Under the Sun: Interviews ~ Sonoma Valley Sun


Under the SUN: Mark Madden

Posted on December 7, 2017 by Sonoma Valley Sun

Mark Madden – Drywall Ball-Dude

You’re in the drywall business, right?
Yes. I’ve been installing and finishing drywall in this area for 40 years, and started my own company Mark Madden Drywall, Incorporated 25 years ago. It’s been my whole life, and it’s been good.

Nearly every home gets drywall; it must suit you.
I’m a physical person, not a desk person. There’s an artistry to it, in the finishing. I’ve got great employees and don’t do as much lifting and labor as I used to. I needed shoulder surgery three years ago, and my shoulder still hurts.

Were you busy before the fire? And what about now?
Crazy busy before the fire and still busy. I’m waiting to see what happens now; it’s going to take a while get a feel for post-fire construction. Many people were under-insured and older folks will sell their land rather than go through the trouble to rebuild. Material costs are already rising, and cheaper outside labor will come into the area and increase competition. I rely on our reputation, not the bidding process.

Any advice for homeowners who want to rebuild?
Ask lots of questions. Get to know the players and general contractors. Be patient. There have been housing booms and busts before, but nothing in my memory like this disaster. I always worry about October winds; the fires were everywhere, suddenly. I think our area still needs a disaster plan.

I’ve seen you on TV as a “ball dude” at Giant’s games. Tell me about that.
I began in 2006 by subbing for the partner of Dick Leland, who was not well. It went well, and Dick asked me to be his ball-dude partner. I used to do it during eight games per season, but now it’s down to four or five. What can I say, it’s the best seat in the house. I get half-price parking and $25 a game. They will supply the uniform, but I’ve ended up providing my own. My jersey is number “24”, made famous by Willie Mays.

The game’s changing, though.
I love baseball, and yeah, it is changing. And the audience has changed and with it the game’s sense of time. It’s not played against the clock, but they are trying to speed it up, which I don’t like. To me the “game within the game” is fascinating; how moves and player changes are planned in advance. I liked it better when a pitcher had to throw the ball for an intentional walk; sometimes goofy things would happen and now they just have to give a signal to the umpire.

And how about your mitt. It’s famous!
Yeah, it’s from the 1930s and Willie Mays calls my glove a “three finger Charlie.” He’s asked me to see it. So cool. It’s an exact match for the huge glove sculpture above the stands in left field. It’s a great conversation piece.

I’ve heard Mike Krukow and Dwayne Kuiper, the game announcers, talk about your glove.
I know, I get phone calls about it. And every once in a while I make a good play; one time Kruk said I was “putting on a clinic.” During a particularly boring loss for the Giants, I even got named “Togo’s player of the game.” It’s fun. It’s a hoot.

Interview by Larry Barnett

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