JUCO Ball shaggers earn best seats in the house
Jeffrey Hansen isn’t new to ball shagging at the Junior College World Series. In fact, he calls himself “coach of the ball shaggers.”
At JUCO, a number of current and former ballplayers, called ball shaggers, are paid to chase down foul balls. And the view from their seats just behind home plate isn’t bad either.
“We have the best seat in the house,” said Kaleb Johnson, who is working his first year as a shagger.
They fetch foul balls throughout the game since the regulation baseballs are reused in gameplay. A ball shagger’s job to refill the umpires’ pockets with the allotted balls for that game.
When a foul ball lands in the crowd, the shaggers find the lucky owner and replace the game ball with a souvenir one.
Most of this year’s ball shaggers were recruited from area high school baseball teams. Some said they were selected by the JUCO committee.
Hansen said he has been a part of the ball shagging team since his sophomore year in high school.
“The best part is being around the field and getting to know people behind the scenes,” Hansen said. “It’s cool to see how they do their jobs because they’re not in the spotlight. But it keeps the tournament around.”
The ball shaggers can spend all day working at JUCO if they choose. Hansen said it’s worth putting the time in every day.
“It’s more than getting paid for it; it’s fun to watch the games,” Hansen said.
Luke Goodrich agreed. He said had been attending JUCO games all of his life, and watched other kids shagging balls. He knew someday he’d want to help out, too.
“I like being on the field, and I like to be able to help with it. And it’s a lot of fun,” Goodrich said.
JUCO ball shaggers are a tight-knit group of baseball players and fans excited to watch the game and provide assistance, too.
“It’s cool to be a part of, and watch baseball at the same time,” Hansen said.