Chattanooga Lookouts bat boy makes it to the silver screen in '42' movie

Chattanooga Lookouts bat boy makes it to the silver screen in '42' movie

June 24th, 2012 by Adam Poulisse in Life Entertainment

Hunter Clowdus works as a batboy for the Chattanooga Lookouts, but also scored a part in the filming of "42" as a batboy. He currently is traveling around the South with the cast and crew to finish filming.

Photo by Jake Daniels/Times Free Press.

When it comes to being on a baseball field, Hunter Clowdus is no rookie.

The 20-year-old has been the batboy for the Chattanooga Lookouts for three years, fetching water coolers for parched sluggers or retrieving the bats players toss to the side.

But now, Clowdus is moving up to the big league -- the really, really big league.

The former baseball player and aspiring model/actor landed the role as the batboy in the movie "42," which stars Chadwick Boseman as race-barrier-breaking Jackie Robinson and Harrison Ford as the 1940s Brooklyn Dodgers executive Branch Rickey. Filming for the movie wrapped up at Engel Stadium in Chattanooga on June 15.

Clowdus started stepping up to the plate as a baseball player at just 5 years old. At 17, he went to an open call and caught the eye of Larry Ward, who offered him the job as batboy for the Chattanooga Lookouts. Ward said Clowdus was older and more mature than the usual 14-year-old batboys he hires.

"It's a fun job, and it's a paid job, but it is a job," said Ward, who helps manage the Lookouts and does the live radio broadcasts of the games. "For many batboys, it's the first job they ever have."

Clowdus has been involved in the production of "42" since its earliest stages of preproduction in Chattanooga. He was originally recruited as a baseball player for the film's 1940s Brooklyn Dodgers but was ultimately "cut from the team," he said.

"I looked too young for the time period [of baseball players]," he said. "I look 17-ish."

But Clowdus' youthful features paid off in the end. Though the original casting call for the role as batboy asked for 18- or 19-year-old men, he was still offered the role as the Brooklyn Dodgers batboy circa 1940s.

"I put [batboy] on my application, and I think that helped," he said. "My acting experience also probably helped, too."

He's now a traveling batboy, quite literally. Though filming for "42" wrapped up at Chattanooga's Engel Stadium on June 15, Clowdus joins the team of actors -- or 1940s Brooklyn Dodgers -- as the cast and crew bounce from Chattanooga to Macon and Birmingham, Ala.

Clowdus' character, currently unnamed and referred to as simply "the batboy," follows Robinson and the rest of the Dodgers. Clowdus' dialogue will serve as backdrop dialogue to scenes featuring larger crowds, he said.

"The role is built into the scenes," Clowdus said. "Back then, they had one batboy that traveled with the team. Now, they don't."

Like most actors, Clowdus gets into character before shoots, but it's much easier for him, since it's life imitating art.

"In my mind, I almost tune out the cameras and the extras, and think of it as a real game," he said.

Outside of being a batboy both on and off the set, Clowdus is fully committed to his acting career, he said. He's appeared in television shows "Teen Wolf" and Tyler Perry's TBS show "For Better or Worse." His next film is "Trouble With the Curve," yet another baseball-centric movie starring Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams, opening in September. He plans to move to Los Angeles early next year to pursue a possible gig with Sony Pictures, he said.