Davis’s was a wonderful but nondescript life. He loved his work. He loved his family. He loved sports. And they all blended together at his store, where he and his son and a couple of trusted employees, whom Davis considered his other sons, sat around and argued about sports all day, every day, interrupted only when some old lady came in to ship a package, or some kid dropped in to buy his dad a Cal Ripken-autographed baseball for his birthday.
But on that fateful day in the spring of 2010, when Davis, now 62, answered the phone at his desk in the back of the store, a voice on the other end explained that he was calling from a television production company in New York called Leftfield Pictures.
“Have you ever heard of ‘Pawn Stars’?” the voice asked.
So began a two-year journey that culminates at 3 p.m. Saturday, when ABC airs the first of 12 half-hour episodes of “Ball Boys” (marketing slogan: “Every great moment in sports leaves something behind”), starring Robbie Davis and his crew: Robbie Jr., 32; Robbie Reier, 29; and Lou Brown, 25.
The producers of “Ball Boys,” who scored a hit with “Pawn Stars” on the History Channel, were forced to confront one awkward problem immediately after selecting this gang, out of the nearly 300 stores they screened, for the new show: how to get around the fact their four-
person cast included three Robbies. Which is why the quartet came to be known on the show as “Senior,” “Junior,” “Shaggy” and “Sweet Lou.” (Asked about his artificially acquired nickname, Shaggy Reier says, “Hey, they can call me [expletive] if they’re going to put me on national TV.”)
In the last few, innocent days of mid-March, before fame, with all its mysterious, life-altering powers, descends upon them, the Ball Boys and the store itself are filled with a nervous, eerie quiet. They will attend the premiere in New York, but none of them are quite sure what awaits on the other side of that first episode.
“I can’t say I’m ready for it,” Senior says. “I’m just being honest with you. I don’t know how to be ready. Because I think when people find out about it, it’s gonna be off the hook. I think it’s going to be crazy in here.”
Only Sweet Lou, the dreamer of the quartet, has a definitive image of what fame will mean for himself. “I’m buying an Escalade — the EXT,” he says. Out of his pocket comes his iPhone. “See?” he says. “It’s the wallpaper on my phone. Just a little extra motivation.”
Sweet Lou probably won’t be getting an Escalade with the season one money. Senior, who calls himself “the best negotiator in the world,” says the Ball Boys were paid “just a few hundred bucks” per week during the 3½ months last fall when the series was filmed — owing to the fact they had no leverage.