Premed student and bat boy has ‘best seat in the ballpark’


Photo courtesy of Allison Farrand

Emilio Romano during a game against the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan on September 26, 2021.

Entering the home stretch of his undergraduate studies at Oakland University (OU), senior in the biomedical science degree program, bat boy for visiting teams and Comerica Park clubhouse attendant Emilio Romano knows a thing or two about hard work. 

Having grown up in Macomb, Michigan, Romano, 20, decided to attend OU to be close to his family. 

His passion for playing and watching baseball when he was younger has fueled his work ethic since he began working as a bat boy and clubhouse attendant in 2018. 

“I chose to work at Comerica [Park] because of my deep love for the game, being able to meet some of my childhood heroes and to be able to watch games from the best seat in the ballpark,” Romano said.

For someone with a position like Romano’s, game day doesn’t start in the first inning and end in the ninth. 

“For a game day, we get there about four hours before a game starts. Our main job before the game is setting up the bullpen and dugout, putting out their equipment and making sure everything is stocked,” Romano said. “Teams come with a lot of equipment.”

During the game, Romano’s main responsibility is to make sure the place of play of the game is up to par. 

“Any time a player makes a hit, I pick up their bat as quickly as possible, meet them at whatever base they’re at and grab any equipment they may have,” Romano said. 

Distributing team meals, game cleanup and wearing the visiting team’s uniform are all part of the job as well. 

“When you’re there, it doesn’t feel like work,” he said. “Time flies by quickly.”

Baseball isn’t the only thing on Romano’s home plate. Since the summer of 2021, Romano has worked as an undergraduate research assistant in Associate Professor Dao Zhang’s lab located in the Eye Research Institute (ERI) on campus, where he studies retinal dopamine neurons critical for visual function and eye development.

“I feel lucky to have him in my laboratory because he is motivated in research, a quick learner and a highly responsible individual,” Zhang said. “Over the past year, I have been very impressed with his research progress.”

For his accomplishment in vision research, Romano was recently awarded the Barry S. Winkler Scholarship, established in the professor emeritus and eye researcher’s name.

“It was immediately clear to me that Emilio had a wonderful attitude towards his research, carried out his experiments with a strong passion and he was entirely cooperative and helpful to anyone who walked into the laboratory,” Winkler said.

Expected to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical science after the fall semester of 2023, Romano’s next goal is to attend medical school. 

“I love the concept of being able to provide health care at the most personal level,” Romano said.