The University of Memphis takes the term ‘bat boy’ to a ridiculous extreme. Here’s Stan Bronson Jr., 84, who has been on the job for the Tigers’ baseball team since 1958. Yep, he’s celebrating 55 years as the team’s bat boy, which makes him the longest-serving person in that position in the world, ever. The Guinness Book of World Records says so, so it must be true.
During Bronson’s first season as bat boy at Memphis, Stan Musial and Ted Williams were playing in the major leagues. The Russians launched Sputnik 1 that year. Chess champion Bobby Fischer was 14 years old. You get the idea.
Bronson, who has a learning disability, mild palsy and a speech impediment, has never been paid by the University. His medical needs are attended to by the team trainers, he has a lifetime pass to the university cafeteria, and his late mother, Irma, left him the family house in a trust.
“I remember his mother telling us one time, that when Stan was a very young child, that the family physician told her that Stan’s life expectancy would be eight or nine years,” said [Memphis associate athletic director Bob] Winn. “We think, really, quite frankly, that athletics has kept Stan alive and going.”
In an interview recently on NPR, Bronson said that he came to Memphis in 1958 after being fired from the athletics department at Rhodes College.
Bronson’s mother brought her son over to the U of M to speak with Memphis football coach Billy “Spook” Murphy.
“Coach Murphy tells the story that Stan said, ‘I need a job,’” recounted longtime Memphis associate athletic director Bob Winn. “Coach Murphy said, ‘Well, son, I’m sorry but I don’t have money in my budget to pay for anybody else. And Stan said, ‘Don’t need money. Need a job.’”
Inspiring story and all, but shouldn’t the university have been paying him something along the way? Last year the team held a fundraiser to help with Bronson’s future medical costs (he has no medical insurance, and is not on social security, since he’s never worked). And recently they retired his number.
Photo: University of Memphis.