Whatever became of that cherubic little boy who was a Riverhead Tomcats batboy years ago?
He’s now playing for them.
Ethan Aube wears the uniform of his hometown Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League team. He’s the first former Tomcats batboy to play for the club, and may even be the first former batboy to play for any HCBL team, said Tomcats general manager Patti Moore-White.
That little kid in the old photos is now a strapping 6-1, 205-pound first baseman preparing for his junior year at NCAA Division III Norwich University, a military college in Vermont.
Aube, 19, who grew up and lives in Riverhead, had played for Bishop McGann-Mercy and Riverhead high schools. Before that, though, he was a batboy for the Tomcats, attending to the typical duties, retrieving bats and delivering baseballs to the home-plate umpire. He was a part of the team before he was a player on the team.
“I can’t really remember that much from my days as a batboy, but I just remember it being good,” said Aube.
Aube recalls having been a batboy for a couple of non-consecutive seasons. Moore-White believes Aube’s first year as a batboy was in 2011. His father, Patrick, brought him to a Tomcats game and the youngster was asked if he wanted to be a batboy. He was given a Tomcats shirt, a batting helmet and he was in business.
Aube also received something else: a nickname.
“At first I was a little intimidated because, you know, you got all these like college kids around you and stuff,” he said. “You don’t know how to act, but I mean, it was fun. The guys were great to me. They would always joke around and stuff and then one day they just start calling me Ernie. They told me I needed a nickname. And to this day, my dad still calls me Ernie when he wants to get my attention.”
What does Moore-White remember about Aube, the batboy?
“He was just so cute,” she said. “He wanted to be in the dugout. He would chat with the guys sitting on the bench. It was more than just retrieving the balls and giving the ball to the ump. He got to know each of the guys, talking with them. You know, I look back at the pictures and sometimes I think that’s Ethan giving them a few tips and pointers and stuff. But just chatting with them in the dugout in between innings and wanting to be a part of it, high fives, being a part of the high-five line at the end of the game and stuff. He just was so personable, loved the game, loved being around these college kids, looked up to them, learned from them.”
Aube’s high school days were marked by two unusual developments. He attended McGann-Mercy from grades 7 to 10 before the private Riverhead Catholic school closed. After about a month at St. Anthony’s High School in South Huntington, Aube decided that wasn’t for him. He attended Riverhead High School as a junior and senior, playing football and baseball. His senior baseball season was lost, however, to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Aube’s college education is coming courtesy of a four-year Navy scholarship. After graduating, he said, he will be commissioned as an officer. He wants to be a jet pilot. He hasn’t flown one yet, but he was on a trainer plane.
“It’s so thrilling,” he said. “I mean, like you’re just up there and it’s just like, ‘Wow! This is what I want to do.’ ”
Because of a Navy commitment, Aube didn’t join the Tomcats until the 14th game of the 36-game season.
So, how has this season been going for him?
“I haven’t been too good, so probably don’t put my stats in the article,” he said playfully. “We don’t want that [going out] to the public. But right now I’m trying to work on the mental side of the game because I feel like my swing doesn’t need that [many] adjustments. I just need a better approach at the plate. I find I put myself in a lot of holes when I’m up at bat and I kind of just beat myself. You don’t want to do that as a hitter.”
At the same time, this is some of the best pitching he has faced.
“You get players from D-I all the way down to JUCO colleges, and it’s just such a wide variety of players,” he said. “Like one day you could face a kid throwing 90 [mph] and then the next day [the pitcher is] throwing 80. I mean, it’s just all over the place and it’s such a great experience.”
Aube said he looks at the team’s current batboy, Nathan Reeve-Edington, 10, and thinks to himself, “Yeah, that was probably me.”
Aube said: “I don’t know how I was with the team. Maybe I was a little annoying. Maybe I was not talkative enough. Maybe I was just the right amount. I don’t know. I just remember I really liked it.”
What does Moore-White feel when she looks at her grown-up former batboy?
“I’m just so proud, for lack of a better word, or that’s a good word,” she said. “I’m just so proud because I knew just following him and knowing him he would grow up and he’d be something special.”