How often have you heard a Minnesota Twins fan ask another, who is that old guy with that huge mustache and the cowboy hat in the Twins dugout? Well, today you are going to find out all about Mr. Wayne Hattaway.
Baseball has always had its “characters”, that is one of the reasons that I love baseball. Some of baseball characters have been good players, some have been just mediocre players and some have not played the game at all but somehow they were drawn to the game that is known as the national pastime.
I was lucky enough to meet one of the Minnesota Twins great characters, a baseball lifer that has been involved in baseball since the age of 12 when he started out as a bat boy for the Mobile Bears in 1952, at that time the Bears were a AA farm team for the Brooklyn Dodgers. This baseball man has never thrown a pitch for the Twins (except on September 26, 2006 when Wayne was given the honor of throwing out the first pitch in the game between the Twins and the Kansas City Royals) nor had a single plate appearance, his work has always been behind the scenes but that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t had an impact on the history of the Minnesota Twins and many of the players that have played there.
I had spent about a week with Wayne Hattaway in Ft. Myers during a Twins Fantasy Camp early in January 2018 that he was helping out with and we spent a number of hours in the Minnesota Twins minor league complex club house talking about baseball. The “Big Fella” as he is known to his friends did most of the talking and I did the listening and recording as he talked about his career.
Wayne Hattaway was born on February 24, 1940 in Mobile, Alabama and if it wasn’t for baseball you would probably still find him there, as a matter of fact he still lives there during the off-season. Wayne’s parents Fred and Margaret Hattaway had five children, four of which were Wayne’s sisters. From 1956 to 1959 while he was still in school Wayne worked as the equipment manager for the Mobile Bears who by now were part of the Cleveland Indians organization. Wayne graduated from Murphy High School in Mobile in 1959. According to the school’s website it is the oldest school in the state of Alabama dating back to 1926. He was drafted but the Army wasn’t very interested in 95 pound soldiers and his Dad urged him to get a real job but Wayne stuck with the game he loved and he stayed in that job through 1961. While he was there he worked with players who later in their careers would become Minnesota Twins such as Dick Stigman, Hank Izquierdo, and Bill Dailey.
Prior to the 1962 season he was asked if he was interested in the equipment manager job with the AAA Dallas Rangers who were a co-op team for the Phillies and Angels and Wayne jumped on that but that turned out to be just a one year gig as the AAA Dallas Rangers became affiliated with the Minnesota Twins prior to the 1963 season and it was the beginning of his long association with the Minnesota Twins. After the 1963 season the Twins moved their AAA team to Atlanta and the Big Fella had a choice to make, go with the AAA Atlanta Crackers or the AA Charlotte Hornets and he choose Charlotte where he would remain through 1972.
As the years went by the Big Fella got married on a baseball field of course and had two daughters but the road life in baseball got to be more than the marriage could withstand and after about 18 years it came to and end.
Wayne like all the players that he worked with, wanted to move up the ladder to the big league Twins but was always told that anyone could be the equipment manager job in the big leagues and that he was far more valuable in the minor league system. Years would pass before Wayne would see the major leagues. Hattaway spent 1973-1974 with the class A Lynchburg Twins, in 1975 he had a choice between class A Wisconsin Rapids and Reno, what would you chose? After just the one season with the Reno Silver Sox which were made up of a co-op team of Twins and San Diego Padres farm hands, he took over as trainer/equipment manager for the AA Orlando Twins in 1976 where he worked through 1989. While in Orlando he worked with managers like Dick Phillips, John Goryl, Roy McMillan, Tom Kelly, Phil Roof, Charlie Manual, and George Mitterwald. In 1990 Hattaway was on the move again, this time to Ft. Myers where he worked with he GCL Twins and the Ft. Myers Miracle until Ron Gardenhire and Terry Ryan decided to bring him up to Minnesota in 2002 and he has been there ever since.
Gardenhire brought Hattaway to Minnesota because he could keep clubhouses loose, “He’s not here to make you feel good,” Gardenhire said. “He’s here to keep all of us honest, and laughing.” Some of the chats that Hattaway has with his players, particularly the rookies can sting a bit when he tells them things like “Don’t blame yourself, big fella, blame the scout who signed you.” Or: “It’s not your fault, big ‘un, it’s the Twins’ fault for drafting you.” Hattaway is all for kicking a man when he’s down but everyone knows that it is all in jest.
In September 2006 the Big Fella heard a word that he hates, cancer, it turns out that he had breast cancer and to top it off, he found out he was a diabetic. He has battled through surgery and watches what he eats, at least to some degree. Hattaway has some sight issues now days and like most of us, forgets things now and then but through it all he loves the game of baseball and the people who are associated with it.
As I mentioned earlier I spent about a week with Wayne off and on recording his memories and thoughts about his life in baseball. It is important to Wayne to be able to share these memories with you baseball fans, he doesn’t want his baseball memories and stories to disappear when his time comes to visit the great ballpark in the sky. So sit back, listen and I hope you enjoy some of these baseball stories first-hand from someone who has lived them for over 60 years. You might disagree with some of the things Wayne says but you have to remember we are talking about things that happened over the last 60-70 years.
Each of the MP3 file segments is anywhere from 35 to 45 minutes in length and it might take a minute or two to download because of the large file size. These interviews were done in the Minnesota Twins minor league clubhouse over a period of about a week in early January 2018.
Wayne Hattaway Part 1
Wayne Hattaway Part 2
Wayne Hattaway Part 3
Wayne Hattaway Part 4
Wayne Hattaway Part 5
Wayne Hattaway Part 6
As time moves along and if the opportunities present themselves we will try to spend more time with Wayne and his friends and add-on to what we have here today. The man is a legend in Minnesota Twins history and there are very few if any Twins players that have passed through the Twins clubhouse that don’t remember Wayne Hattaway.