PHOENIX — Roy Campanella said it a long time ago: “You gotta be a man to play baseball for a living, but you gotta have a lot of little boy in you, too.”
Adam Eaton gets it.
The effervescent Arizona Diamondbacks leadoff man is scoring points with everyone but his wife since shaving his beard this week, having a ball and sharing the fun with fans.
Heading to the on-deck circle before his second at-bat Tuesday night, Eaton saw three boys — maybe 4, 5 and 7 — seated in the front row and asked them if they would touch his bat for good luck. They did, and Eaton singled to break up a no-hitter.
The ritual continued through the game, and he finished with three singles and a walk in the D-backs’ 10-4 victory. After the kids touched his bat in the eighth, he kissed it, then hit a line-drive single to center field. Afterwards, Eaton met the children and their father and gave them a bat and some batting gloves.
“You guys know my personality by now. I will talk to anybody. We’re just kids playing this game, so being able to talk to those kids and kinda relate was good,” Eaton said.
He spotted the kids before his second at-bat and said to himself, “These kids look awesome.”
“It was nice. They let me concentrate,” he said. “But every time I’d walk up, they’d be looking at me, grinning ear to ear, ready to rub the bat for good luck. It’s nice to be serious with the game, but at the same time you realize it is just a game. That really made it fun for me tonight.
“I don’t credit anything other than those little boys rubbing on the bat to make sure I had some good luck.”
Eaton did something before the game to change things up, too, shaving his beard but leaving some hair on his upper lip.
“My wife hates it,” Eaton said. “Yesterday I came out of the locker room and she said, ‘What is that?’ “
“No one likes it,” one teammate said, laughing.
It has received mixed reviews. Eaton has been compared to Mario and Luigi from the Super Mario Brothers video game, Tom Selleck, Ron Burgundy, a 1980s motorcycle police officer and the guy from “Super Troopers”. The PA system played music from the Mario Brothers game every time Eaton reached base.
“It’s about half-and-half on Twitter,” Eaton said. “Some people are like, ‘It is so ugly. What is on his upper lip? Get it off now.’ Funny stuff. My wife said Twitter blew up because they said on TV she didn’t like it, and everyone was like ‘I agree with you.’ “
Not that Eaton plans to shave any time soon.
“We scored 10 runs tonight. It’s here to stay for a little while,” Eaton said.
“It’s good sometimes to take away from the game and get a spotlight on something else and let us go out there and perform and have fun. We’re going to see where it takes us. We have to. Hopefully we keep it all year, because that means we are playing good.”