The Curve family is mourning the loss of one of its most beloved members.
Robert Gordon "Bo" Forney, 21, a batboy for the team since 2008, died suddenly Monday. The fun-loving character endeared himself to the franchise's employees and players alike with his easy-going nature and ability to take a joke.
Asked what Forney brought to the clubhouse, former Curve pitcher Victor Black didn't hesitate.
Curve batboy Bo Forney kids around with the Curve’s Steamer during a game.
"Joy," Black said. "Man, he brought so much joy. He was a great guy to be around. He'd come in and hang out with us at dinner after games, and he was just always happy. The joy we got from his company was plentiful. All-around good character."
Forney's bond with the team was rare. Batboys typically don't form close relationships with players; in fact, of the five different minor league teams Black has played on, he said Forney was the only one whose name he knew.
But from early on, Black said, he knew Forney was different.
Forney would saddle up beside his locker in the clubhouse before games, chit-chatting with Black and whoever else's ear he could bend about their lives or anything else going on.
"It wasn't like he was closer to one person," former Curve manager P.J. Forbes said. "He matriculated around and all the guys enjoyed his personality, talking to him and giving him a hard time. He was just a happy-go-lucky guy that, when you knew he came through the door, would have a smile on his face."
Forney frequently was at the center of clubhouse pranks, both as the instigator and as the instigated. Former Curve catcher Tony Sanchez remembered a number of gags, including when players soaked Forney's batboy uniform. Another time, players tied his shoelaces together while Forney was standing in the dugout waiting to retrieve bats. If he took too long, Sanchez said he and his teammates would teasingly heckle him to move quicker.
And Forbes said if something was missing in the clubhouse, Forney was fingered as the culprit.
No matter the joke, Forney laughed.
"We know Bo didn't do it and Bo knew he didn't do it, but it was everybody's chance to give Bo affection and a shoutout," Forbes said.
Forney's laugh is something Black remembers the most. Toward the end of last season, Black and the batboys went to a state park for dinner. Black and Forney went to dinner together a number of times, but this time, they had another guest.
"A squirrel started creeping on us to get food," Black said. "The squirrel wouldn't come over. Something happened where one of us said something, and Bo just cracked up for about 15 minutes."
News of Forney's death stretched to Bradenton, Fla., where current Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Jared Hughes was sitting around the clubhouse with Tony Watson and Duke Welker when Phil Irwin told the trio what happened.
That contingent was among a group of about 15 to 20 former Curve players who knew Forney and expressed sadness.
"You go through some places and you don't get to know everybody, but Bo was one of those guys who would go out of his way to talk to you," said Hughes, who added he just watched a video on his computer last week of Forney cracking up as he took cuts in the batting cages. "We all felt like Bo was a teammate. We all loved him."
Funeral arrangements for Forney are pending. A full obituary will appear in Thursday's Mirror.
"Heaven gained an unbelievable angel," Sanchez said. "I know he's up there smiling."