Every gameday, pitchers are sent away from the position players to their own space called the bullpen. Anyone who knows the game of baseball knows that the bullpen is where pitchers warm up and get ready before they’re on the mound, but there’s much more that happens in that pen than meets the eye.
Though the Rivets’ bullpen is found not that far down the left-field line at Rivets Stadium, Rivets pitchers find themselves a world away when they’re kicking back on that bench with their teammates.
“You’d be lying if you said you didn’t get distracted every once awhile,” said Nick Kamrada, from Ohio University. “We’ve looked up and not even known what inning it was because we were having too much fun passing the time. We try to find ways to entertain ourselves until one of us gets our name called and we do a pretty good job of it, honestly.”
The pitching staff finds themselves playing games like Major League Baseball-themed Password and interacting with fans while they’re waiting for their opportunity to pitch. The pitching staff even received snacks from little fans in exchange for baseballs.
“We were in Kenosha and these kids were begging for baseballs, so we decided to tell them that if they brought us a hot dog that we would trade with them,” said Anthony Dahl, from the University of Arkansas. “We were surprised when they actually did it, but I mean they got their baseballs and we got hot dogs. I think everyone went home happy that night.”
Traditionally in baseball, pitchers are known to be of their own breed and the Rivets staff appears to carry that tradition. The staff is full of personality and can be a little weird and goofy, but that is what makes the pen high quality.
“Pitchers are a different breed,” said Cory Wright, who has a unique perspective as a two-way Parkland Community College athlete. “They’re very different and goofy I would say. They do their own thing and like to have a lot of fun. I enjoy playing with everyone and seeing all the different personalities. Whenever I get the chance to go to the pen and work with those guys, it’s always a fun time. Especially with Zach Olszewski because he is hilarious.”
Bethune-Cookman’s Olszewski is known to be the clown in the bullpen by his fellow pitchers, but he seemed to have someone else in mind when it came to being the goofiest.
“Anthony Dahl is oblivious and never knows what’s going on,” Olszewski said. “Granted, he’s one of the best pitchers on our staff but he’s just so goofy. He always has a clueless look on his face and just kind of goes with it anyways.”
Not everyone on the pitching staff gets to enjoy the perks and experience of the bullpen though. Starting pitchers who are a part of the rotation know when they’re going to throw and don’t hang out in the bullpen unless they’re actually pitching.
“Sometimes I wish I could be in the bullpen when I hear about all the things that go down in there and the fan interactions that happen but at the same time, since I’m in the dugout I am more in tune to the game and actually involved in some ways,” said starter Nick Drahozal, from Kirkwood Community College. “My favorite is messing with Coach Ferg (pitching coach James Ferguson) and (manager) Brian (Smith), though. If I was in the pen I’d miss out on being able to do that.”
The bullpen is clearly full of other things outside of baseball and it has its downsides but at the end of the day, as Dahl said, “The bullpen is definitely the place to be if you’re not in the game.”
No one could ever beat great personalities and free entertainment.