Players of the future

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Baseball fans cheer as one of the Bakersfield Blaze players hits a fly ball. But the fans don’t realize that the boys running out and picking up the bats may be the professional baseball players of the future.

Pancho Villa and Keith McCullough, both 17, are the bat boys for the Blaze, and they both have hopes of becoming professional baseball players.

Villa and McCullough went to many Blaze games and eventually, signed up to be bat boys.

This is Villa’s second year, but it is McCullough’s first.

“I got to know them [Blaze players] right at first; the only thing that stopped me at first was most of the guys spoke Spanish,” McCullough said.

During the games, Villa and McCullough run up and retrieve the bats after each player has batted, as well as hand balls to the umpire. While they’re waiting to do their jobs they get to watch the game in folding chairs on the field. But they also play with the Blaze during practice.

The players even give them advice and help them improve their games.”They teach us what we’ll need to make it to the majors,” McCullough said.

Both will be seniors at South High in the fall. Villa plays second base on the varsity baseball team. McCullough plays first and third base on the team.”I do the same thing they do… I just want to get better at baseball,” Villa said.

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