MANKATO — Charlie Snelson would rather not be the center of attention.
Not when he was the Mankato MoonDogs' batboy, not when he was the team's program salesman and official scorekeeper, and certainly not when he was asked to submit to a profile piece in The Free Press.
"Mainly, I don't want this article to be all about me," Snelson said. "I don't necessarily like the spotlight myself."
Sorry, Charlie, but it's your time to shine. After all, the 21-year old has worked for the team since he was about 11 years old, and is one of the organization's longest-serving employees. He's a team player, too, and as the team's media relations intern, he knows any publicity is good publicity.
"I've been here a long time, and I do want to bring positive PR to the MoonDogs, and what they're trying to do for the overall fan experience," Snelson said.
He can't remember exactly, but Snelson started working for the team as a batboy in 2003 or 2004. He's been working for the team for so long "it's kind of hard to remember the exact date," he said. Snelson landed the gig after his family began hosting MoonDogs players during the season, and remained a batboy for six years.
"It's kind of every kid's dream," he said. "It's a cool job to have, to brag to you're friends that you're the MoonDogs' batboy.
MoonDogs Vice President Kyle Mrozek has known Snelson since his first season with the club.
"It kind of gives me pause to have seen him literally grow up with the MoonDogs," he said. "It really puts it into perspective."
Back then, Snelson says the team's batboys had more responsibilities. He had to set up batting helmets, rub and supply baseballs for the umpires and, of course, fetch the players' bats. He was a natural for the job, and served as batboy at several Northwoods League All-Star games.
But his batboy career nearly ended in 2005. He walked past a player taking warm-up swings during batting practice, and Snelson was hit on the head on the follow-through.
"That could've been bad, but I was wearing my helmet," he said. "When I told my mom, she was a little upset."
Snelson doesn't have to wear a helmet in his current capacity with the team. Just a baseball cap.
This year, he's the team's media relations intern. His duties have enhanced since his batboy days. Snelson is now responsible for managing the team's Twitter and Facebook accounts, writing the game day program, helping with in-game promotions, cleaning up the park after games and even doing the players' laundry.
"You get to do a lot of different things as an intern here," he said. "It's a lot of stuff, but the goal is to enhance the fan experience as much as possible, so that when people come to a game they leave with a feeling of satisfaction, whether the team won or lost."
The job can make for long nights; Snelson said he'll sometimes work past the midnight hour.
"There are worse things to do than watch baseball all summer," Snelson said around 1 p.m. Wednesday, as he started prepping for that night's game against Rochester. "It's a rewarding job, having the chance to make some kid's night, when they do the water-balloon launch or get to go on the field."
"We expect a lot out of our interns," Mrozek said, "but Charlie's made the most of the experience. He's in the office every morning at 9, and on game days, he's working for 14, 15 hours."
Snelson is majoring in sports management at Minnesota State University, and enters his senior year this fall. During the MoonDogs' offseason, he referees hockey, runs the instant replay system for MSU women's hockey and announces high school hockey.
"Hockey's actually my favorite sport," said Snelson, a 2011 Mankato West graduate. "But baseball's definitely grown on me."
He hopes to catch on with a professional baseball organization next year. And not as a batboy.
"I've learned a lot here," Snelson said, "and the organization has come a long way, so it will be weird leaving. But this has been a great stepping stone."
"I can still remember him shagging balls as a kid," Mrozek said. "It really doesn't seem like that long ago."