Dogs in Sports: Jake the Diamond Dog

Jake the Diamond Dog
Jake the Diamond Dog /

Jake the Diamond Dog loves playing fetch and bringing joy to humans. He just does it on a larger scale than most.

Many dogs love to fetch sticks or tennis balls, and Golden Retriever Jake the Diamond Dog is no different. Except that the sticks he chases are baseball bats at various stadiums across Minor League Baseball, and he and his owner Jeff Marchel travel in a customized van across the country.

As a batdog for Minor League Baseball, Jake visits numerous teams throughout the season, where his main tasks involve retrieving players’ bats and bringing water to players and umpires when necessary, in addition to posing with fans for selfies, as all celebrities must do.

Minor-league teams don’t have big-name stars to attract fans to the ballpark, nor much media coverage beyond their hometown newspapers and maybe a local radio broadcasting deal, so promotions by acts like Jake form a big part of the appeal of the minor leagues.

Marchel taught the original Jake to fetch bats in 1995, and they teamed up with talent agent Jon Terry of Tulsa, Okla.-based SRO Productions in 1997.

As a talent agent, Terry books Jake’s appearances across collegiate and professional sports, in addition to representing several flying-disc acts and musical acts, as well as producing concerts, corporate events, festivals, fundraisers and fashion shows.

As far as personality goes, Jake is “friendly, extremely lovable, and amazingly loyal to Jeff, even for a dog,” Terry told Dog O’Day in an email interview. “He never has a problem with hundreds of fans wanting to pet him every night. While doing his act you forget he’s a dog doing these things that normally only humans would do.”

Of course, a well-trained dog has his human to thank, and Terry heaped lavish praise upon Marchel: “Jeff gets all that credit, he literally talks to the animals and they understand. Sounds crazy, but I’ve been around them too much to think otherwise.”

Besides being excellent with dogs, Marchel – known as “Dog Man” – is also a really great person: “He wants to think he’s an ol’ tough guy, but I know him to have a heart of gold. More than once I’ve been in a restaurant somewhere on the road, see him eye an old couple having dinner, or maybe it’s a veteran or just somebody down on their luck. He’d take the last cent out of his pocket and tell the waitress to bring him their check. That’s Dog Man.”

Some of the teams Jake has visited this season (there were far too many to fully list) include the White Sox affiliate Birmingham Barons, the Indians affiliate Columbus Clippers, Reds affiliates Dayton Dragons and Louisville Bats, the Padres affiliate Fort Wayne TinCaps, the independent Florence Freedom, the Red Sox affiliate Greenville Drive, the Diamondbacks affiliate Kane County Cougars, A’s affiliates Midland RockHounds and Nashville Sounds, and the Dodgers affiliate Tulsa Drillers.

“I love knowing Jeff and Jake are out there making family audiences happy. Little kids to old people melt around Jake, they love what he does at a game.”

Jake has also performed for the Cleveland Indians of the American League, which is a major accomplishment, as major-league teams rarely – if ever – schedule such a performance.

Whenever possible, Terry likes to sit in the back of the stadium when Jake is performing to be able to watch the fans’ excited reactions.

The current dog is Jake IV, and Jake V is in the process of being trained.

Fans have two more chances this season to see Jake in person, when he visits the Columbus Clippers on Sunday, August 19, and the Louisville Bats on Monday, September 3.

“I always had pets as a kid and was very close to them,” Terry said, but unfortunately his career and the trajectory of his adult life has left him petless for quite a while. “There’s no doing that halfway,” he said, of caring for an animal. “Someday, if I ever retire, I’d like a dog and a cat again.”

Your dog might not carry bats, but she probably does chew on bones and things like that, so be sure to read the post below, too.

Next. Taking care of your dog's dental health. dark

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