The Lexington Legends made a new signing this offseason, and he electrifies the fans whenever he steps on the field.
Tech the bat dog comes on in the home half of the second and fourth innings every Bark in the Park night to retrieve the Legends’ bats from around home plate. But P.R. Gerrow’s 8-year-old Belgian Malinois (mal-in-wa) had to go through his own spring training before taking the field on opening day.
The biggest issue? Not chasing the balls.
“We did quite a few trials here at the house kind of getting him ready and getting him used to retrieving a bat,” Gerrow said. They spent about two months working on it. “We bought a couple and got him used to the sounds of hitting the ball and not going after the ball and focusing more on the bat.”
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Tech performed flawlessly in his debut on opening night back in April.
As the season has continued, he’s only had a few hiccups. Thursday night, he picked up Legends shortstop Marten Gasparini’s bat after a long foul ball over the fence that looked like a home run for a moment. Gasparini had to retrieve it from Tech to complete his at-bat.
“Every now and then when (the batters) take the weights off the bats as they’re warming up, he’ll get one of those,” Gerrow said.
He’s a really good dog. When we originally got him, he was people- and dog-aggressive, but through the training and being able to give him a job and whatnot, we were able to turn him into where he’s retrieving bats for the Legends.
P.R. Gerrow, owner and trainer of Tech, the Legends’ bat dog
The Belgian Malinois is a large, high-energy sheep-herding breed. They are a little lighter and shorter than the more well-known German shepherd but both are commonly used by police and military for tracking, detection of substances and guarding. Tech is a bit small for his breed.
Gerrow, who has owned Lexington’s Sit Means Sit Dog Training franchise since 2012, got Tech when he was about 5 years old because his previous owner couldn’t handle him. Instead of letting him go to a shelter where his fate was uncertain, Gerrow agreed to take him.
“He’s a really good dog,” Gerrow said. “When we originally got him, he was people- and dog-aggressive, but through the training and being able to give him a job and whatnot, we were able to turn him into where he’s retrieving bats for the Legends.”
Tech sits quietly behind the Sit Means Sit information booth at the ballpark before he goes to work. When he completes the fourth inning, he rests for a bit before greeting and posing with fans back at the booth.
When Gerrow originally talked about being part of the Legends’ longstanding Bark in the Park promotion night, retrieving bats wasn’t part of the plan. But Dominique Neel, a Legends account executive and client, suggested it. And after Gerrow trained team president Andy Shea’s dog, the idea took root.
“He was really happy with how his dog turned out. And we were pleased with how everything was going, so we just kind of took a chance on it and it grew from there,” Gerrow said.
Shea said he knows of one other team that has a bat dog, but it doesn’t display the hustle Tech has. “Tech really busts it out there!” Shea said.
Being part of Bark in the Park has been a smashing success for Gerrow’s business.
“We’re able to get out there and meet a whole lot of new clients and people that are bringing their dogs,” he said. “And even if they’re not bringing their dogs, we’re having people come up that are talking to us about some of the challenges they’re having.”
And the players haven’t minded having a few gnaw marks on the bats, either. Tech was only supposed to make one appearance each Thursday, but he was such a hit, players wanted him back for more.
“Belgian Malinois have the same bite force as a bull shark, so he’ll leave a little dent here and there a bit, but he’s not ruining the bats by any means,” Gerrow said.
Bark in the Park
What: Bring your well-behaved dog to Whitaker Bank Ballpark for a small donation to a local humane society.
When: Every Thursday home game for the Lexington Legends