With the March 24 premiere of "Ball Boys," the new ABC-TV reality show based in Lutherville-Timonium, the staff of Robbie's First Base, the sports memorabilia store at the center of the series, are finding themselves new television celebrities.
And, though the staff — owner Robin Davis Sr., son Robin Davis Jr., Robert "Shaggy" Reier and Lewis "Sweet Lou" Brown — have made several episodes for the new series, they were nervous to watch it for the first time when it debuted this past Saturday.
"We didn't know if we would look good on television or not," laughed Davis Jr. "We're the only ones not professional."
Produced by the same company who did "Pawn Stars," a popular cable show about a Las Vegas pawn store, "Ball Boys" features the daily business of running a sports memorabilia store, from deciding what is authentic to finding requested items for collectors.
The show will also features various sport legends stopping by the store occasionally to chat with the staff.
"The guys that do the show are some of the best in the business," Davis Jr. said of the producers. "That was the least of our concerns, the quality of the show."
By Monday morning, the response to "Ball Boys" was hitting high, he said.
"People like the show," said Davis Jr., after reviewing reactions on the store's website and Twitter. "Besides our families and friends, people we don't know … were receptive to it. Everything is good so far."
It was early in 2010 when the store was contacted about the possibility of doing a show, Davis Jr. said. Within a couple of weeks, a crew came out and filmed the daily events at the store.
"They canvassed the country," he said. "Out of hundreds of stores, they chose us. We really, really hit the lottery."
Rob Davis Sr. opened the store 23 years ago, and his son believes there are several reasons why the store has been able to stay afloat amid tough economic times, including its staff, creativity and location.
"Location is a big thing for us," Davis Jr. said. "There is disposable income (here). A lot of ball players live in the area, older Orioles and Baltimore Colts. And, the Ravens' success brought us a lot of attention, too."
Now, the store is hoping for even more attention. While everyone is glad ABC picked up the show, the goal is to get its reruns on ESPN, Davis Jr. said.
"ESPN is our ultimate mecca for sports fans," he said. "Every sports fan turns on ESPN first thing in the morning."
Whatever the future may be for the show, Davis Jr. said the experience can't be beat.
"It is all great advertising," he said. "We could have never afforded to pay for a spot on ABC. It just gets better and better."