"When I hear a funky beat, I just gotta get down."
So says eighth-grader Stevie Wintz, 14, who made a name for himself this season as the Charleston RiverDogs' irrepressibly enthusiastic batboy. In addition to ably tending to his batboy duties, Stevie became fond of breaking out into between-inning on-field dance routines. "Routine" may not be the right word for what Stevie does, however, as his dances are anything but. He simply hears the music and follows his instincts.
"I just dance, just dance," said Stevie, speaking after a RiverDogs game late last month. "It all comes from the heart. Just dance."
Stevie, a lifelong baseball fan and player, got hired by the Class A Yankees affiliate prior to the 2016 campaign.
"A friend of mine who plays a big role with the RiverDogs, [director of special events] Kristen Wolfe, she helped me get the job," said Stevie. "I figured that, over the summer, I didn't want to be bored. I applied for it and got hired by [vice president of corporate sales] Andy Lange. He's in charge of batboys. And now I have a job."
Like any job, or life situation, being a batboy took some getting used to.
"I kind of developed. I started out slow, just slow and steady," he said. "Of course, today you saw me always running out there. I didn't always used to do that. I used to take my time. But one day I was like, 'I want to hustle!'"
Part of that "hustle" involves always taking the long route to and from the dugout in which he resides. Stevie makes sure to go around the batter's box, and never steps on the chalk lines.
"A batboy named Mike, he's a veteran batboy. [2017 was] his last year here. He told me to go around, don't cut in, and I've done that ever since," said Stevie. "Plus, it's more running. I don't ever want to step on the chalk line. It is bad luck, in my opinion. Just a superstition."
Stevie said once he decided to hustle all the time, he'd found his niche as a batboy. And from hustling all the time, it was a short journey to occasionally showcasing his dance moves as well.
"One day I told [director of stadium operations] Phil [Guiry] and [director of promotions] Nate [Kurant] that 'Whenever I hear a funky beat, I just gotta get down,'" said Stevie, repeating what has becoming a catch phrase of sorts. "Whenever I hear a song with a nice beat, I just do some body movement. It doesn't really matter the song, I just respond."
2017 Road Trip
Such enthusiasm, conveyed with utmost seriousness and sincerity, has made Stevie a favorite with fans and players alike.
"If you give [the players] respect, they'll come right back to you with their respect," said Stevie. "So that's what I do. Everybody knows my name and I know them, and these guys are just like brothers to me."
Stevie, who said he's been known to "rake" on the baseball diamond, has the ultimate goal of playing in the Major Leagues as a member of the Atlanta Braves. But for the time being, he's intent on being the best batboy he can be.
"I don't want to be cocky or anything like that. Just be determined, be true, be yourself. I'll put myself up against any competition."