Bobbleheads of athletes, mascots and celebrities abound, but few would think a baseball groundskeeper crew would make the cut.
The fame of the Vancouver Canadians grounds crew has grown over the past five years, enough to immortalize them as plastic toys. Fans were lined up at the Aug. 22 home game at Nat Bailey in hopes of receiving one of the 1,000 limited edition bobbleheads of the crew who dance on the field mid-way through each game.
“That is certainly something I could have never guessed would happen in my lifetime but it’s pretty neat that the team was willing to do that and we have enough credibility around here,” said head groundskeeper Tom Archibald.
The bobblehead isn’t an Archibald replica, but a mix of characteristics of each the four crew members, giving all of them a claim to fame.
“We must be doing something right. Whether it’s the dancing or not,” Archibald said.
In fact, Archibald was hired five years ago with the stipulation that he had to dance, said Vancouver Canadians general manager and president Andy Dunn. Now the crew’s show is a crucial part of the game.
“They’ve become such a part of the fabric of the ballpark, such a part of the entertainment show that goes on. I mean there’s a huge following of people who love watching the guys dance,” said Dunn.
Archibald admitted he feels like a minor celebrity, especially when he’s recognized outside of the stadium. Fans will invite friends to the game and make sure they’re in their seats at the fifth inning to watch the crew, Archibald said.
“We’re not the first ones to do it and we’re not the only ones to do it, but if you ask me and a few other people have told me that we’re definitely hands above those other guys that are dancing,” said Archibald, pointing to the Fresno, California Drag Kings as another grounds crew that entertains fans.
The grounds crew bobblehead hasn’t been the only toy given out this year at Nat Bailey stadium. Two other figurines created this season included the championship trophy and a bobblehead of Chef Wasabi, one of the mascots for the Vancouver Canadians.
Dunn said there isn’t any player on their roster who’s been a bobblehead that he’s aware of, but Archibald said their turn as a toy has to do with their consistent presence at the games.
“We’re here every game and we’re here all the time where some of the players make an impact here for a week or two, or sometimes they’re here for a month and then they move on or they get released,” Archibald said. “So it’s kind of tough to make an idol out of the players because they’re not always here.”
Dunn agreed. “You know, when you come to the ballpark you’re not always going to remember the score of the game but you’re always going to remember the experience,” Dunn said. “You’ll remember the guys dancing, or catching a foul ball or getting an autograph.”
Archibald takes the honour in stride.
“For us to be doing our jobs and doing what we love out there and to be immortalized, as you say, in a bobblehead, yeah it’s a bit of a unique position as groundskeepers,” he said. “The bobblehead makes it worthwhile.”