Todd Reed, the U.S. Open’s oldest ball boy, is much more than a real-life Kramer
Todd Reed, much like Kramer in the classic “Seinfeld” episode, “The Lip Reader,” may be a lot older than his much-younger colleagues working as ball boys at the U.S. Open.
But that’s where the comparisons end with Ball Man Cosmo Kramer. As Reed’s story is much dramatic and much more heroic and plenty more inspriing than any of the hijinks perpetuated by the hipster sitcom character doofus.
What Reed may lack in the spry benefits of youth, he more than makes up for with grit and determination, something the 53-year-old relied upon after overcoming a traumatic injury suffered during his tour of duty with the Green Berets during the 1991 Gulf War.
Reed is the second oldest ball boy — “ball person” is the preferred term for Reed — to ever work the hard courts at Flushing Meadows during the U.S. Open (Jerry Loughran, at 65, is the only person to ever work the gig at an older age, and he quit the game last year).
Reed is one of 275 ball boys — although it should be noted that 1/3 of those employed are women — who earn eight dollars an hour for chasing down tennis balls, among other various duties.
Reed, a North Carolina resident, decided to take a chance and apply for a ball person job on the advice of his wife.
Much to his surprise he got the job, courtesy in part to a military initiative being conducted by the USTA.
Fans in the stands and his fellow ball-wranglers have taken notice of how he hustles and performs his duties with the best of the younger set.
“I love that he’s here — I think it’s really cool and inspiring,” said Corey Stella, a 19-year-old college student and fellow ball boy, according to a New York Post report. “I already worked a match with him. He can definitely keep up and has no problem fitting in.”
“I noticed him right away,” says Carol Liguori, 54, as she took in a women’s singles match. “Usually you see young boys who are 16 — then I saw his leg. I give him a lot of credit!”
The patron is referring to the red, white and blue prosthetic leg proudly wears, a result of losing part of his right leg courtesy of a land mine during a recon mission near Mosul while serving in Iraq in 1991 during Desert Storm.
“I took a step, and as I transferred from my right to left foot, [the land mine] exploded. It blew my foot right off then and there,” Reed told The Post. He recalls flying six feet, frighteningly remaining conscious through the entire harrowing ordeal.
And now, all these years later, Reed, who also plays on the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team, cannot believe the way his life has turned out.
“Here I am at the US Open in 2014. If someone told me back then that I was gonna be a ball boy, I’d say, ‘Keep dreaming!’ ”