Charleston RiverDogs GM Dave Echols is Sean Spicer lookalike, but no bobblehead plans
Charleston RiverDogs president and general manager Dave Echols settled into his seat at High Cotton one afternoon in February prepared to soak up conversation.
To his left in a lunch party of seven was Bill Murray, the iconic comic actor who is a RiverDogs co-owner. To his right was former Atlanta Braves star Tom Glavine, the Hall of Fame pitcher in town to serve as the main speaker for the minor league baseball team’s annual Hot Stove Banquet.
A middle-age woman left her seat and made a beeline for the Murray/Glavine table.
“I figured she was going to ask Bill or Tom for an autograph,” Echols said. “She had to either be someone who loves Bill’s movies or a lifelong Braves fan who loves Tom Glavine.”
The woman didn’t seem to notice anyone but Echols. They locked eyes as she made a beeline.
“Are you Sean Spicer?” she asked.
The inquiries keep coming as people notice Echols, 47, bears a striking resemblance to Spicer, the 45-year-old press secretary for President Donald Trump who gets daily play on television news channels and social media.
The neatly combed blond hair, ruddy face and wry smile put the comparison over the top.
“As soon as Spicer took the podium, I was getting emails and texts from peers in the business of sports or family and friends,” said Echols, the RiverDogs’ GM since 2004. “They were asking why I was working in Washington.”
Echols is familiar with attention, and deflecting it. He has played the straight man in RiverDogs’ television commercials featuring Murray or Mike Veeck, the club’s former co-owner and current executive adviser. He has been the star of the RiverDogs’ “Dave TV” web casts.
Echols has made use of Spicer notice by spreading the good news of RiverDogs baseball to people who are not necessarily fans.
“I think it’s funny,” Echols said. “And since I’m the person who officially announces how many fans we get for each game, now I can be like Sean Spicer and say whatever I want, right? Maybe we had 10,000 people at a Monday night game.”
The RiverDogs are not afraid to dabble in politics — as long as there is humor and balance involved. Every four years, they hold a Bobblection Night in which fans come through the turnstiles and choose a bobblehead of one of the two major presidential candidates.
But there are no plans for an Echols/Spicer bobblehead theme night.
“We’ve internally had discussions,” Echols said, “but we haven’t pulled the trigger. The Bobblection allows us to maintain our neutrality with our fan base, but we just aren’t sure how something like this would be taken by either side of the aisle.”
Bobblehead or not, Spicer has given Echols something to talk about.
The Murray-Glavine lunch story in particular.
“I use that to open every speaking gig I do now,” Echols said. “And that’s probably my opening story for every speech I ever give.”