Wade Vadakin, the beloved former batboy for the Mobile BayBears, who will work games this season for the Blue Wahoos, has been elected to the Southern League Hall of Fame.Vadakin, 40, born with congenital brain-stem damage and visual impairment, was voted to the 2020 class through the league's annual Special
Wade Vadakin, the beloved former batboy for the Mobile BayBears, who will work games this season for the Blue Wahoos, has been elected to the Southern League Hall of Fame.
Vadakin, 40, born with congenital brain-stem damage and visual impairment, was voted to the 2020 class through the league's annual Special Consideration Ballot. He endeared himself to the BayBears and Mobile community as the team's batboy since their inaugural season in 1997.
On August 11, the Blue Wahoos announced Vadakin will work Blue Wahoos home games as their batboy. Team president Jonathan Griffith presented Vadakin that day with a Blue Wahoos jersey during the final "Bay to Bay" series between the teams in Mobile at Hank Aaron Stadium.
After 22 seasons in Mobile, the BayBears' Southern League franchise transferred to Huntsville following the 2019 season and will debut as the Rocket City Trash Pandas in April.
"Once we knew Mobile was going to leave (as franchise) and knowing that Wade had been at our ballpark (visiting batboy) along with being at Hank Aaron Stadium since day one, it came up in conversation," Griffith said.
"We talked about what is Wade going to do without baseball and it became one of those things where we said we wanted to make sure he still has baseball and he's still around baseball enjoying something he loves."
Vadakin, who lives in Fairhope with his parents, was elected to the Southern League Hall of Fame for his two decades of dedication and effort with the BayBears. He was given the title of "Director of On-Field Operations.
His signature moves were "Riding the Bull" when he pretended to be on horseback, after picking up a bat whenever the BayBears scored a run.
As he said during the Aug. 11 ceremony, "On one hand, it sucks saying goodbye to Mobile, saying goodbye to Hank Aaron Stadium - a place I called home for 22 years. On the other hand, it's exciting being part of a new team (Blue Wahoos), being with a new organization, being with new players."
Vadakin will be formally enshrined as part of the 2020 class in June during the Southern League All-Star game. He will be entering with a star-studded class that includes legendary Cincinnati Reds manager Sparky Anderson, who got his start with the former Asheville (N.C.) Orioles when that franchise was member of the Southern League.
Also inducted will be former Seattle Mariners star Edgar Martinez, who was inducted last summer into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. for his decorated career. Martinez played two full seasons with the Chattanooga Lookouts in 1985-86.
Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker, who was manager of the former Greenville Braves, now Mississippi Braves, will be inducted as well.
The fifth member of the class will be former Charlotte O's general manager Frances Crockett Ringley, who was the first female general manager in professional baseball during a 12-year span.