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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Ex-bat boy Litsch back to try to silence bats
The last time Jesse Litsch was on the Tropicana Field turf, he was picking up after the Devil Rays. Tonight he'll pitch against them.
By MARC TOPKIN
Published July 31, 2007
[Times photo | Dirk Shadd]
Toronto Blue Jays right handed pitcher Jesse Litsch on the field during batting practice before the Jays take on the Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. Litsch is a former Tampa Bay Devil Ray batboy, Dixie Hollins grad and product of the Rays' RBI program. Litsch is scheduled to pitch against the Rays on Tuesday.
ST. PETERSBURG - The last time Jesse Litsch was on the Tropicana Field turf, he was picking up after the Devil Rays. Tonight he'll pitch against them.
Litsch's remarkable rise from bat boy to big-leaguer comes full circle when he starts against the team he worked for while attending Dixie Hollins and fantasizing about bigger things.
"It's a little weird," Listch said Monday. "But it's fun."
The Pinellas Park Little League legend (46-for-46 as an 8-year-old) relished being around players and coaches as a community relations intern in 2000 and bat boy in 2001-02. He'd take in as much knowledge as he could and occasionally toss out a dream, such as sneaking out early to throw off a mound to bullpen catcher Scott Cursi or telling Carl Crawford he'd pitch against him one day.
Crawford laughed at the memory Monday, saying, "He said he was going to be here and he ended up coming." Litsch is eager to show it: "I've just got to try to get him out, because he'll be over there (at first base) saying some stuff."
Only a handful of other Rays personnel are still around, including members of Guy Gallagher's visiting clubhouse staff that Litsch (3-4, 4.01 in eight big-league starts) once worked for and now will be tipping.
Litsch, 22, savors his chance with the contending Jays, who made him a 24th-round pick in 2004. Does he ever wonder about the Rays letting him get away? "They had their chance," Litsch said. "I guess they didn't like me or whatever, so it's no big deal to me anymore."