SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — It takes a lot to get a Minor League Baseball game underway.

Umpires, players, managers are some obvious ones, but there is a group that works as a common link within them all.

The bat boys.

They made their return this summer while bringing a different energy to the clubhouse and dugout.

You see them on the diamond.

“I was like, that’s like one of my dream jobs,” Springfield Cardinals Bat Boy Derek Saiko said.

But the workload might surprise you.

“There’s a lot of things that goes into it that you don’t think about as an as an average fan,” Springfield Cardinals Bat Boy Jaren Smith said.

Bat boys made their return to Hammons Field this season after COVID protocols temporarily removed the positions in 2021 and the start of 2022.

“It’s a seamless thing that maybe a lot of people don’t notice,” VP of Baseball and Business Operations for the Cardinals Scott Smulczenski said. “But I think it’s a, I mean, it did make a big difference, at least to the players when those guys weren’t there for a year.”

Made up of primarily high school students, the Cardinals’ bat boys get to work about an hour and half before first pitch.

“You get the gums and the seeds and and towels all ready in the dugout and you have to get the coolers and like the water is for all the players, you have to put them all in the fridges,” Saiko said. “You have to prep the rosin bag on the mound. It’s all like the little things you have to get like a batting bag ready and a throwing bag ready.”

Then it’s time for the age-old tradition of mudding the baseballs.

After bullpens and dugouts have been loaded with baseballs, gum and towels. It’s time to get the fit ready.

“Feels pretty good, wearing the Cardinals uniform and just the team I grew up rooting for,” Smith said.

With pregame concluded, some moments in the dugout with a few future stars.

“So I think at first I was nervous like the first couple of times,” Smith said. “But really, after you crack the first joke, you know, you’re kind of one of the guys.

“We just joke around with them, you know, kind of one of those jokes that you want to tell those guys to make him feel part of the group and kind of relax, you know, instead of being so serious,” Springfield Cardinals Manager Jose Leger said. “So it’s just it’s just fun having bat boys for sure.”

Then baseballs are delivered to the umpire and play ball.

That’s when you see their work most. Retrieve batting gear and foul balls, something the players had to do themselves last season.

Safe to say having the BB’s is something both sides are happy about.

“I love it every single day,” Saiko said. “I always as I said, I want to come in every day and then being able to talk to the players just every day, it’s a cool interaction.”

Following the game, the bat boys do some cleaning of the dugout, taking baskets of gum and towels back to closets in preps for the next game.

Then do it all the next gameday.