OAKLAND — Six days ago, the Oakland Coliseum served as the backdrop to one of the most unlikely images Major League Baseball has seen in years.
While pitcher Grant Balfour screamed and triumphantly raised his arms after getting the final out of Oakland's stunning American League West title-clinching win over Texas, television replays showed someone in a Rangers uniform at home plate also raising his arms in celebration.
Shocking, right? Not to those who know Brett Bower, the batboy who for six years has donned the uniforms of the Rangers and every other team that visits Oakland.
Hiding his affection for the A's while wearing the enemy's colors is one of the most difficult aspects of Bower's job, which includes more than just picking up bats and helmets.
"That boy loves his A's,'' said Mikey Thalblum, the A's visiting clubhouse manager, who excused Bower's temporary show of emotion.
For Bower, a 22-year-old Pleasanton resident who will give up his dream job after the A's season ends in order to pursue his teaching credential, watching Michael Young's fly out to center field erased years of frustration
"I love the team and I always take the A's losses hard," said Bower, who will be wearing a Detroit Tigers uniform Tuesday night in Game 3 of the ALDS against the A's. "But I'm usually able to contain my emotions out on the field."
That all changed last week when Young sent a Balfour fastball skyward that landed
"I went to go get Young's bat and I thought I was safe and that I wasn't gonna be in any (TV) replays," Bower said. "It was such a relief moment. A bunch of nobodies stealing the AL West. It was like taking down Goliath. I figured I could just do my own thing and no one would notice.
"Then I saw the replay of me raising my arms and I'm like (darn)."
Truth be told, it marked the second time in five days a TV camera caught Bower rejoicing an improbable A's win at the expense of the visiting team. Bower was working as the Seattle Mariners batboy when Brandon Moss' ninth-inning home run sent the jubilant A's to their 14th walk-off win this year. Bower was seen on TV excitedly rushing to watch the flight of Moss' game-winning blast.
"When Moss hit that walk-off, I thought that was pretty much a playoff clincher, even though we hadn't won anything yet," said Bower. "I was just pumped.
"I assumed like everyone else that this was going to be one of the A's worst seasons. It's more than I expected."
Bower's allegiance to the green and gold is part of a family affair that started years before he landed a job with the team. It began with his dad and mom taking him to 15-20 games per season.
"My mom would even get me out of school to go watch the A's games," said Bower. "We'd go to all the `Dollar Wednesdays.' The A's have always been a big part of my family."
Bower's extended family has grown to include Thalblum and A's assistant clubhouse manager Matt Weiss, which only makes it harder to realize that Tuesday night's game against the Tigers could be the last time he puts on a major league uniform.
"It's going to be hard this off-season knowing that I'm not coming back," said Bower, who graduated from San Jose State and will attend Azusa Pacific to earn his teaching credential after the season ends. His goal is to land a high school teaching job.
His A's devotion aside, Bower has grown to appreciate the visiting teams and players he spends most of his time with at the Coliseum. He puts the Minnesota Twins and their stars, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, at the top of his list of favorites to deal with.
"The Twins are just the best and Mauer and Morneau couldn't be nicer,'' said Bower. "The Twins said I could come and batboy for them anytime I want."
Thalblum says it's not just the Twins who appreciate his hard-working batboy, who also assists the clubhouse crew for hours of preparation and cleaning.
"You won't find a team in Major League Baseball that hasn't said Brett's the best in the league ... the best ever," Thalblum said.
Still, Bower's heart will always remain with the team he grew up with. The one he used to secretly root for while watching them from the other side of the field before the television cameras gave him away.
"The A's and this job feel more a part of me than anything in my life," Bower said. "I couldn't ask for a better job to have. And I couldn't ask for better people as bosses than Mikey and Matt.
"It's definitely been a blast and I'm going to miss it."
Follow Jon Becker on Twitter at jonbecker28.