Neither Jeff Haack nor Rick Eusey of Huntington Beach High School bat fourth in the Oiler lineup, yet they are the team’s most prominent cleanup hitters.
Haack and Eusey have been known to clean up on opposing teams on occasion, but they also do their share of cleaning up away from baseball.
Haack, one of the county’s best pitchers, and Eusey, a shortstop, also run a fledgling janitorial service.
They are not incorporated, but they do have a business card that reads: “R & J’s Professional Janitorial Services/'Students Striving for Success’ .”
And they’ve applied the teamwork concept to their business practice--the work and pay is split 50-50.
“We have to work it that way because you can’t tell your best friend what to do,” Eusey said.
They have only one client--a building with several offices--but Haack hopes to expand the operation once they graduate in June.
“Sure, we’d like to do a few more buildings once we get the time,” Haack said. “We charge four cents per square foot, which is pretty competitive. And we do a good job, too.”
They vacuum, dust, polish, empty the trash, clean the bathrooms and do windows once a month.
To start the business they had to buy trash cans, dusters, a vacuum cleaner and cleaning liquids, and they store the equipment where they work so there is no storage overhead.
Haack and Eusey said they started the business as a way to pay for their car insurance.
The business was the suggestion of Eusey’s mother, Mary, who works at an insurance office in Huntington Beach where they clean.
After their sophomore years, she suggested the boys try cleaning the offices because it would be ideal work to do in the evenings.
“I was serious about it when I first suggested it,” she said. “The boys had worked in the office during the summers doing some clerking--answering phones, typing, filing, that sort of thing--so we knew they’d be responsible enough to handle this.
“If they want wheels, they have to help pay for them. Plus, it’s just a good way for them to make a little extra cash.”
They earn about $30 each per night.
Between the demands of athletics and schoolwork, however, Haack and Eusey have found that capitalism has its limits.
Said Haack: “We played a doubleheader against Long Beach Jordan and it didn’t get over until 11 or 11:30 p.m. By then, we were just too tired to go into work. So, they docked our pay.”
Despite working about three nights a week, the players say their workload doesn’t detract from their on-field performances.
Mike Dodd, Huntington Beach coach, agrees.
“They do their work around their practice schedule, so there haven’t been any problems there,” Dodd said. “I always enjoy working with industrious kids, so any ambitions that they have we’ll try to help them achieve.
“Plus, they’re making a little money on the side. Their grades or play haven’t suffered--it’s been quite the opposite. They’ve had to discipline themselves more than your average teen-ager, so they’ve found a balance between grades, baseball and work.”
Huntington Beach began the season 6-1, slumped to 6-7, but is 8-7 after a victory over Marina Tuesday.
Dodd isn’t panicking--yet. After all, his 1983 team started with a 1-3 league record before rallying to win the title. The Oilers are 3-3 in league.
Should they come back to challenge first-place Fountain Valley, it likely will be done on the strength of Haack’s pitching. Haack (5-2) has struck out 71 in 55 innings, and has an 0.38 ERA.
Ask Dodd about Haack and Eusey and he hardly talks baseball.
“Sometimes high school coaches can get a little too caught up with the wins and losses,” he said. “We’ve graduated some good kids in my five years here, and Rick and Jeff are two of the best.
“We’re not going to go undefeated every year, but we will graduate good citizens into the community. Hopefully, that’s what we’re here for.”
On Haack: “He’s got a 3.7 grade-point average while taking some weighty college-prep courses, so it’s a legitimate 3.7. Schools like Stanford and Arizona are looking at him, and they don’t spend upward of $5,000-$6,000 on a baseball scholarship if they’re not good kids first.”
On Eusey: “He’s started on varsity since he was a sophomore and is a very religious young man, so I could see him going on to play for a school like Biola or Southern California College.”
According to Dodd, Haack and Eusey are popular with their teammates, having been elected as this season’s captains, but neither are pretentious.
If anything, they have a sense of humor about themselves--cleaning rest rooms can be humbling--that helps them to find a balance between work and play.
Ask Eusey what the phone number on their business card is for and he cracks: “For business and pleasure.”
For these two Oilers at least, business and pleasure seem to go together rather well.