03/28/11 10:00 AM ET
Thalblum's A's story enters fourth decade
By Jane Lee / MLB.com
They're long hours, no doubt, but road games give Thalblum the chance to spend plenty time with his family. He met his wife, Janine, at the ballpark when she stopped by to help him open a car-insurance account, and the couple named their first child, 8-year-old Stewart Robert, after famed A's pitchers Dave Stewart and Bob Welch. They also have a 7-year-old son, Jonathon David.Stewie, as he's known around family and friends, has found his way to his father's side at the stadium despite an ongoing battle with autism, a developmental disorder that affects the brain's normal development of social and communication skills. "When the doctors said, 'You guys are having a boy, all these dreams go through your head, thinking you have a batboy someday, working the clubhouses," Thalblum said. "When Stewie was diagnosed with the autism, that all changed for a little bit. But it's wonderful because the ballpark has actually helped with his social problems that he had, and it's nice both my sons can come to work, come right down the stairs and hang out with Daddy. "That first day he was a batboy, I was bawling my head off. It's special. The whole job has been special." Entering his 18th season as the visiting clubhouse manager, which followed stints as a batboy and clubhouse assistant, Thalblum couldn't be more grateful for the life he leads and the people that have made it worthwhile. His first paycheck -- a Charlie Finley check -- has yet to be cashed, and he fondly recalls receiving his very first tip from Billy Martin. "There's something from every year that you never forget," he said. "My whole life, my family's whole life, everything we got, everything's been about the ballpark. I remind myself every day that there's only 30 of these jobs out there. That's it. The A's have treated me with nothing but the best. They've always been as nice as can be to me, and I can't be more appreciative."