major league career..but I knew I had his batboy hat.
I would cover the Orioles for many years, both in Miami and as a sportscaster in LA.
One day on the field in Anaheim, a familiar face walked up to me. 
He was wearing an Orioles uniform.
“Hey Roy”, he said. ‘Its me. Rudy Arias. We used to be batboys together as kids”.
This hit me emotionally. 
I had no idea that Rudy was now the assistant batting coach and bullpen catcher for the Orioles!
In a way, both of our dreams came true. 
He ended up as a bullpen catcher for some 16 years with the Orioles, and before that, he landed a job with the Yankees, and when they won the World Series in 95’…Rudy Arias, the kid I knew about 45 years before..got a World Series ring!
I knew that the Orioles were coming back to Anaheim and Rudy was still a respected member of their coaching staff. I went to get the hat.
Rudy’s hat.
I went onto the field, saw Rudy and motioned him over.
“I’ve waited almost 50 years to give you something that was yours”, I said.
“Its your hat, you wore when you were batboy.”
Rudy and I got emotional in that moment.
Here we were, adults now, with long, exciting and productive careers.
I though Rudy was going to lose it. 
Me too.
I swallowed hard and gave him the hat.
Rudy Arias saw his dream come true. 
Today he is 62 years old.
He’s been married for 37 years.
He has two grown kids.
He was recently voted into Miami High School’s Hall of Fame and is currently coaching at his college alma mater…Miami Dade South.
I’m so happy for this guy. 
And I’m happy too that I gave him his hat back.
Its funny about life, isn’t it? You never know the paths you will take. 
I am grateful for all that has happened to me, in part because I was that batboy way back on 1970.
And I’m so happy for Rudy Arias, who worked his way to success in baseball.
And I’m proud to say Rudy became a U.S. citizen in 2012.
Life has had its twists and turns for both of us….but baseball brought us together..and Rudy got his hat back.

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I was on vacation when this was posted and just came across it.  Awesome story, and as always with Roy, beautifully told.   

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You tell great stories. I suspect you have even better ones, that you can't share with us, and I respect that, but darn, it would be great to read.

 

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