The Collateral Damage of Victory Showers

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Brian Johnson and Guerin Austin are engulfed in red sports drink. (via Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox)

On May 27, Guerin Austin, sideline reporter for Red Sox network NESN, got a face full of Gatorade. Pitcher Brian Johnson had been called up from Triple-A Pawtucket for a spot start and shocked everyone by throwing a complete game shutout. Considering that it was just Johnson’s third major league start, and considering that his first two had gone… well, they had gone, and considering that just a year ago, he was almost ready to walk away from baseball due to depression and anxiety, well, it was a big day.

Johnson, along with Austin, who was chatting with him as part of a post-game interview, sputtered as red liquid rained down on them. When the Gatorade shower appears, you know it’s been a good game. The sticky sports beverage has become synonymous with victory, and this day was no different. Austin says she considers it “just part of the job.”

But while the postgame Gatorade (or Powerade, or other generic sports drink) shower has been a staple in other sports since the New York Giants popularized it during the 1987 season, it’s only recently begun to catch on in baseball. Ken Rosenthal, of MLB Network and Fox Sports, has been in dugouts since 2006 (and a reporter for far longer) and says it’s only in recent years that the postgame shower has become a regular part of baseball culture.

Brett O’Brien, senior vice president and general manager of Gatorade, says via email that despite being “a Gatorade athlete” since 1999, Derek Jeter was dunked only once—at his final home game after he hit a game-winning single against the Baltimore Orioles on Sept. 25, 2014. Part of that is because Jeter played at a time when Gatorade showers were not the norm. The other parts are probably because he is Derek Jeter (“There are certain guys that are immune to this. He was one of them,” says Rosenthal), and because he played on the Yankees, a team that’s pretty notorious for discouraging fun (sorry, that’s my Red Sox fandom shining through).

It’s hard to track down the origins of the postgame shower in baseball. It happened sporadically after big wins, with the Nationals doing it on a fairly regular basis in 2012, with sideline reporter Kristina Akra routinely ending up in the crosshairs.

In 2013, Julie Alexandria became MASN’s Nats sideline reporter and was initiated with a Gatorade shower on both her first and second nights on the job, thanks to back-to-back one hitters from Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmermann.

But it might be the Kansas City Royals who really made it the tradition it’s become today. Austin reports having her very first Gatorade soak at the hands of the Royals. “I had heard that it was something they do after every win, but it wasn’t something I was thinking about [because I didn’t have any experience with it],” Austin explains. Rosenthal says he’s come to expect it if he’s working a Royals W.

In other sports, it’s the coach that receives the post-game dousing after a big win. In baseball, things work a little bit differently. It’s usually the player that was the star of the game that gets the dunk — and, often, by extension, whatever sideline reporter happens to have a microphone pointed at the player that day. The Royals take pride in being known for the showers, debuting a billboard following their 2015 World Series win of Salvador Perez (who is known to be the king of dousing his teammates with sports drink) “showering” passing cars.

In Texas, not only is Rangers sideline reporter Emily Jones McCoy often in the line of fire, she’s developed the kind of rapport with Rangers players that mean they’re sometimes targeting her directly. During a 2015 postgame interview with Josh Hamilton after a walk-off win, Jones got completely and totally drenched by Elvis Andrus.

“Elvis [had] been trying to get me for seven years,” Jones told D Magazine in 2016. “I can’t believe I didn’t see him coming. I was in total shock.” Jones said Andrus felt so bad afterwards — she had been wearing a cream colored dress and had to cover up with a towel after the soak — that he wrote her a check for $1,000. The dress ended up being signed by both Andrus and Hamilton and auctioned off to benefit Jones’ Do It For Durrett Foundation, which Jones also signed Andrus’ pity check over to.

In the world of Gatorade showers, Austin is best known not for her recent one with Johnson, but for one from 2016. In a postgame interview with David Ortiz on May 14, 2016, the pair got drenched by a cooler of blue sports drink. Images of the shower went viral because of what Austin had chosen to wear to work that day — a white, lace dress.

David Ortiz and Guerin Austin are engulfed in blue sports drink. (via Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox)

Austin says that when she got off the field and saw her Twitter mentions blowing up, “I didn’t really think it was about the shower… It was just such an incredible game, and what David did, pretty typical David Ortiz stuff, it was such a cool game to be a part of.” That “typical David Ortiz stuff” was going 3-for-5 on the day with a double, triple and homer — a single shy of the cycle — against the Astros. His double was a walk-off and not only was it his 20th career, regular-season, walk-off hit, but it was his 600th career double. No big deal.

It wasn’t until she got home, Austin says, that she realized it was her interview with Ortiz that was going viral, and the mentions were about the Gatorade shower. She says Rosenthal was with her that day. “I was with Ken the day I was in the white dress and Ken said to me, ‘Guerin, why don’t you [interview] David first?’ So I think Ken knew, maybe Ken had a hunch,” she laughs. Rosenthal tells me, “I was with Guerin one day [in a white dress] and she really got nailed.” It’s a moment Austin has become so well known for that it’s actually the background image of her Twitter profile.

Rosenthal says he doesn’t love to be soaked because it ruins his suits, though “in the last couple of years as I’ve gotten older and maybe more established, there are times guys will tell me to duck and be respectful of me.” Despite the fact that the shower results in sticky clothing, Rosenthal says he still doesn’t bring a change of clothes. “It doesn’t change how I do the job,” he says. He also doesn’t see the appeal of teams that do it after every win. “I think it’s a really dumb thing, myself. I don’t get it, I don’t see the great joy in it every single time, but fans do like it,” he says. “I even get tweets from Royals fans telling me that [Royals reporter Joel Goldberg] knows how to get out of the way better than I do.”

Guerin Austin is able to take getting drenched in stride. (via Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox)

For Austin, the appeal lies in the larger story about what regular Gatorade showers mean for a team’s season. “It wasn’t that great of a season, [in 2015],” she says, “so last season the [Red Sox] really had some… epic plays, so many huge comebacks, really exciting games, and I think the postgame showers were just really a reflection of how exciting the season was for the team to really finally be going in the right direction again.. A team that is regularly offering up postgame showers is a team playing well, winning games, and doing things worth celebrating on the field.

Even Rosenthal admits that “sometimes it can be fun.” He says that one of his favorite photos of him at work is the one in which he is interviewing Matt Kemp after a playoff game and the Dodgers got him with a dousing, with Rosenthal as collateral damage. He’s also been hit with chocolate sauce while interviewing Bryce Harper, who Rosenthal says “looked like a Gladiator” during their interview, all covered in chocolate syrup.

“It’s just fun to watch those players have those kind of moments in their career and just to be on the field for those moments,” Austin says, “because that’s what’s exciting.”

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Britni de la Cretaz is a freelance writer, whose work has been featured in The Atlantic, Rolling Stone, espnW, and VICE Sports, among others. She is a recovered alcoholic, and baseball enthusiast living in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @britnidlc.
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MetsMind
Guest

I guess the whipped cream pie in the face is less celebratory but also less destructive. Wonder if/when the commissioner’s office will issue some edict banning all such behavior.

bucdaddy
Guest
bucdaddy

Wasn’t there a directive from MLB to stop with the pies to the face (risk of eye injury)? Or was that just one or two teams?

Marc Schneider
Guest
Marc Schneider

What does it say, though, when a team feels it has to do this every time it wins a game? I can see it in the playoffs, at least after a clinching game, but for just an ordinary regular season game? If you’re a good team, do you have to celebrate every win? Why not have a clubhouse celebration?

I guess I’m an old fogey, but it just seems stupid to do it all the time.

MrObvious
Guest
MrObvious
You are not an old fogey, you are just right. Things like this were funny the first time you saw it when you were probably 6 or 7 years old. By the second time you saw it, it was stupid and repetitive. Sadly, these ridiculous repetitions of stupid acts seem to amuse the majority of the horde occupying Earth currently. It almost looks as awful as low intellect people on Twitter or Facebook complaining that their recent draftees don’t have great enough names, or the idiocy of people staring at smartphone screens taking pictures while they are in attendance at… Read more »
bucdaddy
Guest
bucdaddy

Especially when they are taking pictures in the aisles while the game is going on. Seems to be an increase in general cluelessness among some that other people might actually be trying to watch the, you know, ballgame they paid to see.

katrinz
Guest

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