The Trenton Thunder, the Class AA affiliate of the New York Yankees baseball team, begins their best-of-five playoff series against the Binghamton Rumble Ponies Wednesday night.

The team has a lot of great players, but their MVP just might be Tommy Smith, a special-needs batboy who is also active as a Special Olympics participant when he’s not on the field with the Thunder

Jeff Hurley, general manger and chief operating officer for the Trenton Thunder, said Tommy brings a special energy to everything he does.

“Coaches and players have gravitated to him and you see them after they score they give Tommy a big hug and they’re always smiling and laughing and joking. He’s just really become a part of the team,” he said.

“He’s one of our secret weapons. We always seem to pull one out when he’s here helping us out and working for the team.”

Hurley said after Tommy arrives at Arm & Hammer stadium about 45 minutes before game time, “it takes him about 10, 15 minutes to get to his locker because everybody wants to say hello and hang out with him, and he’s always smiling and happy to be around here.”

The team’s other batboy, Pat Jones, who is studying special education at Rider University, said working with Tommy is great.

“It’s awesome walking in every day. He’s just really excited to see you, so he walks in and yells Patrick, and just lights up the whole room really.”

He said when Tommy started last year he was a bit shy and reserved. But now, when he performs his batboy duties he will frequently dance and pump his arms, trying to get the crowd fired up. And after a player scores, Tommy will run out of the dugout and hug him.

Justus Sheffield, a pitcher with the Thunder, said Tommy Smith is the heart and soul of the team.

“Every single guy in this locker room loves Tommy. That’s not just because he’s a little different than we are; he’s overall a great person. He interacts with us well, we all love him, he brings an energy to the field and we’re lucky to have him in the dugout with us”

Trenton Thunder manager Bobby Mitchell describes Tommy as a huge inspiration to the team, especially when he struts around doing his Jon Cena World Wrestling entrance routine.

Tommy joking with players in the locker room. David Matthau, Townsquare Media NJ

“He’s pretty serious about it and he gives the other team the old Cena look, with the hand going across the face and everything, and he gets the crowd going. So the crowd loves him and we love him,” he said.

“He’s an outstanding addition to our team and has been for the last two years.”

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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