A law allowing 14- and 15-year-olds to work school nights as pro baseball batboys and batgirls puzzled an official at a Mission Viejo minor league team, who wondered why it's necessary. The answer: State labor officials cited the Stockton Ports of the California League for employing youths under 16.
"Don't they have anything better to do?" said Dave Ayers, publicist for the Mission Viejo Vigilantes of the Western League.
Apparently not. Matt Ellis, general manager of the Lancaster JetHawks, said state officials were stern. "We were even told the [too-young] sons of our coaches couldn't be batboys," Ellis said. So his California League team has 18-year-olds, though Ellis thinks younger teens are more appropriate.
Federal law already allows 14- and 15-year-olds to work professional night games during the school year. A California law doing the same passed the state Legislature overwhelmingly this month and is awaiting Gov. Pete Wilson's signature.
The new law may not help the Mission Viejo team, which requires batboys and batgirls to maintain B averages in school. Ayers said the Vigilantes' batboys were 12 or 13 this year, too young even under the new rules. One boy's father is the team's head of security. The other's mother runs a souvenir stand.
The Vigilantes' batboys worked nights regularly, often until 10:30 p.m., and the issue of age "never really came up," Ayers said. "After all, their parents were there."
With a minimum age of 18 for batboys and batgirls, major league teams slide past the issue, though the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants were prominent supporters of the new state law proposed by Assemblyman Mike Machado (D-Lindon).
E. Scott Reckard covers workplace issues for The Times. He can be reached at (714) 966-7407 and at firstname.lastname@example.org