Overcoming adversity is the main objective that all baseball players have to face. Nobody likes to go 0 for 4 or leave a game in the middle of the second inning, and sometimes it might be hard to look forward to the next game, but luckily for us we get to play the very next day and don’t have to wait around for a week like football players do. Adversity doesn’t have to necessarily be on the field, there is adversity off the field that the players face more of on a routine basis. Knowing how to control your social life, love life, and professional life can be a delicate balance that can even have the most experienced psychiatrists puzzled. Being gone for seven months can really mess with a player and constantly being on the road really takes a toll on the body and the mind. When the players first get sent out to their respective cities, there really isn’t any help finding a place to live its almost just a free for all. You will usually get a three night stay in the hotel and some recommendations from past players, but each and every person has to go out and find their own place to live. Trying to find a place to live in the very beginning can be a stressful thing, especially if there is a college in the town and all the apartments have been rented out already by the local college. Sometimes you have to put three and four people into a two/three bedroom like I am currently doing here. Yes as I am typing this I am sitting on my luxurious twin sized air mattress that I bought at everyone’s favorite bargain retailer. Although you want to find something that is nice, you also need to be economical with what you are doing. The little money that we do make has to stretch a long way, and sometimes you have to live without some creature comforts that people take for granted every day. Because I was bribed in having to pay a little less on the monthly rent I reluctantly decided that I was going to make the living room my bedroom and sacrifice any privacy I would have with owning a door. This sort of thing is very common in minor league baseball, and although it seems to be a little rough at first you learn to adjust and just go with the flow…..it is definitely part of “paying your dues.”
We also don’t get to travel luxuriously like everyone thinks professional athletes do. You see on TV all the time that people line up to meet the team plane on the tarmac to wish their favorite team a job well-done, but when we leave for a road trip it is usually after a 7pm game and we travel all night arriving very early in the morning ready to play the next day at 7pm all over again. On these bus rides it is almost a no rules engagement except for when it gets really late and people just pass out. Most of the players use this time to try and catch up with family members on the phone, the same movie is playing for the 20th time, people are trying to talk over the movie with each other, card playing is happening on a cooler that was fashioned to be a table with a little MiLB ingenuity and I’m trying to write a journal article all the while some others want to sleep. You have to be able to roll with the punches, and not be too picky when it comes to travel because 30+ people packed in a greyhound isn’t what anyone wants when you are traveling between 5-6 hours up and down the east coast. Although these things don’t sound like fun to the average person, I have some memories that will forever be ingrained in my head and friends that last me a lifetime based on the experiences we share and the situations we are forced into.
The main problem that MiLBers really face on the road is food! Professional athletes, as you might assume, can eat a lot! We usually will have lunch and dinner at the home ballpark as we have a club house attendant who takes care of us (that we do pay….albeit its less than we make) and they usually have pretty good food for the “home guys.” When you are on the road, its a total toss up as to who you are going to get and what kind of food you are going to receive at the ballpark; sometimes it full meals and sometimes its just chopped up fruit and PB&J sandwiches. Some of the funniest experiences that I have come across in my time in the minor leagues is watching someone calculate food options and available meal money for the week. Multiple conversations with ourselves go like this: “Well I can have a really nice lunch one time and then its the dollar menu the rest of the week or I can do applebees and then just eat spread and then do applebees again?” These conversations we have with ourselves take place almost every road trip and almost nothing goes to plan, because as soon as you think you have something figured out someone asks you to lunch, you say yes and its back to the drawing boards.
Just by reading this you can see adversity comes at us in many different forms when you are playing, but I believe that if you are able to handle things down in the minor leagues, then it will make you appreciate what you have when you make it to “The Show!” Everybody has to pay the same dues when you are coming through the system, and no-one is immune. If you want to have a great example of what it is like, watch Bull Durham! Although the buses are a bit better, the travel is exactly how it is depicted in the movie, and it is for sure not one of the perks of playing minor league baseball, but unfortunately that’s how it goes. Because one day we will not be the players to be named later, we will be the players whom you remember the name!
Until next time!
Please browse the photo gallery below to give you a better idea of what I was trying to explain in my blog.
If you have any questions or comments please email them to me, or if there is anything you want answered please send that to me as well at: Ryan.Tatusko@gmail.com