Editor's note: Will Jauss, the 11-year-old son of Los Angeles Dodgers coach Dave Jauss, lives every kid's dream: He gets to hang out with a Major League baseball team all summer. Will shared some of his experiences with Yahoo! Sports. Email Will at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Normal kids see their dad every night when he comes home from work. Normal kids spend their summers at camp, the beach or staying home with their families. I spend my summer in Los Angeles, 3,000 miles from our home in Boston, just so I can see my dad while he works. Other times I don't see my dad for weeks. My family goes to a baseball game almost every day. Sometimes I get to play catch and take batting practice on a major league field. This is the life of a Baseball Kid.
I get to go to the ballpark early with my dad and my two older brothers, D.J. and Charley. My dad keeps all our baseball gear in his locker. We go to the clubhouse to change into our workout clothes, then we hit in the underground cages where the players practice hitting.
Sometimes my dad throws live batting practice to us on the real field at Dodger Stadium. Last year I never got the ball out of the infield, but this year I hit the ball to the outfield and my brothers hit it onto the warning track. It is a lot harder than you think to hit on a major league baseball field.
After hitting, we go to the bullpen to pitch to Dad. We also go to the outfield to long-toss. Once we are done with our workout, we shower in the clubhouse and get dressed.
One of the fun things I did last summer was spend time in the outfield shagging fly balls during batting practice. I had a lot of fun talking to J.D. Drew, who now is with the Boston Red Sox, while waiting for fly balls. When a ball would come my way I would try to make a diving catch unless it was coming directly to me. I was able to shag fly balls in places like Arizona, New York and Colorado, but the one thing that remained the same in every stadium was that kids and adults in the stands always screamed at me, asking for baseballs.
In the clubhouse, I liked to do surveys with the players, asking them to vote for their favorite things. Two of the surveys I did were, "Who's better, David Ortiz or Albert Pujols?" and, "What's better, Dr. Pepper or root beer?" Pujols and Dr. Pepper won. I was rooting for David Ortiz and root beer.
There is a room at Dodger Stadium for the Baseball Kids and other family members to hang out during games. I gave wacky nicknames to all the babysitters, like ChiliDog, Sheep lady, and Quacker man. The nicknames rhyme with their actual names and help me remember them. Every home game, the sitters have fun activities like making Play-Doh, playing musical chairs or creating crafts. Some nights we play PlayStation games like "Need for Speed" or DDR (Dance Dance Revolution).
The babysitters usually have the game on TV in the room. We check on it every so often, but when you are at as many games as we Baseball Kids are, they can get boring.
When I leave at the end of the summer, I say to my friends in L.A., "See you next year," but to some of them I say, "I hope to see you next year." That's what's hard for Baseball Kids: You meet someone who becomes your best friend, and then their dad gets traded, released, or signs a contract with another team and you never see that person again.
We had Jose Cruz Jr. on our team last year, and I became really good friends with his kids. They didn't come back this year. I was excited to be able to spend two whole summers with my best friends, the Beimel kids and the Kent kids. I also made new friends with the Gonzalez kids. We will see who next year brings.
FLIGHT TO PHILADELPHIA
A couple of weeks ago, we made our way back east with the team for a six-day trip to Philadelphia and New York. My brothers and I wore suit coats and khaki pants like dad because we have to follow the team dress code.
When we got to Dodger Stadium, the clubhouse guys loaded our luggage into a white delivery truck. Two buses left the stadium for the airport, one for coaches, trainers, media and other front office people, and the other for the players. The buses drove right into the airport where the plane was specially parked. The security check was outside right beside the plane. When it was my turn, I put my backpack on a table and a guard checked me with a wand from the top of my head to the bottom of my shoes.
Once on the plane, our family usually sits in the first rows in coach. Our manager, Grady Little, sits in first class with the coaches who are traveling without family, some front office staff and people who have been with the Dodgers a long time. All the players sit in the back.
Two rows behind us are Brad Zager and Josh Cumming, two media guys I play PlayStation Portable with. On one flight we played NHL '07 the whole ride. This trip they slept most of the flight, which left me to play alone while my brothers watched "The Matrix."
Sometimes we have a flight attendant who is a magician. One of the cool tricks he did was change a $1 bill into a $100 bill. My dad pulled out all of his ones and asked for change.
On the charter they serve sandwiches, meals (ribs, chicken or fish with a salad, cookie and vegetables) and candy. My brothers and I really enjoy the food.
By the end of the flight to Philadelphia, it had been seven hours because of a delay. When we landed, we got on another bus and drove to the hotel. It was raining and very cold. When we got to the hotel there was a table with envelopes with the keys in them. Each envelope has the name of the player or coach and a room number.
Because the flight was so long and the time difference was three hours, we were very hungry. We went to a restaurant inside the hotel and ate as a family. It was 1 a.m. when we got to the room, and Dad left at noon the next day for the ballpark.
PLAYING PSP WITH RUSSELL MARTIN
On the last day of the Philadelphia series, we brought our luggage to the lobby and another truck took it to New York.
When the game was over we went to the bus and took off for the train station, where we were met by Amtrak security and escorted to a waiting area. My family and I were sitting there alone until Dodgers catcher Russ Martin came in and challenged me to a home run derby on my PSP. I picked Ryan Howard and he picked himself. At first he thought the match up was unfair because Howard is better in this game than Russ, but not in real life! Russ won the first time and I won the second.
The trip to New York was only an hour. It was a much better travel day than the seven-hour plane trip three days earlier. When we reached Penn Station, we went up an escalator and a lady from a different train was struggling with a lot of luggage. Russ Martin asked if she needed any help, but she said no. Next thing you know, as she started up the escalator she fell backwards and one of the Dodgers' wives caught her.
We spent two days in New York and went to Toys "R" Us in Times Square to see the Ferris wheel and the little section of Candyland with all the candy you can imagine, all inside the store.
When we are in New York, we take a subway to Shea Stadium called the 7 Train. The ride takes almost 45 minutes. The last game we saw wasn't so good for the Dodgers. We lost, 4-3.
SAYING GOODBYE TO DAD
Our whole family drove home to Boston after the game. It was already midnight when we got to our house. We were excited to be home after three months, but also sad because Dad had to leave in the morning to rejoin the team in New York. He hadn't been home since February and we didn't know when we would see him again.
Still, our summer was unbelievable. We made new friends, saw a lot of baseball and our family was together. When we said goodbye to Dad, we said we hoped to see him soon, but not too soon because we would rather see him in October in L.A. for the World Series!
That would be the ultimate, especially for a Baseball Kid.